Friday, October 30, 2015

United Methodists assessing health needs in Sierra Leone

Kowama Village chief and pastor Joseph Tommy (third standing from left) leads prayers before the community meeting starts. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS
Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS

Kowama Village chief and pastor Joseph Tommy (third standing from left) leads prayers before the community meeting starts.
By Phileas Jusu
Oct. 14, 2015 ǀ MANJAMA, Sierra Leone (UMNS)
A team of United Methodist health workers arrived in this village near Bo during the rainy season. The clouds battled to keep the sun from shining. The sun occasionally beat the clouds and peeped through the “sky windows” to send warming rays.
“Awao! Awa!” (“Come on! Come!”) Mohamed Goma, the village head, called as a teenager repeatedly hits an old suspended railroad metal that serves as a bell to call the community. “Bring your own seats,” Goma said, Because the small village community hall lacks enough seats for all attendees, people are encouraged to bring their own.
Slowly, the small community hall fills up. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, men and children arrive, some with benches. Others sit on mud bricks in the corner of the hall.
The meeting began the process of engaging the community with health workers who are assessing needs for a newly approved community-based healthcare program funded by Curamericas Global in eight villages in the Bo District. The new program uses home visits, health education and care groups to monitor health and ensure care.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Eat This Book #3: Formation

2015/10/25 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 119.129-136 (137-144)
Children, 1 Samuel 3
Message, 2 Corinthians 2.12 – 3.6

            Word of God/the Word
                        Metaphor for process of inspiration, interpretation
            Today: biblical authority
            “Getting into” the Scripture, word of God

The first step toward what is much more important:
            The word of God “getting into” you and me

“Eat this book”
            Ezekiel 2-3 – eat this scroll
            Jeremiah 15.16 – words came, I ate them
            Revelation 10.9 – eat this scroll
Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.
            You ARE what you EAT – Popeye

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Kits for Syrian Refugees

Published on Oct 20, 2015
In partnership with UMCOR, GlobalMedic has packed and shipped 1,080 family emergency kits containing hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and Rainfresh household water purification units for those displaced by conflict in Iraq. 

Chimney repair

One of our recent projects was significant repair to the parsonage chimney. Thanks to contractor Guy Zito for the excellent work.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Health Care in Rural Zimbabwe

Tinotenda Zamchiya, 4, was playing on the Nyadire United Methodist Hospital playground three days after she began treatment for a serious case of malaria. Photo by Vicki Brown, UMNS.

Photo by Vicki Brown, UMNS
Tinotenda Zamchiya, 4, was playing on the Nyadire United Methodist Hospital playground three days after she began treatment for a serious case of malaria
By Vicki Brown
Oct. 15, 2015 ǀ NYADIRE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
Tinotenda Zamchiya was seriously ill with malaria when a friend brought the child and her mother to the Nyadire United Methodist Hospital.
Three days later, the 4-year-old was climbing the monkey bars on the hospital playground at the Nyadire United Methodist Mission, the oldest United Methodist mission in Zimbabwe.
“I am so grateful for the care she has received,” the Rev. Clara Zamchiya said of her daughter. That care  included the Rev. Nyaradzai Matonga, chaplain for the primary and secondary schools at the mission, going to get them.
The little girl is typical of patients treated at the hospital in northeastern rural Zimbabwe, according to Dr. Ronald Nyabereka. “Children under 5 are the most vulnerable. If you did random testing of most people in the area, many would have malaria, they just aren’t all sick,” said Nyabereka, one of the hospitals two doctors.
Malaria, tuberculosis, HIV-AIDS and related illnesses, pneumonia and meningitis are among the most common diseases treated at the 175-bed hospital, although children are often seen for diarrhea and malnutrition, Nyabereka said. The hospital serves about 150,000 patients a year, with an annual budget of between $120,000 and $130,000 – depending on income and donations.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Eat This Book #2: Incarnate (2015-1018)

Call to Worship, Psalm 29
Children, Numbers 22
Message, John 1.1-14

Last week, Scripture as “word of God”
      Qualitative difference re Jesus as the Word
      Can be misused
      Meditate & obey
      “growl, moan … with pleasure”
Steve: “brilliant”

John 1.14
      “the Word became flesh and lived among us”
      Perfect marriage of Message and Messenger
      Complete union of God and Human, without diminishing either
      “Incarnate”, in flesh

1 Timothy 3:16  the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

Metaphor for nature of Scripture as “word of God”
      God’s book, and a human book
            “Men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God”
                        2 Peter 1.21
            Inspiration – how the book came to us from God, through people
“The word of Christ”
Romans 10:17  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
Colossians 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Pastoral Letter in response to recruitment efforts of the Klan

You may have read or heard about the front page article in last Sunday’s Time’s Leader about a cross burning by the KKK in the Mountain Top area. The article is available here:

The clergy of Mountain Top have prepared A Pastoral Letter in response to recruiting efforts of the Klan. The text is below. This will print in the Citizen’s Voice on Sunday and the Times Leader on Tuesday, as well as in the Mountaintop Eagle and the Mountain Peaks (date TBD).

To take your stand and endorse this letter with us, please register your support at

Please keep this matter in prayer and commit yourself to making everyone welcome in our fellowship and community. Thanks to the Bishop’s office for funding this printing.


As pastors of churches in and around Mountain Top, we are at once grieved and dismayed to read recent local news of Ku Klux Klan recruiting in our county and a cross burning in our own Mountain Top community. Grieved, because this anti-Christian and un-American organization claims to represent Jesus our Lord and the values of our nation. Dismayed, because we are concerned that local media coverage of these events only serves to publicize the Klan’s message of fear and hatred. As leaders of the religious community in Mountain Top, from Catholic, Protestant, and Independent churches, we stand together against the Klan’s efforts in our entire region and are committed to welcome and celebrate our African-American, Hispanic/Latino, Jewish, Arab, and Asian neighbors and friends.

Bad Guys

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Let the children come

Gere Reist, Secretary of General Conference, shares with the children during the 10:45 service on October 4.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Surprising Things

Baby Scale old

A baby scale–such a simple item.  It was the old fashioned kind – a drab concave holder on a spring connected to a scale with a needle that spun to the correct number of pounds and ounces–nothing fancy.  We found it in our house in June 2000 when we moved in.  The previous owner was a doctor.

We had no baby.  Our boys were in high school.  But we kept the baby scale, thinking it was an interesting antique that brought back memories of our own childhoods.

Monday, October 19, 2015

ActionChurch: Walk for Ruth's Place

The Walk for Ruth's Place team! Thanks to Joanne for organizing this Oct 4 team. We are blessed to partner with this shelter for homeless women in Luzerne County.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Global Perspective

Gere Reist, Secretary of General Conference of The United Methodist Church, speaks during Sunday School on Sunday 4 October. He shared stories from Mission Central, Africa, the Philippines, and more.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Eat This Book (1): Meditate

Eat this Book: Meditate                                                 \Josh 01 08
2015/10/11 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 19
Children, Ezekiel 2.8-10, 3.1-3 (with Bruchko banana leaf story)
Message, Joshua 1.1-9

      Ezekiel eating the scroll (a book)
      Bruchko banana leaf story – God comes to them

Last week, Gere …
Me, John 1, Jesus the Word
      Word of God, as Jesus, not the Bible

My message series, already planned, “Eat This Book”
      Command to Ezekiel and to John the Revelator
      Language of Jeremiah, words … I ate

And, the Bible describes itself as the word or words of God
            “All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3.16)
      A huge qualitative difference
            We worship Jesus, we do NOT worship the Bible
            Jesus is Lord of Scripture, Jesus is revealed by Scripture
            If we want to know Jesus the Lord, Scripture is a key path
      Other paths exist, including Creation and Christian community
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made (Romans 1.20).
Gifts of the Spirit to the church – word of wisdom, knowledge, teaching, prophecy (1 Corinthians 12)
            Not as definitive or clear as Scripture
            But even Scripture is subject to misuse and abuse

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Values of UMCOR at work in Syria

Before the Syrian refugee crisis became news, UMCOR was already assisting refugees from Syria and Iraq, and responding to humanitarian needs in Ukraine and Nepal.
by Linda Unger

“The situation in Iraq and Syria is extremely complex,” Paganini said. “The beauty of UMCOR is, because of the values we ascribe to—impartiality, independence, humanity, and neutrality—the only thing that matters is human suffering. If somebody is suffering, we’re called to be there—as UMCOR and as an extension of The United Methodist Church.”

The complexity and intensity of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria have only been compounded by the emergence of the Islamic State (known variously as IS, ISIS, or ISIL). But, Paganini cautioned, IS does not comprise the totality of those conflicts. Nor, he said, should we assume that bloodshed in Iraq or Syria was or remains inevitable.

In Syria, conflict began peacefully in March 2011 with local pro-democracy protests. Over the course of the next four years, these protests burgeoned into nationwide civil war and then became a theater of international conflict involving IS, the United States, and regional powers.
The toll has been great. As of June 2015, more than 220,000 people had been killed, about a million injured, and more than half the Syrian people had been displaced from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Over the span of the conflict, the UN reported, Syria’s development has regressed nearly four decades. The economy has contracted by about 40 percent, school attendance is down by 50 percent, and an estimated three out of every four Syrians now live in poverty—54 percent in extreme poverty.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pounding the Pastor

We received 800 pounds of food for the Mountaintop Food Bank during our "Pounding the Pastor" campaign! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

ActionChurch: Mission Central H.U.B.

Thanks to Cheryl for organizing this group. Great work putting together school and health kits.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dinner Church

Next date, Sunday 18 October at 6:00 pm prior to Open Table worship.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Most Vulnerable, Least Visible

Hundreds of homes in Oklahoma still need to be mucked out after flooding. Photo: Richard Norman
By Linda Unger*
October 5, 2015—The board of directors of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) approved $1.4 million to assist communities in Oklahoma, Texas, and Maryland whose moments in the headlines because of disaster have long faded, but whose recovery is far from over.
“Sometimes it’s the invisible disasters that really require the greatest funding,” said Greg Forrester, head of UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response. “They come into the news and go out of the news quickly. But for the families affected, the impact lasts a lot longer than the news cycle.”
Families in Oklahoma and Texas are still feeling the impact of tornadoes, torrential rain, straight-line winds, and massive flooding that tore across both states last spring. Rain fell steadily for weeks, causing rivers to overflow their banks and flood the homes of thousands, notably those who could least afford it.
Across Texas, more than 40,000 households applied for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance. The Texas Annual Conference disaster response team has identified 300 households with unmet needs within its geographical area, which includes Houston.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Point of View

Thanks to Gere Reist, Secretary of General Conference, for sharing with us on Sunday.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Soup Sale

Thanks to the ladies of the Friendship Circle who made and sold the soup!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


The Crestwood homecoming parade, getting set up in our parking lot.

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Box of Bones

 ‘ For know the plans I have for you’ says the Lord. ‘ They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. ‘ “
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)
A hospital representative called to say that they were cleaning a closet in a closed orthopedic office and wondered if Mission Central could use a box of human bones.
My first thought was, what will Mission Central do with a skeleton?  But, during the conversation, I came to understand that these were bone fragments used for bone grafts and implants.  While medically valuable – if we didn’t take them – they were going in the dumpster!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

ActionChurch: Blood Drive

Thanks to the many folks from Christ Church and our community that gave blood, and to George and his team for their hospitality on the day.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Church picnic (1 of 2)

Food, soccer, and more! Great fellowship on our church-wide picnic. Thanks to the guys for grilling all the burgers and dogs.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Warming up our voices for praise!

Jack warms up the choir prior to worship. Join in with our music ministry!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Mission Impossible #3: Risks

Mission Impossible (3): Risks                                            \Mk 06 07-13
2015/09/27 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 40.1-11
Children, Isaiah 52.7
Message, Mark 6.7-13, 30-32

Binding two related themes
      Impossible things that we must face in family life, professional life
      Impossible call of Jesus to follow & serve
Week 1: Departures
      Fish for people
Week 2: Confrontations
      Living the values of the kingdom when the world is in conflict with them
      Allowing Jesus to confront our sin with grace to overcome
Week 3: Risks
      Stepping out in mission with creativity and spontaneity

“If” by Rudyad Kipling
      If you can make one heap of all your winnings
      And risk it on one turn of pitch and toss
      And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
      And never breathe a word about your loss

Risk, ever present in life
      High school, asking a girl out
      Job interviews
      Making a cold call, sales pitch
      Merging two churches (our November “birthday”)
      Going for a 2-point conversion
Essentially risk-averse – need a good reason to step out of safety zone
      “Worth the risk?”