From deep inside the "Christmas rush," Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey offers everyone a gift really worth sharing ... we are not alone.
Thomas Kemper, head of the General Bd of Global Ministries is shown here with the Rte. Rev. Mano Rumalshah, Bishop Emeritus of Peshawar, Pakistan. Kemper invites prayer on Wednesday, December 17 at 11 am EST for the families suffering this tragedy read more>>
Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey has named the Rev. Dr. Charles S.G. Boayue, Jr. to lead the Detroit Renaissance District effective July 1. He currently serves as Senior Pastor of Detroit Second Grace UMC. read more>>
The worst Ebola outbreak in history — along with The United Methodist Church’s mobilization to ease suffering and fight the spread of the deadly virus — was the biggest story of 2014, according to a survey of communicators
The Rev. Donald O. Crumm, previous holder of the cane, passed away on September 20, 2014.
General Bd of Global Ministries
There is a deep spiritual bond between the Diocese of Peshawar and the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church. Insar and his wife Uzma recounted their experience of the 2013 bombing of All Saint’s Church to directors of the mission agency in April 2014. The couple was in the United States for a period of renewal following the harrowing incident. Global Ministries is an advocate for religious liberty and positive interfaith relations in the area, efforts in which Insar and Uzma actively engage.
United Methodist News Service
The worst Ebola outbreak in history — along with The United Methodist Church’s mobilization to ease suffering and fight the spread of the deadly virus — was the biggest story of 2014, according to a United Methodist News Service poll of communicators.
he tragedy of Ebola in Sierra Leone and Liberia received 11 first place votes out of 25 ballots cast by conference communicators in the United States and Africa, and news service staff.
Other strong contenders were the Rev. Frank Schaefer’s fight to remain a United Methodist clergy member and the debate over how the denomination should deal with human sexuality, second and third respectively. The church’s progress in its Imagine No Malaria initiative was fourth.
Three stories — church unity, immigration, and the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries’ planned move — each got one first-place vote. Using second-place votes as the tiebreaker, church unity rounded out the top five stories.
Top story: Ebola
|UMCOR sent supplies for hand-washing to help slow the spread of the virus.|
The first case of Ebola was reported in May in Guinea, and by June, Sierra Leone had 24 cases. Bishop John K. Yambasu warned more than 1,000 people gathered for the dedication and opening of a church in Monghere about the need to seek immediate medical attention if anyone became ill.
The disease soon spread to Liberia and by Dec. 11, the death toll in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone was more than 6,500. More than 18,000 people have been infected, according to the World Health Organization.
The church mobilized quickly, providing medical supplies, food and communication to spread the word about how to prevent the disease. The United Methodist Committee on Relief disbursed $401,138 in grants for the denomination’s Ebola response by November. United Methodist Communications collaborated with Chocolate Moose Media and mobile-health-education innovator iHeed on an animated Ebola-education video in seven languages and gave communication grants for Ebola education.
United Methodists have used various forms of communication — text messages, radio broadcasts, drama and song — to relay facts about Ebola. They have carried prevention information and supplies for sanitization to remote villages. They have left food and supplies at the homes of infected families.
Ebola’s toll on West African health care systems was brought home by the death of Dr. Martin Salia, the only surgeon and chief medical officer at United Methodist Kissy Hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone.
Salia died after he was airlifted to the United States for treatment. “He was everything to us,” Bishop Yambasu said, adding Salia was one of only a very few surgeons in the country.
Many United Methodists in both Liberia and Sierra Leone have died, as well as other health care workers, even though no United Methodist hospitals are Ebola treatment centers. Deaths included a nurse at United Methodist Mercy Hospital in Bo, Sierra Leone, and two other staff on the cleaning crew.
Second: The Rev. Frank Schaefer
|Rev. Frank Schaefer|
The church’s top court in October allowed the Rev. Frank Schaefer to remain a United Methodist clergyman. It was the last in a line of church rulings that began when a complaint was filed against the Pennsylvania pastor for performing a same-sex wedding for his son in 2007.
After a year of defrocking and refrocking, the Judicial Council upheld a June decision by a regional appeals committee to reinstate Schaefer’s ministerial credentials. The appellate committee had modified the penalty imposed after Schaefer was found guilty in November 2013 of violating church law.
“I will continue the fight alongside thousands of others in the reconciling movement for full inclusion and an open altar for all. I know the day is coming when this dream will be reality and I don't think it is that far in the future,” Schaefer said after the ruling.
Some hailed the decision as a step toward full inclusion of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning) individuals within the denomination. Others said the ruling implied pastors could ignore church law as spelled out in The Book of Discipline.
Everyone agreed on one thing: The debate isn’t over.
The denomination’s debate over human sexuality has intensified as more states in the U.S. and more nations around the globe have legalized same-sex civil marriage. While Schaefer’s ups and downs grabbed secular headlines, other complaints were settled without trials.
A complaint filed against 36 United Methodist pastors who officiated at the 2013 same-sex union of two men was resolved in October.
Two pastors in the Pacific Northwest Conference were suspended without pay for 24 hours for officiating at same-sex unions.
The Connectional Table, which coordinates The United Methodist Church’s ministry and resources, held two interactive, online conversations about sexuality. The group decided to draft legislation that could change church law “to fully include LGBTQ persons in the life and ministry of the church.” But it won’t make any final determination until next year about whether to submit such legislation to General Conference, the denomination’s top lawmaking body.
Fourth: Imagine No Malaria
|To date the Michigan Area has raised $1.1 million for Imagine No Malaria.|
The United Methodist Church is close to the goal of raising $75 million by the end of 2015 for Imagine No Malaria. The global church has raised an estimated $64.5 million in gifts and pledges for the campaign to eliminate needless death and suffering from malaria in Africa. Forty-two conferences have participated.
Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, who chairs the denomination’s Global Health Initiative, told the Council of Bishops in November that the average individual gift for Imagine No Malaria is $96 and the average pledge is $800.
“I’ve seen the connection come alive,” Bickerton told fellow bishops.
According to a UN report released Dec. 9, the number of people dying from malaria has fallen dramatically since 2000 and malaria cases are also steadily declining. Between 2000 and 2013, the malaria mortality rate decreased by 47% worldwide and by 54% in the WHO African Region - where about 90% of malaria deaths occur.
In 2013, almost half of all people at risk of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa had access to an insecticide-treated net, a marked increase from just 3% in 2004. And this trend is set to continue, with a record 214 million bed nets scheduled for delivery to endemic countries in Africa by year-end.
Fifth: Church unity
Earlier this year, a group of United Methodists who champion the church’s current stance on homosexuality suggested the church might consider an “amicable” split over the differences. In the summer, those United Methodists met again. They stopped short of calling for a split, but issued a statement saying bishops must enforce and publicly support church law restrictions against same-sex marriage if the denomination is to hold together. More than 8,400 United Methodists had endorsed the statement as of Nov. 4.
But as conferences began meeting, clergy and laity in the North Georgia Conference, with the largest membership of any conference in the U.S., signed a covenant calling for unity.
Similar statements were crafted in other conferences, including Holston, Louisiana, Mississippi and the new Rio Grande Conference.
United Methodist bishops at their November meeting issued a statement saying their “hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church.” The Council of Bishops, which is not all of the same mind on sexuality, committed to be “in ministry for and with all people.”
The bishops added: “We are also united in our resolve to lead the church together to fulfill its mandate — to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
KATHY L. GILBERT
United Methodist News Service
President Barack Obama and United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño have cited the Christmas story as the best example of how to welcome the undocumented “strangers among us.”
Both were in Nashville Dec. 9.
Obama was at Casa Azafrán, a community center which offers a wide variety of services for Nashville’s diverse immigrant population, to talk about the executive action he issued in November. United Methodist Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a denomination-wide program that offers free legal service to immigrants, is located in Casa Azafran.
|Bishop Minerva Carcaño|
The bishop, episcopal leader of the California-Pacific Conference, attended another meeting in Nashville and did not hear the president’s address but she has long been an outspoken advocate for undocumented people. “When we look at the vulnerable immigrant child we should see the Christ child,” Carcaño said.
Obama said his order shifts the priority of who gets deported to “felons instead of families, to criminals instead of children.” This will allow ordinary law-abiding people to “come out of the shadows,” he said.
Undocumented people who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens will be able to register. They will have to pass a background check and, if they have not already, begin to pay taxes.
“This isn’t amnesty, or legalization, or even a path to citizenship,” he said.
“What we’re saying is, until Congress fixes this problem legislatively, if you have deep ties to this country and you are willing to get right by the law and do what you need to do, then you shouldn’t have to worry about being deported or being separated from your kids.”
About 75 people were part of the “town hall” meeting – many of them undocumented or advocates for immigration reform.
Adrienne Kittos, the attorney for the Tennessee JFON, said the president’s visit “gives me hope” as he continues to keep immigration as a priority after the November announcement of his executive actions.
|President Barack Obama|
The first person to ask a question of the president voiced the concern of many undocumented immigrants that stepping forward might lead to deportation later if the next administration does not support the executive order.
Obama replied the plan is temporary, just as the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) which protects young people enrolled in higher education or the military.
“And so it's true that a future administration might try to reverse some of our policies,” he said. “But I’ll be honest with you, I think that the American people basically have a good heart and want to treat people fairly.”
Obama acknowledged it will take time to build trust and courage for undocumented people to come forward but that, he pointed out, is where churches and other organization can step in.
“I had thought that there would be less fear and uncertainty around applying for the program because DACA has been around for a few years now, but we are definitely hearing from people who are nervous to send their information to the government without a guarantee that they will have that protection on an ongoing basis,” Kittos said.
The plan isn’t perfect but that’s why it is important to continue to advocate for change, she said.
“The president is limited in what he can do unilaterally. It is still vital for Congress to act to repair our immigration system and the only way to make sure that happens is to let our leaders know that is what the American people want.”
The Rev. Joseph Breen, a retired Roman Catholic priest who was part of the audience at Casa Azafrán, didn’t have a question but he did want to make a statement.
“I think I can speak for so many who are so proud of you for giving such a great example of a husband, of a father, and doing your very best as a president … we wish for you a joyful and blessed Christmas.”
Obama thanked Breen and responded, “It’s worth considering the Good Book when you're thinking about immigration. This Christmas season there’s a whole story about a young, soon-to-be-mother and her husband of modest means looking for a place to house themselves for the night, and there’s no room at the inn.”
Carcaño said it is time for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform and for the church to open their hearts to helping undocumented people.
“In this season of mercy and grace, how do we open our hearts to the vulnerable immigrant child?”
~umns photos/Mike DuBose
|Rev. Sherry Cothran Woosley greets people as pastor of West Nashville United Methodist Church. umns photo/Kathleen Barry|
United Methodist News Service
For many United Methodists, evangelism is an uneasy word. It conjures images of someone on a busy street corner handing out Bible tracts or perhaps a missionary on the doorstep interrupting an already-hectic Saturday morning.
Neither situation is necessarily Wesleyan, explained the Rev. Heather Heinzman Lear, the director of evangelism ministries for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. Lear has made it her mission to give United Methodists a new vantage point on evangelism — as an essential part of Christian discipleship.
Evangelism should not just be about providing a form of fire insurance “to keep people out of hell,” she said. “Jesus came to teach us how to live and to announce the Kingdom of God is at hand.”
To truly share and live out that good news, Lear said, requires developing relationships with people. That often requires more than handing out Bible tracts.
Lear said she wants to help United Methodists reclaim the definition of evangelism as communicating the good news of Christ’s life, death and resurrection — that in the words of the Gospel of John: “The Word became flesh and made his home among us.”
Lear was addressing more than 50 United Methodist lay people and clergy, including a district superintendent, from around the Memphis Annual Conference. They had given up a chunk of their Saturday, March 1, to attend Lear’s workshop “Reclaiming Evangelism” at Mullins United Methodist Church in Memphis.
She said she also wants United Methodists “to reclaim the centrality of evangelism in the life of our churches.”
A Wesleyan approach to evangelism, she said, should combine three aspects:
How do churches go about integrating all three?
Lear drew on the book “Shift: Helping Congregations Back into the Game of Effective Ministry” by the Rev. Phil Maynard, a clergy coach who works with Path1, the United Methodist Board of Discipleship new church starts division.
She presented five changes the book recommends that will help congregations more effectively share the gospel and help develop more Christian disciples.
“Are we friendly, or are we in the practice of making friends?” Lear asked. “There’s a huge difference.”
Congregations usually are great about sharing friendly fellowship among current members. But at some churches, newcomers can feel like an outsider at a family reunion rather than a welcome addition to a community of faith, Lear and others at the workshop observed.
Many churches can seem to have assigned seating — with people insisting on sitting in the same place in the same pew every Sunday. But that tendency can also be an evangelism tool, Lear said.
She suggests telling congregants that their pews are their “mission field.” “You need to know the people who sit all around that pew,” she said. “You need to be aware who’s there and who’s not. When somebody new comes in, get their name.”
One man at the workshop said that when he visited a church, it was his pew neighbors who helped get him and his wife connected with the church choir and find a Sunday school class. Because of them, he and his wife became members.
Lear challenged her listeners to think of how they can take their worship experience out into the world and help people “encounter the risen Lord” outside the church sanctuary.
She quoted Louis Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta and author of “The Air I Breathe: Worship as a Way of Life.” “You are and always will be a worshiper,” Giglio wrote. “It’s what you do. You can’t help it. You can’t stop it. But you can choose where you invest it.”
The Rev. Cynthia Davis, McKendree District superintendent in the Memphis Conference, said she urges churchgoers not to toss their worship bulletins into a recycling bin after service but instead give them away between Sundays.
“If you have Scriptures and prayers and liturgy, it might be helpful to someone else on their journey,” Davis said. “You never know who might need that word from the Lord.”
On the United Methodist Board of Discipleship website, Lear also offers invitations to discipleship that churches can use each week to help worshipers reflect more on the week’s Scripture reading and keep their focus on God during the week ahead.
Even congregations with strong community outreach can struggle to help people make the connection between love of neighbor and the worship of God.
“We have people who use our church gym every night who don’t know where the sanctuary is,” Carla Taylor, director of communications at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Memphis, said to those at the event. Taylor is also chair of the Memphis Conference Communications Action Team.
Lear suggested one way to bridge that gap is to help everyone in the church know that the task of sharing the Christian faith isn’t just the job of the pastor or the evangelism chair but a calling on every Christian.
“I would argue that everything that goes on in church buildings and with our church’s name on it should be about sharing the love of God with others and growing in the love of God ourselves,” she said. “Everything that our church is about should have an evangelistic lens.”
Lear says she often receives calls from church leaders who say their church needs more people, otherwise the church can’t pay its bills.
“Money follows ministry,” Lear said. “People aren’t really excited about paying me or paying for the lights. But if we are doing significant ministry, it will make a difference.”
She also pointed out generosity includes far more than the dollars in the offering plate. After all, United Methodist membership vows call on people to pledge their time, talents and witness as well.
She suggested one way churches can publicly acknowledge the varied forms of generosity — and get away from the mentality of scarcity — is to get rid of that old bulletin standby of printing the total budget, year-to-date and the current deficit.
Instead, she said bulletins, church newsletters and even worship should include stories of how the church’s ministries are making differences in people’s lives. “If you tell the stories of people’s lives being changed, people want to be part of that.”
Membership focuses on what happens inside the church walls but discipleship transcends them and engages the world, Lear said.
But many people struggle with sharing their faith story, especially if they grew up in the church.
She suggested an exercise to overcome that discomfort. “Take a sheet of paper and draw a line across from birth to today and then draw the peaks and valleys of when did I feel God really present in my life and when did I feel really alone,” she said. That way when someone at work or in the neighborhood is struggling, United Methodists can share how God reached out to them during a low point.
“The good news is that we have a God who loves us so much that he decided to be in unity with us and join in the human experience even including his death on the Cross,” Lear said. “That’s not something you find in other religions.”
And the news is so good, Christians have every reason to invite others to share in it.
College students returning for winter break often long to reconnect with old friends, their former youth leaders, and others in the church who were an important part of their faith development. That is not always as easy as it sounds.
After years of being active in your church they are no longer part of the youth ministry, and not ready for adult ministries yet. So how can churches minister to their college students when they return for break?
Before they return, consider sending each college student an Exam Survival Kit. The days before break are typically filled with writing final papers, finishing projects, and studying for exams. This can mean sleepless nights and stress-filled days. Fill boxes with both sugary and healthy snacks, maybe a gift card to a coffee shop, and other goodies to help a student through the home stretch.
Personalize the kits as much as possible and include a note or card of encouragement, which also lets them know you are looking forward to seeing them during their break. Invite the whole congregation to participate by donating the items for the kits.
A group service project is not only a great ministry to the community, but also provides opportunities for the young adults in your church to spend time together.
Arrange a time for them to serve together. They might volunteer with a local service organization or deliver gifts and meals to people in need. The young adults and the people they serve will be blessed.
Opportunities for young adults to be together are important during this time, and planning a youth group reunion or young adult Christmas party will give old friends time to reminisce and catch up.
Evy Nickerson, youth leader of Northside United Methodist Church in Brewster, Massachusetts, held one for her former students during Thanksgiving break this year.
She invited all those who had graduated from the youth group in the last 10 years to a local restaurant for a night of memories. A slideshow of pictures from their youth group years was presented, some of their regular chaperones and Sunday school teachers were there, and each alumnus had an opportunity to talk about life after high school.
"Everyone had a great time," Nickerson reported, "and we planned to have another dinner."
While they are worshiping with you, invite your students to serve as guest musicians, liturgists, soloists, choir members, ushers, greeters, and the like. You will be giving them an opportunity to use their gifts again, something they might not have an opportunity to do at college. As a bonus, it also makes them visible to the largest number of congregants, who will then be more likely to greet them and welcome them back to church.
Give the students a gift that lets them know their home church is thinking about them while they are away at school. For example, ask members of your congregation to crochet or knit prayer shawls or blankets for each of them. Then have your pastor, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, and others, pray over the blankets before presenting them to the students. Not only will the shawls keep them warm, but they will also cover them with prayer — even when they are away.
Many churches are good at staying connected to college students in the fall, but fewer continue those ministries in the spring. Plan now to send more "survival kits" in March or April and get ready to welcome the students back to church this summer
Well, friends, we are deep into the Christmas rush.
Have you ever been an actor or actress in stage theatre productions? Or perhaps you love reading a novel and imagining yourself into one or more of the characters within the story. For me, to do so can be a great adventure, or an expanding awareness of self and of the other. It can be especially challenging if I choose to try to enter into the life experience and understanding of someone of a different gender, culture, ethnicity or time and place. From the time I was a young child and first learned to read I used my inner imagination to try to understand, appreciate and empathize with people and cultures that I was not yet familiar with.
While this imaginative process can be entertaining when playing in fictional worlds, it is much harder when we engage real life situations and relationships. Imagining ourselves into the life experience of someone else can take us to deep and sometimes uncomfortable places within ourselves. On several occasions during my adult life when the news media has covered the beating or killing of African-American men by White men I have tried to force myself into that interior journey.
Each time I have asked myself, “If I were Black, would I still be alive?” This past week, when a grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri did not find any reason to at least examine through trial the role of a White police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed Black young man (youth), I asked that question again: “If I were Black, would I still be alive?”
Given my propensity to confront injustice, my distrust and resistance to unchecked use of authority, and my commitment to standing up to bullying behaviors, my answer to my question most often disturbs me. It was made even more poignant for me as my family prepared to gather for a harvest festival celebration last week.
My wife and I have three young adult sons. As the announcement came out from Ferguson I made myself go deeper and ask, “What if our three sons were Black? What would we have to have taught them about surviving in this country? What worries would we have to hold in our hearts every time they went out with friends?” As one Twitter posting said, “The conversations in White households this Thanksgiving will be quite different than the conversations in Black households.” I cannot truly or fully know what it is like to be a Black male in the United States, yet I know I need to continue to be uncomfortable as a White male when something of this nature seems all too common to the general public and to our systems of power and control.
Some of you reading this are now ready to exit, while others may just now be getting interested. That is one of the tensions of having honest conversations on race in the United States. People in a dominant culture place of relative comfort can quite easily escape having to go to deep places of examination around systemic and/or hidden biases. A Facebook posting this week by Bill Moyers (billmoyers.com) invited readers to consider those hidden, often unintentional, biases. It leads us to take the Implicit Association Test on the UnderstandingPrejudice.org link. I strongly encourage all of us to risk entering into a greater self-awareness. I won’t tell you what my results were, but the test was a healthy journey. (Click here to find the test.)
As the announcement in Ferguson approached I followed young adults on Twitter and Facebook for the days preceding the announcement. The yearning and hope for justice and transformation were palpable, as was the pain and disillusionment following the grand jury announcement. Many then looked to the Advent season as a hope that Light will again shine in the midst of darkness. Most of those young adults are asking all of us in the Church to risk building the relationships necessary to have honest conversations around race, White privilege, and White oppression, and to allow the recent and ongoing tragedies to be the catalyst for a new tomorrow.
I invite you to consider what such conversations might look like here in the Michigan Area of The United Methodist Church, especially as we take this Advent journey. Remember, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
By now, I hope you have all heard about the “Conversations on a Journey” which Bishop Deb is hosting around the Area over the next three months.
Bishop Deb will be in Cadillac, Escanaba and Midland during the week this blog is published, and later in Grand Rapids and Northville. (see details below)
She is hoping to hear from as many area United Methodists as possible during these five events and she is happy to be sharing her vision and dreams as well. These should be wonderful conversations.
This month’s Burning Question, voiced by a clergy person, came to our office in advance of the first conversation, but was born out of concerns for both the process and any possible outcomes. “I hear the Bishop say she is coming to listen to us, but the last time we had “listening sessions” they were anything but. How can we be sure that this time is different? Why would we want to make the effort to encourage our laity to be there?”
I understand the concern. The last time we talked about listening sessions on an area-wide level, we were operating out of a different set of assumptions and understandings. The people who planned and conducted those “listening” sessions had been given an assignment and thought that the best way to carry out their assignment would be to take a proposed plan to the people and allow them to ask questions about the proposal. Not a bad idea, and well-executed by the members of the MATT team.
But many of us came away feeling like we had different ideas we hoped to share and it seemed that there just wasn’t time or any opportunity to give input. The end result was that some of us were frustrated by the process, and the frustration has not gone away. As I have traveled around the area, I have heard very little resistance to the idea of becoming one conference for the Michigan Area. But I have heard lingering skepticism about how this process will move forward and many questions about timelines and possible input from persons in the pew and behind the pulpit.
So please let me share with you what I think, based on what I have heard to date from Bishop Deb and conference leaders from both Detroit and West Michigan. First, and foremost, I have heard a desire and commitment to learn from the mistakes we have made in the past. Bishop Deb has come to this place after listening to people from across the area, and she is determined to continue to seek input from lay and clergy alike as we go forward. She is coming to these conversations with an open mind and deep trust in the wisdom resident in the people of the Church. She is clear that she wants to give the people of the Area opportunities to weigh-in with their thoughts and ideas, both in these initial stages and throughout the process.
Second, I believe that we will learn from the experiences of others. In the past, we were moving into areas of conversation where few other Annual Conferences had gone, and we did not have many other examples to draw from. But today, many annual conferences have experienced these vital mergers and the creation of a singular new conference where there had been two or more predecessor conferences. They have had successes and bumps along the way and we can learn from them. I know that Bishop Deb and her conference leaders from both West Michigan and Detroit have already been to Indiana to hear about their experiences of moving from two conferences to one new conference, and I am confident that there will be many more such conversations and fact-finding trips in the future.
Third, I am convinced, from what I have heard so far, that we are not in a rush to get to the end of the journey. I believe that the people and conversations I have heard are prepared to take their time in order to get it right the first time. By that I mean that, if the two conferences decide that they would like to become one new conference for the Michigan Area, then the becoming will be stretched out over enough time to allow this new thing to grow and develop, with a variety of inputs through many different means. The new conference, if it is to happen, will not be dropped out of the sky full-grown and fully developed in a matter of weeks. It will emerge from weeks and months of input gathering and idea-testing across the entire area. And I do not believe that this input gathering and idea-testing process will be conducted by the same persons who have brought us to these decision points in the past. We will certainly want to hear their voices and learn from their experiences. But if we are to have a “new” thing, then we must have new leaders with fresh ideas and fewer ties to the ways we have always done things in the past. What excites me is that I believe there are just such persons willing and eager to lead us in these new directions. I also believe that those who have been in leadership roles are prepared to hand off the baton.
However, before any of this can happen, Bishop Deb would like to hear from you and have you hear from her. There are several ways this can happen. You can attend a conversation event. You may participate in the planned “web” event in January. You can speak with a conference or district lay leader. You can email the bishop’s office or join the social media dialogue which has already begun. But mostly, you can prayerfully prepare for the opportunity will be given to each annual conference to let the Bishop and conference leaders know, by means of the ballot, whether you agree with their vision for the area.
There will come a moment when our votes will be each be counted and we will be given our opportunity to say “yes, we agree” or “no, we do not.” In the end, the choice will be ours. I know that Bishop Deb is prepared to trust the wisdom of the two conferences and their members on this. She really wants to hear from you!
This week's schedule:
The year: 1952. The place: Hornick, a small town on the very western edge of Iowa. A bubbly, blonde, curly headed little girl had just celebrated her first birthday, and was just beginning to pull herself to a standing position in preparation for her first steps. She, her parents, and her older brother and sister were looking forward to the relaxing, slower paced days of summer in Iowa.
August’s Burning Questions blog generated a number of questions and comments – some posted and more not. I’m grateful to everyone who responded.
One of those who responded had more than a little “heat” in the Burning Question which came my way: “Why does the Bishop not want to use the 'm' word? It’s a merger no matter how we try to 'sugar-coat it.' We should call it what it is. When we fail to do so, we make people wonder what we are trying to hide!"
Great question! Let me see if I can shed some light on the Bishop’s thinking as she leads us forward into a “new thing” – whatever that turns out to be.
First, the reason around the hesitation to use the “m” word. It began when the Bishop was assigned to the Michigan Area. People on the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee and others, people she has known and respected for years, told her that she should NEVER use the “m” or "merger" word in Michigan.
There had just been too many bad experiences in the past and there were still too many painful wounds. She has already said that in print and from the pulpit. I’m not sure if some people think she is exaggerating that part of her story, but I know from personal experience that she came with that thought even before she moved to Lansing. And when she got here we did nothing to discourage her from that line of thinking.
But as she moved around the state, and I was there for some of those introductory meetings, she really did hear people asking repeatedly: “When are we going to be one?”
She heard about our conference successes. Both conferences have much to celebrate and be proud of. But she also heard about our failures and our continual decline in membership and attendance no matter what we have tried in the past. And she began to wonder if we might want to try a new way of doing “conference”, a way that refocuses our energies and resources on the core values we all share.
When we use the “merger” word, we tend to think about the past and how to bring two entities together while preserving the things we have always done or valued. And those conversations can become heated. Letting go of the past is always difficult, and the older we become, the more past we have to hold on to. But if we are going to reverse our fortunes and began to build the kingdom again, we need to regain our focus on moving forward. That’s why Bishop Deb and others have been reluctant to use the “m” word. Not trying to hide or sugar-coat anything, just trying to point us to new possibilities.
Second, I want to assure everyone that the destination toward which we are moving is not yet known – to the Bishop, certainly, nor anyone else. It feels to me a little like the Exodus experience of the Hebrew people. They were being summoned to leave a place they had known, a place they had prayed to be delivered from but were reluctant to leave behind, and set out for a “promised” land they had never seen. I am convinced that they were able to make that great journey on the basis of hope and trust. They had a hope that the future would be better than the past and a trust in the One who was making the promise and surrounding them along the way.
Yes, there were some then and there are some now who do not want to set out until we have seen what the promised land actually looks like. I don’t think anyone can answer that request with accuracy at this point. What we can do is clarify and commit to discovering the values and vison which will guide us along the way and help us recognize it when we reach the place toward which we are headed. Those things, the core values or expectations, as Bishop Schnase calls them in his book, Seven Levers, and our defining vision or mission statement can be seen and known before we make the decision to set out on our journey. They may be refined along the way, of course, but they can be and will be stated clearly for everyone to see before we take the first step in the wilderness of transformation and “new things.”
So, over these next weeks and months, several things will be taking place. Work will be done and input will be sought from all across the Michigan Area as we try to carefully and purposefully listen to you and others share your vision and values for what these new things might look like. There will be opportunities to share with the bishop personally as she travels from St. Joe to Detroit and Adrian to Traverse City to Marquette to meet with and listen to lay and clergy from the four corners of this great state. Please notice that I have been careful to use the “listen” word. That, too, is not sugar-coated or disingenuous. She really wants to listen and to hear from you. She will not be coming with a fixed agenda or a series of “talking points.” She will be coming to listen.
And she will continue to share her sense of call and excitement for what is possible when the people of Michigan come together to do great things for the kingdom. She believes that we are better together than we are apart, and that this is a time for the people of the Area to unite around a vison of disciple-making that can transform the world.
May it be so!
Directing the Chancel Choir, Thursday evening weekly rehearsals, 11:00 traditional worship service and special services as determined by church calendar.
Oversee, coordinate other church choirs . (Children, Bells, Instrumental)
Staff meetings & church committee meetings
Contact: Pastor David Huseltine
Big Beaver United Methodist Church
3753 John R Rd
Troy, MI 48083
Motown Mission is looking for 8-12 college and/or seminary students to serve as the coordinating team for the 700+ youth volunteers coming for weeks of mission, service, spiritual reflection, and urban adventure in Detroit, MI. Summer staff lead projects, program and hospitality for 8 weeks of our program. Summer staff also live in intentional Christian community and discern God's call in their lives through weekly lunches and conversations with ministry leaders from around the United Methodist Church and Southeast Michigan. Specific areas for which we will be hiring are: construction/project guides, worship/devotional designers, meal preparation and hospitality, and communications. This is a paid position, stipends start at $3000. All interested parties can apply at motownmission.org/apply
Job Type: Part-time
Reports to: Associate Pastor
Plymouth First United Methodist Church invites people into Christian community where they can become deeply committed disciples of Jesus Christ. The PFUMC Director of Youth Ministry position offers middle and high school students the opportunity to initiate and/or deepen their personal relationships with Jesus Christ. The mission of the program is to develop and nurture the Christian faith, values, and spirituality of the youth within our church family.
Essential Job Functions
Characteristics of an Ideal Candidate
Qualified and interested candidates should send resumes to Associate Pastor Nick Berlanga at email@example.com
2006 FORD FREESTAR HANDICAP CONVERSION VAN
10 lowered Floor, Power Slide Out Ramp, Automatic Sliding Door, Lowered Drivers Side Sliding Door, Manual Wheelchair Tie-down System, Inside Spare Mount, Removable Front Driver & Passenger Seat Bases, One Touch Remote Entry, Magnetic Entry, Power Kneeling Suspension. EZ Lock Power Tied Base, BKT-2G Wheel Chair Bracket for EZ Lock, Side Entry.
Number of Owners: Two, received by Central in 2009
Current Owner: Central United Methodist Church, Detroit
Condition: Excellent, garaged during winter months.
Maintenance: Maintained by Avis Ford, Southfield
When used: Only on Sundays to pick up Wheelchair bound parishioners.
Price: $9,500 or OBO
Central United Methodist Church, Detroit
23 E. Adams Ave, Detroit, MI 48226
Judy Bruuin of the Wisconsin Conference and Jody Pratt of the West MI Conference will be leading a medical/ VBS team of volunteers from July 9-24th, 2015 in the Junin rainforest of Peru. Bishop Aguliar ( Peru) has requested a team to hold health /dental clinics and work with 3-4 local churches on a VBS/ laity training. Some Spanish would be helpful but not necessary . Medical background volunteers are preferred, but all volunteer applications will be considered.
Applications will be accepted through January 1, 2015 and the team should be in place by February 1, 2015 .
For applications or information, please email Jody Pratt, firstname.lastname@example.org , or call 269-792-0481.
Estimated cost : $1,200 per person plus airfare.
Mr. Walter Cain, father-in-law of Rev. Dennis E. Irish [Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Thursday, November 13, 2014.
Rev. John N. Howell [Retired Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Saturday, November 8, 2014.
Mrs. Paula Thompson, spouse of Rev. James W. Thompson [Former Detroit Annual Conference Clergy,
Retired Indiana Conference Clergy], died Sunday, October 26, 2014.
Funeral Service will be held at 2:00pm Sunday, November 2, 2014, at Aldersgate UMC located at 5130 Lincoln Avenue; Evansville, IN 47715 [812-477-7816].
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO:
Rev. James Thompson
2704 East Blackford Avenue
Evansville, IN 47714
GIFTS IN MEMORY MAY BE GIVEN TO:
Aldersgate UMC - 5130 Lincoln Ave.; Evansville, IN 47715
Methodist Temple UMC - 2109 Lincoln Ave.; Evansville, IN 47714
Mrs. Bonnie Jean McKown, surviving spouse of Rev. Billy J. McKown [Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Monday,
September 29, 2014.
A Memorial Service was held Thursday, October 2, 2014 at the Swartz Funeral Home located at 1225 West Hill Road; Flint, MI 48507
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT:
To The Family of Mrs. Bonnie McKown
c/o Swartz Funeral Home
1225 W. Hill Road
Flint, MI 48507
Mrs. Arlene Watt, surviving spouse of Rev. Robert C. Watt [Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Friday, September 26, 2014.
Funeral Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Friday, October 3, 2014, at Holly: Calvary UMC, located at 15010 N. Holly Road; Holly, MI 48442 [248-634-9711]. A time of visitation will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. prior to the service.
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO [Son]:Mr. & Mrs. Robert Watt
GIFTS IN MEMORY MAY BE GIVEN TO:Residential Hospice Foundation