Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We are stories, not symptoms

From retired bishop Kenneth Carder's blog:

The physician’s assistant (PA) was sharing the results of an evaluation of Linda. We were seated at a table, with Linda beside me and the PA across the table.
Looking at me, the PA said coldly, “Mr. Carder, your wife is no longer the person she used to be.”
She went on to describe the symptoms of Linda’s dementia—lost memory, disorientation, confusion, agitation, inability to focus and solve problems, loss of language skills, etc.  All the while, her eyes were on me, as though Linda didn’t exist.
I noticed Linda’s growing agitation and restlessness–the glare in her eyes, the rigidity of her body, the scowl on her face.  I knew that look. The PA was about to learn something she missed in medical training.
Linda straightened in her chair, looked squarely at the PA. Slowly, firmly and deliberately, she said, “Talk– to– ME!”
Taking Linda by the hand and smiling proudly, I said to the stunned expert, “You just met Linda.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Give Ye Them to Eat

Luz Maria Trujillo is a 61-year-old woman from Coacalco, Mexico. Several years ago, she completed her studies as a community-based primary health worker through Give Ye Them To Eat (GYTTE), Advance #07629A. GYTTE is an integrated development program for the rural sector of South-Central Mexico. 

Trujillo donates her time to train women in preventative care, traveling many hours by bus to reach the training center. Thankfully, GYTTE has been able to cover her travel expenses because of generous UMC #GivingTuesday donations that came to the project in 2014 and 2015. 

Trujillo also has trained many women to become community health workers through GYTTE’s “More Than a Bandage” program. Through this community and family health program, women complete their studies in basic health and sanitation, intermediate first-aid, and advanced health courses. The women graduate and serve their families, neighbors, and community on a volunteer basis. They also join medical teams and visit various rural and remote clinics, teaching patients preventative care.

The rest of the story ...

Note: A team from our region goes to GYTTE just about every year. You can go too!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Open Table offsite (2 of 2)

A great time together. We gather most Sundays at 7:00 pm, sometimes offsite.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Keefer Award

Emily, recognized with one of this year's Keefer awards, on the Sunday she accompanied our singing. Thanks Emily!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Fresh floors

Wash me, and I shall be ... Thanks to Ken and Carol for all the hard work!

John Dean Town Clinic

A once-dilapidated clinic, with no water, electricity, or trained staff, has received a new lease on life, thanks to the Abundant Health initiative and the work of the Liberia Annual Conference health board. 

The John Dean Town Clinic is the only health facility serving the remote John Dean Town community in Grand Bassa County, Liberia. Until recently, most care, including that for pregnant women, newly delivered mothers, and babies, was provided by traditional birth attendants with limited skills. This often led to negative outcomes for mothers and babies. 

Now, with support from Abundant Health and the Liberia Conference health board, the John Dean Town Clinic has the capacity to provide community health education, delivery services, medicines, medical supplies, immunizations, family planning services, and treatment for common childhood illnesses. The clinic has hired a new nurse midwife, built a well with water piped to the clinic, and established a regular supply of medicines. The resident nurse/midwife also helps train Community Health Volunteers to serve the community and encourage mothers to have their babies at the health center. 

For more ...

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Open Table offsite (1 of 2)

On Sunday evening August 14, the Open Table gathering moved off-site to the Ice Lakes Pavilion. There was a great downpour, grilled hot dogs, laughter, music, Scripture and prayer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Creation and the Marks of Christ: O Freedom! (6) (2016-0814)

Call to worship, Psalm 30
Children, 2 Kings 5.1-14 (Naaman)
Message, Galatians 6.7-18

This conclusion has the most damning assessment of the preachers of this no-gospel that Paul is refuting: They preach circumcision because it makes them more acceptable and removes the risk from following Jesus: Galatians 6:12  only that they may not be persecuted.
      Again, Paul points to the cross: Galatians 6:14  May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
      Again, Paul points to the Spirit – “sow to the Spirit”, “eternal life from the Spirit”.

Galatians 6:8-9  If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.  9 So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.
      Naaman could have quoted these verses
            Sow to his flesh – his pride
            Sow to the Spirit – humility

Galatians 6:15  For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!
      Creation/new: It is God’s work, not our work
            Neither circumcision (purely outward, “spit and polish”)
                  (Mt 23.3, MSG)
            Nor compulsive obedience and discipline
2 Corinthians 5:17-18  So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!  18 All this is from God
      “I don’t drink, smoke, or chew, and I don’t go with girls who do”

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Clowning around at Smith Health Care after the monthly service.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

New church in the Central African Republic

The story of the founding of Global Ministries newest mission initiative—the UMC in the CAR.
by Christie R. House
The beginnings of The United Methodist Church in the Central African Republic (CAR) can be traced back to 2001, when Lucien Dockpa, a native of the CAR, tuned into Radio Afrique Internationale, a French-language radio show produced by the General Board of Global Ministries in the United States. The program content was recorded in New York and broadcast out of Germany. The shows focused on God’s mission and the vision and objectives of The United Methodist Church across the world—and across Africa.
Robert Mpoyo, a former staff member of Global Ministries’ United Methodist Committee on Relief, occasionally worked with Radio Africa International, which was directed by Donna Nieman. “The radio show was widely followed by millions in Africa,” Mpoyo noted, “and because the signal was so strong, we received many responses from listeners as far away as South America, Mongolia, and Eastern Europe.” Within the context of the religious programming, social issues were also dealt with, such as sustainable agriculture and climate change. Raphael Mbadinga, one of the program’s hosts, interviewed many African leaders, technicians, and program managers in the studio on topics as varied as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other health concerns, along with water resources, sanitation, and irrigation.
Lucien Dockpa says that what moved him most about these broadcasts was the way in which The United Methodist Church understood the great commission of Jesus Christ—“that Christians should go everywhere in the world to proclaim the good news,” he explained. “But further,” he added, “the way you live your life is a testimony that a Methodist gives to his or her neighbor as the proof of mutual love from and for God. From this point,” he concluded, “I decided that such a church, which has never existed in my country, should be created.”

Friday, August 19, 2016

Children and Naaman

Louisiana Floods


Once again, we are faced with historic flooding in the US…this time in Louisiana.

As anticipated, ‪UMCOR‬ has called for cleaning buckets. We are preparing to send out all that we can, but more are needed.
In addition, you can give toward the UMCOR relief efforts, making your gift for "Louisiana Flood" and using one of our special giving envelopes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tractor Trailer Load of Diapers

HSDiaper2016One of our in-house mission partners, Healthy Steps Diaper Bank, received an amazing donation on Wednesday, June 15, when a tractor trailer load of between 200,000 and 400,000 Huggies brand diapers were delivered to Mission Central, where Healthy Steps stores their diapers.  The value of this donation is between $40,000 and $55,000 and was awarded by the National Diaper Bank Network.
Healthy Steps Diaper Bank will distribute these diapers to familes in Cumberland, Dauphin, & Perry Counties through their partnerships with local service agencies.  The diapers will be distributed to families at no cost, to supplement what they are currently able to purchase, ensuring familes are able to properly diaper their children.  This partnership structure recognizes that individuals and families who need diapers most likely also need other social services and together they are working toward “whole” solutions.
Healthy Steps Diaper Bank’s mission is keep children clean, dry and healthy.  Providing diapers to families in need and teaching proper diapering techniques, reduces risks of diaper rash, staph infections and urinary tract infections.  The result is a healthier child, fewer doctor and ER visits and parents that feel confident in providing a basic need for their child.  More information about Healthy Steps Diaper Bank can be found on their website

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Habitat for Humanity dedication

Pics from the dedication of the most recently completed Habitat for Humanity home. Looking forward to serving on the next one!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Dumpster tipping

The Scouts help out after the bear stopped by ... he tipped it but he didn't get in!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Love and the Scandal of the Cross

Call to worship, Psalm 16 (at Open Table only)
Children, Luke 9.57-62 (follow, but)
Message, Galatians 5.1-26

Paul is beginning to turn the corner in this chapter, moving from various metaphors for our slaveries into more detail on our freedom as children of God.

2 sections, with similar structure:
      Vv 1-12
      Vv 13-26

1. Declaration of freedom
Galatians 5:1  For freedom Christ has set us free.
Galatians 5:13  For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters

2. Call to stay away from slavery, to live free
Galatians 5:1  Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Slavery of circumcision and law-keeping)
Galatians 5:13  only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. (Slavery of empty desire)

Indicative - Imperative (Hansen, 153-4)
“What we must do (the imperative) is always based upon what God has already done (the indicative).”
Joshua: I have given you this city (Jericho). Now, do this.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Women's Rights in Nicaragua

Thanks to UMC #GivingTuesday donations made last year to Women and Community, Advance #13285A, in San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua, women are able to protect themselves from domestic abuse and violence. Not only do they receive the psychological, legal, and monetary assistance they need to confront these situations, they also come to a deeper understanding of their human rights as women, which empowers them. 

Lucy (not her real name) was one of these women.

“I was 15 years old when I met my partner, a 32-year-old farmer from my community. When I got pregnant with my son, he began to mistreat me and accused me of looking for other men. He said I was stupid and no good. After I gave birth to my son, he began to drink heavily. This is when the abuse got worse. He would toss my clothes, the television, table, and utensils, and he would beat me. 

I talked with his mom about it, and he got a little better. After the birth of my second child, a daughter, he returned to the same behavior. His mother begged me not to put him in jail, so I did not file a police report. But he threatened me by saying that if I denounced him he would kill himself. The rest of the story ...

Friday, August 5, 2016

In the Congo

Missionary Mary K. Vandersommers from Ohio was created to serve. She was born in a Methodist hospital founded by deaconesses and rooted in Methodism through her mission-minded father. He had attended McCurdy School, a national mission institution related to the General Board of Global Ministries in Espanola, New Mexico.
Like her father, Vandersommers was inspired by those she met who had come from everywhere to serve everywhere. Among these inspiring people was a group of missionaries from West Africa who were on a peacemaking journey to Ireland.
“I kept hearing stories of people connecting,” said Vandersommers. “Later, as I was working with a local community in Ohio, I kept getting more and more nudges to go to seminary. I felt called to be in ministry and community with people.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Excluded and Enslaved: O Freedom! #4 (2016-0731)

Call to worship, Psalm 87
Children, Luke 15.11-32 (father and two sons)
Message, Galatians 4.1-20

Review: Freedom theme
      People pleasing
      Guilt trips – discussion of the racial divides in our nation
      Living under a curse, in captivity
Today: excluded & enslaved

First, some background regarding difficulties with the Apostle Paul
      Jew-Gentile relations
 Both Jews and Gentiles enslaved
      Law of God
            Offensive in its time,
                  despite the priority he set on the Jewish gift
            Seeds of equality … and new possibilities for dialogue
            “there is no longer Jew or Greek” (Gal 3.28)
      Perspectives on women, and women as leaders
            “receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4.5)
            A surprising expression of equal rights for women
            “there is no longer male and female” (Gal 3.28)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Last Word (2016-0724)

Joel Shuman

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Whether you’ve been following the weekly lectionary readings or the national political scene, you’ll probably agree we could all use a bit of comic relief. These are difficult times, and the national news is dominated by the multiplication of so-called “natural” disasters, senseless tragic violence, racial strife such as we have not seen since the 1960s, and public name calling that recently sank to the level of an elected official calling for the public execution of one of the presidential candidates. The lectionary texts, where some of us sometimes look for good news, have hardly been a bowl of cherries; the Old Testament readings have come recently from the prophets, who are not exactly known to be good-humored, and in last week’s blistering and apparently final judgment on the people of God from Amos chapter 8, the prophet compared the people Israel, whom he said were guilty of greed, violence, and the systematic oppression of the poor, to a basket of summer fruit—totally rotten summer fruit. Hardly good news, is it?

But this week is different—at least in the lectionary—because this week we get comedy. Comedy, in fact, is what the two texts read this morning have in common.

You are probably perplexed to hear me characterize the words of Hosea and Paul as comedy, and rightly so, for in neither is there any mention of a guy walking into a bar, any story involving a priest, a minister, and a rabbi, or any hint of a “knock-knock.” The comedy in these texts is of a different sort.