A year-long journey is beginning at the 2015 Detroit and West Michigan Annual Conferences. It involves repentant steps into the past and reconciling steps toward the future with Native Americans in Michigan and elsewhere. read more>>
Trained volunteers are on the ground in Texas after the Memorial weekend deluge. One pastor assured her congregation, "When you cry, God cries...This is not an act of God. This is a storm ... how we react is what makes the difference.".... read more
Cornerstone UMC in Caledonia has been named the 6th fastest growing United Methodist Church in America. District Superintendent William Haggard interviews Lead Pastor Brad Kalajainen and Teaching Pastor Ken Nash.
For 75 years UMCOR has shared Christ's love with those in crisis. And through Disaster Risk Reduction UMCOR saves lives even before a crisis strikes.
In 2015, Cornerstone Church in Caledonia, Michigan was recognized as the 6th fastest growing United Methodist Church in the United States. The expanding congregation of more than 1700 members has grown 47% in the past five years.
Hear District Superintendent Bill Haggard interview Lead Pastor Brad Kalajainen and Teaching Pastor Ken Nash. They explain how their ministry grew from a hand full of people worshiping in a basement to a thriving ministry starting new sub-sites across the area.
The Top 25 List was compiled by the Rev. Len Wilson who says, "I believe that the result of creative thinking is innovative practice, and the result of true innovation is growth. While not all growing churches are healthy churches, healthy churches grow, because growth isn’t the goal; it’s the outcome." Read more of Wilson's analysis.
Your link to Cornerstone online.
For those of you blessed with good roads that never buckle or open up, a pothole is a failure in a road (generally made of asphalt) that results in a crater or hole being created in the road. The Twin Cities of Minnesota are experiencing some of the worst potholes in many years as the remnants of winter recedes, and the battered roads emerge. Needless to say, you don't want to hit a pothole, but it's pretty much impossible right now to avoid them with your car.
So ... what are some of the potholes of stewardship?
Focus only on money
It's very important to focus on money in stewardship, but sometimes we get so focused on the money aspect, that we lose sight of the larger and perhaps more important question of what does it mean to be a steward? We are a steward of all that we have and all that we are. This includes money, but it doesn't just consist of money.
Focus on time and talent and avoid money
Some times congregations and people focus exclusively on an understanding of stewardship around people's particular gifts, strengths and talents. This focus is great for helping people connect their daily lives and work as examples of stewardship, but it can also be a means of avoiding thinking about the difficulties and challenges of money. It can even lead to the avoiding of any money conversations altogether, which isn't helpful either.
Not facing the challenges of finances
This goes along with the previous pothole. If money isn't discussed, then congregations avoid having conversations about helping people be responsible and sustainable stewards with their own finances and budgets. If a person isn't empowered and given space to feel capable and given an opportunity to ask questions, they will continue to avoid facing these challenges. Through this, money can become a real barrier to one's relationship with God rather than a means towards serving and living as God's stewards and children. To quote a popular summation of stewardship, stewardship involves "time, talent, and treasure" together with working together.
Creation of Guilt
A local pastor in the Twin Cities explained this well. He believes that true stewardship comes through two stages of financial health. The first is the "sea level" perspective, which is a focus on budget and debt help and how to budget and get out of challenging debt. The second, is a sort of “how to fly” and “learn to fly” perspective, where one is enabled and shown how to use their wealth to express their values and calling(s). In his view, congregations ask the second piece about callings and values without tackling the first piece. By doing this, congregations inevitably create guilt among their congregants and stewards, and nearly pressures them to take on more debt in order to be able to give. If a congregation doesn't help the person become sustainable, then a congregation may just be making a person worse and not better by pressuring them into giving without the help of how to do so and live into that in a sustainable way.
Inability to tell the story of the mission
In the past it was just assumed that people would give because it was the right thing to do and an expectation. This isn't the case anymore. This doesn't mean that younger generations aren't generous. Younger generations are very generous and want to be. They give of themselves and their resources to movements and to missions that they can sense and see. They don't generally trust institutions, so if an organization or a group can't tell its story convincingly and in a way people can relate to, they aren't likely to cultivate new givers. Successful non-profits have figured this out. Congregations are just starting to scratch the surface though, and it takes a willingness to adapt and change in order to do so.
Assuming people know how the ministry/work is paid for and done
Related to the previous pothole, as people gave in the past as a sort of expectation, people also generally had some grasp of how the ministry/work was paid for. Today's generations don't. And why would they? If more and more of younger generations are growing up without religious or faith experiences, how would we expect them to know how the church does it's work? This means there is ample opportunity for engaging in conversation and mutual learning.
Treating different demographics as "token" people
This shows up all over the larger church. But it reared its ugly head over the weekend. I don't fault the person who said it. We have all thought it, but by thinking it and saying that we want "more younger people" or more people that are different than us to come to this, or particularly to participate in stewardship, we are expressing a desire without asking the all important questions like: "What do younger generations value?" "What can we learn from younger generations?" "Do younger generations view themselves as stewards with gifts?" These are important questions that need to be asked, and they can't be asked of just a few people who, because they are younger, happen to "represent" younger people. It doesn't work like that, just like I, as a Norwegian American cannot speak for all Norwegian Americans. Each person has their own perspectives, experiences, and values. To think they speak for all people who happen to share some characteristics is inauthentic.
Fear of offending people by talking about money
Perhaps this is the age-old assumption. People don't want to hear about money, so by talking about it you are going to offend them. Rhetorical question, but what topics were talked about most in the Bible? Besides, look at the data, people are drowning in fears of scarcity and debt today. They want to talk about money. They need to, in order to overcome these challenges. It's a faith issue, and a spiritual issue.
These are just eight starting potholes that I see around stewardship.
What potholes would you add?
~Ministry Matters is an online resource of the United Methodist Publishing House.
Larry Thomas, 74, was swept away and is among 12 people missing in the floods that engulfed houses along the Blanco River in Wimberley, Texas. His wife, Carol Thomas, survived with scratches and bruises.
The Thomases are members of Wimberley United Methodist Church and Mrs. Thomas teaches kindergarten at nearby Dripping Springs United Methodist Church’s Pathways School.
“She spent about six hours singing church hymns” while holding on first to a satellite dish and its cable, then as the waters receded coming to rest on a red-tipped photinia hedge, said Jenny Aston, the school’s director.
The ordeal began late Saturday night and Mrs. Thomas was rescued early Sunday morning by a neighbor in a boat, Aston said.
Perhaps as many 20 families of Wimberley United Methodist Church, including the Thomases, lost homes as a wall of water came down the Blanco, said the Rev. Dana Hamilton, pastor.
The Rev. Bill Henderson, superintendent of the Hill Country District of the Rio Texas Conference, mourned the losses.
“We’ve been praying for rain. We just didn’t want all of it to come at one time,” Henderson said. “The cost has been tremendous in property and human lives.”
Flooding caused problems across much of Texas, including Houston, where the Texas Conference was having its annual gathering at a downtown hotel.
Bishop Janice Riggle Huie decided the meeting, which concludes Tuesday, had to continue on schedule. Voting machines and hotel space were under contracts that could not be extended.
“There’s really nothing else we can do other than just keep on keeping on,” said Paula Arnold, Texas Conference communications director.
Many of the 2,000 people attending are staying at the Hilton Americas, but others were trying to make their way in Monday from the Houston area.
“Some parts of town you cannot get through,” Arnold said. “The streets are completely flooded.”
The Rev. Arturo Cadar made it without problem Monday from nearby Friendswood. “But I saw a lot of towed cars,” he said.
Relief efforts underway
The Rio Texas Conference already has relief efforts underway, since both the Wimberley and San Marcos areas were hard hit.
“We’re trying to deploy early response teams now,” said Eugene Hileman, disaster relief coordinator. “We’ve distributed all the flood buckets we have. We’re going to be requesting more from UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief.)”
Hileman said donations to the conference’s relief fund or to UMCOR are the best way to help at present.
The First United Methodist Church of San Marcos is using its online ministry ServeSanMarcos to inform and organize volunteers for cleanup.
Some 350 volunteers answered the call, showing up at a parking lot Tuesday morning at 9, said the Rev. Todd Salmi, associate pastor.
“They’re out on the streets now, doing initial response and cleanup,” he said.
Salmi said the church created the website and social media ministry after discovering that local nonprofits needed help in finding and organizing volunteers. The ministry provides up-to-date information and can send out email blasts.
“The church has really been able to be a connection resource,” Salmi said.
An online campaign to help the Thomas family had raised more than $30,000 by Tuesday.
“It’s just been a big outpouring of help,” Aston said.
Hamilton said the couple has been “very active” members of Wimberley United Methodist. She said Larry Thomas had suffered a stroke and had other health problems.
The church met on Sunday morning, after the terrible night of flooding, but had prayers and Scripture reading instead of formal worship.
Her word to her congregation: “God is with us. When you cry, God cries. When you hurt, God hurts. This is not an act of God. This is a storm, and this is what happens. How we react is what makes the difference.”
United Methodist Committee on Relief
May 21, 2015—There are recent disasters that leave us reeling: the earthquake that killed 8,200 people in Nepal, for example. And there are “repeat disasters,” which seem to strike some communities over and over, such as the tornadoes that in the small town of Harvest, Ala., have taken the lives of 57 people over the past several decades.
Do we just wait for the next disaster—and pray it doesn’t happen? Isn’t there something we can do?
Yes. That “something” is disaster risk reduction (DRR), and UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, has a DRR program that quietly saves lives, saves money, and saves people from the fatalistic thinking that they are helpless in the face of the next disaster.
How much do you know about disaster risk reduction?
Q: Isn’t reducing disaster risk lengthy and expensive?
A: Not always. For example, at one primary school in Bangladesh, a single eight-hour training by UMCOR partner Muslim Aid—focusing mainly on cyclones—inspired the school staff to establish a small committee to manage disaster risk reduction issues by analyzing risks in the school building. They made small repairs that could avert future damage. Then they reached out to a national organization in charge of public schools, and received a grant to make more significant repairs. “This was not only a training but an example of empowerment,” explained Yovanna Troansky, UMCOR’s program manager for Disaster Risk Reduction. “Not only were people able to understand the risk but they also took the initiative to find resources to reduce the risk. Disaster risk reduction can empower communities to find solutions to the situation that they face.”
Q: Can people really change the way they think about disasters?
A: Yes! Generally speaking, there are two types of thinking that increase disaster risk. First, there are people who know the “next disaster” will happen, but they feel powerless to lessen their risk. So, they do nothing. Second, there are people who are not aware of disasters at all because they either don’t have access to information or they choose to live with a lack of awareness. So, they do nothing. Both these mentalities need to change, and disaster risk reduction—which UMCOR pursues in many locations across the world—is gradually changing people’s outlook and lessening their risk, said Troansky. “I know when we see people suffering during a disaster, we feel moved to do something,” she said. “But if we don’t invest in disaster risk reduction, we are not going to stop seeing people suffering because they will be impacted again and again.”
Q: Is Disaster Risk Reduction really a good investment?
A: First, Disaster Risk Reduction saves lives. In the town of Harvest, UMCOR helped fund a tornado shelter that will keep 475 priceless people safe. This is the most important investment of all. In terms of monetary value, “for every dollar we invest in disaster risk reduction, about $7 dollars will be saved in economic losses and recovery costs,” said Greg Forrester, who heads UMCOR U.S. Disaster Response. Forrester was citing U.N. Development Program information.
In the U.S., UMCOR also funds training to build disaster resiliency among annual conferences that then pass their disaster risk reduction knowledge down to local churches. “It’s a great investment, and we should pay as much attention pre-disaster as we do after the disaster strikes,” said Forrester.
|The Rev. Dr. Jerome (Jerry) DeVine is guiding a design team that will bring an Act of Repentance Toward Reconciliation to the 2016 combined session of the Detroit and West Michigan conferences. ~mic photo/Jeremy Africa|
DeVine and others came before the Detroit Annual Conference on May 17 to initiate "first steps" toward next year's event. The design team will share a similar invitation with the West Michigan Conference on June 5.
A year ago Native American United Methodist leaders wrote an open letter to the bishops that offers counsel on how acts of repentance can avoid being “token in nature.” The letter asserts that the church must confess past sins but also must address present challenges in ministering effectively with Native Americans and other indigenous people.
“We believe this is a time when our UMC can make a vital difference in the lives of our families, communities and nations,” the letter says, “and we, your indigenous brothers and sisters, can offer our wisdom and gifts to the UMC, if we cultivate and tend our partnership.”
The letter’s writers include: Cynthia Kent, chairperson of the Native American International Caucus; the Rev. Anita Phillips, executive director for the denomination’s Native American Comprehensive Plan and the Rev. Chebon Kernell, executive secretary for Native American and Indigenous Ministries at the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries. Oklahoma Area Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr., wrote the cover letter.
In writing the letter, the leaders also consulted with members of Native American International Caucus at their meeting in March. At that meeting, caucus members from across the United States stressed that the healing work will take time.
“Repentance means to turn completely around and go the other direction,” Kent told United Methodist News Service. “What does this church have to do, to stop what they have been doing that has hurt and hindered the inclusion of native people into this denomination?”
Native Americans have been part of Methodism’s story nearly from the beginning.
One of John Wesley’s great hopes as a young pastor in the American colonies was to preach the gospel to the Yamacraws, Mark C. Shenise told those gathered at the Greater New Jersey Conference’s Act of Repentance in May.
“Unfortunately, he never had a serious chance to minister to the tribe before leaving for England,” said Shenise, who works with the denomination’s Commission on Archives and History. “(Wesley’s) desire to work amongst native peoples never waned despite distance and time which separated him from the New World.¨
Other Methodists did carry out Wesley’s call to evangelize, and as the letter notes, Native Americans were among the first to carry Methodism westward across the United States even “as they made their tragic death marches during the ‘Trails of Tears’ and other historic Native removals.”
But conversion to Christianity didn’t stop the U.S. government’s continued plunder of Native American land and lives.
Methodists played a key role in one such incident — the Sand Creek Massacre. A Methodist clergyman-turned-soldier, Col. John Chivington, on Nov. 29, 1864 ordered the cavalry charge that slaughtered a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians.
The widespread mistreatment of Native Americans did not end with the final shots of the American Indian Wars.
From 1869 to the 1960s, the U.S. government, in collaboration with Christian denominations, systematically removed as many as 100,000 Native American children from their families and sent them far from home to government- or church-run boarding schools. At these schools — some of which were Methodist — youngsters were punished for speaking their native language, banned from acting in any way that might be seen to represent traditional practices and stripped of personal belongings. In some cases, school staff members — who were primarily non-Native — abused the students.
Native American leaders write in their letter that The United Methodist Church “must acknowledge and respond to the real and recurring trauma experienced by Native American communities, honoring the continued hope we maintain in our People, in our call and in our Creator.”
The letter also notes that Native Americans still face a variety of challenges in the church today.
|The Rev. Chabon Kernell (r) co-authored the open letter to the church last year. He will be the keynoter at the Act of Repentance Toward Reconciliation in 2016. ~umns photo/Annette Spence|
“In recent years we have witnessed demanding and destructive burdens placed upon Native American churches, fellowships and ministries which threaten the survival of a Native American presence within the UMC,” the letter says.
Kernell, one of the letter signers, said many impoverished Native American communities don’t meet the criteria the denomination uses to determine church vitality — such as average worship attendance, professions of faith, baptisms and financial giving.
“If conferences and the denomination are looking for numbers then they may as well stop; if they are looking for larger churches they may as well stop too,” Kernell told UMNS. “This is the same burden that is placed on pastors and clergy in Native American settings all across the country. And when the expectations are not met, the ministry is defined as a failure, leaving everyone lost and dejected.”
He suggests a Native American ministry be measured by the responsibilities it has for the wellbeing of its community.
“Are we feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty?” he said. “Are there people asking for use of our facilities for prayer meetings, family gatherings, language classes, community meals and other Native forms of worship? … We as a church do not acknowledge the responsibilities we should have to all people in regards to their personal and community wellbeing.”
The Rev. Chebon Kernell will be the keynoter of the Michigan Area Act of Repentance Toward Reconciliation next June. ""He will help the Michigan Area look at the larger picture," DeVine notes.
The letter expresses the yearning that the process of repentance will lead to tangible changes in the denomination.
For Kent, those include conferences working more closely with their Committees on Native American Ministries and native ministries being on the conference agenda, “rather than an afterthought.”
She also would like to see churchgoers give more to the Native American Ministries Sunday fund, which supports Native American outreach in conferences and provides seminary scholarships for Native Americans.
Kernell said he hopes for the security of Native American churches and ministries.
“Beyond that,” he said, “I can only hope that conferences, cabinet meetings, church worship services, agency board meetings, will be welcoming places for indigenous people.”
~Heather Hahn and United Methodist News Service contributed to this report. Homepage photo shows Bishop Roy Sano and the Rev Calvin Hill welcoming those arriving on pilgrimage to the Sand Creek Massacre site in June 2014. Rev. Hill, currently in Montana serving churches in the Yellowstone Conference, has pastored congregations in the West Michigan Conference.
LARAINE WAUGHTAL & VANCE MORTON
Central Texas Conference
The recent (and apparently ongoing) strings of Texas spring storms have delivered needed rain to much of the state. However, they have also brought tornadoes, strong straight-line winds, hail and, in some areas, too much of that good thing we call rain. The news reports, videos and photos from the communities most impacted probably has many of you wondering how and when the conference is going to respond and roll in with assistance. The answer is two-fold: we already are responding and hold your horses, we’ll let you know as soon as help is needed.
Here is what we currently know from the affected areas of our conference. As of this time, no conference-wide response is needed nor has any such action been requested. If you have other details and you are from that community, please email Laraine at email@example.com or call her through the conference office at 817-877-5222.
Mineral Wells - Reportedly there was little to no flooding or tornado damage to homes as the downtown area absorbed the brunt of the storm. Laraine continues to be in contact with local authorities and will provide updates as available/warranted.
Cisco –The needs of all the families are being met and they appreciate your prayers.
Corsicana and Ellis County – The flood waters are being monitored. There are limited needs but the community is able to meet those needs.
Morgan Mill – ERT teams have been working in this community to clean up the debris field and the situation is under control.
Hillsboro – all is well.
Much of the flooding being reported does not involve any homes. Our CTC communities have been quite blessed that the storm damage has not been more extensive.
How the CTC Responds to Disaster
From the time a disaster happens and is made known, the CTC is in response mode. The CTC Disaster Response Coordinator, Laraine Waughtal, and the members of the Disaster Task Force begin monitoring the situations in our communities and our churches in the affected area and myriad others to learn first hand how we, as United Methodists, can be the hands and feet of Christ. Because the scene of a disaster is just that, a disaster, often times the immediate answer is "We'll let you know what we need as soon as we know."
Sometimes, the hardest part of disaster response is balancing what is being reported by media and what is actually happening on the ground. Watching the TV and reading online reports and Tweets can be deceiving about the scope of a disaster area, because often the details being reported are not complete or accurate.
However, our trained ERT and Disaster Response team members are in contact with those who do know what’s going on. As such, individuals and churches are reminded to be patient and don’t immediately respond to what you are seeing and hearing in the news. Of course that’s a big ask for compassionate christians living in a 24-hour news cycle society, where reporters too often employ the “we have to be first with the story and we’ll get to the actual facts of the situation much later” method of (ahem) journalism. Just try and remember the following before you head to the nearest big box discount warehouse store to buy pallets of bottled water for those in need. By the time you hear of a disaster, the CTC Disaster Response team is
already compiling the most accurate information to share with CTC members and churches and will share it as soon as the local officials are ready to release information;
checking on which victims/survivors are insured versus those who are not;
activating the CTC’s Early Response Teams, who have the specialized training to effectively respond and coordinating with UMCOR if a larger scale response seems necessary;
determining if help is actually needed or if the local community can and prefers to handle it locally;
patiently waiting for the disaster zone to be safe from flood waters, debris, electrical, gas and other issues (yes, they have to exercise patience too!); and
holding off on any response outside our conference as the team never crosses the boundaries of another conference unless invited to come help.
Because these disasters get so much news coverage, and Texans in general are a generous bunch, communities too often end up with the secondary disaster of having an abundance of donated goods that they can’t use and don’t have a place to store. And even the ones that do have storage capabilities probably are in no shape to handle the immediate influx of donations. They have to have time to organize themselves and work things out. We do not want to be a part of the problem by trying to be a too immediate part of the solution.
So, what can you do to help immediately following a disaster? Here are the top 5 actions you can do to immediately assist...
Pray and be patient and let the Disaster Response Team find out the best answer to that question.
When the event is in our conference, believe that the team is working on it and sometimes answers take time.
Understand that most often, the greatest help for survivors are gift cards (what type will be shared when that info is available) and monetary donations to get them what they actually need not what we think they need. Remember, 100 percent of what you give through UMCOR or the CTCSC goes to the recovery of that community – no overhead or administrative costs.
Never call the local UMC in the disaster area in the days immediately following the disaster. That church is already overwhelmed and cannot take everyone’s call. That church is busy just trying to care for its own members and locate them and get organized. If you have questions call Laraine at the conference office. T
Look at the ERT section of the conference website and register for the next ERT training session so you can be more quickly involved in the recovery efforts. .
None of the above is meant to quell the passion and desire to help so often expressed by Central Texas Conference members and churches. That passion is why our Disaster Response Team works so hard and is so vital to our conference. However, it’s been proven time and time again that the best way to focus our conference call to assist those in need is by working through our connectional system, taking all the time and steps to adequately assess each disaster situation and then going in and providing the assistance needed, when it’s needed, where it’s needed and how it’s needed.
Meeting By Conference Call
Program Committee - 10:00 a.m.
Executive Committee - 12:00 p.m.
To register, email your name, church, email contact, and role (Pastor, support clergy/staff, P/SPRC, Admin) to
Nancy Arnold: firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth group and young-adult leaders are invited to attend a three-day “In Focus” familiarization event about United Methodist Seminars on National & International Affairs. The program will introduce the seminars, which are custom-designed to meet attendee requests, and will explain how to organize and lead a group for these tailored study experiences in the nation’s capital.
This year there will be two In Focus events:
The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS), which manages the Washington, D.C., UM Seminars, will provide lodging, food and seminar materials at no charge for the first 15 persons to register. A $75 registration fee will be charged for all others. Travel costs to and from Washington, D.C., are the attendees’ responsibility.
All UM Seminars are conducted at the United Methodist Building, which is across the street from the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court.
Nearly 2,000 people have attended more than 100 UM Seminars during the past five years. Many groups from across the United States have returned repeatedly to take part in the decades-old program. In 2014, attendees came from 18 states and 16 Annual Conferences.
The UM Seminars program is about learning, experiencing and engaging around issues affecting communities. Seminar activities include experiential exercises, small-group discussions and opportunities to express what you've learned in various art forms.
Authorities on subjects chosen by participants are invited to share information. Often, seminar participants also visit with members of Congress.
Attendees at the "In Focus" event will learn about the program by experiencing a seminar firsthand.
Attendees at this "In Focus" familiarization event will:
This familiarization opportunity is for persons who have not previously led a group for a seminar. To be eligible to participate, registrants must agree to lead a group to participate in a seminar within the next 14 months.
The seminar will begin in the morning of the first day. Programming will conclude by 5 p.m. on the third day.
Registration is limited. Deadline for the June 2-4 In Focus is May 8; deadline for the July 7-9 In Focus is June 26..
To register, click on the appropriate dates:
For more information, contact Aimee Hong, director for Seminar Design, via email at email@example.com or phone (202) 488-5649, or Dave Johnson, Seminar designer, firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 488-5644.
This is a moment which comes to everyone. For some, it comes with more warning and more preparation. For others, it sneaks up on you or even jumps up when you least expect it. I have been anticipating this moment for a number of years, and somehow, it still managed to surprise me with how quickly it has arrived. I’m speaking about retirement and transition, of course.
|Mark your calendars now. A celebration of Bill Dobbs' ministry will be held on Saturday, June 20, from 2-4 pm at the Area Ministry Center, 1011 Northcrest Road, Lansing. ~MIC photo/Mark Doyal|
As I sit down to write this final Burning Questions blog piece, I have already been through the retirement service at the Detroit Annual Conference and am only days away from my final Annual Conference session in West Michigan. Someone asked me what I have been thinking about in these last few days before the moving people come to take away the books and pictures from the walls of my office. So, if you will permit me, let that be my final Burning Question even if it is not foremost on everyone’s mind.
I’ve been thinking about all the people who have blessed us – Janice and me and our family – over the last 43 years of ministry. Many of them, of course, have already gone on to glory, and many more may well have forgotten the moment or moments which I remember so vividly. But, now, today, they come across the years to remind me that we have been blessed beyond anything we could have imagined when we started out. From that little country church at West Mendon and the arrival of Grandma Dorothy and Grandma Barbara’s welcoming strawberry shortcake just as the moving van departed, to the joys of working with Bishop Deb and all the members of her cabinets as well as every incredible member of our office team, this journey of ordained ministry as an Elder in The United Methodist Church has been a wonderful experience. I know that there must have been painful moments, but I cannot recall the pain. What I am left with is wonderful memories and treasured souls who have made our lives richer for having been touched by them!
I’m also thinking about a line from the service we used every time we left one appointment to go to another. It expressed our awareness of our need for forgiveness and our need to forgive. It was always easier to forgive congregations and church members than it was to admit failure and ask for forgiveness. But the great good news of this repeated exercise was the graceful and forgiving nature of the people of West Mendon and Calvary and Ludington and East Lansing – University and Holland First. They were so forgiving and forgetful that we can only praise God for the mercy and grace we experienced in those appointments. As we now take leave of this last season of ministry in the Bishop’s office, I know that the opportunity for harm has been even greater and the need to forgive and seek forgiveness is even more necessary. Please forgive me for any harm I may have done, either in my writing or in my work as Bishop Deb’s Clergy Assistant. It may be something I said, it may be something I left unsaid or undone. But I hope you will believe that it was never my intention to harm anyone through word or deed!
And I’ve been thinking about what’s next for us – both the “us” of the Dobbs’ household, and the “us” of the Michigan Area. Within a very few days we will know whether the time has come for the two sides of this one state to come together as one whole Area, or if they will remain two distinct conferences. Twice before I thought the time was right, but it was not to be. And, looking back, I now see that it really was not the right time despite all our plans and dreams. There was more work to be done, more bridges to be built, more friends to be made and more joint ministries to be undertaken. Has the right time arrived? I think so, but only the two conferences will reveal the answer on June 10th. However either way, we – the United Methodists of the Michigan Area - are stronger because of the conversations we have undertaken over the last few years and the collaborations we have been a part of. And whatever the future will bring, God is already there beckoning us forward into new possibilities. Our hope is built on nothing less!
I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for the early signs of spring and the returning warmth in Michigan. I know that I am not alone in thinking that the last two winters have been harder to bear than earlier ones, and I don’t think it is only old age and approaching retirement causing me to think that way. Come on spring!
“Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops.” Luke 12:2-3, NRSV
Perhaps you thought it would go away, or even hoped it would go away. Let it retreat back to the shadows where light won’t reveal it. It is more comfortable for you that way, and the light can be fearful if you do not know how to move forward.
On the other hand, maybe you instead feared that it would be allowed to become hidden and out of sight once again, while all of the underlying pain, tension and systemic patterns remain unresolved.
Hope and transformation can only be found in the spaces where darkness and light meet. This is the place of relationship. To move beyond the divide we are compelled to move into relationships. This is especially true as we consider issues of race, racism, multicultural complexity, power and community here in the United States.
The Board of Directors of United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM-NCJ) announces a job opening for a Disaster Response Liaison. UMVIM-NCJ works to connect those who wish to be in hands-on mission with the many project options open in the United Methodist church.
Compensation: Salary + bonus/incentive program
We offer advancement opportunities, benefits package, paid training, and paid vacation after 6 months. Looking to interview and hire for an immediate opening.
Please respond with your resume and any other supporting documentation. Please include a minimum salary expectation with your submission.
The United Methodist Publishing House (Abingdon Press, Cokesbury) is a publisher, wholesaler, retailer, and distributor of ecumenical Christian resources for the church and for the broader community of faith.
First United Methodist Church (www.fumcmontgomery.org) of Montgomery, Alabama, is searching for a full-time Director of Youth Ministries to oversee the junior and senior high youth ministry. Worship is the heart of the identity of this beautiful church, which has two traditional worship services averaging 1,200 attendees.
Currently, there are 50-75 youth participating in youth programs with the potential for growth. A spark of excitement has become contagious, as First United Methodist Church has committed to put sustainable structures in place for the youth ministry and has active adult volunteers serving the youth. This program needs a creative leader who is ready to lead the youth program and mentor youth interns into the ministry. The main responsibilities are the following:
Qualifications include: Preferred five years of experience in leading a youth ministry program
For more detailed information and to submit a resume, please contact Teresa Sippel at email@example.com.
Our Allen organ is a 3-manual, 38-stop instrument installed in 2012.
Submit resumes with references to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 1, 2015.
Primary purpose of the Youth Minister is to introduce young people to Christ; to disciple them in spiritual growth; and to train them in serving Christ with their life.
The Youth Minister will be responsible for designing and presenting content for weeklySunday youth group meetings for adolescents in grades 7-12. Youth Group format includes games, worship, message, small group activities and technical formatting of material being presented.
The Youth Minister will:
Candidate will possess a deep faith in Christ, strong communication and relational skills, good organizational skills and strong technical and social media skills. Preferred candidates will have a commitment to the Genesis vision of a progressive theology inclusive of all people, enjoy working with teens, and desire to grow in faith along with the families we are serving.
Candidate must be willing to submit to , and pass a criminal background check
Application Deadline is June 12, 2015 * Email Resume to Susan Gray
Mrs. Eileen Maikrzek , mother-in-law of Rev. William C. Cleland [Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Friday, May 22, 2015.
Visitation will be held from Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at Zinger-Smigielski Funeral Home, located at 2091 Main Street; Ubly, MI 48475 [989-658-8501].
Funeral Mass will be held at at St. John Catholic Church of Good Shepherd Parish, located at 4470 N. Washington Street; Ubly, MI 48475 [989-658-8824]. There will be a time of visitation from prior to the service.
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO:
Rev. William & Mrs. Deb Cleland
129 S. Silver Street
Bad Axe, MI 48413
GIFTS IN MEMORY MAY BE GIVEN TO:
Rec’d 5/26/2015 cb
Mr. Ralph Burkhead, father of Rev. Weatherly Verhelst [Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
Mrs. Kathleen Strobe, spouse of Rev. Dr. Donald B. Strobe [Retired Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], mother of Rev. David R. Strobe [Retired Detroit Annual Conference Clergy] and Rev. Carole Lyman [Retired West Michigan Conference Clergy], died Tuesday, April 28, 2015.
A Memorial Service will be held at a later time.
Rev. Dr. Donald B. Strobe (Spouse)
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO:
GIFTS IN MEMORY MAY BE GIVEN TO:Memorial Garden Fund at Ann Arbor First United Methodist Church
Mrs. Shirleyann Rice, surviving spouse of Rev. Allen B. Rice, II [Retired Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Friday, April 24, 2015.
A Celebration of Life Service was held Saturday, May 2, 2015 at Church of the Western Reserve located at 30500 Fairmount Boulevard in Pepper Pike, Ohio 44124.
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO [Daughter]:
Rev. Jack E. Price (Retired Detroit Annual Conference Clergy), died Sunday, April 19, 2015.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will take place at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, May 30, 2015 at Court Street UMC, located at 225 W. Court Street; Flint, MI 48502 (810-235-4651).
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO (Spouse):Mrs. Martha Price
GIFTS IN MEMORY MAY BE GIVEN TO:Court Street United Methodist Church
Mrs. Margaret Stout, surviving spouse of Rev. Dr. Samuel F. Stout [Detroit Annual Conference Clergy], died Friday, April 10, 2015.
The Funeral Service was held Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. at Birmingham: First UMC, 1589 W. Maple Road; Birmingham, MI 48009.
CONDOLENCES MAY BE SENT TO [Son]:Mr. John Stout
GIFTS IN MEMORY MAY BE SENT TO:Methodist Children's Home Society