Friday, November 30, 2018

Second United Methodist school in Hungary

The Schola Europa, a high school in Budapest, Hungary, became a United Methodist school in September 2018. Photo by Ãœllas Tankler, courtesy of Central and Southern Europe Conference.
The Schola Europa, a high school in Budapest, Hungary, became a United Methodist school in September 2018. Photo by Üllas Tankler, courtesy of Central and Southern Europe Conference.

By Urs SchweizerSept. 28, 2018 | UMNS

After successfully leading a secondary school in Budapest for five years, The United Methodist Church in Hungary has taken leadership of a second school.
“During the five years since the first school has been received, we have gained positive experiences. The years spent with our Forrai school encourage us to start the cooperation with Schola Europa,ʺ said the Rev. László Khaled, superintendent of The United Methodist Church in Hungary.
He said there have been many meaningful encounters of students, teachers and people of The United Methodist Church in Hungary – both at school programs and in the local church. Khaled added that the greatest need of the students is “to feel accepted and loved and it touches them if they experience all this in a Methodist congregation.ʺ

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Three Simple Rules: Do All the Good You Can

10-11 Nov 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 82
Children, Luke 10.25-37
Message, Micah 6.1-8
Mission Moment,

These simple rules are what John Wesley described as a way to build a “form of godliness” while seeking its power (2 Timothy 3.5). The United Societies were
a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness
FORM (pic, sidewalk, me and Zoe)

      Context of community
First rule, “Do no harm.”
NO: Actually a critical word to learn:  
      Stay focused on our personal or corporate mission
      Define who we are and clarify our boundaries
      Group at Roberta’s – breaking her vase of glass flowers

The powerful word in this rule is ALL.
      All the time, all the people, all the ways, ALL the good

Friedman’s Fables, rope, bridge, “My life is in your hands”
G. – the Christian thing to do is not to judge but to do good
      Do not forget the “no”
      We are to do GOOD, not necessarily solve people’s problems

Discern the good. It is not always what the other person defines as good! Compassion, interest, treating someone as a person to be loved not a problem to be solved.
      Bill Easum, story of homebound woman and potted plants

Monday, November 26, 2018

Oklahoma ministry helps prisoners reenter society

A view of the courtyard at the United Methodist Exodus House in Oklahoma City where former prisoners can find a spot for reflection. Photo by Boyce Bowdon, UMNS.
By Boyce BowdonOct. 3, 2018 | OKLAHOMA CITY

The 20th anniversary celebration of Exodus House — a United Methodist residential ministry for those recently released from prison — brought back vivid memories for Shane Vaughn.
“Exodus House is where God turned my life around,” said Vaughn, one of 75 people who attended the Aug. 20 gathering.
“Before I came to this place, I had been released from prison three times. When I got out each of those times, I went back to my same old haunts, hung out with same guys, and did the same stupid things that had gotten me into trouble before. And the same thing happened: I went back to prison.”
He explained that while he was in prison the fourth time, he met a team of Christian men who were witnessing to the miracles God had performed in their lives. Being with them, he says, helped him realize the way he was living wasn’t working.
“I was an alcoholic and a drug addict. If I didn’t get sober and straighten up, I was going to be in prison the rest of my life. That’s not the life I wanted, but I didn’t think I could change. The men helped me believe I could. They helped me get in Exodus House when I was released.”

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Evangelism: Save as many souls as you can

Photo of the Rev. Jean Claude Masuka Maleka by Mike DuBose, UMNS.Evangelism is part of our Wesleyan heritage. It’s essential for The United Methodist Church to continue believing in its high tradition, which functions primarily in the service of character formation, faith development, missional engagement, and evangelization. It is crucial to living these core beliefs and even practice them. Our priorities as Methodists are to witness for Christ and invite people into a relationship with God.
Today in the 21st century, congregations are making a mistake in thinking that evangelism is a program of the church. Faith-sharing is not a program of the church. To the contrary, the church, when it is authentic, is a ministry of faith-sharing.
The role of evangelism is to tell the good news of God’s kingdom come in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we do not “evangelize” anyone other than Christ. Evangelism is heralding Christ. We may “evangelize” among a group of people, but we do not evangelize any one person. In other words, we do not convert anyone. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. Our task is to tell the good news story.
Our God is a seeking, saving and sending God. “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (John 20:21, NRSV)

Churches cope with wildfires

A satellite image shows smoke pouring from a wildfire that broke out in the early morning hours of Nov. 8, just outside Paradise, Ca. The Camp Fire, named for its proximity to Camp Creek Road in Feather River Canyon, has overtaken and nearly burned out the town of 30,000 residents located in northern California. NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.
By Jim Patterson and Sam Hodges
Nov. 12, 2018 | UMNS

Members of Paradise United Methodist Church were still unsure about the state of their homes or their church as firefighters continued to battle widespread California wildfires. 

In addition to the fire that devastated Paradise, a wildfire raging near Los Angeles clobbered the congregation of Malibu United Methodist Church, destroying some members’ homes.

The Paradise church building was rumored to have survived, but the pastor of a nearby church in Willows said there was a lot of uncertainty.

“About 80 percent of Paradise is burnt up, and those that survive will be in the middle of a desolate wasteland,” said the Rev. Dave Rieck, pastor of nearby First United Methodist Church of Willows, on Nov. 12.

Rieck doesn’t know if his home in Paradise was still standing.

The rest of the story...

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Picking Turkey

Three Simple Rules: Do No Harm

4 Nov 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 24
Children, Exodus 20.12
Message, Galatians 5.13-26
Mission Moment, Pastor’s Discretionary Fund

These simple rules are what John Wesley described as a way to build a “form of godliness” while seeking its power (2 Timothy 3.5). The United Societies were
a company of men having the form and seeking the power of godliness
FORM (pic, sidewalk, me and Zoe)

First rule, “Do no harm.”
      Children: Honor your parents, that you may live long …
      But in those “terrible twos” “terrible threes” “terrible teens”
            They learn a new and powerful word: NO

Actually a critical word to learn:
In business literature and in psychology literature, No is a way
      Stay focused on our personal or corporate mission
      Define who we are and clarify our boundaries
In our relationships and sexuality
      Protection of the vulnerable against assault by the powerful
      “No” means “No”.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Peter escapes prison and visits a small group

New Methodist Church launched in Cambodia

New president.jpg
Fellow Methodist clergy pray over the newly elected President of the Methodist Church in Cambodia, Rev. Lun Sophy. PHOTO: Myungim Kim

By Elliott Wright*

The Methodist Church of Cambodia officially came into being in early September at a conference in Phnom Penh. It has 140 congregations, 11 districts, 132 clergypersons, 3,171 full members and average Sunday worship attendance of 6,828. 

“This new church is the culmination of many years of collaborative work among five mission agencies, their missionaries and the work of indigenous leaders,” said Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster (retired), the United Methodist bishop assigned to the Cambodia Mission. He represented the denomination at the September 4-7 conference.

The Rev. Lun Sophy, a pastor of two churches at Siem Reap, a city near the ancient temples at Angkor Wat, was elected president of the new church, officially and originally in Methodist parlance called a “provisional annual conference,” but expected to be autonomous or self-governing. 

“We celebrate the movement of God’s spirit in Cambodia,” Goodpaster said in an interview after his return from Southeast Asia. “We also celebrate mission partnership. Collaboration is the way to do mission in the 21st century.”

The rest of the story...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Turkey Dinner prep

Pastor JP cleans the cabbage in preparation for making cole slaw.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Hurricane recovery in Puerto Rico

Three Simple Rules: The United Societies

28 Oct 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 133
Children, Acts 12.1-17
Message, Acts 2.42-47

It is so easy to romanticize this text. “All who believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2.44). That is really neat, all warm and fuzzy, but really difficult to live out. Anyone here sold major personal property to share the proceeds with others? And aside from this primitive Christian socialism (what else shall we call it?), we have the simple difficulty of being together. Where’s the personal space? Where’s Daniel Boone’s famous “elbow room”? Being together ain’t easy, even when you’re talking about good people that you love and maybe even like.
Family vacation in Maine, not quite enough personal space, mom’s phone flashlight on in the middle of the night

Being together, being “in community” (to use the Greek root repeated over and over in this passage – common, community), being “in community” requires persistence, stubbornness, commitment. Over and over our bishop, Jeremiah Park, says that we are “better together.” Maybe so, but that doesn’t make it easy.
      Eugene Peterson, that renowned pastor, writer, and translator of the Bible version The Message, once wrote an article titled “Learning to Love the Church.” He died this past week at the age of 85, surrounded by community – his family in particular. And his reflections on this are plenty valuable for us today. He began:
When we become Christians and start following Jesus, we soon find ourselves in the company of others who want to get in on it. It does not take us long to find many of these people are not much to our liking and some of them we actively dislike—a mixed bag of saints and sinners, the saints sometimes harder to put up with than the sinners. Jesus doesn't seem to be very discriminating….
He goes on to talk about how frustrating it was for him that church people could be so … the word I would pick is human. One guy fell asleep ten minutes after the opening hymn, every week. Two guys in the choir exchanged stock tips each Sunday. One angry teenager sat in the back pew and read comic books. He was so happy that one of the women in the church brought her note pad and took shorthand notes of his message each week. Until he discovered that she was preparing to divorce her husband and go back into the workforce.
      Newsflash: The church is full of church people. It is TOUGH to be together in Christian community. It is also necessary.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Trunk or Treat - best car

Thanks to Marina for her Music Together car, voted this year's best Trunk at Trunk or Treat!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Thankful for our Veterans

The Second World War Memorial in Washington, D.C., the Field of Stars in the Freedom Wall. We are thankful for our veterans, whom we acknowledged in worship yesterday, and for those who serve today in our armed forces.

Arabic speaking Swiss church

The Rev. Anna Shammas shares the story of how an invitation to worship led to the formation of the Arabic-Speaking United Methodist Church in Aarau, Switzerland. Photo by Annette Spence, UMNS.
By Annette Spence
Sept. 10, 2018 | AARAU, Switzerland (UMNS)

Anna Shammas was homesick and lonely on a subway in Switzerland in 2002. As a migrant from Aleppo, Syria, she was wary when another passenger began to draw pictures and talk to her 2-year-old daughter.
When the Swiss woman learned that Shammas was a Christian, she invited her to worship, drawing a map to the United Methodist church in Aarau. 

“I didn’t want to go in a false way,” Shammas says, explaining her fear of the local people who might reject her as an immigrant. Yet the invitation to worship intrigued her at a time when she was “without a friend, without language skills, without security, and most of all without God.” ...
Shammas says she was initially afraid, but her first visit to the United Methodist church in Aarau was life-changing. “I felt it was my home,” Shammas says. Even though she was not yet fluent in Swiss German (one of the nation's four official languages), church members “looked to me with love, with eyes of love. Indescribable was this experience.”
Shammas and her husband wanted to be at church every Sunday, but jobs were hard to get for migrants and they could not afford more than one bus ticket at once. So the couple decided to take turns attending church, each without the other.
Her faith flourished through the church, Shammas says. In Syria, Christianity was “my heritage, not a friendship with God.” In the Aarau church, she learned that “[God] can talk to me and he can change the situation. He does, every moment in my life. I want to hear his voice, to live together with God.”

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Sorry: Repairing Relationships with God (2018-1021)

20-21 Oct 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 130
Children, John 13.1-15
Message, 2 Corinthians 5.14-21

Review: First week
      Initiative to apologize
      Initiative to start a difficult conversation, even when not at fault
Last week, repairing relationships with those we love
1.     Don’t count individual offenses and generalize a pattern from them.
2.     Give each other space in our comfort zone before pushing a difficult conversation.
3.     Remember your first love. Repent and do the things you did at first.
Today, with God
      Sin (our focus)
      Stuff (honorable mention)

The first thing to notice is that, just as Jesus urges us to “first go and reconcile,” even so Jesus does the same thing. He practices what he preaches.
      Washing the disciples’ feet
      “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
      “You are clean.”
Jesus declares Peter clean even BEFORE his denial that evening, three times, that he even KNOWS Jesus.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Permaculture in Malawi

View of healthy soy beans growing at Madisi Farm in Malawai. Photo by Joseph Kaipa for UMNS.
By Francis Nkhoma
Sept. 12, 2018 | MADISI, Malawi (UMNS)

Five years ago, The United Methodist Church in Malawi, with support from the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, purchased 25 acres of land about 2 miles from the Madisi church. In 2013 and 2014, a variety of crops were introduced, and a farmhouse, an office and stables were built. People learned methods of planting different vegetables, growing seasonal crops and raising livestock for income generation.

In 2015, the Madisi farm hired a special consultant, Luwayo Bizwik. As Bizwik showed villagers how to plant a variety of crops, others came to learn. That year and the next brought a bountiful harvest, healthy livestock and beautiful gardens. Villagers who once suffered from malnutrition began recovering, thanks in part to the vegetables from their gardens.

The farm has trained four village leaders and six health groups.

Who Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Message by our District Superintendent, Larry Leland, at church conference.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Sorry: Repairing Relationships with Those We Love

13-14 Oct 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Psalm, Psalm 103.1-18
Children, Genesis 3.1-13
Message, John 21.1-25

      Initiative to apologize
      Initiative to start a difficult conversation, even when not at fault
      Today, repairing relationships with those we love

Let’s set up this story a little.
      In John’s gospel, Peter’s call story is abbreviated. He is introduced to Jesus by his brother, Andrew, and Jesus gives him the name “Peter” as opposed to Simon (1.42). He has one line of dialogue in the ministry of Jesus, in which he speaks up for all the disciples to declare their loyalty to Jesus when much of the crowd forsakes him (6.68). Then, Peter shows up in the night of the last supper and in the resurrection stories. He refuses to have Jesus wash his feet, only to relent. He affirms his loyalty, that he will lay down his life for Jesus, and Jesus tells him that this very night he will deny Jesus three times. The mob shows up to arrest Jesus and Peter lays his life on the line, drawing his sword and cutting off the ear of a guy named Malchus. Peter is doing exactly what he says he will do, and Jesus tells him to stop, to put his sword away. Jesus submits to the arrest, the disciples scatter, but Peter follows at a distance and ends up in the courtyard as the bizarre “trial” begins. Sure enough, Peter denies knowing Jesus three times that evening. Now that Christ is risen and appeared to Mary, now that Peter has seen the empty tomb but not yet met with Jesus, he is at a loss. What do you do next? He has denied even knowing the man he loves as friend and lord. And he hasn’t even had the opportunity to apologize.
      What does Peter do? He can’t take refuge in a relationship that is broken, both by what Peter has done and by Jesus’ death – even though there’s some unresolved mystery around what happened on Easter.
      What does Peter do? He takes refuge in his competency, in what he does well – fishing. He takes refuge in his work. Nothing wrong with that. Many of us do it. The great thing is that Jesus finds him there and Peter is only too glad to see him.