Thursday, August 31, 2017

Leadership Cookout

Members of the church council and the church staff gathering for the annual summer cookout and party at the Bohanan home. It is great to be part of such a good-natured, hard-working, and prayerful team!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Raising the Light

Ken, working on raising the light in order to provide unobstructed viewing of the screen. Thanks Ken!

Hurricane Harvey Response

Two letters follow, one from our Bishop and the other from our District Superintendent. The first provides information and an appeal for financial gifts, the second on collecting cleaning kits for the relief effort.

Bishop Jeremiah Park:
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God... He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we may set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the generous favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 10-11)

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!
We have watched and have been greatly stirred by the devastating effect of the deluge of historic proportion in Texas. The Houston area has received more than twenty inches of rain and it is still falling. Judge Robert Herbert, Fort Bend County, Texas, in his Monday press statement summarized the dire situation: "The flood of this magnitude is an eight hundred year event." Bishop Scott Jones of the Texas Conference said, "Tropical Storm Harvey has unleashed the worst flooding in Houston's history, with catastrophic damage." Our hearts ache and go out to so many people who are suffering from the destruction of hurricane Harvey.

I call upon the people of our United Methodist Churches to pray for the protection and comfort of so many people directly affected by this overwhelming natural disaster, including safety for the rescue and relief personnel. We have observed the brokenness in their eyes and faces as they struggle to comprehend what has happened. Thus, we pray for strength, healing and hope that they might know that others are praying for them and are offering help to rebuild their lives and homes. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers.

Knowing the generous hearts of the people of our beloved conference and the way they have answered the needs of others effected by past natural disasters, I urge our congregations to receive a special offering either this coming Sunday, September 2nd or one Sunday in September. I know that our people are compassionate and long to help those whose lives have been turned upside down. [Mark your checks for “Texas Flood”, or put cash in a special envelope labeled “Texas Flood” and 100% of those gifts will be sent to The United Methodist Committee on Relief for this purpose.]

Mission Central is also preparing to respond as needed. They have requested congregations to assemble cleaning buckets and hygiene kits. Further information about these items can be found on their website. You are also invited to attend their Noon prayer meeting on Thursday, August 31st. Following the prayer time, the participants will remain to assemble the necessary kits. Any individual or church which wants to provide gifts to support the transportation costs for these various kits should contribute directly to Mission Central.

Please be assured that our connectional church is already present and at work with the people in the flood affected area. Once again, I humbly ask for your prayerful and generous support for these our sisters and brothers in need. It is moments like this that we see a church alive in mission with Christ. I continue to be blessed to serve God in this place with so many saints of God.

With You in Christ's Ministry, Jeremiah J. Park

District Superintendent Larry Leland: 
Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:4 (NLT)

So many within our Lewisburg District know the anguish of living through floods and their devastating aftermath.  From Berwick to Selinsgrove, Shickshinny to Bloomsburg, and many other places, you have experienced returning home, not even sure where to begin.  Hopefully, you also received help and encouragement on that painful journey.

My heart is breaking at what we see happening along the Gulf Coast.  When our heart breaks for the plight of another, it is often when God wants to use us for a mighty purpose.

So I’m challenging us, as United Methodist Christians in the Lewisburg District, to shine the light of Christ in a powerful way by collecting Cleaning Kits (formerly known as Flood Buckets) to help replenish the supplies that will surely be decimated by the needs following Harvey.

Between now and our Cluster Charge Conferences (our date is Nov 19), I’m asking you to work together in your church or charge to compile as many Cleaning Kits as possible.  Place the attached list in bulletins and newsletters.  Contact businesses and other organizations for help. Then, bring them with you to Charge Conference, and we will pray over them together before seeing that they make their way to Mission Central for distribution through our UMCOR partners. 

Some of our churches may be able to pull together 2 or 3 buckets.  Some may be able to collect 10 times that, or more. What matters is that, when we all do our part, we’ll find that we are, indeed, better together!

In Christ’s service with you, Larry
Rev. Larry L. Leland, Jr., District Superintendent, Lewisburg District UMC
Cleaning Kit
Value: $65.00 per kit
Cleaning Kit Materials
  • 1 5-Gallon bucket with resealable lid
    • Buckets from fast-food restaurants or bakeries can be used if washed and cleaned
    • Do not use buckets that have stored chemicals such as paint or pool cleaner
    • Advertisements on the outside are acceptable
  • Liquid laundry detergent
    • One 50-oz. or two 25-oz. bottle(s) only
  • Liquid household cleaner
    • 1216 oz. liquid cleaner that can be mixed with water
    • No spray cleaners
  • Dish soap
    • 16-28 oz. bottle, any brand
  • 50 Clothespins
  • Clothesline
    • One 100-ft. or two 50-ft. lines
    • Cotton or plastic
  • 7 Sponges
    • No cellulose sponges due to mold issues
    • Remove from packaging
  • 24-Roll heavy-duty trash bags
    • 33-45 gallon sizes
    • Remove from the box
  • 18 Cleaning wipes
    • Handi-wipes or reusable wipes
    • No terry cleaning towels
    • Remove from packaging
  • 1 Can air freshener
    • Aerosol or pump
  • 1 Insect-repellant spray
    • 6-14 oz. aerosol or spray pump with protective cover
  • 2 Pairs kitchen dishwashing gloves
    • Should be durable enough for multiple uses
    • Remove from packaging
  • 1 Pair work gloves
    • All Cotton
    • All Leather
    • Cotton with Leather Palm
  • 5 Scouring pads
    • Remove from wrapper
    • No stainless steel, Brillo pads or SOS pads (nothing with soap built in)
  • 1 Scrub brush
    • Plastic or wood handle
  • 5 Dust masks

Assembly Directions: Place all liquid items in the bucket first. Place remaining items in the bucket fitting them around and between the liquid items. Sponges, scouring pads, clothespins and trash bags can be separated in order to fit all of the items in the bucket. Ensure the lid is closed securely.
Important Notes
  • All items must be new except for the actual bucket and lid.
  • All cleaning agents must be liquid and in plastic containers. No powders, please.
  • If you cannot find the requested size of a liquid item, use a smaller size. Including larger sizes of any item will prevent the lid from sealing.
  • If all of the items on the list are not included, please put a label on the bucket indicating what has been omitted.

Packing and Shipping Kits Instructions

  • Box weight: Each packed box cannot exceed 66 pounds.
  • Complete 2 packing lists: One for your records and one to put on the shipping box.
  • Paste the shipping label / packing list on the outside of each box you send. The shipping list helps the depot to quickly process kits.
  • Processing & Shipping Costs: Please enclose an envelope containing at least $1.50 for each Cleaning Bucket you send. This donation enables Cleaning Buckets to be sent to areas in need.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Exodus and the Sacraments: Font (1) - including reflection on racism, Charlottesville, and baptism

19-20 August 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 114, p 835
Children, Acts 8.26-40
Message, Exodus 14.1-31
Mission Moment: Reforestation in the Congo

Intro to this series of messages:
      4 passages in Exodus that are the basis for extensive NT reflection on the sacraments – Table, Font, Table, Font
      2 are part of the exodus proper (deliverance from Egypt)
      2 are part of the wilderness experience
Admittedly, we will be reading these Exodus passages through the lens of the NT, not the way our Jewish friends read these passages.

The Passover references (last week, the Table) to “a mixed crowd” and to provisions for the alien to share in the feast (and the religious community) explicitly open Israel to those who are not Israel – not on the basis of creation but on the basis of redemption.
      In our nation, we declare a “self-evident truth” that “all are created equal”. It is obvious, in recent events, that the truth of being created equal is not self-evident to all. It is a wonderful aspiration, but we are not there yet. In addition, one may ask, to what degree are we created equal, or, in what ways are we created equal? To say that we are equally human and equally in the image of God is powerful truth from Jewish and Christian theology. However, we are not born with equal opportunity, equal ability, equal access. That fact, and the human desire of those with privilege to reinforce that privilege, has led even Christian people to support racism on the basis of how we are created – skin tone, first language, other “racial-ethnic” features, ability and disability.
      Creation, the created order, was used as theological justification for American slavery and for South Africa’s apartheid. It was a theological basis for Hitler’s Germany and for neo-Nazis. Now, it is not creation theology as biblically constructed, but it is nevertheless built on pieces of Scripture perverted by hatred but dressed up in holiness.

Mark Dodson at the Old River Church

It was a joy to share in worship with Mark's leadership and the New Hope choir at the Old River Church meetinghouse on Sunday evening August 6.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Louisiana Floods ... One Year Later - and a Hurricane Harvey reminder

It is your generosity and commitment that make this kind of long term investment in recovery possible. The United Methodist Church is already on the ground in Texas, disaster coordinators and response teams trained and prepared locally, and resources from warehouse and distribution centers like our own Mission Central staged and ready to go. If you want to contribute to the Hurricane Harvey recovery through The United Methodist Committee on Relief, mark your gift for "hurricane relief". You can also give contributions for Mission Central.

Youth Mission Trip - Day 5

We've got a great bunch of youth and leaders - and they make a tangible difference in our world!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pounding the Pastor

Weighing in at 192 pounds! Let's get 9 times my weight, or more, for the Mountain Top Food Pantry!

Friday, August 25, 2017

David Davis Award

Congrats to Erik, this year's recipient of the David Davis Award, and prayers as he begins studies at Purdue.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Breaking in the new goal

Thanks to Brayden for the wonderful Eagle Scout project. After a blessing prayer, we broke in the new goal properly!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Exodus and the Sacraments: Table, 1

12-13 August 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 149
Children, John 1.19-37
Message, Exodus 12.1-29

Intro to this series of messages:
      4 passages in Exodus that are the basis for extensive NT reflection on the sacraments – Table, Font, Table, Font
      2 are part of the exodus proper (deliverance from Egypt)
      2 are part of the wilderness experience
Admittedly, we will be reading these Exodus passages through the lens of the NT, not the way our Jewish friends read these passages.

I love the detail of the passage. The directions for the meal itself tell you everything from how to cook the lamb to what to wear at the meal. I love that we are told to “eat it hurriedly” (Exodus 12.11). My mother, a modern day “Miss Manners”, would be repulsed! And, the trouble-maker in me wonders what it would look like if, rather than the stately process most churches have evolved to serve communion, everyone rushed through it. I love that we are told to eat with our staff in our hand. What is the modern equivalent? Our car keys? Our cell phones? Our purses?

Youth Mission Trip Client Night

Monday, August 21, 2017

Bishop Park on racism and Charlottesville

Issue: #17132A                   August 19, 2017

Bishop's Letter Header

August 2017
"Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven."
(The Lord's Prayer)

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,
Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, Prince of Peace, Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world!
In recent days we have witnessed, once again, a horrible manifestation of the presence and power of evil in this world. Our hearts are broken as we hear about the violent death of Ms. Heather Heyer, a victim of domestic terrorism, and the tragic death of two police officers, Lt. Pilot H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Berke M. M. Bates, in the midst of public service for the safety of the people present in the clash in Charlottesville, VA. I urge the pastors and congregations of the Susquehanna Conference first and foremost to pray for comfort and healing of the families and friends who lost their loved ones and of those who suffered injuries in this horrific act of terror. I also ask you to uplift our nation in prayer this Sunday for God's spirit of truth, love and justice to prevail and that our leaders seek God's righteousness to lead our country to shalom for all. Please pray also for the transformation of the hearts and minds of the people who represented racial hatred in the clash.
It is so troubling that in our country we continue to witness the hatred and disregard for all of humanity that was displayed in Charlottesville. We all should find it alarming and disheartening that there seems to be a growing climate that induces such blatant racism. It is also deeply troubling that far too often those individuals who espouse hatred towards persons who look different than them suggest that they are doing so in the name of Christianity. I hear Jesus weep. Racial hatred and bigotry are never in the will of God and have no place in the Kingdom of God.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Community transformation in Malawi

Mercy Chikhosi (in black shirt) regularly visits with the women of Nkhafi village in Malawi. She has an easy rapport with members of the village. “I developed a strong bond and a relationship so I continue visiting, influencing and motivating them to identify their needs and find solutions with local resources,” Chikhosi said. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

Story by Kathy L. Gilbert, photos by Mike DuBose
July 20, 2107 | NKHAFI, Malawi (UMNS)
Chikhosi founded her own organization, Wandikweza, to support best practices in health care and develop sustainable communities with a strong emphasis on empowering girls and women.
“I work with these communities in my free time, like weekends and holidays,” she added.
Wandikweza received a $5,000 grant from United Methodist Women at Church of the Resurrection to empower the women of Nkhafi. Each of the 45 women got a $50 loan which they are paying back to use as a revolving fund for the women, Chikhosi explained.
The women bought fertilizer and maize seeds for their cornfield and soya seeds for their soya field and work as a team in the fields.
The women of Nkhafi who are waiting for Chikhosi all wear brightly colored wrappers, the traditional garments women wear tucked around their waists or under their breasts over their skirts or dresses.
When she arrives, they lead Chikhosi across the road to see the one-hectare field of maize and soya. One hectare is about 2.5 acres. 
“We are very powerful women,” said Virginia Biliat. “We had nothing before she (Chikhosi) came but now we have different businesses.”

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Food and Fellowship

Thanks to everyone who sponsored one of our weekly Food and Fellowship events this summer! Lots of fun for all.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

President of the Council of Bishops speaks out on racism and the Charlottesville protest

My shock, dismay and grief over the clashes between white supremacy advocates and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, continue to grow. I grieve for the lives lost, and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, the families of the two state troopers killed while monitoring the Charlottesville demonstration from the air, and for the healing of all the injured. I am shocked by the blatant resurgence of white nationalism, neo-Nazism and racially motivated domestic terrorism in the United States. I am dismayed (and frightened) by the animosity, division, extremism and evil that is spiraling out of control in the U.S.
Let there be no excuses or political justification for the evil that was on full display in Charlottesville last Saturday. Nor, let us forget that many such displays of white supremacy, racism and hatred go un-reported or under-reported in many places. White supremacist and neo-Nazi ideologies are abhorrent and entirely inconsistent with the Christian faith.
Jesus called his followers to “love your neighbor.” It is clear this key spiritual imperative means all neighbors without regard to race, color, religion or national origin. And, Paul taught that “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions and factions” are among many works of the flesh that are antithetical to the kingdom of God. “By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5: 19-23) These works of the Spirit lead to peace-making and the kingdom of God.

Basic Christianity (4): Hope

5-6 August 2017, Christ Mountain Top, Communion
Call to Worship, Setting the Table (Sunday) or Psalm 90 (Saturday)
Children, Matthew 25.1-13
Message, 1 Thessalonians 4.13 – 5.11
Mission Moment: Pounding the Pastor

Story of the 10 maidens, 5 wise and 5 foolish
      (who bring no oil for their lamps)
Not about looking good, but about what we possess in our hearts

1 Thessalonians 4:13  we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.
      Walking the cemetery at McKendree
      The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The most powerful memorial of the dead I have ever visited: in Galilee at a school administered by Father Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Christian and Melkite Catholic priest, in January of 1996.  It was a monument, as sparse as our Vietnam Veterans Memorial, though much less beautiful.  It was shaped as two arcs of a circle, facing each other, with benches between.  They were crude, poured concrete and the benches were simple slabs.  One the inside of one arc was cut, in Hebrew, “For the Palestinian victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”  On the other side, in Arabic, the words read, “For the Israeli victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The first United Methodist Church in Albania

Gjergji Lushka preaches during the first worship service of the first United Methodist church in Durrës. The service was held in a three-room apartment that had been rented by the church to house services, fellowship and children’s ministry. Photo by Jean Nausner
Photo by Jean Nausner
Gjergji Lushka preaches during the first worship service of the first United Methodist church in Durrës. The service was held in a three-room apartment that had been rented by the church to house services, fellowship and children’s ministry.
The July 2 service at Durrës United Methodist Church was attended by about 23 people. The service was held in a three-room apartment that had been rented by the church to house services, fellowship and children’s ministry.
“Our church members are so happy that a place could be found where they can encounter God, where they can encourage one another on their respective faith journeys, and where they can share joys and sorrows,” said Gjergji Lushka, a student of theology who is responsible for the new church and particularly for leading the worship services.
A church member described the current and future development of The United Methodist Church in Albania. “Our church is like a strawberry plant: On the one hand, green surfaces are created at dry places by the new offspring. On the other hand, and more important, the plant bears fruit,” said Saip Biba, a 62-year-old taxi driver from Elbasan United Methodist Church.
The leaders of the church in Albania hope that the presence of the church in this country’s second largest city will be a contribution toward the transformation of the local society.

Ten Bridesmaids, David Davis Award, Pastor JP weighs in

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reconciliation and Race

This letter, below, from our Bishop, details some systemic efforts in our region to address the racial divide in our nation and also responds to the recent anti-Semitic and white supremacist protests and violence in Charlottesville:

Our Conference Vision:
"Alive in Christ together, the Susquehanna Conference will embody the beloved community of disciple making congregations."

August 2017

Dear Colleagues in Ministry,

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

The Order of Elders of the Susquehanna Conference, in conjunction with the Order of Deacons, the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members, and the Cabinet, is sponsoring the 2017 Bishop's Day Apart for our full-time and part-time clergy and pastoral leaders which will be offered on two different dates in two different locations. You can attend the 2017 Bishop's Day Apart on September 11th at Lightstreet United Methodist Church or on September 12th at Mt. Nittany United Methodist Church. I am very excited and pleased that the Rev. Dr. F. Willis Johnson, Senior Minister of Wellspring Church, an intergenerational United Methodist church plant in Ferguson, Missouri, and Vosburgh Visiting Professor of Ministry and Social Engagement at the Theological School of Drew University, will be our guest speaker.

The Conference Leadership and I are committed to be a more inclusive and diverse annual conference. In that regard, the Susquehanna Conference has engaged the resources of the General Commission on Religion and Race. Already our conference leadership and staff are participating in workshops and events to address the opportunities, challenges and concerns that can come from broadening our understanding of racial and ethnic diversity. We are in the process of developing an overall conference strategy as part of our response to the Northeastern Jurisdiction's Call to Action for each conference to have a systematic plan to address racism. These efforts are just some of the practical and tangible ways to live out the vision of our conference as disciple-making congregations that embody the beloved community.

Prayer for Korea, by Bishop Park

August 10, 2017

"For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups
into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is,
the hostility between us." (Ephesians 2:14)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Grace to you in the most precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

August 15th is a day of national celebration of the Independence Day in Korea. The Japanese occupation of Korea ended that day in 1945. However, the joy of liberation ended quickly. Soon after, the Korean Peninsula was divided into two and the hostility between them has continued for over 70 years. The Korean War during 1950 to 1953 cost injuries and loss of lives numbering in the millions. The present situation is so alarming and serious and it is escalating toward the breaking point.

The World Council of Churches has designated this Sunday, August 13, 2017, as the Sunday of Prayer for the Peaceful Reunification of the Korean Peninsula. I call upon our people to pray for peace to prevail. You can find out more information about the World Council of Churches call for prayer at

Please have a time of prayer for Korea during worship this Sunday.

Let me offer a prayer:

"O God of every nation, of every race and land, redeem your whole creation with your almighty hand; where hate and fear divide us, and bitter threats are hurled, in love and mercy guide us, and heal our strife-torn world."*

Friday, August 11, 2017

The fight for justice

In a file photo from December 2016, Norma Dollaga, on left with microphone, speaks during an ecumenical action of Kadamay: Stop the Killings, a community organization that advocates for the poor in urban communities, in Quezon City, Philippines. The placards in Filipino say,
By Gladys Mangiduyos
July 11, 2017 | QUEZON CITY, Philippines (UMNS)
A Filipino United Methodist deaconess has long fought for justice in the Philippines — most recently by helping to find safe harbors for those targeted in the extrajudicial killings.
Norma P. Dollaga is a co-founder of Rise Up for Life and for Rights, an ecumenical alliance campaigning against extrajudicial killings that have targeted mostly drug users or smalltime pushers. About 7,000 people have been killed.
"Resistance is a gift,” she says of her tireless quest to sensitize people and alleviate humanity from suffering. “Redemption and liberation is what we need. Justice will shepherd us through."
Dollaga, a member of the Philippines Central Conference, and the alliance assist church-related institutions, movements, networks and organizations that partner with the urban poor, workers, youth, lawyers, human rights groups, child rights advocates and women’s groups. Rise Up frames its work as a “from victim to advocate” approach, she said.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Basic Christianity (3): Love (2017-0730)

29-30 July 2017, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 26
Children, Luke 12.13-21
Message, 1 Thessalonians 3.6 – 4.12
Mission Moment: Interpreter article on Syrian refugee meeting Jesus in the hospitality of the church

The Inquisition: “Is he liberal or conservative?”

Building bigger barns

When people speak of holiness, they talk of rules, standards, law.  It’s all about purity. No drinking, smoking, or drugs.  No sexual activity outside of marriage.  No curses, gossip, or lies.  No.  No.  No.  No.  Go to church every week.  Give 10%.  I think, of the ones listed, that the curses, gossip, and lies are the hardest.  You may think differently.  At any rate, I know that such holiness is supremely inspiring!  The process is simple: a command, and the will or choice to be pure.
      Interestingly, it is the will to purity that is at the base of so much of the exclusion in the world. Miroslav Volf (raised as a Pentecostal Christian in a mostly Catholic Croatia, who as an adult experienced and observed the “ethnic cleansing” that tore apart the former Yugoslavia) writes, “Sin as the practice of exclusion … names as sin what often passes as virtue, especially in religious circles” (Exclusion and Embrace, 72). He goes on: “Sin is … the kind of purity that wants the world cleansed of the other rather than the heart cleansed of the evil that drives people out” (74), and “evil is capable of generating an … environment in which it can thrive unrecognized” (76).
      So, typical holiness talk, centered on purity, leaves us with two things: First, a personal holiness that is entirely built on the strength of the human will (and not at all attractive), and, second, a social holiness that is very susceptible to rationalizing exclusion as a good thing. Neither is the holiness that God desires.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Game Night with Da Yut

Glen Summit Chapel

We were invited to provide the leadership for the annual service at Glen Summit Chapel on the last Sunday of July. A beautiful place and a joyful gathering!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Basketball Goal

Thanks to Brayden for putting up the new basketball goal and painting a court - a fantastic Eagle project!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Inmates growing food in Zimbabwe

Inmates at Kentucky Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, pose with their graduation certificates from a yearlong nutritional gardening course. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe.
By Kudzai Chingwe
July 12, 2017 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UMNS)
Inmates at a prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, have learned to grow food through a program organized by The United Methodist Church and the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Service.
This year, 17 inmates at Kentucky Prison graduated with certificates in horticulture after completing the one-year nutritional gardening course. ...
Luke Mhere, chief correctional officer in the Zimbabwe Prison and Correctional Services, said the institution has adopted an approach to equip inmates with skills rather than simply punishing them. Mhere said equipping inmates with skills can help them successfully rejoin society and live as law-abiding citizens.
“If one acquires some life skills while in prison, it returns the confidence required to rejoin the society,” he said.
One of the beneficiaries, Moses Makina, said the acquiring of horticulture skills was a milestone in the lives of prisoners.
“As prisoners, we are delighted and we have seen that there is no condemnation in being a prisoner, as our lives will never be the same,” he said.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

An Undivided Heart

Thanks to Joel for sharing the message on July 23! Note that the video is incomplete.

An Undivided Heart
July 23, 2017: Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Genesis 28:10-19
Psalm 86:1-17
Matthew 13:24-30

He put before them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The slaves said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he replied, ‘No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

I like to imagine that my grandmother would at the very least be suspicious of the householder in Jesus’s parable. It was she who taught me to manage the business end of a hoe and put me to work in the corn and bean patch, spending long hours digging up the weeds that threatened to choke out the young plants that would help feed us in the coming months. A garden full of weeds was not simply unlikely to produce a large enough crop for the late summer rituals of canning and freezing; it was to my grandmother also a sign of laziness, which she could not abide. Her garden had to be clean and orderly.