Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Historic Church MAKING History

St. Paul United Methodist Church is recognized for its rich history, but also is seeing growth and renewed influence in Dallas. Photo by Sam Hodges, UMNS.
By Sam Hodges
Feb. 16, 2017 | DALLAS (UMNS)
St. Paul United Methodist Church is 144 years old — and a comeback kid.
Even as it’s gained National Register of Historic Places status, this storied but small African-American church in Dallas is undergoing renewal.
Attendance is up. Social outreach is brisk. And in the pulpit is the Rev. Richie Butler, who is winning local recognition as a race relations bridge-builder.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the public witness of The United Methodist Church is stronger because of Richie’s presence and voice in the city of Dallas,” said North Texas Conference Bishop Michael McKee.
Butler, 45, has initiated a Year of Unity project, recruiting an interracial leadership team that includes former President George W. Bush, a United Methodist, as honorary chair.
The effort will, Butler believes, benefit Dallas while helping to raise St. Paul United Methodist’s profile as a community force.
“God has called this church not to become history, but to make history,” Butler said.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Computer Ministry

Mission Central is working on a joint partnership with Goode Elementary and Communities in Schools Site Coordinator Mr. Cole, in order to provide computer technology for the fifth grade students of Ms. Moyer.
Goode Elementary is part of the York City School District and has grades K-8, with approximately 680 students. By working together, we expect to improve overall math and reading scores of this fifth grade class through the use of technology.
As you can see from the photos, the computers have all been delivered.  There are approximately 30 desktop computer systems, along with several laptops ready to be hooked up at the school.  The kids are very excited and have begun to utilize the technology.  Computer Ministry, one of Mission Central’s in-house partners refurbished all of the computers and Mission Central funded the project.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Fat Sunday Dessert Auction (1 of 4)

The Messiah's Misfits (message 2017-0218)

Video taken during our Saturday evening contemporary service.
18-19 Feb 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm 131 (call to worship)
Matthew 8.18-23 (kids)
1 Corinthians 4.1-21 (message)

Misfit: Clemson orange pants, Kelly green tie, yellow button down shirt

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Confirmation Class making hoagies (1 of 2)

Really appreciate the excellent leadership of Tim and Kim for the confirmation class, and all the parents, mentors, and friends who helped out.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Scout Sunday (1 of 3)

Boy and Girl Scouts recognized and leading in worship on Sunday Feb 5. Thanks to our wonderful leaders, supportive parents, and fantastic young people!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Church Growth in Cuba

Missionaries Lourdes Vazquez (left) and Roberto Pozo lead the Caraballo Mission, an outreach of San Antonio Methodist Church in San Antonio de Rio Blanco, Cuba. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.
Missionaries Lourdes Vazquez (left) and Roberto Pozo lead the Caraballo Mission, an outreach of San Antonio Methodist Church in San Antonio de Rio Blanco, Cuba. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

By Linda Bloom
Feb. 7, 2017 | SAN JOSÉ AND SANTA CLARA, Cuba (UMNS)

When the Rev. Alcibiades Negret first moved to Mayabeque, the newest province in Cuba, he gathered people for worship under an almond tree.
Three years later, the 43-year-old pastor sits in the Methodist church parsonage, near that tree, in San José de las Lajas. The back of the house opens into a 100-seat sanctuary.
“We not only had the task of building this place physically, but of raising a congregation here because there wasn’t any,” Negret says. “As a superintendent, I also had to organize a new district.” ....
As with all pastoral families, this work is a group effort for Velazquez, his wife, Iliansis Rodriguez, and their two young daughters, who live next to the church.
With 93 members, and a group of 25 about to be baptized, the San Antonio church sponsors seven missions. “As a pastor, you need to have the vision, the spiritual discernment to know the needs of the people who come,” Velazquez says. Then the real work starts, he adds, by giving the word of God. ....
One of the San Antonio missions is at a house in nearby Caraballo, where Roberto Pozo, 52, and Lourdes Vazquez, 50, created a worship space from scratch. The husband-and-wife team has decorated with flowers and cakes to honor two couples from the congregation who married recently.
The celebration is important. It is very common for couples in Cuba to live together without marrying, Vazquez notes, but the church is encouraging that commitment.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Farewell Joanne (2 of 2)

More pics from the party, including our thanksgiving and blessing circle. Thanks to Carl for organizing.

Friday, February 17, 2017

God's Field, God's Building (message 2017-0212)

11-12 Feb 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm 133 (call to worship)
Matthew 8.5-13 (kids)
1 Corinthians 3.1-23 (message)

Pivot point in the passage:
1 Corinthians 3:9  For we are God's servants, working together; you are God's field, God's building.
Grammar notes:
      PLURAL “you” – field, building, temple
      Emphasis – God’s, God’s, God’s (primary position in the clause)
            Corinth: self-obsessed
                  Toby Keith, “I like talking about you, you, you, you …
                        But occasionally I want to talk about me”
Two metaphors for the people of God as a collective, the church
      Field, Building
As individuals we are workers in the field, on the building
      Word for “work” is “work together” or “co-labor”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Norwegian Church housed secret synagogue during Nazi occupation

During World War II and the German occupation of Norway, Trondheim Methodist Church’s loft was used as a secret synagogue for the local Jewish community. The church’s pastor and lay leader made the decision at great personal risk. Photo courtesy of Ole-Einar Andersen.
By Karl Anders Ellingsen
Jan. 31, 2017 | TRONDHEIM, Norway (UMNS)
The Trondheim United Methodist Church — which housed a secret synagogue during Nazi occupation of Norway — will be designated a United Methodist historical site on Feb. 5 for the congregation’s work for indigenous and marginalized people.
In addition to the work during the Nazi occupation, the church was used in 1917 by the Sami, the indigenous people of the Nordic countries, for a political gathering. At the time, the Norwegian government and society were pressuring the Sami to “become Norwegians” and give up their traditional life. Sami children were forced to learn and speak Norwegian, use “modern” clothing, give up their traditional music and learn “civilized” professions.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Farewell Joanne (1 of 2)

The youth group gathered with Joanne one more time! We have been blessed by your leadership!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Family Secret

(No audio or video this week.)

4-5 Feb 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm 25.11-22 (call to worship, only at Open Table)
Matthew 9.9-13 (kids)
1 Corinthians 2.1-16 (message)

Moses Ole Sakuda
      How to save yourself from a man-eating snake

1 Corinthians 2:7-8  But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.  8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Man had been created by God that he might have life. If now, having lost life, and having been harmed by the serpent, he were not to return to life, but were to be wholly abandoned to death, then God would have been defeated, and the malice of the serpent would have overcome. . . . (19)
      [God] took away his enmity against men, and flung it back and cast it upon the serpent. . . . bruising the serpent’s head (24).
            Irenaeus, cited by Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor

[Jesus] concealed himself under the veil of our nature, in order that, as happens with greedy fishes, together with the bait of the flesh the hook of the Godhead might also be swallowed, and so, through Life passing over into death, and the Light arising in the darkness, that which is opposed to Life and Light might be brought to nought (52).
            Gregory of Nyssa, cited by Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor

Church Growth in Cuba

Parishioners raise their arms in praise during worship at Vedado Methodist Church in Havana. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.
By Linda Bloom
Jan. 31, 2017 | HAVANA (UMNS)

... Today, by its own count, the Methodist Church in Cuba has more than 43,000 active members and a community of more than 65,000. Eighty percent of the municipalities in Cuba have a Methodist church and 98 percent have preaching locations. In addition to the more than 400 pastoral charges, there are some 1,000 missions and several thousand cell groups.
“In Cuba, we don’t talk about decreases,” Fernandez explains. “It is almost a law that the churches have to grow.”
While some Cuban Methodists come from a Christian background, many more are converts. Fernandez, who describes his parents as “ex-Communists,” decided to walk into a church one day and became a Christian at 15. Four years later, he was a pastor and now he is one of the more experienced pastors in the denomination....
Ninety percent of the Methodist pastors who remained in Cuba after Castro’s revolution went to jail for a couple of years for practicing their faith, says Gonzalez. “The stories that these folks tell are really impressive on how they continued to believe that what they were doing was right.”
It was the stubborn remnant of that church, which became autonomous in 1968, that attracted young people like Ricardo Pereira Diaz, the fourth and current bishop.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

New youth ministry leader

Please welcome Kim Carpenter (on the left, above) as our new director of youth ministries. Kim is a physical therapist, wife, and mother of three. She is passionate about creating a healthy community of faith for young people, introducing people to Jesus, and having fun.

The youth group (7th graders and up) will meet this Sunday night from 6:00-7:30PM with an informational meeting with the parents/guardians from 7:30-8:00. Topics for youth group include student leadership positions and naming our youth group, as well as more crazy games! Thanks!

In addition, Kim is planning a lock-in (Lord have mercy!) for Feb 18-19 (Sat-Sun).

Monday, February 6, 2017

Our Immigrant Neighbors

An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt,
and remain there until I tell you;
for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.”
Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night,
and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.
Matthew 2:13-15

In the recent Christmas season, we were reminded that the infant Jesus began life as a refugee. You may recall that, last year, we collected winter clothing for Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey. Our contact in Turkey (there with the US State Department) continues to volunteer and serve in the camps. She informs us that with the recent executive order on immigration, 587 refugees who had already completed the eighteen-month screening process required for immigration to the U.S. are now in limbo, hoping to be granted an exception to the new policy. In many cases, these folks have already sold their few possessions and given up their legal status in Turkey, making their situation even more precarious than it once was. One hundred of these refugees were to have arrived in the U.S. this week. Please be in prayer for these neighbors of ours, most of whom are women and children. Local aid agencies are scrambling to find ways to assist them in this unexpected time of need and we may have an opportunity to offer practical help. As soon as I know anything specific, I will pass that along to you.

I have tremendous personal investment in welcoming and caring for immigrants. Like many of you, I am the great-grandson of immigrants on two sides of my family. I was born with citizenship in another nation (as well as US citizenship). I have helped a friend, Mohammed, study for his citizenship exams, was present as my brother and sister became citizens, and made my own citizenship vows before a district justice. Many of you have shared similar stories. I am moved with compassion to love my immigrant neighbors, wherever they are from and whatever their story. If you would like to discuss this further, I would be happy to meet.

Luke’s gospel tells us that when the scribe, wanting to justify himself, asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded by telling a story of one person caring for another, one “good” Samaritan caring for one Jew (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus chose the two most distant and antagonistic social and religious groups of his time to demonstrate this example of neighbor-love. Though nations have their own policies, as followers of Jesus we also recognize our common beloved humanity as those made in God’s image and purchased by the blood of Christ. In our anxious times, we are called to practical expressions of courageous love, a gift we have demonstrated time after time. It is a privilege to share in this call together.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Peacemaking and Shelter in Tribal Conflicts

The Rev. Bibine Kibonge of Manono is giving shelter to people displaced by the ongoing clashes between tribes.
Tribal conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo have sent hundreds fleeing and left many dead.
The clashes are occurring between the Bashimbi (indigenous tribes also known as pygmies) and the Bantu, said the Rev. Joseph Mulongo Ndala, Mulongo District superintendent for the United Methodist North Katanga Conference.
He has taken 11 members of a displaced family into his home and said church members throughout the region are opening their homes to displaced people.
Mulongo said he has been holding meetings to train people to be peacemakers rather than joining in the fighting.
“It is great joy to see that people have understood the church’s call and are mobilizing to assist with food, etc.,” he said.
“Pygmies are not violent people, they live a nomadic life,” Mulongo explained, but added that the Bantu people, who are the majority, consider Bashimbi to be second-class citizens. According to Congolese history, the Bashimbi were the first occupants of the Congo.
The current conflict, dating from June 2016, began when the Bashimbi revolted against their treatment by the Bantu. “The pygmies are saying the Bantu are taking their land, making farms and imposing taxes. They want to be independent,” Mulongo said.

John Wesley's exercise equipment

In the dining room, an odd-looking chair caught my attention.
One of the docents, dressed in period costume, noticed me looking at this strange piece of furniture. Pressing down on the tall seat several times to demonstrate the spring action of the bellows hidden inside, she explained it was an “exercise chair.”
I later learned that this “chair” was actually a reproduction chamber horse, a piece of exercise equipment from the 1700s. Sitting in the chair, one would bounce up and down, mimicking the activity of riding a horse, the 18th century equivalent of a stationary bike or treadmill.
While wintering in London, John Wesley used a chamber horse to help him stay in shape for his grueling riding schedule the rest of the year. Overseeing the Methodist movement, Wesley traveled long distances on horseback well into his 80s.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Fools for Jesus

No video or audio this past week. Sorry about that.

28-29 Jan 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Psalm 15 (call to worship, only at Open Table)
Matthew 4.12-23 (kids)
1 Corinthians 1.18-31 (message)

Theme word for the text: Foolish

I tried to think of examples of foolish behavior or foolish thinking in my own life. But, you know how serious and wise and calm I am. I came up with nothing. So, I asked Robin.

Before we get into that particular theme, I do want to locate the text in Paul’s debate with the church in Corinth. Again, he approaches the matter indirectly. But, he is clearly addressing an aspect of their concerns about him. He hasn’t been forceful enough in his presentation. He has been too weak. He hasn’t been eloquent enough in his preaching. He has been too foolish. They are interested in preaching with power, in words with wisdom. And, as far as their expectations are concerned, Paul has underperformed.
      If you read the Paul stories in Acts, you will see that there are miracles, some really incredible ones, though not in Corinth and not in every place. And, you will see that Paul first comes to Corinth after serving in Athens, a place where Paul appeals to the philosophers of the city and finds very little response. One of the theories about Paul’s ministry in Corinth is that he deliberately avoided the appeal to philosophy, a Greek word which refers to those who “love wisdom”. In Athens, the philosophers were interested until Paul got to Jesus. In Corinth, Paul skips the prelude and goes directly to the subject: Jesus, and the cross.
      Of course, a thriving church is started in Corinth, whereas there are only a handful of converts in Athens. But now the folks in that thriving church are wanting more than Jesus and the cross. They want wisdom and power. And, since Paul does not offer it, they are beginning to look elsewhere.