Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Children's Sunday School!

Sunday School for all ages! A great time for the kid in each of us - Sundays at 9:30 am.

Monday, September 29, 2014


My two favorites - of several pieces, all of which were awarded ribbons at the county fair. Congrats to Emily Urbanski!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pounding the Pastor - Weigh In

Pastor JP weighted in at 186 pounds, and our goal is five times his weight in gifts to our food bank partner - 930 pounds! Spread the word, recruit your friends, and let's exceed this goal by Sunday 5 October.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

"Forgive Us", Pardon and Peace: Practicing Prayer (3)

Notes, below:

So, we've been doing this sermon series this month on prayer. The purpose of this series is to give you all some concrete prayer practices that you can take home and put to use in your everyday lives. The basic prayer, what Jesus said when asked “How should we pray?”, was the Lord's Prayer. The Lord's prayer forms an outline for what goes into a proper prayer. Pastor JP assigned the point of forgiveness for my part in this series.

One thing that sticks out to me in the forgiveness aspect of the Lords Prayer is the importance that it puts on reciprocity. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Your being forgiven is directly tied to your ability to forgive others.

One reason why forgiveness is an integral part of prayer as Jesus teaches us is that we do not always have it in our minds that we need it. We are living in an inherently sinful world, for sure. But we sometimes see our lives as being without sin. The world of sin, we see it outside our windows and think that we're not a part of it. We think about how good we are for going to church on Sunday morning, and how every month the pastor says to the congregation “In the name of Christ, you are forgiven”. We get so caught up in our theology of universal forgiveness that our forgiveness is taken for granted.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ebola and The United Methodist Church - Update

From news articles and commentary released through The United Methodist Church, with links to the full articles.

Lockdown: The Door-to-Door Bid to Stop Ebola (Sierra Leone, Sept 20, by Phileas Jusu)
The usually busy and chaotic streets were virtually empty, creating an eerie ghost city. Friday was Day One of the nationwide three-day lockdown – a desperate effort to stop the deadly Ebola virus from spreading.
But inside homes, people crowded around the trained teams of health workers, community volunteers, and volunteers from non-government organizations moved from house to house with bars of soap, stickers and handbills to inform people about the hemorrhagic virus that has killed more than 2,600 people in West Africa— more than 500 in Sierra Leone—since the outbreak began.
In all, 7,136 teams of four mobilized for the Sept. 19-21 lockdown that has ground the country to a halt.
With the killing of a delegation of health officials, journalists and a pastor by a mob of rural villagers in Guinea, an even more tragic page has turned in the Ebola crisis. . . .

Commentaries on television, radio and in print by trusted leaders such as Bishop John Yambasu, the United Methodist leader in Sierra Leone, are helping to correct misinformation and encourage cooperation with health programs to halt the spread of the disease.
United Methodist Communications is providing text messages to clergy in rural areas as well as cities in Sierra Leone and Liberia. These messages are consistent with those developed by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control. The church’s advantage lies in its grassroots network of clergy and leaders who live in the affected regions and are trusted.
Zuagele thanked AML officials for refurbishing the facilities and thanked The United Methodist Church for making the buildings available to the county.
“This hospital is the heartbeat of this county when it comes to providing health services in this part of Liberia,” the superintendent said. He said The United Methodist Church’s Ganta Hospital and the staff are a shining example of what a health facility should be in times of crisis.
The hospital remained open throughout the Ebola virus outbreak even in the absence of adequate protective gear, Zuagele said.

Mission Team

These young people served a meal at Ruth's Place, a shelter for homeless women. Contact Joanne Hagner for more information.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bible Jeopardy!

As the Sunday School year kicked off, Bryn and Linda led their class in a very competitive Jeopardy tournament! Come to Sunday School each week at 9:30 am.

Church Camp a la Serbia

From the United Methodist Church in Serbia! Check out the story from the bishop of Central and Southern Europe (based in Zurich, Switzerland).

Friday, September 19, 2014


The fall newsletter is now in the mail. You can also view newsletters online and sign up for e-delivery only. Go Green, Save Green, See Color! Newsletters, other documents, and videos are available on our Resource/Video page.

In this issue, worship themes for the fall, how to sign up to serve in worship, pics of new members and baptisms, the youth ministry schedule (subject to change), Pastor JP's oat pecan pancake recipe, mission notes, and more.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Youth Mission Trip Slide Show

Two of the pics from the slide show presented on Sunday. It was a wonderful week of hands-on-service in the name of Jesus. Contact Joanne Hagner for information on next year's mission trip! And, check out the Resources/Video page or these direct links for the slide show: pptx, ppsx.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ebola outbreak - assistance

Our partner, Mission Central, is collecting the following items to provide direct help in response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak. You may bring your gifts to the church at any time. Check out the full story!

Latex Gloves & Face Masks must be hospital grade

Heavy Duty Latex Gloves (Hospital Grade)
Rubber Boots
Clorox Products
KleenGuard Breathable Liquid & Particle Protection Coveralls
Face Masks (Hospital Grade)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Thanks to our wonderful servers (and eaters) on our Aug 31 pancake breakfast.

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Daily Bread", Plenty Enough: Practicing Prayer (2)

Practicing Prayer (2): “Daily Bread”, Plenty Enough  
2014/09/14 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 104 (selections)
Children, Exodus 16
Message, Matthew 6.5-13, 31-34; Matthew 14.14-21

Lord’s Prayer – Our Father
      Last week: Our Father … on earth, as it is in heaven
      Practice: how we are transformed
      Post the Lord’s Prayer, pray it daily (or more)
      Pray with your body – hands raised – praise, priority

Structure of the prayer
      3 petitions (name, kingdom, will)
      3 petitions (food, forgiveness, deliverance)
      In the middle: “On earth as it is in heaven”

“On earth, as it is in heaven”: Spiritual versus Spirtualizing
      So heavenly minded as to be no earthly good?
            I’m thirsty … for the Lord (Michael Junior)
            It’s windy today … the wind blows … so is everyone …
      But we believe in resurrection – not just immortality of soul
      And, believe in creation – “it is good”
      Timothy Keller: the most material of faiths
Prayer … spiritual, not spiritualizing
      Translation of “epiousion” (daily) (Peterson, 147-150)
            A “Holy Ghost” word?
                  (500 of the 5000 words in the NT were unique)
            “supersubstantial” (Origen)
            Oxyrhynchus, 1897
                  Daily = today’s, fresh

All in the Family ... Duet

From Sunday 31 Aug. Thanks for the beautiful gift!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

"Our Father", Priority and Praise: Practicing Prayer (1)

Practicing Prayer (1): “Our Father”, Priority & Praise    
2014/09/07 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Mark 14.32-42, Romans 8.12-27

Lord’s Prayer – Our Father
      Not just information, but transformation
      Transformed by practice – by doing stuff

Practicing prayer
1.     Post it: mirror, sun visor, coffee maker, fridge
2.     Pray with body – expand posture – lifted hands
a.     Talking with your hands
b.    Al Gore doing the Macarena
c.     Penn State game – the wave
d.    Lifting holy hands to the Lord

Praise : raised hands as Child to Parent
      Jesse: “hold-ja”
      “You’re the best dad in all the world” (#1 Dad mugs)

Andrew Murray, of us: “You are created in Christ to pray. It is your very nature as a child of God; the Spirit has been sent into your heart – what to do? To cry Abba Father.” (92)
      Abba – every language has words for father/mother, no teeth required

Friday, September 12, 2014


An update from the September 3 UMCOR Hotline:

Since mid-summer, the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS), also referred to as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has created havoc in Iraq, targeting ethnic and religious minorities for apparent extinction.

The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries is both providing assistance to those who have fled and advocating for the human rights of those under attack. To date, its United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has provided $262,300 in emergency assistance to communities displaced and pushed north by IS. 

Those especially in harm’s way are ethnic and religious groups, mostly in northern Iraq, particularly Kurdistan. They include Christians, Turkmen and Yazidis. Read more about these populations here.

UMCOR, which assists those in need without regard to religion, race or national origin, is working with regional partners to provide food and water to communities impacted by the violence.

You can help. Please pray for peace in Iraq. Your gift to UMCOR International Disaster Response, Advance #982450, supports UMCOR's emergency response efforts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world. 

Build Your Kingdom Here

The Living Room Sessions band.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


A 2005 view of Ground Zero in NYC. Remembering the victims of hatred all over our world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flippin' Pancakes

Thanks to the team - Michael, Ken, Carrie and team leader Robin (not pictured) - who prepared "JP's famous pancakes" (Aug 31).

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Candidate

Mark's candidacy toward ordained ministry was affirmed by a vote of the church membership during the Food and Fellowship hour on Sunday 10 August.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Trash Collectors

Roadside and park cleanup crew ... finishing off at Mountain Freeze (Aug 10).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Resident Aliens

I spent the summer of 1987 doing mission work in Spain. Toward the end of the summer, I was helping to prepare a storefront for the “grand opening” of Centro Cristiano, a church in BĂ©jar. I got to paint the metal grillwork that framed the windows and glass doors, a tedious job that suited my temperament and gave me time to reflect.

I meditated on some recent Scripture reading, including the remarkable words of Paul to the Philippians: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). I grew up internationally, knowing the value of citizenship in one nation while living as a resident of another.

The church was located in a neighborhood of modest high rise apartments and condos, on the first floor of one of the buildings, open to a common square with room for kids to play. One of the children came up to me and we struck up a short conversation. “Where are you from?” “From heaven.”

Not exactly the best way to open a conversation and invite it to continue! The kid just walked away as I continued to paint. Just as I was born a US citizen without ever being in the country (until later), so my citizenship is in heaven, though I’ve never been there. And that status defines everything about who I am in the world – a “resident alien”.

I want to encourage you to be part of the adult Sunday School class this fall as they read and interact together over the book Resident Aliens: Life in the Christian Colony, by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon. Joel Shuman will lead the discussion, beginning 14 September. (On 7 September, the class will kick-off with an edition of Bible Jeopardy.) You can order your book through the church office or yourself. If you need assistance with the cost of the book, please let us know.

Together on the journey!

Pastor JP

Friday, September 5, 2014

Senior Awards

Congrats to AJ and Brittany, recipients of Senior Awards this year.

Ebola outbreak updates

Check out the Ebola outbreak update page from The United Methodist Church.

Residents of the quarantined community of West Point, a slum in Monrovia, Liberia, reject government assistance: (Article posted 21 Aug by Julu Swen on West African Writers, excerpts below)

Residents of the quarantined slum community of West Point have turned down the offer of the Liberia Government to assist them with food and water amidst an imminent food shortage. Speaking to WAW on a telephone line, Rev. Agrippa Nyentee who is a United Methodist pastor now trapped in the community said the government brought in 300 bags of rice (25kg) and 60 large bags of water which each contain 30 small plastic bags of drinking water on Thursday morning (August 21, 2014). “The food aid will create more confusion between the government and the people of the community,” Rev. Nyentee said.

The UMC Liberia pastor said there are over 75,000 persons living in the community and supplying them with 1,800 bags of water is like a joke on the part of the Liberian government. He confirmed that authorities of the community were now holding meetings for their next course of action. “Some of the assistance we want from the government of Liberia is to open a corridor for business people to bring in needed food commodities.”

An update on the UMCOR response and United Methodist mission work in Liberia and Sierra Leone:
(dated 28 Aug)
United Methodist missionaries, Helen Robert-Evans, who serves in Liberia, and Beatrice Gbanga, who serves in Sierra Leone, say that because of the Ebola crisis, many other areas of life are affected.
“The markets are closed. Schools are closed. Public gatherings are cancelled,” said Robert-Evans. 
Gbanga added that when there are public gatherings such as at church in Sierra Leone, everyone is asked to wash exposed skin with a chlorine wash. “We pass the peace now with a wave or a bow,” she said. “This is a big cultural change for people who like to hug and touch.”
Robert-Evans and Gbanga are currently in the United States, along with a number of other missionaries who serve in the two countries most impacted by the Ebola crisis. They are speaking at United Methodist churches about the work that is happening and how churches can help.
Kip and Nancy Robinson, who serve in Sierra Leone, want people to know that, “Sierra Leone is more than just Ebola.” The Advance projects there and in Liberia need continued support so that when the crisis passes, the schools, ministries and other health programs will have the funding to resume.

Mercy in Matthew (2): Have Mercy!

2014/08/31 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Message, Matthew 9.27-31, 20.29-34

“Mercy” in Matthew:
      Last week, “fraternal twin stories”, Jesus quoting “I desire mercy, not sacrifice”. Inclusion & Permission. The unworthy made welcome and sinners made guiltless.
      This week, “identical twin stories”, both of the healing of two blind men. In both stories, they call out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David”. In both stories, they follow Jesus. In both stories, they call him “Lord”. In both stories, Jesus touches their eyes. The fact that Matthew tells this story twice, whereas Mark and Luke only do so once, and the fact that Matthew puts two blind men in the story, whereas Mark and Luke only list one … well, that’s a mystery that the scholars still haven’t figured out … but it matches other patterns in Matthew’s writing (Bruner, I:434). I won’t be offering a ground-breaking solution – or any solution at all – to that particular conundrum, though I will be making an observation relative to their placement within the broader context of Matthew’s gospel.
      These two stories, with their reinforcing similarities and their contrasting differences, provide us some insight on the experience of God’s mercy. In line with the structure of the story, we’ll structure the experience of mercy as
      Mercy’s Cry
      Mercy’s Community
      Mercy’s Commission

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Morgan, Kristi, Brittany, and AJ - congrats to you and all our grads ... enjoy the opening weeks of college! (June 15)

90th Birthday

Congrats to Jim! (Aug 2)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mission Trip Feast

Welcoming back our mission trip team with a pizza dinner! (July 13)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014