Monday, November 30, 2015

All Saints 2015

Recognizing, with candles, those whom we have lost in the prior year; celebrating our 50 year (and more) members; and gathering around the Lord's Table.

Bless This House

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Political Dissident Leads Revival behind Bars

Vano Kalembe Kiboko, a United Methodist evangelist, prays in prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has been helping to lead hundreds of people to Christ while in prison himself. Photo courtesy of Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko
By Heather Hahn
Sept. 23, 2015 (UMNS)

Just as Paul and Silas witnessed to Christ while in prison, the 56-year-old Vano Kiboko is likewise testifying to Christ’s liberating grace. Each week, he preaches and his family brings massive amounts of food for a communal Agape feast.
In eight months, more than 700 have made a profession of faith at these services, and he has baptized more than 300.
South Congo Area Bishop Kainda Katembo appointed him a lay evangelist in July 2014 with the authority to baptize. “He said at the time, ‘I have five pastors in my church. Why would I need to baptize?’” his brother recalled. “He did not know God had a plan.”
Now, the Rev. Kiboko said, his brother has baptized more people in prison “than I have in my 25 years in ministry.”

Hopes and Dreams

We concluded our Once and Future Church series by posting hopes and dreams at the altar rail.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Care Team

From the team meeting on Oct 31. Thanks to Mike for his leadership and this team for countless visits, cards, phone calls, meals, prayers, rides to the doctor's office, and more!

The Once and Future Church (3): Letting Go, Pressing On

2015/11/22 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 145.8-21
Children, 2 Chronicles 20 – switch to Genesis 12, Abe’s call?
Message, Philippians 3.4-14

Our message series:
Story telling as those delivered from slavery, the context of generosity (PAST) – Deuteronomy, offerings upon entering the land
Story telling as those who are alert to what God is doing NOW, the context of gratitude (PRESENT) – promise of God’s “new thing” attended to in the present
Story telling as those dreaming of God’s best, the context of faith (FUTURE) – letting go and pressing on

            Jeremiah 29.11 – future with hope

Paul – giving up on success

Philippians 3:8-9  I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.

      Trust in God instead of my pedigree, my goodness, my will
      We never can, never do, deserve grace or earn forgiveness – a gift
      Personal transformation narrative: If I decide to change, I’ll change
            Change the way we think, feel, act
      Nothing changes a human being like Jesus

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Winter Kits for Pakistani Earthquake Survivors

On October 26, 2015, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked major cities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, leaving several hundred people dead, thousands injured, and even more without shelter or a source of livelihood.

In Pakistan, the earthquake affected all four provinces, with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) being the most severely affected province. In KP, 31 percent of the fatalities were women, and 38 percent were children, according to a report from ReliefWeb

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is partnering with Community World Service Asia, formerly Church World Service-Pakistan/Afghanistan, to provide winterization kits for 470 affected families (about 3, 760 individuals) in the Swat district. Families who lost homes and belongings, and who need protection from freezing temperatures, will receive quilts, floor mats, plastic sheets, and cotton mattresses, among other basic needs.

You can support UMCOR when international disasters occur with your gifts to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450.

For more information ...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Paint Crew

Thanks to Gordy for getting a team together! The hall looks so much better.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bishop Park responds to terror in Paris

Bishop's Letter Header

The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The Lord is a refugee for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

(Psalm 9:7-10)
"May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.
(Psalm 33:22)
November 14, 2015

Dear United Methodists of the Susquehanna Annual Conference:

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, the Prince of Peace,
Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world!

The world was dealt with yet another diabolical blow of terrorism. Our hearts go
out to the grieving families and the loved ones of the innocent victims of the
terrorist attacks in France this past Friday. They are in our prayers for comfort,
strength, and healing. While still in shock and disbelief, we share their agony and

The world shall never forget that terrorism is the most despicable crime against
humanity. No matter what the cause may be, terrorism must be condemned. In
solidarity with the human community; our resolve to end terrorism must only
grow stronger.

Sharing Faith where Faith is Suspect

With a strong belief in social outreach, members of First United Methodist Church in Portland volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank in Beaverton, Ore. Photo by Mark Ohlson, courtesy of First United Methodist Church
Photo by Mark Ohlson, courtesy of First United Methodist Church

With a strong belief in social outreach, members of First United Methodist Church in Portland volunteer at the Oregon Food Bank in Beaverton, Ore.
By Heather Hahn
Oct. 21, 2015 | PORTLAND, Ore. (UMNS)
First United Methodist Church in Portland had a problem, one other churches would envy.
So many families with children were regularly attending that the Rev. Donna M.L. Pritchard began one sermon shortly after Easter with an urgent request for more volunteers to teach Sunday school.
“We have so many kids now we are going to have to split our Sunday school classes,” the church’s senior pastor said after a children’s sermon that packed the front of the church with little ones. The church’s rooms, she added, aren’t big enough for more than 20 youngsters in a single class.
The church, the largest United Methodist congregation in Oregon with about 800 members, is defying its community’s religious trends.
Over the past three years, the church has welcomed an average of 30 new members a year and seen its average worship attendance grow from about 330 to 375. This summer, the church added a second service on Sunday mornings to accommodate its growth and make room for more.
The 167-year-old congregation has succeeded in the U.S. major metro area that a 2015 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute found has the highest percentage of residents with no religious affiliation — some 42 percent of the population. Put another way, Portland is at the leading edge of the “None Zone” — where more people answer “none” when asked their religion than identify with any single faith group.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thanksgiving Tree

An Unselfish Life

Thanksgiving Anthem

Sunday School Bells


Bells (2015-1108)

Unfailing Love

Falling in Love (2015-1115)

The Once and Future Church: Old Stories, New Things, and the Witnesses (2015-1108)

Call to Worship, Psalm 41
Children, Thanksgiving Tree
Message, Isaiah 43.1-25

Historical context: Israel in exile
      Paralyzed by Cynicism, Fear, and Nostalgia
      Lost the ability to adapt and still remain authentically Jewish
            If we change something, or if something changes,
            do we lose our identity?
      Lost Hope, and with it the ability to notice God’s new work
            Future with hope – Jeremiah 29.11

Isaiah’s message
      We’ve been here once before (Egypt)
      God delivered us once before (Exodus)
Isaiah 43:16-18  Thus says the LORD, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters,  17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:  18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.
      “Forget the former thing” … the best is yet to come

Paul: “Pastor, we don’t like change”
      Buggy shed to Social hall

      Memory and Hope
      The best is yet to come!

The Once and Future Church: The Story and the Gift (2015-1101)

2015/11/01 Christ Church, Mountain Top, All Saints
Call to Worship, the Lord’s Table (Prayer of Humble Access)
Children, the Lord’s Table (Words of Institution), Golden Anniversary
Message, Deuteronomy 26.1-19

Five years ago, upon the 50th anniversary of the dedication of this sanctuary building, built in 1959 and 1960 for $147,974, a collection of formal church history and oral history was provided. I’ve enjoyed reading through much of that, along with some other treasures that Suzanne has discovered in the church office. And, I’m really excited to see our timeline develop and fill out on the wall. Please bring in your pictures and share your stories – and some video testimony would be great too!
      We have always celebrated our anniversaries from the date of consecrating the building, December 4, 1960. Our cornerstone, laid earlier in 1960, is actually dated 1959. The groundbreaking was 1959. The church was named in 1956. But the formal vote that created Christ Church as a merger of the former Albert and Mountaintop churches was taken on November 5, 1955. Like many of the most important developments in church history, it was led by our young people. The youth already had been meeting together as a joint youth group for several years and they, along with the visionary leadership of the churches, were able to win over any reluctant persons in the prior congregations. Every single family of the prior congregations except one (which left because they were in the coal business and the church decided to heat with oil), made the commitment to the new Christ Church. On that consecration Sunday in 1960, there was standing room only. Harry and Marion Taylor could not get into the building. Les Shupp was one of the acolytes, along with his friend Bryn Kehrli, who was here just a few weeks ago, visiting in worship from his home out of state.
      The formal history of building projects and pastoral changes is interesting. For example, the building was expanded in 1981 and 1993. The 1993 expansion cost $492,000, three times what the original unit cost. Inflation!
      But what interests me most is the informal history, the oral history, the surprises and details that add color. Grace Engler, who died in 2010 at the age of 91, told the story of Russ Shupp, leading the opening of Sunday School at the time, stepping down from the front of the church to reprimand one of his sons. Gary or Les – which one of you was it? Grace also remembered the big spaghetti supper prepared by the women, who then spent all night sick with “food poisoning”. Of course, that was the days of coal-fired cook stoves with everyone cooking at home and bringing it to the church for the event.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Maternal-Child Health in Mozambique

High maternal and neonatal mortality rates plague women throughout Mozambique. So many of these deaths could be prevented if there was greater access to health care for women and children. The Mozambique Ministry of Health cites three main delays as the primary causes for maternal and neonatal mortality:
  • delays in seeking antenatal care,
  • delays in getting to a clinic or hospital for delivery, and
  • delays in getting treatment at the health facility.
To help address these issues, The United Methodist Church’s Mozambique Episcopal Area Health Board is happy to be among the first sites to pilot our new Maternal and Child Health project. They have recently been awarded a grant to focus on pregnant women and children under two in marginalized and underserved communities. Core activities will include encouraging women to use antenatal care services, providing services for safe births at the Cambine Clinic, promoting breastfeeding and nutrition of babies, and encouraging early treatment, as well as prevention for priority childhood illnesses (including diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, and HIV). The United Methodist Mission Clinic in Cambine will be the site of this pilot project. The project will provide services for 13 villages around the health facility with a population of about 16,250 people, including an estimated 3,250 women of child-bearing age and 813 pregnant women. 

Read more!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Community Engagement and the Rural Church

Volunteers chopping wood
… This presents an amazing opportunity for the rural church to engage and strengthen the wider community, which in turn strengthens the church.

One example I’ve encountered is Cullowhee United Methodist Church, a partner church in the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative. It sits on the side of a mountain in Jackson County, where 20 percent of the 40,000 people live in poverty. Though it likely will never be a megachurch, Cullowhee UMC is viable, with two morning services and an average worship attendance of just over 260.

The Rev. David Reeves, the senior pastor, is not one to dole out leadership advice. In one of my earliest conversations with him, I asked what made Cullowhee such a good church. With a grin, he said, “I don’t know. You just sort of have to show up. Just be there and listen.”
So I did. And I’d like to share what I saw and heard that make this congregation a model for leadership.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Micro-loans in Senegal

Fatima Sy, a member of API’s Ndiareme Limamoulaye micro-credit group, displays her wares at an event in Dakar. She makes her living by transforming millet into couscous and selling it in small packages.
In Senegal, providing micro-entrepreneurship opportunities for women who struggle to provide for their families is the goal of the Anti-Poverty Initiative (API), Advance #3021544

When API received UMC #GivingTuesday donations plus matching funds in 2014, 65 women in Guediawaye, Dakar, received credit support for income-generating activities that economically empowered them and directly impacted their families. Here’s what some of the women had to say: 

“With API’s loan, I expanded my business to include palm oil and fish sales. I am now able to pay my child’s school expenses.”—Monique

“My husband abandoned me and my eight children. Life was very difficult. Things changed when I enrolled in API’s program. My business is doing well and I am better able to meet the needs of my household.”— Coumba

“I was a stay-at-home wife, doing nothing to support the household for lack of business capital. Later, I discovered API and enrolled in their program. I now run a small business and support my husband in meeting the needs of our family.” — Emma 

UMC #GivingTuesday provided API an important platform to raise funds and overcome previous challenges to raise capital for women in need. API participated in both the 2013 and 2014 #GivingTuesday events, which resulted in women becoming their own bosses for the very first time.

Read more.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Thoughts from Tom Salsgiver, District Superintendent

Shared by our District Superintendent at a church conference gathering here at Christ Church. Thanks, Tom, for your eight years of leadership in our district.