Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Advent Music Extravaganza

A playlist of pieces performed by our various choirs on Sunday Dec 21.

Confronting the Controversies - Adult Sunday School

Adult Sunday School: Beginning Jan 4, we will read Adam Hamilton’s book, Confronting the Controversies: Biblical Perspectives on Tough Issues. In a setting of sensitivity, love and respect, we will discuss seven important issues. They are on the minds of many people but they are not often discussed in church. This series will overlap with the worship message series “Holy Mess”. We will discuss:
  1. The Separation of Church and State
  2. Creation and Evolution in the Public Schools
  3. The Death Penalty
  4. Euthanasia
  5. Prayer in Public Schools
  6. Abortion
  7. Homosexuality

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dressed and Ready (4): For a Family

2014/12/21 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Advent 4
Message, 2 Samuel 7.1-11, 16; Luke 1.26-38 (39-55)

Opening theme:
Shopping for a dresser, while Robin was in early labor with Jesse

David and the Ark – house and tent
House – family – father-son

Message body:
Juno, tender and witty 2007 film, “cautionary whale”
“Diana” gave up her baby for adoption, purse (with only pics) stolen
“Faith and Julia” trying to start a family, but IVF didn’t work
      Adopted … and discovered, at the same time, that Faith was pregnant

Baby’s rock your world. No matter how well you prepare, you are going to be surprised. And, an “irregular” situation? All the more so.

We underestimate how “irregular” Mary’s story is. Overnight, she goes from being perceived as the “good girl” to a “bad girl”, in a culture in which women generally had limited cultural value, no economic power, and could be subjected to abuse and even death. And, an unwed mother had little protection in the society, certainly much less than unwed moms experience today. No wonder she spent her first trimester out of town with Aunt Elizabeth. Yet, she says, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (1.38). Irregular, and obedient.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Eve Eucharistic Liturgy

The "Preface" and "Great Thanksgiving" portions of the Christmas Eve liturgy were adapted by Pastor JP Bohanan from the hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” (from the 4th century Liturgy of St. James) and the prayer “Adore Te Devote” (attributed to St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274).

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords, in human vesture,
in the body and the blood;
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

At his feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Holy, Holy,
Holy, Lord Most High!

Godhead here in hiding, whom I do adore
Masked by these bare shadows,
            shape and nothing more,
See, Lord, at thy service, low lies here a heart
Lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art.

Taste, and touch, and vision, to discern thee fail;
Faith, that comes by hearing, pierces through the veil.
I believe whate'er the Son of God hath told;
What the Truth hath spoken, that for truth I hold.

Jesus, whom now veiled, I by faith decry,
What my soul doth thirst for, do not, Lord, deny,
That thy face unveiled, I at last may see,
With the blissful vision blest, my God, of thee.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas in Ebola-Ravaged Village

By Julu Swen
Dec. 11, 2014 | MONROVIA, Liberia (UMNS)
A $15,000 Ebola response grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief has made Christmas a lot brighter for 350 families in the Topoe Village, outside of Monrovia, with the distribution of much needed food.
“This is going to make my Christmas better,” said Soko Kanneh, one of the recipients of a month’s ration of rice, fish, beans, salt and vegetable oil.
Mammie Myers, a pregnant woman, walked away with a 25-kilogram (55-pound) bag of rice on her head. “It came on time, thanks to the church,” she said of the food.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Anonymous Holy Families of Syria

Thousands of refugees stream across the Tigris River from Syria into Iraq. Photo: Galiya Gubaeva/UNHCR
Thousands of refugees stream across the Tigris River from Syria into Iraq. Photo: Galiya Gubaeva/UNHCR
By David Tereshchuk

In this month of December 2014 the already massive flow of people displaced by Syria’s violent conflict since 2011 is approaching a new, dramatically high point.
Those forced to abandon their homes are now set to make up a somber statistic: half of their nation’s entire population.
More than 3 million Syrians have fled abroad to find refuge in other countries—while nearly 7 million are classed as displaced persons within their own borders.
It represents a phenomenal tide of dislocated humanity, and largely because of this Syrian upheaval, the United Nations calculates the global total for displaced persons to have now surpassed 50 million—more than at any time since World War II.
Simultaneously, the funds raised internationally to assist all these homeless Syrian families are running short. The UN’s World Food Program reported at the beginning of December that it will have to curtail its provision of food vouchers to the displaced Syrians it helps; the vouchers enable families to buy food locally in their new temporary locations.
The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is determined that the dispossessed of Syria should not be forgotten.
“Can you imagine the impact of such violent disruption?” asked the Rev. Jack Amick, UMCOR’s assistant general secretary for International Disaster Response. “Consider if you walked down the streets of your neighborhood, and discovered that half of your neighbors had been driven from their homes.”
He added: “At Christmastime, we look at the manger scene, but we can forget that The Holy Family basically were displaced persons. When we pray for peace on earth this Christmas, let’s remember those whose lives have been turned upside down because in recent times, they have known no peace.”

Living Room Sessions - Advent Edition

The Living Room Sessions band opens worship on Dec 14.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Call for Prayer for Peshawar

Our thoughts and prayers are again with the people of Peshawar, Pakistan, in the wake of a December 16 terrorist attack on a school, which has left more than 145 school children and teachers dead and many others injured.

We join with the Church of Pakistan, our mission partner, in praying for all those who have been affected by this latest attack and for a future of peace and security in the region.

It is not the first occurrence of this type. On September 22, 2013, some 90 people were killed and dozens injured in Peshawar when two suicide bombers attacked All Saints Church on a Sunday morning as worship concluded. Peshawar is located in the far northwest of Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan.

Our friend Insar, who lost two children and other relatives in the church bombing, informs us by email that Peshawar is “very tense” after the attack on the school. Insar is the youth coordinator of the Diocese of Peshawar of the Church of Pakistan, a union of Protestants in the country. Pakistan and the Peshawar region are predominantly Muslim.

Read the whole story

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dressed and Ready (3): For a Party 2014-1214

Message, Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-11; John 1.6-8, 19-28

Opening theme:
      Choir gown
Street center worship service: Homeless woman in choir gown
Dressed & ready … for a party – the kingdom of God

      Old driver’s licenses/photo IDs
      John the Baptizer: “I am NOT he”

Message body:
Path of negation
      Need a do-over – because it wasn’t right the first time
            Intention versus execution
      Discomfort – the injustice at the heart of the world


Necessary path, and continues
      John: “I am NOT he”
      Me to new pastor: “There’s only one Savior, and it ain’t you”
      But we like to be the Savior, we have a “Messianic complex”
            Team sport
            Plant management
            Easily becomes a “persecution complex”

Friday, December 19, 2014

Crestwood Holidays 2014

A wonderful concert by the young people of our community, 18 Dec 2014.

Christmas Reflection

I love the “family portrait” painted for us by the Bible’s Christmas stories: the unmarried teen-age mother Mary, her fiancé Joseph, farm animals, hard-working shepherds and their sheep, wealthy Persian scientists (the wise men), curious on-lookers. And, the baby – the sign of “God with us”, Emmanuel. Just as the whole world was invited to welcome Jesus for the first Christmas, so today, “Let earth receive her King!”

Please bring a friend and join us in worship on Sundays (8:30 or 10:45 am) and on Candlelight Christmas Eve (7:00 pm Family and 11:00 pm Reflections, with a concert at 10:00 pm).

My favorite prayer for the Advent season, this time of preparation for the coming of the Lord, is by Janet Morley:
God our Deliverer, whose approaching birth still shakes the foundations of this world, may we so wait for your coming with eagerness and hope that we embrace without terror the labor pangs of the new age, through Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Merry Christmas!

JP Bohanan, Pastor

P.S.: As last year, our Christmas gift to Jesus will help fund our Shares of Ministry. All loose gifts on Christmas Eve and all Christmas offering envelopes are designated to support the larger work of The United Methodist Church both regionally and internationally!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Helping Ebola Survivors

Community members in Liberia practice how to make the chlorine solution for hand washing. 
Photo: Allen Zomonway

The Ebola crisis continues to grip West Africa. As of this writing, the virus has taken the lives of more than 6,000 people, with most cases developing in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is supporting the World Young Women's Christian Association (World YWCA), which seeks to prevent further spread of the disease in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and reintegrate survivors into communities—mainly young women and girls who have been infected or affected by Ebola. 

Through this project, the World YWCA will identify survivors of Ebola and reintegrate hundreds of young women and girls from targeted communities most affected by the outbreak. Ebola survivors will be provided with humanitarian support, including food and home-based care, along with education about the virus to help reduce stigma. 

UMCOR funding support will also allow for the distribution of relief packages, consisting of both food supplies and hygiene kits, which will serve families for one full month. 

Check out the full story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Church Council and Governance News

Please pray for these persons who have made themselves available to lead us and serve the mission of Christ Church:
Jane Dodson
Gordy Hartmann
Joe Hersh
Jeff Hirt
Linda Reese
Tim Shearer
Gary Shupp
Sue Strittmatter
Carole Williams
Council meetings are generally scheduled for the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 pm in the Quilting Room. Dates for the first quarter of 2015 are Jan 12, Feb 9, and Mar 9. All interested persons are invited to attend.

As we close out 2014, we have approved several new items or initiatives. Stay tuned for more information as the final details are confirmed and delivery or start dates are announced!
  • ·         New white paraments (from our Memorial Fund)
  • ·         New gas stove (an initiative of George Wilt and our Hospitality Team, funded by a special gift)
  • ·         Nursery staff (seed money provided by a special gift)

We are also beginning the process of exploring options for fire and smoke alarms and for improvements to our sound system. In addition, state law regarding clearances for persons working with children, and for mandated reporting, has recently changed. We are in the first phase of compliance.


The group picture after the Dec 7 cantata. Thanks to Jack for his exceptional leadership!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thailand Mission update

From Karen Weiss, In Mission Together partnership director for Thailand and Mongolia with the General Board of Global Ministries:

The Thailand Mission is growing with new ministries and opportunities for discipleship. Here are some highlights!

Bangkok (Min Buri) UMC- looking to build a permanent home for their church and to be a mission center for the country. The pastor's wife, Wassana, is learning English to be able to participate in the D.Min program through United Theological Seminary. Prayers for Wassana are appreciated!

Angel's Haven Orphanage continues to work with 12 girls who have HIV. Prayers for Gary and Cindy Moon, GBGM Missionaries, the house mother, and the girls for the impending move of the orphanage (by May 2015) to a new location in Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai Campus Ministry- the Thailand Mission is embarking on a new adventure of campus ministry! A coffee shop, small dormitory, and Christian outreach ministry will be in full swing by mid-May. We will be participating in this ministry on the mission trip in May (details below). 

I thank you for your support of the Thailand Mission and covet your prayers for our work in spreading the Good News throughout the world. 

Thailand Short-Term Mission Trip
I will be leading a team to Bangkok and Chiang Mai in May 2015. Proposed dates are as follows: May 19 to May 29, 2015 (+/- 1 day for best travel deal). We will be working with the Bangkok church and Chiang Mai ministries while there, focusing on building relationships and learning from one another. Some construction may be involved depending on what is happening/needed in these locations. Cost will be approximately $2250-$2500 including all travel arrangements such as airfare to/from JFK, meals, lodging, etc. Please let me know if you are interested in being part of this team as soon as possible so we can get details worked out with the Thailand churches.

Thank you for your continued support of the Thailand Mission!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dressed and Ready (2): For Discomfort

Note: The final section (message body) was missed in the recording.

Dressed and Ready (2): For Discomfort 
2014/12/07 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Advent 2
Message, Isaiah 40.1-11, Mark 1.1-8

Opening theme:
Change in title (not “for forgiveness”)

Princess & the Pea
      Cute or gold-digger?
      Discomfort – reveals who we are
      Discomfort – irritates or frightens
      Discomfort – sensitizes

New title: Dressed and Ready … For Discomfort

Deer skin

Getting ready for Christmas
      Special clothes?
      Special meals or foods?
John the Baptizer’s food and clothes
      “You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd”
            Flannery O’Connor

Message body:
Race in America, and the power of police
      Discomfort, that leads to fear - assumption and prejudice
            “Black folks” behaving the way we expect – looting and rioting
            Police, the way we expect – abusing power, racial profiling
      Discomfort, that leads to sensitivity
            The daily frustration and injustice experienced by persons of color
            The peril of policing (to the soul) – exercise power, witness to evil
            Ramah march in Walltown (Durham)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Domino Effect

Gordy, Ric, and Pastor JP attended "The Domino Effect" training on Sat 22 Nov to learn and plan toward adding a third worship service to our regular ministry.

Saturday, December 6, 2014


Youth gathering at the Bohanan home for one of their Sunday night gatherings. Talk with Joanne for more information on our young people's ministry.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dressed and Ready (1): For a Do-Over

2014/11/30 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Advent 1
Message, Isaiah 64.1-9, Mark 13.24-37

Opening theme:
Do-over, learned from school yard kick-ball

Getting ready for Christmas
Getting ready for Jesus coming
      To build something better, sometimes you need to tear down
      Building blocks

Message body:
We went on a journey this week
      Oliver at the door when we returned from York
      Oliver waiting for Robin to arrive

      Fig tree – summer is near
      Day and hour no one knows, not the angels or even the Son

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Supporting Immigrants

United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño (right) and the Rev. Javier Leyva (standing) pray with Elmer Moreno Gonsales and his daughters Mariela (left) and Katerin at the immigrant welcome center at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas.

Last June, at the U.S.-Mexico border in South Texas, the regions of Laredo to Brownsville experienced a humanitarian crisis—the arrival of a surge of children and families fleeing violence in their home countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Government facilities were soon overwhelmed, and churches, including The United Methodist Church, responded with centers for hospitality. Church members and volunteers helped new arrivals with bus tickets, showers, clothing, food and other provisions for travel across the U.S., while managing material and financial donations from caring citizens.

To support a holistic response to the more than 62,000 refugees who crossed the U.S.- Mexico border, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) issued a $100,000 grant to the Southwest Texas Annual Conference to support the conference’s immigration ministries at its welcome centers through June 2015.

The funding will provide personnel support, relief supplies, training and coordination, including the hiring of a director of United Methodist immigration ministries. This person will coordinate the church’s response to the influx of refugees, host volunteer groups, manage donations and aid, and serve as a contact person on the immigration crisis in and beyond the region. The director will also advocate for fair and humane treatment of immigrants, both in society at-large and in the U.S. legal system specifically.

You can support this effort and other critical events that develop in the United States with your gifts to U.S. Disaster Response, Advance #901670

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Consecration Sunday!

Thanks to all who came out, to George and team for the fabulous meal, to Dennis - our guest speaker, and for your prayerful commitment to give back to God in the coming year.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Water for Tanzania

The Tanzania United Methodist Church in Dar es Salaam, now a provisional annual conference under the North Katanga Episcopal Area, recently purchased property in the suburban Mviti area, but there is one problem—there is no water.

A grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to the Tanzania United Methodist Church will provide the means to drill the ground and identify a safe water source that will meet the daily needs of 1,215 individuals. 

The grant also will support hygiene education and water safety to help raise awareness and reduce the occurrences of cholera, worms, typhoid and diarrhea, which are all associated with poor drinking water. 

The new mission compound sought funding for the installation of wells to support the various ministry projects that will occur on the grounds, including a church, guest house for volunteers and missionaries, school, conference offices and a hospital. This water project will also benefit surrounding communities.

Meet the need for water and sanitation in more areas around the world with your gifts to Water and Sanitation, Advance #3020600

From the 15 Oct 2014 UMCOR Hotline.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Baptism! (Nov 9)

Shepherd and Judge

2014/11/23 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Christ the King
Prayer, Psalm 100
Children, Matthew 25.31-46
Message (additional reading), Ezekiel 34.11-24

Compare/contrast Matthew – Ezekiel
Familiar – unfamiliar
Future event (stylized telling, Bruner) – Parable
Sheep/shepherd – Sheep/shepherd
Judge – Judge … based on how we treat the poor
Apocalyptic – Apocalyptic
      For Matthew, the climax of the “end of the world” sermon (5th of 5)
      Advent – next week – always starts with apocalyptic discourse
      Both conclude and begin the Christian year with “the End”
      Ezekiel – apocalyptic language throughout
            Perfectly placed prior to our weekend of consumption
            Giving Tuesday

Focus today on Matthew, but before that … on Ezekiel:
      Judgment (earlier in chapter) on shepherds who “pasture themselves on the sheep” – leadership that is self-centered
      Judgment on sheep that take advantage of other sheep – will destroy the fat and strong because they have gained their strength by dominating the “runts”

Christmas couple with child
If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard (Prov 21.13)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Dr. Martin Salia, Sierra Leone

The Sierra Leone United Methodist Conference is in shock over the death of Dr. Martin Salia from Ebola. Salia, who was the chief medical officer and only surgeon at United Methodist Kissy Hospital, died after he was airlifted to the United States for treatment.
“We are trying to come to terms with the reality of his death,” said Bishop John K. Yambasu. “We never thought we would be losing one of our head doctors to Ebola.”
“He was everything to us,” Yambasu said, adding Salia was one of only a very few surgeons in the country.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Generosity: Our Act of Love

Our Consecration Sunday speaker, Rev. Dr. Dennis Otto, shares the message on 16 Nov. Please note: We had some technical difficulties in recording this message. The opening is missing, and the rest of it is presented in 5 minute segments. Use this playlist to see the whole thing.

All Saints

Our Golden Anniversary saints, recognized on Sunday 2 November.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Church Conference

A video message from our District Superintendent was shared at our 9 November church conference.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ebola Update - Full Church, Closed Hospital

June 8 was a bright and happy Sunday at the dedication and opening of Valunia United Methodist Church in the village of Monghere. Sierra Leone Bishop John K. Yambasu was among the distinguished guests, who also included the Paramount Chief James B.N. Vonjo III, the Queen of the Rosary School marching band and most of the village. A mini-mob scene ensued when the doors opened and excited worshipers rushed to fill every plastic chair inside the new sanctuary.
That was one of the first Sundays Yambasu warned the community about Ebola.
Now, months later, the Monghere community knows the grief of losing families and friends to Ebola. But church members still rush through the church doors anytime they open. “In situations of distress and calamity, Africans draw closer to God for divine intervention,” Yambasu said. “This is especially so when every attempt to contain Ebola seems not to work.”
On the first Sunday in November, members of Charles Davies United Methodist Church had a dedication service for 40 new chairs purchased by the men of the church. The chairs help with overcrowding. “People believe the house of worship is a place of solace,” the Rev. Sahr Fallah said. “So when they feel hopelessness; when they feel all is lost, the only place they can find hope is in the church.”
Kissy United Methodist Hospital was closed Nov. 11 after Dr. Martin Salia, chief medical officer and surgeon, tested positive for Ebola. Salia, the sixth doctor in Sierra Leone to be infected with the deadly virus, was taken to the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center near Freetown.
Sierra Leone United Methodist Bishop John K. Yambasu and Beatrice Gbanga, the United Methodist Sierra Leone Conference’s medical coordinator, held an emergency meeting at the hospital to talk about steps to protect the staff and make sure the hospital is disinfected immediately. “I was emotionally disturbed when I got news this morning that Dr. Salia had tested positive of Ebola. I prayed that the news might turn out to be false,” Yambasu said at the meeting.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage in Korea (4): Generosity of Time

From our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:
One of the similarities of the South Korean culture and the American culture is how busy people are.  Talking with pastors we heard similar stories like we here in the US about how over-extended people are.  Education is so highly valued in South Korea that there is great competition for tutors for the best classes.  The graduation rate for High School in South Korea is about 90%.
In addition to the demand for study, most children and youth take music lessons of some kind, sports, physical fitness, martial arts.  Over and over we heard and saw examples of how busy people are.  We were told that often students with the amount of time they put into studying,  extra-curricular activities, and church they often get only 6 hours sleep.
I am not lifting this up as healthy—but setting the stage for what we in the US churches hear all the time—“my kids and I are so busy we don’t have time to do anything at church.”
Not so in the churches we visited.  Bupyeong Church where we stayed told us about how they train lay people as small group leaders and volunteers.  The church does most of its ministry with volunteers.   
In our culture where it becomes very difficult to find a volunteer to sit in the nursery, or serve on a committee, or spend 3 hours a week caring for the outside of the church, we saw a completely different understanding of church involvement.
In Bupyeong Church EVERY Saturday 40-50 come to clean the church.  All during the week we marveled at how clean this large building was.  It is these 50 people’s commitment to clean so that church money can go for mission and ministry.
Every week 8 people buy the flowers and come together to arrange them and put them throughout the church.  The arrangements while we were there were unique and lovingly done not by a florist someone paid—but by church members.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Stuff and Nonsense (2): Impossible

2014/11/09 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Children, Mark 12.41-44 (widow’s mite)
Message, Matthew 19.16-30

How many of you, as Carol shared the step chart, found yourselves really curious? Anyone feel awkward?

When we share these numbers, it is far too easy for us to reduce this conversation to one thing – money. “Churches are always asking for money.” Actually, because of your generosity and our careful management, we have had a great year financially as a congregation. So, we’re not doing this because as a church our hat is in our hand.
      And, we don’t share these numbers for us to compare ourselves with each other. We’re human and we do that; it’s totally natural. We share these numbers to help us imagine a journey and plan and pray – intentionally – over the next steps in our story.

You see, each of these numbers is a story. I’ve heard many wonderful generosity stories over the years, and am grateful for the stories we’ve been hearing this season: Gordy’s story of a stressful weekend turned into family connections by the gift of time; Sue’s story of one blessed person passing along the blessing, lavishly, to her and her sister during a difficult time; and, later today, a story from Joel and Chris Shuman.

I’ve heard stories of people responding to the invitation to join Jesus in a generous life:
·         a single mother on a tight budget who chooses to give up a coffee run each week so that she can give back more to God;
·         a young family struggling with debt who decide to expand their giving and become debt free;
·         an older adult on Social Security who nevertheless finds a way to give significantly;
·         a young adult who gets her box of envelopes upon joining the church and exclaims, “I always wanted to be one of those envelope people”.

Turkey Dinner (2)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Trunk or Treat (2)

A wonderful opportunity to offer the hospitality of Jesus to our friends and neighbors!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You

The World War II Memorial in D.C. Thanks to all our veterans.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Conversations on Human Sexuality

The Connectional Table and the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church have begun a series of public conversations on human sexuality, particularly on same-sex sex and relationships. It remains a divisive issues in the church.

Two of the conversations have been live stream videos, embedded below. One more is yet to come.

Bishop's Call to Prayer regarding human sexuality

November 7, 2014

Oklahoma City, Okla.: The Council of Bishops issued a statement concerning human sexuality, addressing their diverse perspectives and calling the people of The United Methodist Church to be in prayer, both for their leaders and for one another.

The statement reads:
As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church. We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow "to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church." We recognize that we are one church in a variety of contexts around the world and that bishops and the church are not of one mind about human sexuality. Despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to be in ministry for and with all people. We are also united in our resolve to lead the church together to fulfill its mandate-to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we do so, we call on all United Methodists to pray for us and for one another.

The bishops worked together on the statement during several executive sessions during their weeklong meeting in Oklahoma City. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

In Mission Together

Karen Weiss, our In Mission Together director for Thailand and Mongolia, presents the philosophy and the practicality of mission with the youth and confirmation classes (Oct 26).

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Turkey Dinner

Thanks to Donna and her team for the fun and food ... and 635 tickets sold! Wow!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Trunk or Treat (1)

Thanks to the organizers and to all who came out to support the event. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet many neighbors!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (3): A Generous Church

By our district superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver

            Over and over as we listened and learned about the Korean Methodist Churches and people, we learned that they are a generous people.  This is exhibited in their stewardship of time and financial resources.  (Next week I’ll talk a bit about their generosity in giving time.)
            We heard several times that the understanding of Korean Methodists is that they are to be giving generously of their financial resources for the work of Christ.  The Bupyeong Church is in a rather poor neighborhood.  The pastor told us that most of the church members are not rich—but they have a generous spirit and a generous heart.
            One of the expectations of being a Korean Methodist Christian is that you will tithe as a minimum example of your commitment to God and Jesus Christ.  They unashamedly talk about giving.  Their reason for giving, they said, was that they have freely received God’s grace and the gift of eternal life—so they must give freely of their possessions.
            When the people were building the first part of the church building, the cost was $10,000,000. Here are three examples of how they gave:
1.    When the Bupyeong Church was building their first church, one man had pledged to give $20,000.  He had a dream that Jesus told him , “I gave my blood for you—how much will you give back to me.”  In the dream Jesus told the man to give $20,000.  The man woke up and when the bank opened, he withdrew $20,000 and gave it to the church.
2.    Over and over to build the church, people would sell their homes, move into a smaller home and give the money to the church.
3.    People who were getting married were so committed to the building of the church and Christ’s kingdom they gave the money they had saved for their wedding to the church and had a very simple wedding.
The church was paid off in 1 year!
To celebrate the 74th Anniversary of the Bupyeong Church, the congregation felt a call to start a new church.  They prayed and prayed until they were certain it was God’s will.  Once they believed it was God’s will, this church went out and purchased land in another community where it is projected to have 30,000 new people move into that community.
Once the land was bought, the church paid to build the church and to purchase all the equipment and furnishing for the church.   The cost of the church was $3.4 million with furnishings costing $130,000.  The new church start began September 22, 2014 and is debt free.
The church had a vision that God wanted them to start new churches and ministries in Indonesia. The pastor gave a call that it would cost $30,000 to start one church and they had a vision to start 10.  In 2 months the church had given enough extra money that they started 10 new churches in Indonesia.
Some of their parishioners were so concerned about getting children to Sunday school that families bought vans so they could transport their neighborhood children to Sunday school.
This church also wanted to contribute more to the life of their community.  They request a list of people from the town who cannot pay their electric and water bill.  They send $5,000-$10,000 each week to help persons pay their bills.
The pastor listed several other missions they do in the community and in the city.  But I think the examples I have given you, are enough that you can see that the churches we visited are filled with generous Christians.
During one of the sermons in the early Morning Prayer service, the pastor reminded people that they do not have bazaars or fund raisers in the church.  He said while they are fun and there is a spirit of community, the church is to be generous in their offerings and their financial resources.  Thus their entire budget and mission outreach is done through the generosity of the members giving sacrificially—not fundraisers. 
Why do they give so much and so generously.  They take seriously the fact that Jesus Christ sacrificed his life for their salvation and the salvation of the world.  They can do no less than sacrifice for His mission and ministry.  The pastor said, “we have freely received God’s grace—we must give as generously as God has given to us.

God is blessing these churches and doing great things in the lives of the unchurched.  Could it be that the blessings come as the people in the church give more of themselves to make sure that mission and ministry happen?