Monday, March 28, 2016

Schools and churches in East Congo

Hosanna United Methodist Church has a passionate pastor, enthusiastic members and big plans for the future — even though the church has no walls, floors or roof.
Set in a grassy field in the village of Matete, Hosanna is one of 93 “leaves and sticks” churches in the Kisangani district.
The large district is divided into two areas. The Rev. Litalema Bogega is superintendent of Kisangani 1 and the Rev. Omole Owandjakoy is superintendent of Kisangani 2.
Sitting outside in plastic chairs one evening at Nyota-Makiso United Methodist Church, most of the pastors from both districts gathered to share their stories with visitors from United Methodist Communications.
Buildings are always an issue.
The Rev. Paul Lokolonga, pastor of the church named after him, is paying for the 1,500 bricks needed to repair the mud and thatch school behind the church. The bricks are being made from the mud onsite.
The district has 100 local churches. Four churches are “durable” with roofs, walls and floors; three churches are semi-durable with roofs; and the rest are made from leaves and sticks woven together using the trees and foliage surrounding them.
Transportation is always an obstacle, and the Kisangani districts have only one working motorcycle to share among the district superintendents. A dusty motorcycle that sits in a corner of the office the superintendents share hasn’t worked for 20 years.
The roads are bad and it is difficult to communicate with all the churches.
“The district has many challenges,” Bogega said.
Evangelism is not one.
The Rev. Ndjovu Shakro, pastor of Hosanna United Methodist Church, has 40 members in his church, which was started two years ago. Every week the pastor and members of the church go out into the community to invite people to their church and tell them about Jesus Christ.

Friday, March 25, 2016

We Will Rock You!

2016/03/20 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Palm Sunday
Call to Worship, Psalm 118.1-2, 19-29
Children, palm crosses, “Hosanna” “Blessed is the one …”
Message, Luke 19.28-40

A Knight’s Tale, a 2001 film, stars Heath Ledger as peasant squire William Thatcher, who ends up impersonating a knight and winning tournaments, and Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer, an alcoholic and compulsive gambler who becomes part of Thatcher’s team (and eventually writes his Canterbury Tales). It’s a fun tale of the unlikely victor. And in this medieval comedy-adventure-romance, one of the recurring musical themes is a song that emanates from the stands at the tournaments, as the fans get excited for the next event.
      Stomp, stomp, clap …
      We will, we will, rock you!

Anti-establishment politics (Power)
      Showing up the politicians, the powerful
            Ollie North and the Iran-Contra hearings
      Fueled by anger (disenfranchisement), sometimes fear (other)
            Trump, TrusTed Cruz, Feel the Bern

Jesus rocks our world: Power
      Comes as a king, comes as the kingdom – a political term
      Riding on a donkey, fulfillment of prophetic, Messianic hope
            (Zechariah 9.9)
      “Blessed is the king”
      Powers request the Teacher to “order your disciples to stop”
      Yet not exercised in typical ways, no hint or threat of violence
When one of the disciples cut off the ear of a man coming to arrest Jesus, Jesus commanded him to stop the violence and healed the man who was arresting him (Luke 22.50-51)
      We will, we will, rock you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter Vigil

by Kate Payton
Kate PaytonThe Easter Vigil service is all about remembering and reliving our story of salvation. Usually we do this within the confines of a sanctuary. But last year, the multi-site church I serve in Northwest Washington, DC, partnered with other churches to conduct an Easter Vigil in multiple locations.  We came together to proclaim a story our whole city desperately needs.
The betrayal, abandonment, violence, and death that Christ experienced on Good Friday are present-day realities for too many people in our midst.Given the racial and socio-economic geography of DC, some of our group members found themselves in parts of the city they had never been to before. If we are to pray and work for new life for all of God’s people, we must know first-hand the Good Fridays they experience.
So our Easter Vigil service was designed to lead us through places of need in our city, places we usually avoid or don’t even know about. The service explored the themes of creation, liberation, abundance, hope, and baptism, each in a specific location where death and the hope of resurrection are tangibly present.
  • Creation. We started at our community food garden — standing barefoot in the dirt — to remember God’s creating work.
  • Liberation. We went to a church located on a known prostitution track of our city. Standing in a parking lot littered with condoms, we read the Exodus story. One of their pastors spoke of the realities of sex and human trafficking. We prayed for all of these who are enslaved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Eggstravaganza! (The first of many)

Thanks to Michele and her team for a wonderful event for the entire community!

Bishop Park on the Brussels attacks

Bishop's Letter Header

March 22, 2016

 "We serve a Risen Savior! He's in the world today.
We know that he is living, whatever foes may say."
(UMH 310, He Lives, paraphrased)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our Brokenness, and Hope of the World!

God is weeping with humanity today. Many of us awoke today to the horrific news that came out of Brussels, Belgium. The accounts are devastating. The latest numbers I saw reported were over 150 wounded and over 30 dead. And we know those numbers will increase as the confusion subsides and the care begins. Each death represents the life of someone who was created in God's image. The survivors face a different future than the one they had imagined even yesterday. Once again the forces of evil have shown their ugly head with another hideous act. The ongoing saga of good and evil continues. The confrontation never seems to take a rest in this broken world.

We must be Christ-like as the bearers of Christ's love and grace for such a time as this. We must not be quick to judge all people of any one particular religion or nationality in broad strokes because of the acts of a few people. It is imperative that as Christians we respond in the manner in which God yearns and longs to see us act. The authentic identity of God's people will be in the outpouring of care and support for all those in need. God was present and will continue to be present in Belgium. Our prayers are with those who are directly affected and harmed by the diabolic terrorist acts; we pray for their comfort, strength, healing and hope. 

Palm Sunday Bells

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Helping those displaced by Boko Haram

Some of the displaced Nigerians in the front yard of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church in Nigeria.
Some of the displaced Nigerians in the front yard of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church in Nigeria.

By E. Julu Swen
Feb. 17, 2016 | ABUJA, Nigeria (UMNS)
A United Methodist congregation in Nigeria is providing refuge for some of the thousands escaping the Boko Haram war in northern Nigeria.
That assistance is happening despite the scarce resources of the Don Peter Dabale Memorial United Methodist Church in Abuja, which has been trying to complete a church building project since 2009.
According to the Rev. Matthew Daniel Dangombe, superintendent of the Abuja District, the refugees were living around the church in makeshift structures in desperate conditions, so the church decided to help them. “We considered helping these people as part of our Christian duty in this district,” he said.
The displaced Nigerians come from various religious backgrounds. The church is using its different ministries, such as teaching how to recycle waste papers, sewing skills and arts and crafts, to lower their fear and prepare them for career opportunities when they return to their home states.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

100 Years, 100 Habitat Houses

Wayne Chaffin has volunteered on 100 Habitat for Humanity houses built by Highland Park United Methodist Church’s Carpenters for Christ group during the last 20 years. On Jan. 27, he and Kathy Adams worked together as the 100th house neared completion in time for the Dallas church’s centennial celebration. Photo by Sam Hodges, UMNS
Photo by Sam Hodges, UMNS
Wayne Chaffin has volunteered on 100 Habitat for Humanity houses built by Highland Park United Methodist Church’s Carpenters for Christ group during the last 20 years. On Jan. 27, he and Kathy Adams worked together as the 100th house neared completion in time for the Dallas church’s centennial celebration.
Feb. 18, 2016 | DALLAS (UMNS)
Jane Parker doesn’t swing a hammer much, but she is the volunteer coordinator and unofficial quartermaster for Highland Park United Methodist Church when it builds a Habitat for Humanityhouse.
Friday nights often find her at Sam’s Club, loading a van with bottled water and snacks to hand out during Saturday morning construction.
“I’m hostess and Nurse Jane, too,” Parker said. “I get Band-Aids for mashed fingers.”
There have been a lot of those – and a lot of everything – over the last 20 years. This month the Dallas church will meet its goal of constructing 100 Habitat houses, having built the first in 1996.
The timing is sweet, since Highland Park United Methodist also is celebrating its 100th birthday. The church has its own Habitat construction team, Carpenters for Christ, and everyone wanted the big round number to stand for homes built as well as years passed. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Reconciliation: Spiritual Practice (2016-0306)

2016/03/06 Christ Church, Mountain Top; Lent 4; Lord’s Table
Call to Worship, Psalm 32
Children, Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32
Message, 2 Corinthians 5.16-21

Conflict conversations:
      You always …
      You never …
      You owe me …
      I owe you an apology
      Flowers … “What did you do now?”

Relationships in financial terms
      “Leader-Member Exchange” (a leadership theory)
      “Transactional analysis” (psychoanalysis theory)
      Measured in terms of debt, owe – accounting terms
      We complain about big business turning us into numbers
            But we routinely do so with those closest to us

And for all our troubled relationships, whether with one another or with God, the apostle Paul speaks in this passage about healing and new creation in accounting terms: reconciliation, counting. (And, the Greek term for “counting” in the phrase “not counting their trespasses against them” is also translated “accounting.”) Using accounting terms to describe the pain and suffering of our relationships is no even a 20th century thing. It is a human thing, and Paul tackles it head-on in this passage.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Syrian Refugee Reunited with Family

One Syrian refugee knew what it was a like to help others in need. Now, thanks in part to Morrow Memorial United Methodist Church, he knows and appreciates what it’s like to receive help in his time of need.
This Syrian refugee, a former successful businessman in Damascus, was reunited with his wife and three children in the U.S. just before Thanksgiving. The man who spoke on the condition of anonymity for this story was lucky enough to have a work visa to reach the U.S. while fleeing for his life nearly two and a half years ago. He now feels more fortunate to have a family again thanks to the kind people in the Maplewood, N.J., congregation.
“Without the help of this church, I did not have a chance to do anything,” the refugee said. “They made everything possible.”
The refugee said it was not only the material things that Morrow provided, like food, clothes and a place to live that mattered, but the caring and emotional support that means a lot to him and his family, which arrived the day before Thanksgiving.
By Jeff Wolfe, Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church

Friday, March 11, 2016

Scout Sunday, group pics

These pics are of the group present at the 10:45 service. There was another group at 8:30. It was a great opportunity to see our Scouts lead and to celebrate all they do.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Shelter in the Philippines

UMCOR completes its final evacuation shelter in the Philippines and celebrates with a handover ceremony.
By David Tereshchuk*
February 23, 2016—February 2016 marks two years and three months since Super Typhoon Yolanda, the deadliest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) celebrated two powerful achievements this month in hard-hit Leyte province.
Not only did UMCOR, working with local partners and communities, complete construction of 134 sturdy new homes for Leyte residents, it also completed its fifth public evacuation shelter, this one in the town of San Jose. The shelter was formally handed over to the community in a February 8 ceremony.
Like the other four shelters, the San Jose evacuation shelter will be ready for use to protect the local community whenever a serious typhoon or storm surge threatens the area. In the meanwhile, it also will serve as the town’s Central Elementary School and multipurpose hall.

The Mighty Cross

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Mike's Story Time

Overwhelming Medical Needs in East Congo

In a matter of seconds, an examination room at Irambo United Methodist Health Clinic is overwhelmed.
Gael Nonge, a 7-year-old girl in a red polka-dot dress, critically ill with malaria, lies on her side, frail arm extended over the edge of the bed. A thin IV line is inserted, the fluid drip bag draped over a rusty nail that is holding up the bag and a malaria treatment poster.
Suddenly, the door swings wide and Margelittle Enanga, an elderly woman with bloody gauze on her head and a wrapped wrist, is ushered into the same bed. Moaning, her body inches away from the child, doctors rush to see to her wounds.
The little girl’s mother slowly pushes her way into the crowded room to sit on the bed next to her frightened daughter.
Dr. Damas Lushima, the only doctor at the clinic, said patients seeking medical care often overwhelm the small clinic. Typically, they treat malaria, HIV/AIDs, typhoid and tuberculosis and run a busy maternity ward, he said.
The clinic has seven beds and serves a population of 15,000.
“We operate on about 25 people per month with things like appendicitis,” Lushima said. “We have more than 300 patients a month.”
Just down the hall, a woman waiting to give birth was quietly writhing with labor pains. Moments before, another woman had delivered her baby in the same bed. Now, that new mother was sitting across the hall, breastfeeding her infant.
Lushima said the maternity ward was full. No private beds here. Some beds hold up to three or more people with various ailments. Infants are in bed with adults and older children with contagious illnesses.
“One more person and they will have to find a place on the floor,” he said.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Fat Sunday (2 of 3)

Lots of fun yet again! Great soups, crazy auction, amazing desserts, and lots of laughter.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Hoagie Making

The Confirmation Class' annual fund raiser - hoagies on Super Bowl weekend.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Preschool for Syrian Refugees

For Palestinian Syrian children in two refugee camps in Lebanon, life has just gotten a little brighter. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) have partnered to redo the children’s preschools from top to bottom.
ANERA repaired, repainted and refurnished the preschools in Burj El Barajneh and Ein El Helweh camps, with grant support from UMCOR for ANERA’s Early Childhood Development work. Now UMCOR has provided new funding to ANERA to renovate two more preschools in other camps.
These camps are the temporary home of Palestinian Syrians who fled the violence in Syria, now burning through its fourth year. Over time, the enormous flow of refugees has caused the preschools in the camps to become crowded and the need for repairs and upgrades urgent.

Boy Scouts of America Regional Ecumenical Service

We were blessed to host the Ecumenical Scout Service for troops and packs throughout northeast Pennsylvania here at Christ Church on Friday Feb 5.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Fat Sunday Dessert Auction (1 of 3)

Step right up for the Fat Sunday Dessert Auction (with soup luncheon)! Thanks to Tammy and Beth for coordinating this year's event.


Our Lectio group ... 6 am Tuesdays!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

India Flood Relief

Villagers in Thrukandalam, Thiruvallur, gather to receive the first round of clean, drinkable water from the newly installed AP700 point-of-source water purification unit, thanks to support from UMCOR and GlobalMedic.

Since early November, Tamil Nadu in southern India, has experienced record rainfall and the worst flooding the state has seen in more than a century. In its wake the flooding has brought devastation, loss of life, including animal livestock, and the displacement of more than 200,000 people. So far, about 347 people have died.

The capital city of Chennai has been especially affected by the incessant rains, which have inundated the city and affected more than 68 million people. 

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is supporting several international partners— Church’s Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA)GlobalMedic, and Myrtle Social Welfare Network--to meet the material and physical needs of flood-affected populations.

CASA will ensure that 1,450 families have access to essential household items, hygiene kits and temporary shelter supplies; GlobalMedic will provide 1,694 PureDak household water purification units; and Myrtle Social Welfare Network will provide dry food rations, materials for temporary shelters, and health and hygiene kits for 1,365 individuals.

Check out the full report.

Winter clothing for Syrian refugees

Thanks to all who gave winter clothing and shoes to Syrian refugees in Turkey. We are so blessed to partner with the Powleys.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Scouting, God and Me

One of our Scouts, finishing his God and Me work - recognized in worship, working with Pastor JP.