Monday, April 30, 2018

Drug Traffickers meet Jesus

Attendance has almost tripled at Danga United Methodist Church in Calumpit, Bulacan, Philippines, due to an outreach program called Banyuhay. Many of the program’s participants and their families and neighbors have joined the church. Photo courtesy of The Rev. Mienie N. Tolentino.
By Gladys Mangiduyos
March 16, 2018 | UMNS
Amid the war on drugs in the Philippines, Danga United Methodist Church in Calumpit is seeing its membership grow.
The 28-year-old church in the province of Bulacan used to have 20 to 25 attendees each Sunday; now, 70 worshippers are in attendance most weeks, thanks to a new program aimed at former drug traffickers and addicts.
The Rev. Mienie N. Tolentino, Danga’s pastor, is among clergy who responded to a call from municipal Mayor Jessie de Jesus to join in his reformation program, called “Banyuhay.” The program offers spiritual enlightenment to those involved with illegal drugs in an effort to help them start “a new chapter of life.”

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Vital evangelism by German churches

Parishioners sing during worship at the United Methodist Church of the Redeemer in Munich, Germany. From left are Jula Carlsen and Daniel  and Carina Kuß. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.
Story by Vicki Brown, photos by Mike DuBose
March 21, 2018 | MUNICH, Germany (UMNS)
Editor’s note: This is the ninth in an occasional series of stories, “German Methodism: A strong Christian voice,” about the 51,000-member United Methodist Church in Germany.
On the surface, a lively church in a new building with plenty of children and youth programs might not seem to have much in common with a tiny village church that runs a weekly community café or an inner-city church with aging members and multiple outreach programs.
Those United Methodist churches are quite different from another inner-city church that runs a nonprofit afterschool program for poor or immigrant children, or a church in an economically depressed area that holds regular outdoor services.
All those churches, as well as a group of young adults who just get together for dinner, have one thing in common: Each is an example of a vital congregation in Germany — an effort to reach out in “fresh expressions,” which Bishop Harald Rückert said is “simply doing good work.”

Easter Egg Hunt (2 of 4)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Egg Hunt (1 of 4)

Love Has Won: Forgiving (2018-0415)

07-08 Apr 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 4
Children, Luke 24.36-48
Message, 1 John 1.5 – 2.14

A love letter (Joel)

Context: Division in the church over the center of our faith – Jesus.

1 John 2:18-19  Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour.  19 They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.

1 John 4:2-3  By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,  3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming; and now it is already in the world.

Teaching of the “antichrist”:
      Reject Jesus coming in the flesh (spirit only)
      Reject Jesus atoning work by his death and resurrection (spirit only … solution to the human “problem” is spiritual only)
      Therefore: Do not identify themselves as sinners. As God is light, we are light.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Happy 50th!

The United Methodist Church is 50 years old today. Take a look at some reasons to celebrate, from an article by Fran Coode Walsh. Read the whole story.
Our people
  1. John Wesley, who was called to create a movement, that grew into a church. He could’ve been a Jedi,really.
  2. Susanna Wesley, whose steadfast faith and bold witness inspired her children and made her the true “Mother of Methodism.”   
  3. The 750,000 members of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and 10.3 million members of the Methodist Church who came together in the tumultuous year of 1968 and created a new 
    Bishop Joaquina Nhanala from Mozambique is the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa . Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.
    Bishop Joaquina Nhanala from Mozambique is the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa . Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS.
  4. More than 300 missionaries who serve across the world.
  5. So many amazing kids, doing so many acts of kindness for their neighbors.
  6. Leaders and trailblazers like Bishop Joaquina Filipe Nhanala of Mozambique, who is the first female United Methodist bishop in Africa.
  7. Young adults sharing their gifts, like blind artist Jeff Hanson who has raised millions for charity.
  8. Our bishops, past and present. You can get to know more about their personal faith journeys in podcasts, like the one with Bishop Harald Rückert of Germany who had a previous career in food technology.
  9. The Methodist mother-daughter team who created a holiday for moms.
  10.  Members of the two United Methodist churches that were the first to host Father’s Day celebrations.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

United Methodist history: Activist for women's suffrage and against lynching

By: Sherri Gragg
From Problem Child to Activist
Jessie Daniel Ames was a problem child. Her unwillingness to conform to the strict Victorian societal expectations of her youth prompted her parents to frequently send her away from the dinner table for her poor manners. The fiery child spent many evenings taking her meals in the kitchen alongside the servants. It was there that she first heard about the lynching of a local man in nearby Tyler, Texas. The horrifying account lodged in the heart and mind of young Jessie where it knit together with her indomitable will to shape the course of a nation.
Ames was born in Palestine, Texas in 1883. She entered Southwestern University at the young age of 13 and graduated in 1902. She was widowed at the age of 31, and left to rear her three young children alone. Tragedy and single parenthood did little to get in the way of the once problem child. A life-long Methodist, she grew up to become a prominent leader in the suffragist movement. In 1919, she established the Texas League of Women Voters. However, unlike many of her fellow suffragists, she was also acutely aware of the injustices suffered by African Americans in the years before the Civil Rights Movement. In 1930, she rallied a group of like-minded women to form the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching.

The rest of the story...

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Love Has Won, Showing (2018-0408)

Thanks to Joel Shuman for preaching on this date!
Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1-5; 4:7-21; John 20:19-31

We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that your joy may be complete.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all…

Resurrection Walk

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Hospital Changes Blind Boy's Life

Born blind with cataracts on both eyes, 8-year-old Morlai Bangura, who lives in the remote village of Barmoi in northern Sierra Leone, can now see. Thanks to successful eye operations at the Sierra Leone Conference’s Lowell and Ruth Gess United Methodist Eye Hospital, Morlai has started attending school in eastern Freetown. Photo courtesy of Dr. Moges Teshome, Lowell and Ruth Gess United Methodist Eye Hospital.
By Phileas Jusu
March 12, 2018 | FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS)
Born blind with cataracts in both eyes, 8-year-old Morlai Bangura can now see and has started attending school in eastern Freetown, with support from the Sierra Leone Conference’s Lowell and Ruth Gess United Methodist Eye Hospital.
In a country where opportunities for the blind are limited and many are reduced to beggars, Morlai — who was living in a remote village in northern Sierra Leone — did not have the slimmest prospect of sight or city life, let alone education.
He now has all three, thanks to the United Methodist eye hospital’s outreach team who discovered him in the woods of Barmoi and brought news of his condition to hospital authorities in Freetown.
“There is no health care facility in that very remote part of the country, no school. He was blind and was working on the farm. Nobody knew his cataracts were operable,” said Dr. Moges Teshome, the ophthalmologist who performed the surgeries.

Zoe with our kids

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Church in Honduras prepares to plant its FIFTH new congregation!

A sign at the entrance to the city of Danlí, Honduras, offers an invitation to visit the Central United Methodist Church. The Rev. Jose Roberto Peña, the church's pastor, said,
By the Rev. Gustavo Vasquez
March 13, 2018 | DANLÍ, Honduras (UMNS)
The Central United Methodist Church of Danlí is considered the first organized church of the United Methodist mission in Honduras.
It began in 1997 as a mission initiative of Bishop Armando Rodriguez, who was the leader of the Methodist Church in Cuba. At that time, Rodriguez had retired from episcopal duties and became a missionary of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
With 200 members and an average attendance of 80 congregants, the church has Sunday school with groups of all ages, worship service, prayer service and five growth groups. It has several ministries oriented to outreach and community service — providing food for children at risk of malnutrition and a recovery program for people with addictions. It also provides pastoral accompaniment to workers in a local tobacco factory.
Currently, the church is evaluating opening a new congregation and studying options to select the most appropriate location. The Danlí church has a lot of experience in this area, as it has already started four other churches.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Love Has Won: Join the Insurgency

31 Mar – 01 Apr 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Isaiah 26:6-9
Children, John 20:1-18
Message, Mark 16:1-8

A delightful ending. An obvious surprise, to the characters in the story. We know the Easter story, at least a little, so we can yawn and ho-hum our way through the holiday if we want. For the women at the tomb, this was not the miracle they were looking for. They weren’t looking for a miracle at all, let alone resurrection. The experience they have is not so much a gift to celebrate but an April Fool’s prank gone way too far. “So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mark 16:8). No wonder Paul describes the Christian message as “the foolishness of our proclamation” (1 Corinthians 1.21). Even the very first believers were nowhere near ready for Easter.

The endings of Mark: This abrupt ending is also a beautiful literary twist! Throughout the gospel, Jesus performs miracle after miracle. After most of them (there are exceptions), Jesus instructs people to tell no one. What do they do? They tell everyone! Here, the first witnesses to resurrection are instructed to tell the disciples – just the disciples. What do they do? They tell no one! Now, we know they eventually began to speak. That’s why we have this story. This literary twist, however, invites us to look deeper at what we are looking for. 
      Eugene Peterson points out that what most of us seek in our religious quests is answers and miracles, or what the Apostle Paul called wisdom and signs. Instead, what the gospel offers is Jesus. Most of us – even church going people –aren’t seeking Jesus. And we aren’t really interested in resurrection, in the Easter story, because we are looking for miracles – the kinds we have in mind. And Resurrection blows the mind.
      Resurrection involves so much more than “miracle” in the limited way we think of it. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.” Resurrection is not about miracle, but about revolution. Revolution is not about the miracles we tend to ask for, but about the Miracle that changes the world.

New United Methodist University in Sierra Leone

Bishop John Yambasu delivers his maiden speech as chancellor of United Methodist University in Sierra Leone at the launching and dedication service of the university on Jan. 27. Seated in the front row are the Rev. Kim Cape and Bishop Rosemary Wenner. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UMNS.
By Phileas Jusu
Feb. 13, 2018 | FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (UMNS)
Sierra Leone’s newly opened United Methodist University was dedicated at ceremony attended by academics, diplomats, senior government officials and United Methodists who had traveled from near and far.
The Jan. 27 event included the official launching of the first faculty, the Bishop Wenner School of Theology, named after retired German Area Bishop Rosemarie Wenner. The school has been up and running since November, with students and staff in place, said the Rev. Edwin Momoh, the university’s adjunct professor of research and development.
Addressing the gathering, Sierra Leone Area Bishop John Yambasu, chancellor of the university, recalled with joy how his dream of a United Methodist University nine years ago had come to fruition.
“My many travels across the African continent (as a missionary of The United Methodist Church) opened my eyes to the massive illiteracy, poverty, misery, marginalization and exploitation of young people and the helplessness of many of them to take responsibility for their own destiny. Many still live in squalor and go through life-threatening experiences every day because they lack the needed education and skills that will make them employable.”

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Blood Drive

Thanks to George for coordinating the spring blood drive. We exceeded our goal!

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


Thanks to the guys who came out to cut up the fallen trees!

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Last Word on Trust (Seven Last Words #7)

24-25 Mar 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Call to Worship, Psalm 96
Children, Joshua 3-4
Message, John 19.28-42

Discussion guide
·       The Last Word on Reconciliation, Feb 10/11
·       The Last Word on Hope, Feb 17/18
·       The Last Word on Family, Feb 24/25
·       The Last Word on Pain, Mar 3/4
·       The Last Word on Need, Mar 10/11
·       The Last Word on Endurance, Mar 17/18
·       The Last Word on Trust, Mar 24/25

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit (Luke 23:46, quoting today’s psalm).

April 2, Easter Monday, the 2nd anniversary of dad’s death
      Commendation words:
·       It’s okay, we’ll be okay, we’ll take care of Mom
·       “In the midst of life, we are in death; from whom can we seek help? … Lord Jesus, into your hands we commend Name in sure and certain hope of resurrection.”
·       “I’m going to Love” (to Marcy)
·       Easter tide series, Love Won (1 John)

This last word of Jesus, this last word on Trust, give us comfort. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” We hear this and we are reassured that means that we can commend our spirit, our lives to God. We can trust God. Let us not overlook the fact, however, that Jesus’ expression of trust is offered in a moment of great personal agony. And, if we go back to the fourth word, the last word on pain, we heard Jesus say to his Father: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” So, here, it is the God-forsaken Jesus who entrusts his spirit to the Father who has forsaken him. It takes the trust factor up a few notches.
      No matter what hell we face, Jesus has been there first. We can trust Jesus, even if we feel ourselves to be forsaken.