Friday, October 31, 2014

In Mission Together: Report and Challenge to Partnership

Karen Weiss, the In Mission Together for Thailand and Mongolia for our General Board of Global Ministries, shared the message on Sunday 26 October. Thanks Karen!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (2): What the Korean Church Learned from Us

A second installment of the reflections of our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, on his pilgrimage to Korea with our Bishop and others:

            As we met with the pastors of the churches, they kept talking about their growth and why they believed the churches are growing.  The host pastor of the Bupyeong Church said numerous times, “we learned these things from you”.  He went on to explain that the principles that the Methodist Church in Korea abide by are the principles that the missionaries from the US taught them over and over.
            Pastor Hong, the senior pastor of Bupyeong Methodist Church articulated that they are growing because they take seriously what the missionaries from America taught them.  He referred to the missionaries as teaching them about:
·         A passion for Jesus Christ and the need to commit oneself to Jesus Christ
·         A need for fervent prayer and an indwelling of the Holy Spirit
·         A generous spirit of tithing and beyond
·         A need to serve others.
When Korea was open to the missionaries, the missionaries weren’t allowed to start churches or to preach.   So they started hospitals, schools, universities and other agencies to meet the needs of the Korean people.  They did their evangelism in ways that were tied with getting to know the people and meeting their needs.
It was at this point that the Methodist movement began to really make a difference in the lives of the Korean people.
More than once Rev. Hong talked about the fact that Korea was introduced to Christianity because of the Methodists in the States who sent missionaries.
It was the missionaries who taught them by example to care for the poor, the least and the lost.  It was the missionaries who by their example prayed without ceasing, instilling in the converts the need to pray long and hard.
The missionaries also taught the converts that it wasn’t enough to accept Jesus Christ, they had to serve others.  It was the role of the Christian to serve and not be served.
The missionaries also taught the new Christians to be generous in giving—and that tithing was the minimum not the maximum.  Rev. Hong reminded us that the reason the Korean Methodists give so much—even when they have so little is because Jesus Christ gave so much—he gave himself—and we can do no less.  (Next week’s article will be about their generosity.)
Two of the most notable missionaries were Mary Scranton and Henry Appenzeller.  Mary Scranton has ties to the Wyoming Seminary (a UM prep school) and Rev. Appenzeller was out of First Methodist Church, Lancaster.  Mary Scranton started a women’s school which now is one of the most prestigious universities in Korea.  Rev. Appenzeller was the first missionary to Korea and was a powerful force in bringing people to Christianity.
It was because of the generosity of the Methodist Church and the call of God on the lives of the missionaries that Korea was changed forever.
Listening to Rev. Hong and experiencing what we did with the Korean Methodist Church, I have to wonder if we have lost what we and our fore parents were taught.
Early Methodists—and EUB’s were clear about the generosity of tithing.  They taught and lived serving others.  They dedicated themselves to fervent prayer and to boldly claim the name of Jesus Christ.

Could it be that we need to get back to those teachings and those practices?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The UMCOR team

Morgan Richards is the monitoring and evaluation technical officer with UMCOR’s International Programs, providing support to UMCOR’s country offices. 

Richards, who recently joined the UMCOR team, says, “Coming from a family of Methodists, UMCOR was a household name for me growing up, so I’m really excited to be here.”

About her work, she explains, “My job is to make sure that we document how UMCOR impacts people’s lives, so we can prove our work is effective. We are constantly learning how to serve vulnerable communities even better. I love this work, and doing it to strengthen UMCOR’s ministry is one of the greatest honors I can imagine.” 

Richards has a Master’s degree in Sociology, with a research focus on international development and women’s empowerment. Before joining UMCOR, she worked as a monitoring and evaluation officer for local nongovernmental organizations in Mombasa, Kenya. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrestling Jacob

1. Come, 0 thou Traveler unknown, 
 whom still I hold, but cannot see! 
 My company before is gone, 
 and I am left alone with thee; 
 with thee all night I mean to stay 
 and wrestle till the break of day. 

2. I need not tell thee who I am, 
 my misery and sin declare; 
 thyself hast called me by my name, 
 look on thy hands and read it there. 
 But who, I ask thee, who art thou? 
 Tell me thy name, and tell me now. 

3. In vain thou strugglest to get free, 
 I never will unloose my hold; 
 art thou the man that died for me? 
 The secret of thy love unfold; 
 wrestling, I will not let thee go 
 till I thy name, thy nature know. 

4. Wilt thou not yet to me reveal 
 thy new, unutterable name? 
 Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell, 
 to know it now resolved I am; 
 wrestling, I will not let thee go, 
 till I thy name, thy nature know. 

Baggage Claim (3): Nothing Left to Lose

2014/10/19 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 85
Children, Genesis 32.1-21
Message, Genesis 32.22-32

I love the Jacob story, and I’ve repeated that a few times over the weeks we’ve been looking at his story.
      Baggage – sibling rivalry, mommy/daddy issues
      Destructive behavior – treating human connections as commodities
            “I hired you with my son’s mandrakes” (Leah to Jacob, 30.16)

Yet, this rascal is chosen and loved by God!
      Not because of anything he has done
      Even before he is born
An act of grace, a reminder that we are God’s simply because God is gracious, that we are loved simply because God is love.

But Jacob does not “get it”
      “Grabber”, his name, his birth
      Birthright & blessing – but never received his father’s approval
      Wealth – from Laban
He has fought for everything he has, he has earned it all
And that is an illusion – it is all a gift, it is all grace

The illusion of being my father’s equal – boxing

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (1)

Reflections from our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:

            As you are probably aware, 32 pastors and spouses joined Bishop Park and his wife Lisa for a pilgrimage to Korea.  It was a phenomenal trip.  We not only learned so much, we observed churches alive and on fire for Jesus Christ who understands their sole passion is to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.
            Over the next several weeks I want to highlight some of the things that I found helpful, inspiring and what I believe is God directed.  I hope some of the things that I write about will stir us in the Lewisburg District.
            We visited 6 churches and the Methodist Seminary of Korea.  All of the churches we visited are growing in numbers and in disciples.  Some of the pastors were quick to point out that this is difficult because of the culture in Korea.  Like the US, going to church is against the culture of the society in which they live.
Our host Church was the Bupyeong Methodist Church.  They are the epitome of a church who cares deeply for its community and for the unchurched.  They are also a church that takes hospitality to a new level.  (I’ll talk about the hospitality in another article.)
One of the links of all of the churches growth was that they were crystal clear as to their mission as a church.  Our host church understands that all they are about is bringing people to know Jesus Christ and to grow disciples.  If it doesn’t fit these two goals—they don’t engage in it.  It’s about their goal of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
Another church we visited called themselves the Joyful Church.  Their goal is to bring joy to the community through the Gospel of serving and to find ways to help make the community joyful in Jesus Christ.
This joyful church sees as their mission field the children in the community.   To serve the children, they built—with church funds—a 3 floor community center for the church.  The 3rd floor is a children’s library, the second floor a coffee shop for the community and the 1st floor a theater for performing.   This is next to their sanctuary.
The pastor of this church said that they opened this as a place for children.  He went on to say our only reason is to serve children in our community well.  To that end, they now worship 1,100 adults and 1,400 children.  They are clear about their mission and they do not stray from it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola program director

Dr. Olusimbo Ige is the senior program manager for Imagine No Malaria (INM) of the Global Health arm of the General Board of Global Ministries. 

Dr. Ige oversees the design, implementation and evaluation of malaria-control programs by United Methodist health boards in 16 African countries, which receive funds from INM. 

Dr. Ige says of her work, “I am excited about working towards a future where African children and women no longer fear untimely death as a result of malaria. Being able to support efforts that help prevent, educate and treat malaria in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Africa is a unique privilege that I am very grateful for.” 

Dr. Ige is a public health physician with a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, Masters in Public health and fellowship of the West African Post-graduate College of Medicine. 

Prior to her work with UMCOR, Dr. Ige held a position with USAID/Malaria Action Program for States as the Management Capacity Building Officer in Southwest Nigeria. 

(From the 08 Oct 2014 UMCOR hotline) Dr. Ige is also program manager for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pounding the Pastor

Thanks to everyone for your gifts for Pounding the Pastor - over five times Pastor JP's weight, 1036 pounds (as of the Oct 5 count). And thanks to Shirley & Lee and Bruce for serving on the food pantry board.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baggage Claim (2): Jacob Meets His Match(es), or You Can't Buy Love

2014/10/05 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 46
Children, Genesis 28.10-22
Message, Genesis 29.1-35

As we ended the message last week, we pointed out that Jacob had been chosen by God, Jacob had been loved, before he was born, before he had done anything good or bad. And, once we got to know him, it was easy to see that he was no Eagle Scout. The fact that God would choose a rascal like Jacob is an act of grace, a reminder that we are God’s simply because God is gracious – not because of anything we have done to earn it or anything we are that deserves it. We are simply loved because God is love.

Today, we continue the story with this …
Momma’s boy, away from home for the first time
Fleeing his brother
Looking for a wife, to “meet his match”
      Stubborn man, uses a stone for a pillow “as hard as his head”
            (Michael Card, Genesis 28.11)
            He’s always gotten his way
                  What happens when he doesn’t?
                  When he “meets his match”

      Marriage as a match for families – finding a girl from the “right family”
      Marriage as a financial transaction (bride price) – not about romance
Deconstructed centuries later in Song of Solomon 8.7b:
      If one offered for love
      All the wealth of one’s house,
      It would be utterly scorned
You can’t buy love.

RENT: “I’ll Cover You” (Angel and Collins, lyrics Jonathan Larson)
I think they meant it
When they said you can’t buy love
Now I know you can rent it
A new lease you are my love
On life, be my life

Connections as commodity, as transaction - TODAY
If I am totally fulfilled in our sexual relationship, I will be faithful
If I am totally fulfilled emotionally,
If you live up to my expectations,
Why porn, prostitution … not just poverty but also because connection is a commodity.

Sunday School

The music class and the youth class having fun and learning lots.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Long Term Response to Ebola

Since June 2014, the General Board of Global Ministries’ United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Global Health unit have been working in collaboration on a global scale to coordinate an integrated approach in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. 

Community education about the disease, health worker protection and psychosocial counseling for affected people and their families are the strategy’s three prongs, said Dr. Olusimbo Ige, of Global Health.

To date, UMCOR and Global Health have worked together to ensure that grants totaling $400,000 for educational programs, protective equipment and other Ebola-related supplies have been provided primarily to United Methodist health boards in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.

“Our approach is to work closely with United Methodist health boards in affected countries, listening closely to them as they identify needs and strategies we can support,” said Rev. Jack Amick, UMCOR executive who heads the organization’s International Disaster Response unit.

Amick is in charge of disbursing UMCOR emergency funds, while Ige advises that distribution in the case of the Ebola response. Together, they hold a weekly conversation by telephone with the United Methodist health boards in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

It has become apparent to the international humanitarian community and the governments involved with this crisis that the epidemic will likely have a long-term negative impact on the health systems, economies and social practices of these countries. 

Global Ministries is partnering with local health boards, bishops, missionaries, UMCOR technical offices and others to enable a long-term approach that not only responds to the current Ebola crisis but, also, helps strengthen healthcare capacity in the region to make it better prepared to meet any possible future crisis.

This long-term, integrated approach reflects the established standard for response to health crises and issues of sustainable development. To financially support these immediate and long-term goals, please write “Ebola response” in the memo section of your check. This will ensure that funds go where intended.

(A news release from The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries)

Hot Dog Church

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Friday, October 10, 2014

South Asia Floods

From The United Methodist Committee on Relief hotline, 24 September 2014:

Recent months have seen torrential rain and widespread flooding throughout the countries of South Asia. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is responding with emergency assistance through its partners on the ground in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India-controlled Kashmir. 

In Pakistan, September monsoons submerged low-lying areas in three provinces, damaged electricity and transportation systems, collapsed homes or roofs, and caused extensive crop damage. The storms left at least 190 people dead and 350 injured. It is the fourth consecutive year of deadly monsoons in Pakistan. 

With implementing partner, Church World Service, UMCOR is providing emergency food and non-food supplies to 249 vulnerable families in Azad Kashmir, Bagh District. Supplies include wheat flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, full kitchen set, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, and others. 

In Bangladesh, UMCOR is working with partner Muslim Aid to provide emergency food supplies to 2,100 families in the northwestern part of the country, which was subjected to fierce rains and flooding in mid-August. Here, too, the most vulnerable households, among them those living in poverty, the elderly, and those living with disabilities, will receive assistance. 

In India-controlled Kashmir, 200 people have died in the region’s worst monsoon season in more than half a century. Hundreds of thousands of people remain stranded by floodwaters in Kashmir Valley. 

UMCOR is working with partner Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA) to provide 800 families in Kashmir with emergency food and non-food supplies. UMCOR also is working with partner GlobalMedic to provide 500 families with household water purification tools and to supply 25 public water purification systems in 10 villages. 

Your gifts to UMCOR International Disaster Response, Advance #982450, supports the work of UMCOR and its partners when disaster strikes. 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

South Sudan Food Security

A vegetable growing project in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture will improve the livelihoods of individuals in South Sudan and train them in business management skills.

From the UMCOR Hotline, 1 October 2014:

Decades of civil war prior to South Sudanese independence in 2011 took an estimated 2 million of lives and forced many to flee in search of safety. By 2007, displaced persons began returning to Northern Bahr el Ghazal state seeking favorable living and working conditions. But jobs, social services and resources were limited.

Today, a grant from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in support of its field office in Aweil in Northern Bahr el Ghazal will improve food security and livelihoods of South Sudanese families through goat rearing and vegetable farming projects.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sibling Rivalry and Daddy Issues: Baggage Claim (1)

2014/10/05 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Holy Communion
Children, Genesis 25.19-34 (birth and birthright)
Message, Genesis 27.1-38 (blessing)

I LOVE the Jacob story (Story and Baggage)
      If doing the readings (on note sheet): he’s got BAGGAGE
      Sibling rivalry, daddy issues

Jesse/Caleb: Baby all done now
      “Because we love him more.”
Me: biological, adopted; accidental, chosen

Parent’s job is to give their children someone to blame in therapy.

Claim your baggage
      Rent, “La Vie Boheme”, Roger and Mimi
      Roger: No one’s perfect. I’ve got baggage.
      Mimi: Life’s too short, babe. Time is flying
            I’m looking for baggage that goes with mine.

I LOVE the Jacob story (Story and Stereotype)
            Delightful, delicious story …
All the extremes of stereotypes are present

Hunter – gatherer
Oldest – youngest
Redneck – metrosexual
He-man – momma’s boy

Missing stereotype: the “Eagle Scout” – you don’t see a “good guy” in the story … maybe because none of us really qualify, if you scratch a little beneath the veneer.

My Story - Alice

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Prayers for Hong Kong

Government protests and the Methodist Church:

The Methodist Church here led by its President, Revd Tin-Yau Yuen, has called for the government to keep calm and not to abuse force. The Tiananmen Square incident is still fresh in the memories here. The Chinese Methodist Church in Wan Chai is also a hub of activity with people bringing
hundreds of items in support of the protestors; water bottles, fruit, bread buns, crackers, first aid items, masks and more cling film than you can shake a stick at!

Revd Yuen and some of the church staff are sleeping at the church to be available when needed. The 
commitment of Methodists here is incredible and the church has become a place of sanctuary for 
the protestors. The Chinese Methodists have called for regular prayer and staff and members of the 
Methodist International Church are standing with them. We are praying for peace in the community 
but also understanding from the government and proper dialogue with Beijing. 

“Lead … Deliver”, Guide & Guard: Practicing Prayer (4)

2014/09/28 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 23
Children, Matthew 4.1-11
Message, James 1.1-27

Lord’s Prayer – Our Father
      Practice: how we are transformed
      Lord’s Prayer posted, prayed daily
      Praying with our body, hands raised
      Blessing prayers for work, for success
      Meditative prayer: the Jesus Prayer

“Lead us not into temptation”
            James 1 –
      Temptation’s source is our own desire – liking and loving
      Temptation’s source is the human drive for wealth, sex, power
            Wealth – the rich “will wither away”
                  “every generous act … from above”
            Sex – “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin”
            Power – “your anger does not produce God’s righteousness”
      Jesus was tempted – has human desires – “yet without sin”
                  (Hebrews 4.15)

      Led into temptation through our desire
      How does God “lead us not”?
            Support our efforts at prevention
                  An alcoholic – stay out of bars, not enter new relationships
                  Create boundaries around our impulses – spending, etc.
            Keep us from surprise opportunity at a point of weakness
            Strengthen us to say “no”

      Will Willimon, resisting temptation (story from The Last Word)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

World Communion Sunday

A story of what our World Communion Sunday offering supports. Join us on Sunday 5 October!