Sunday, October 30, 2016

Aid for survivors of rebel attack in East Congo

A team of United Methodist women from the United Methodist Church of Beni participated in distributing food and other supplies to survivors of a brutal attack blamed on rebel forces.
Photo courtesy of Kivu Annual Conference, Eastern Congo episcopal area
A team of United Methodist women from the United Methodist Church of Beni participated in distributing food and other supplies to survivors of a brutal attack blamed on rebel forces.
By Judith Osongo Yanga and Kathy L. Gilbert
Oct. 11, 2016 | UMNS
United Methodist aid has reached the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of East Congo, which was the site of a brutal attack by rebel Allied Democratic Forces, a group linked to Islamists in Uganda, on Aug. 13.
On Oct. 4, United Methodist district superintendent the Rev. Ezechiel Mathe Paluku and a volunteer group of women from The United Methodist Church in Beni brought food and supplies to 100 families identified as top priority for relief. Of those 100 families, 87 lost their homes in the attack. Funds for the supplies came from the United Methodist Committee on Relief as well as the Eastern Congo Conference and The United Methodist Church of Switzerland.
In a ceremony to give the supplies, Paluku read from Matthew 25:35-36, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
... “I am now a widower, unemployed … with seven infants,” said Kambale Kasavuli, whose wife was killed while she was working in the fields.
“I thank The (United) Methodist Church for this gesture and may God bless the pastors and members of The (United) Methodist Church who thought especially of me.”
Masika Sifa, another resident of Beni, lost her husband and two children.
“I remain a widow with five children. I do not know where to start to feed them.” She said her children have not returned to school because they lost everything in the attack.
“I lack words to express my thanks to the gift of The United Methodist Church. Do not tire of praying for us,” she said.
The mayor of Beni’s office also thanked the church and said the assistance is important and the first to arrive.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and Cuba

The death toll in Haiti is more than 400 people and 95 percent of the homes on the southern side of the country are damaged or destroyed. Beverly Mitchell, a teacher at Wesley Theological Seminary, was in Haiti teaching as part of Wesley’s Central/South American Council.
United Methodists from around the globe have a long and committed relationship with Haiti. Thousands of United Methodist volunteers have stayed at the Methodist Guest House, using it as a base for sending out mission teams.

Brulan Jean-Miichel, manager of the guest house, said Hurricane Matthew has added a new layer of despair to the country still recovering from the 2010 earthquake.
“The eye of the hurricane went directly over Jeremie and the surrounding cities. There is significant flooding, landslides, trees down, roads destroyed and 95 percent of the houses have lost their roofs,” he said in an email. “So the damage is extensive, according to reports from people who have flown over these areas. There is no phone communication and a major bridge in Petit-Goave has been washed away cutting the whole southern peninsula off from Port-au-Prince.”
Lauren James, United Methodist Committee on Relief Haiti church liaison, said UMCOR and the Eglise Méthodiste D'Haiti, the Methodist Church in Haiti, are assessing damage and will report soon on best ways to help.
“For now, anyone wanting to support Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in Haiti can donate to International Disaster Response Advance #982540. These funds will be available to support Haiti once we can coordinate the response,” James said.
... The hardest hit area of Cuba was Baracoa, one of the most ancient cities in Cuba. It slammed by 24-foot waves according to news reports.
Methodist Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz and some local pastors were among the first to arrive in  Baracoa on Oct. 6 to bring emergency supplies, according to the Facebook page for Iglesia Metodista En Cuba.
The churches of Guantanamo reported huge material losses but all the people escaped injury.
Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida, reported good news as well on its Facebook page.
“We received good news yesterday from our mission partner in eastern Cuba, Pastor Biosleidis Rodriguez, who reported that he and his congregation took shelter in their church building, and no one was injured by the storm,” said a church member.
Read the rest of the story by Kathy L. Gilbert and Sam Hodges
Oct. 7, 2016 | UMNS

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Community of FRIENDS (Trail Blazing #3, 2016-1016)


Call to worship, Psalm 25.11-22
Children, Acts 12.1-17
Message, Acts 6.1-7

Two weeks ago, we introduced this series of messages on the spiritual practices that help us walk with God. Last week, the focus was on the LIFE of Worship; this week, we look at the Community of FRIENDS. Next week, we’ll examine the PURPOSE of Mission. We’ll wrap it all up on October 30 with an invitation to step out on new adventures, to follow the trail blazed by Jesus and the great cloud of witnesses, and to leave a few blazes of our own for those who come after us.
      The white blaze that we show is from the Appalachian Trail, the “AT”, that Steve Ross is hiking. He told me about the tradition of “Trail Magic” – unexpected kindness and friendship encountered along the way. This is one of those stories:
      VIDEO – Steve Ross

Theme Scripture for the series:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
from Hebrews 12:1-3

We are made for connection, for friendship. Yet, we struggle with it. I had a friend in college who told me about a class assignment in which he had to list his best friends, and he named me among them. The problem was … he wasn’t one of my best friends. Awkward.
      We want to make friends, but we feel lonely. Two’s company, three’s a crowd … so we blend into the background in a larger group and remain friendless because we haven’t found the right person with whom to connect. None of us want to be a third wheel, but we don’t want to be solo either.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trail Magic at Harper's Ferry

Witness to Hurricane Matthew

By the communications director for Mission Central ... reminding me of living in South Carolina for college during Hurricane Hugo. Keep those affected by this storm in your prayers, support Mission Central and The United Methodist Committee on Relief's disaster relief efforts. And, read the full story on their site.

My family and I watched the news for several days leading up to the arrival of Hurricane Matthew.  We had a vacation planned for Walt Disney World, beginning Saturday, October 8th.
From all accounts, it appeared that the worst of the storm would hit Florida on Thursday night into Friday morning. With a Saturday morning flight and a clear weather forecast, we thought we’d be all right. Always one to prepare, though, I set up a one way rental car for Friday, just in case our flight was cancelled.
Friday morning brought news of damage along Florida’s coast, but inland areas appeared to be spared.  We thought our plans were safe, but by late afternoon, we got the call that our flight had been cancelled.
We picked up our rental car and hit the road that evening, driving through rainy weather until we were too tired to continue.  We figured we’d get a hotel room and work on a travel plan in the morning, based on the weather.
The next day, we were tracking the storm as the morning progressed. Our route had us basically coming in behind Hurricane Matthew and took us through rural highways in South Carolina.  As we proceeded, we quickly went from thinking things weren’t too bad, to realizing the devastation that people were facing in the aftermath of a hurricane.
We were travelling through some of South Carolina’s most depressed and poverty stricken areas.  As we proceeded through small town after town, we saw people wandering around, seemingly in shock.  They gathered together in front of local churches or stores, anywhere where they could find an open parking lot that wasn’t flooded or covered in downed trees.
Houses stood on the side of the road, with varying degrees of damage, but none really appeared to be spared.  Some looked to just have cosmetic damage, while others had shingles missing from rooftops.  Some of the more unlucky ones had large trees smashed right through the homes and some houses were completely destroyed.  Most yards were completely flooded and for stretches of several hundred miles, nobody had power.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Make Me a Servant (Anthem 2016-1009)

New Gutters!


New gutters and downspouts installed on Sept 26. The old ones had rusted through and were small enough to cause ice to back up onto the roof. Thanks for your generosity, which makes these kinds of important maintenance issues possible.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fire Pit from Eagle Scout




A new fire pit under construction (Sept 24). A wonderful Eagle Scout project. Thanks Jeremy!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The LIFE of Worship (Trail Blazing #2, 2016-1009)


Psalm 73 (call to worship)
Daniel 6 (kids), “Read your Bible, pray every day”
Mark 4.35-41 (message)

Last week, we introduced this series of messages. We’re using the metaphor of “trail blazing” to talk about the new adventures in discipleship to which Jesus calls each of us. To take this a little further today, we’re going to hear from our own Steve Ross, who is working on hiking the Appalachian Trail in sections. (The white blaze shown in the photo theme is from the AT.) Then, we’ll examine our Scriptures around the first sphere of discipleship practices – worship – and discuss specific practices that turn worship into a way of life, not only a Sunday morning experience.

VIDEO – Steve Ross

Theme Scripture for the series:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
from Hebrews 12:1-3

Mark 4, Jesus calms the storm
      Q: Where is the life of worship in this story?
      A: Obvious answer – in the response of the disciples. “Who is this guy?” Mysterium tremendum.
      A: Overlooked answer – Jesus sleeping.

The most overlooked dimension of the practice of worship is Sabbath – rest. Sabbath isn’t about going back to the blue laws. Sabbath isn’t about what we’ve lost as we are no longer a Christian-dominant society. Sabbath is tied to two stories that are foundational for Christians and Jews.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Police Detective as Local Pastor, Dallas Ambush

The Rev. Doris Smith is a full-time Dallas police detective, assigned to the traffic division, where she investigates hit-and-run cases and others involving vehicles. On Sundays, and once or twice during the week, she’s at Warren Chapel United Methodist Church, in Terrell, Texas, where she’s part-time pastor. Photo by Sam Hodges, UMNS.
By Sam Hodges
Oct. 4, 2016 | DALLAS (UMNS)
She’s a plainclothes cop, but on Sunday mornings she wears a uniform. That would be her clergy robe.
The Rev. Doris Smith, 49, works full time as a Dallas police detective while serving as a part-timelicensed local pastor, leading Warren Chapel United Methodist Church in Terrell, Texas.
When not solving cases, she’s preaching, teaching, counseling and visiting the sick.
“With anything you do, it has good and bad, ups and downs,” she said of pastoring on top of policing. “Mostly, it’s a lot of joy.”
Smith puts some 10,000 miles a year on her car, making the 45-minute drive to and from Terrell two to three times a week.
And while she does get paid about $10,400 annually as a pastor, Smith said she gives most of the money back to Warren Chapel. ...
Smith as detective-pastor has been a singular figure in the North Texas Conference, but on July 7, she also became an object of concern and compassion.
That’s when four Dallas police officers and a transit officer were killed in an ambush. Smith was working nearby, and one of the victims was a good friend and former patrol partner.
“In my whole career, that’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced,” said Smith, in her 27th year as an officer.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Story time

Pastor JP's story time with children in the Ark preschool. We are creating storm sounds as for a Bible story.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Hmong ministry in Minneapolis


By: Christa Meland
On Sunday, just eight months after launching worship, Northwest Minneapolis United Methodist Ministry baptized 18 new Christians in Long Lake. The Hmong ministry is one of the Minnesota Conference’s newest church starts and is supported by the conference-wide Reach ·  Renew · Rejoice campaign.
 
After worshiping at a park near the lake and enjoying a potluck picnic, 13 adults, one youth, and four children took their baptismal vows and claimed a new identity in Christ.
 
As each person approached the water, onlookers sang the chorus of the song, “Down to the River to Pray,” and they applauded as each new follower returned to the shore.
 
“This was brand new people hearing the gospel for the very first time and coming to Christ together,” said Rev. Dan Johnson, Twin Cities District superintendent. He and the ministry’s leader, Toubee Yang, performed the baptisms together.
 
In all his years of ministry, Johnson said he’d never baptized 18 people in a single day.
 
“It was like living Acts 2—with teaching, breaking of bread, fellowship, and prayers,” he said. “It was a combination of reverence and seeking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with joy.”

Friday, October 7, 2016

Walking the Trail (Trail Blazing #1)

(Sorry, no video this week.)
10/02/2016 Christ Mountain Top
Genesis 3.1-13 (kids)
Psalm 1  

Introduce Trail Blazing theme insert (in program):
      I have been looking forward to this October message series. We will be talking about discipleship, about the practicality and the joy of following Jesus. We are calling it “Trail Blazing”, and including, in the process, an invitation to each of us to step out on some new adventures with Jesus, to grow in the practice of our faith. Today, we introduce the themes. Over the next three weeks, we’ll explore the three dimensions of discipleship that we describe here – worship, community, mission – friends, purpose, life. Then, on the final Sunday of October, we’ll put it all together and celebrate the new adventures that God is calling us to embrace.
      So, please take this insert home, read it, and pray over what God will do in our hearts as we consider new ways to grow as disciples of Jesus.

Theme Scripture for the series:
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely,
and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him
endured the cross, disregarding its shame,
and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
from Hebrews 12:1-3

A couple years ago, mom and dad’s neighbor (Robin’s parents), walked the Appalachian Trail, the whole thing, straight through, over several months. Walking a trail, whatever trail you pick, and doing it long enough, changes you. He came back with his knees a little creakier. He came back more patient in life. He came back a bit more interested in being alone and quiet (though he had always been oriented that way).
      The metaphor of journey, captured in the biblical language of “walk” and “way”, is one of the most basic metaphors for discipleship, for what it means to follow Jesus.

Mission Central HUB team (Sept 21)




Flood buckets and other relief kits.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

World Communion Sunday


This past Sunday. A way we not only recognize the diversity of the Body of Christ throughout the world but support its development.

Post Holes for new Picnic Shelter


Thanks to the Scouts for this project! Next work day on it is Oct 15.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Prison ministry in Bulgaria

There are more than 70,000 prisoners in the Russian Federation penal system, making it one of the largest mission fields in the country. Photo courtesy of Eurasia Episcopal Office.
Sept. 29, 2016 | AKSAKOVO, Bulgaria (UMNS)
Bulgaria has more than 9,000 prisoners. That’s why, for the United Methodists in the Bulgaria-Romania Provisional Conference, there exists an unusual opportunity for outreach and evangelism.
The Rev. Stoyan Stalev, pastor of Aksakovo Methodist Church in Eastern Bulgaria, discovered the great need for prison ministry quite by accident.
It was in 1997, in the middle of July, when a Christian friend asked him: “Would you come with me in a place you don’t know?” Stalev, who was responsible for a congregation almost exclusively consisting of Roma people, said yes.
He could not know that he would regret this decision very soon.
This “unknown” place was a prison, and when he first visited it, he was shocked. There were people with tattoos everywhere on their bodies. Everyone came and wanted to shake hands with him, but they stayed so close to him and smiled with their toothless mouths: The whole picture was frightening! It was as if sin had left on them not only spiritual but physical scars.
The only thing Stalev could say was, “I am glad to be here with you.” Everybody laughed and he wanted to run out immediately.






Monday, October 3, 2016

Leaning Tower of Picnic




Pounding the Pastor

Part way through my shopping trip for the Food Bank. We finish our Pounding the Pastor food drive this coming weekend. So far, we are over 700 pounds!