Thursday, November 28, 2019

Starting a new church in Slovakia

In addition to leading church services in Dolný Kubín, Slovakia, the Rev. Patrik Hipp along with his wife, Zuzana Hipp, and helpers established the FUSION Music Ministry, a group of young people (pictured) who meet to make music together. Photo courtesy of Rev. Patrik Hipp.
In addition to leading church services in Dolný Kubín, Slovakia, the Rev. Patrik Hipp along with his wife, Zuzana Hipp, and helpers established the FUSION Music Ministry, a group of young people (pictured) who meet to make music together. Photo courtesy of Rev. Patrik Hipp.

By Urs Schweizer
Oct. 25, 2019 | DOLNÝ KUBÍN, Slovakia (UM News)

United Methodists were confused by a 2011 census that showed 33 people in the Slovakian town of Dolný Kubín who listed their religion as United Methodist. Nobody knew who they were and there had never been a Methodist congregation in the town near Poland. 

But these days, the Rev. Patrick Hipp is building a congregation in the town. And one day, with God’s help, there will be 33 United Methodists in Dolný Kubín.

Dolný Kubín is a two-hour drive from Senec, where Hipp was minister to a new congregation. Through his work in Senec, he made contact with people from Dolný Kubín.

Hipp said he looked out the window one day in Senec and saw a mother with children on the playground.

“I thought: We need such families to come to our congregation. And when I asked myself why we didn’t have such families, it became clear to me that someone should talk to this woman about God’s love,” he said. 

He asked his wife, Zuzana, to go to the playground and talk to the woman. His wife asked: “Why me?” 

“You are a woman, after all. Please go to her and speak to her as one woman to another,” he said. 

Zuzana Hipp talked to the woman in the park about God’s love, invited her to come to the church – and she actually came. Together the two women read the Bible, prayed, exchanged experiences and learned.  

The woman’s husband wasn’t happy about her involvement in the church, but she remained faithful and eventually found the courage to invite her husband to come to the church himself, Hipp said. He said the husband came and to everyone’s surprise, he liked what he experienced and eventually started off on the path of believing. 

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Life Design 5: Discern



2019 Discipleship series
9-10 Nov 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying the Scripture, Psalm 1
Children, 1 Kings 3.5-15 (Solomon’s request for wisdom)
Message, Matthew 16.13-26
       [Larger context includes 16.1-28 (weather, yeast, Christ, cross)]
Mission Moment, none

Our fall discipleship theme is “life design” and, among other resources, I have been sharing from the wonderful book, Designing Your Life: How to Lead a Well-Lived, Joyful Life, by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. We began with Disruption, which often kick starts the design questions in our lives because we discover that “the true way is wholly lost.” We went on to Dance of Delight and Dare to Dream, then last week’s Detour. Today, we are on Discern and then, next week, Decide followed by a celebration luncheon next Sunday.

Theme Scripture, 2019: Ephesians 3:18-21  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth,  19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine,  21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
       Abundantly far more …

One area where we hopefully do not need discernment is the basic questions of right and wrong:
·       Do I give rein to my anger, or do I exercise self-control?
·       Do I gossip or hold my tongue?
·       Do I cheat or maintain my integrity?
Pretty much all of us know which is the right thing to do in those situations. We don’t need clearer discernment. We just need to obey. We just need to do what’s right. Every one of us here has given free rein to our anger, gossiped, cheated. And we’ve done it even though we heard that voice telling us, “Don’t even think about it. No. Stop!” Still do it anyway. For those kinds of questions in life, we need repentance.
       Well, maybe we need some discernment in this area too. One of my friends works in the recovery community and tells folks, “Your best thinking got you here.” That is, we think we think clearly, and we still end up with our life derailed. We’ll insist that we don’t need help – whether it is the advice of a parent or the support of the twelve-step community or an assigned mentor in our chosen career – we insist that can do it on our own. But the record is clear: On our own we’ve made our lives a mess.
       That’s why at AA meetings they post a saying “Think, Think, Think” with the words upside down. We’re so confident in our thinking, even though all it has done is fail us. The prophet Jeremiah was right when he said, “The heart is deceitful more than anything else, and it is disastrous. Who can understand it? [1]
       So, we do need the discernment to own our stuff, be honest about where we are, receive feedback, get help. We need discernment so that we, in the words of a friend, “Don’t do stupid.”
       From today’s psalm (Psalm 1):
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path that sinners tread,
or sit in the seat of scoffers;
but their delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
And, from the apostle Paul: “The natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he is not able to understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Now the spiritual person discerns all things” (1 Corinthians 2.14-15, Lexham English Bible [LEB]).

Saturday, November 23, 2019

United Methodists taking a stand in the Philippines

Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (left) prays for a leader (red vest) at a camp for displaced people in Malaybalay, Philippines, in 2017. The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has condemned extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country, as well as protesting the treatment of indigenous people. The church has worked both alone and through ecumenical groups like the National Council of Churches. File photo courtesy of Dan Ela.
Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan (left) prays for a leader (red vest) at a camp for displaced people in Malaybalay, Philippines, in 2017. The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has condemned extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country, as well as protesting the treatment of indigenous people. The church has worked both alone and through ecumenical groups like the National Council of Churches. File photo courtesy of Dan Ela.

By Gladys P. MangiduyosNov. 15, 2019 | MANILA, Philippines (UM News)

United Methodists are defending The National Council of Churches in the Philippines after the organization was labeled as a “front organization of local communist terrorist groups” by the Department of National Defense of the Philippine Government.
The Philippine council was among 18 organizations “red-tagged” during a congressional briefing Nov. 5. The list was presented by Major General Ruben Basiao, deputy chief of staff for intelligence for the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The National Council of Churches in the Philippines is an ecumenical fellowship of mainline Protestants, of which The United Methodist Church in the Philippines is a member. Its main mission is “to be a channel for united witness and common action by being in solidarity with the people in the struggle for justice, peace and integrity of creation.”
United Methodist Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Davao Area, who currently serves as vice chair of the National Council of Churches, lamented the labeling.
“I am bent on defending the council, which I believe is faithfully carrying out its prophetic role to proclaim the truth,” he said. “On behalf of The United Methodist Church, I urge faithful disciples to stand firm during these trying times. We will continue to be a check and balance of the government.”
The United Methodist Church in the Philippines has condemned extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses in the country, as well as protesting the treatment of indigenous people. The church has worked both alone and through ecumenical groups like the National Council of Churches.
United Methodists joined thousands of interfaith participants rallying in February to call attention to human rights violations. A district superintendent and pastor said police intimidated and threatened them for offering sanctuary to human rights workers at Dangay 3000 United Methodist Church in Roxas, Philippines.
In addition, the church offered shelter to farmers in 2016 after Philippine government security forces fired on the farmers’ peaceful demonstration for rice. Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco, who was at the time leader of the Davao Episcopal Area, opened the Spottswood Methodist Mission Center to the starving families. That action put him in danger and he was threatened with arrest.

Thursday Breakfast Bunch


Friday, November 22, 2019

Sign project - excavation





The electrical team excavates for the new sign!

New carpet

We replaced the carpet in the offices. The old carpet was buckling and creating a trip hazard. Thanks for your generosity!

Pounding the Pastor


Thanks to YOU, we received 693# of food and $376 for the Mountain Top Food Bank.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Missionary from Bangladesh to Cambodia

Carrying a bag on his shoulder, a little boy walks across a garbage dump. Every so often he stoops to pick something up—anything that his family could sell. The few pennies he earns this way are essential to their survival.

Compassion for children like him brought Clara Biswas from her home country of Bangladesh to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to serve as a missionary.

Through a local ministry, she helps more than 600 children in public schools with classes in music, computer science and art. Facilitating medical care and better nutrition meets immediate needs, while scholarships and vocational training prepare them to escape poverty. And weekly Sunday school classes bring joy into the children’s lives with Bible stories, songs and crafts.

“It is joyful to watch the faces of happy children as they go to places they had never gone before,” Clara says.

For vulnerable yet resilient communities, supporting United Methodist missionaries like Clara is one way to put your love into action.


So grateful that we have a partnership with our own missionary and, through the General Board of Global Ministries, are connected with folks like Clara all over the world!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Mission Central God Moments



Throughout November and December, we will be featuring the staff members at Mission Central who will share what they do and a little about their work. This week, we sat down with Margi Bradley, Mission Central’s receptionist. She started at Mission Central six years ago and is a vital member of this team. In addition to serving as receptionist/administrative assistant, Margi manages the medical program here at Mission Central.

Margi, why do you work at Mission Central?

My story is special because I was unemployed and looking for a rewarding job where I could be of help to others. After applying many places and going for interviews at jobs that would have no satisfaction, I went to a staffing agency. From there, I went for an interview at Mission Central. The same day that I got the call that I was hired at Mission Central was the same day that my unemployment ran out. I feel that some guardian angel was looking out for me, and I was called to do this job. This is the most rewarding job I have ever had. I take pride in trying to help as many people that I can that call or come through our doors.

What is your favorite “God Moment?"

I have experienced so many “God Moments” in the past six years that I have worked here. One that sticks in my mind is a father who had two twin sons. Both had physical disabilities so he was looking for very small walkers for them. I told him that I had never seen any walkers that were that small. I tried to take a standard walker and reduce the legs on it, but it was still too large for them. 

I took his name and number and told him I would call him if any came in, but I knew it was going to be impossible.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Life Design 4: Detour



3 Nov 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying, setting the table (or Psalm 37.1-11)
Children, 2 Kings 4.1-7 (widow and the jars of oil)
Message, Mark 8.22-26 (healing in two stages)

Our fall discipleship theme is “life design” and I just finished a wonderful book, Bill Burnett & Dave Evans, Designing Your Life: How to Lead a Well-Lived, Joyful Life. One of the things they point out is that the design process is never over. You keep designing and redesigning. Part of that is in response to the environment, which changes around you. Part of that is treating each design as an experiment that you evaluate. Part of that is that we change in unexpected ways. And part of that is what we talked about in our first week, Disruption, and will talk about this week, Detour. In between, we discussed Dance of Delight and Dare to Dream. In the coming two weeks we have Discern and then Decide, with a celebration luncheon on Nov 17.

How many of you have experience with a detour, literal or metaphorical, in the past year? How many of you forgot the bridge was out until you drove too far and had to turn around? How many times? Detour. It is a part of life, and because it is a part of life, it is part of designing our life.
       This week, Suzanne was driving back across the USA with her daughter. Interstate 80 was closed due to a snowstorm. Tractor trailers were pulled over in every parking area to ride out the storm. They kept going, following their GPS on side roads and a gravel road, and – for forty miles – behind a snowplow. On Thursday night this week, Tammy and Mary were roasting eleven turkeys to prepare for the turkey dinner. Then the power went out in the storm. All the turkeys migrated to Tammy’s house and they tested the limits of the generator to support ten roasters and the oven. Detours. Part of life. And, if we are willing to reframe them, an opportunity, maybe even an adventure.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How Great Is Our God

Church-trained African chief leads the HIV/AIDS fight

Theologian and traditional African leader Reuben Marinda of the Chiwara dynasty speaks during an HIV-AIDS dialogue in Harare, Zimbabwe. The chief has been a leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country by raising awareness with men and boys. Photo by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UM News.
Theologian and traditional African leader Reuben Marinda of the Chiwara dynasty speaks during an HIV-AIDS dialogue in Harare, Zimbabwe. The chief has been a leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS in the country by raising awareness with men and boys. Photo by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo, UM News.

By the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo
Oct. 24, 2019 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UM News)

Theologian and traditional African leader Reuben Marinda of the Chiwara dynasty is a Zimbabwean leader in raising awareness with men and boys in the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

The chief is a rare mix of theologian and a custodian of African cultural and traditional values and norms.

The training The United Methodist Church invested in Marinda — or Chief Chiwara — is paying off, said Bishop Eben K. Nhiwatiwa. 

“He is very much involved in advocating for self-care in terms of HIV and AIDS, and this is a tremendous contribution from a traditional leader and a theologian like him.” 

Chief Chiwara was among the attendees of the “High Level Dialogue with Traditional and Religious Leaders” event co-hosted by UNAIDS and Padare Enkundleni Men’s Forum on Gender at Cresta Lodge in Harare. 

The National AIDS Council, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief facilitated the meeting.

The workshop, attended by 65 men, was intended to improve advocacy for HIV-related services, support achievement of globally agreed-upon fast-track goals and improve HIV outcomes for men, boys, women and adolescent girls.

“If we close the gap among males, we will reduce the infections happening in women,” said Dr. Angela Mushavi, of the National Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission organization and pediatric HIV coordinator with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, who emphasized the need for men and boys to get tested early. 

The rest of the story ...

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Life Design 3: Dare to Dream



2019 Discipleship series
19-20 Oct 2019, Christ Mountain Top
Praying, Psalm 56, selections
Children, Esther 4
Message, Matthew 25.14-30
Mission Moment, Panama City Church giving to Bermuda

Me and Caleb and the Mongol Derby (won this year by Bob Long, a 70 year old man from Idaho), what I could do in 20 years
       Then, I asked myself, so – if it isn’t preparing for the Mongol Derby – what am I going to do with the next twenty years of my life, assuming I continue to have good health? What audacious adventure? What grand goal? What holy purpose?

These are the kinds of questions we approach in the work of life design. We got started with Disruption, because often the unexpected and unwanted disruption is what opens us to entirely new paths and, sometimes, to finding God in all the mess. Last week we looked at the Dance of Delight which often takes place in the midst of Disruption, “thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies.” Today, Dare to Dream. Then we have Detour, Discern, and Decide.

Church Conference Message




Our District Superintendent, Larry Leland, shares with us at church conference.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Congo Church and street children

Zacky Kabunga, president of United Methodist Men in Goma, Congo, counsels a group of children who live on the streets in South Kivu. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.
Zacky Kabunga, president of United Methodist Men in Goma, Congo, counsels a group of children who live on the streets in South Kivu. Photo by Philippe Kituka Lolonga, UM News.

By Philippe Kituka Lolonga
Sept. 30, 2019 | BUKAVU, Congo (UM News)

There are nearly 3,000 children and youth living on the streets in South Kivu. The United Methodist Church in Congo is working to build relationships — through evangelism, counseling and other support — to help some of them find a better path.
 
“Men of God are called to help these categories of people because it is part of the mission of the church,” said the Rev. Clement Kingombe, pastor of Ibanda United Methodist Church in Bukavu, who has been working with the youth for two years.
 
Oftentimes, the young people gather around places that sell alcohol and they cause trouble in the streets, he said.

Mbilizi Bonane, president of United Methodist Women in Bukavu, said it has become a real problem. “There are street kids criss-crossing and bothering us from day to day. They smoke along the way and take strong alcoholic beverages,” she said.

Luc Lukwangomo, head of the Office of Child Protection in the Provincial Division of Social and Humanitarian Affairs in South Kivu, said there are many root causes for the increase in “street children.”
 
Family poverty, divorce, drugs, a lack of education and armed conflicts in villages are some of the factors that lead young people to live alone on the streets, he said.
 
Most of these children are runaways ranging in age from 12 to 16 years old, Lukwangomo said, noting that South Kivu alone has 2,976 children who are in difficult situations and find themselves at different sites in the city and its surroundings.

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Baptism!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Multicultural ministry & migration

Participants sing during worship at a United Methodist Board of Global Ministries’ pilot project aimed at providing training for pastors and laity who are leading congregations impacted by migration. The session was held Aug. 22-30 at The United Methodist Church of Germany Educational and Training Center in Stuttgart, Germany. Photo by Üllas Tankler, Board of Global Ministries.
Our own missionary partner, Matthew Laferty, in the left rear in the red T shirt and beard.

By Klaus Ulrich Ruof and John Calhoun
Sept. 27, 2019 | STUTTGART, Germany (UM News)

In recent years, Methodist congregations across Europe have opened their doors to refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from distant lands in search of greater freedoms and opportunities.

The churches have provided humanitarian assistance to those in need and are receiving new members who speak different languages and worship according to different traditions.

That can be complicated. 

New members representing other cultural norms can energize congregational life, but many local churches also experience difficulty integrating these new members from faraway lands.

The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has responded with a pilot project to train pastors and laity leading congregations affected by migration. The first session of the Institute for Multicultural Ministry was held Aug. 22-30 at The United Methodist Church of Germany Educational and Training Center in Stuttgart. 

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