Edition: Febrruary 15, 2015
To commemorate Black History Month, Bishop Forrest Stith recently penned this prayer as part of a celebration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper at Asbury UMC in Washington on Feb. 1. May it be a blessing during your reflections this month.
Dearest God: When human cruelty reared its ugly head, you sustained your people and made it possible for African-Americans to survive the Middle Passage, auction blocks, whipping posts and forced labor. You softened the hearts of many who worked in secret on our behalf. You lifted our heads with the message that God sides with the oppressed and delivers the captive. You strengthened our hands to struggle for justice and freedom.
We give thanks for the witnesses who have come before us: Harry Hosier and Aunt Betty, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, Charles Tindley and Mary McLeod Bethune, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks.
These men and women, and countless others, struggled amidst great travail, yet kept the faith and became the yeast from which we rise and prosper. As their spiritual descendants we, too, are formed in your image, carrying the stars in our eyes, the moon in our hearts and the cosmos in every breath.
You touched us with goodness and beauty. Yet we resisted your touch and attempted to shape ourselves. So we have become encompassed by greed, blinded by injustices, broken with grief. But again and again, you send your Spirit to renew us and your earth, to gather our brokenness and despair into new hope and turn us into ALLELUIAS!
Eternal God, we give thanks for all you have given us through the ages. We give you thanks for all who went before us and those who will follow us. Grant that today we may go into this world in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Entering the World of the Small Church
by Anthony Pappas
This demonstrates amazingly, with unflinching honesty and a wonderfully redeeming sense of humor, a resource especially helpful in motivating change and growth by mobilizing the natural strengths of small churches. For you who have been looking for a reliable guide to interpret the world of the small church, look no further since this provides all the insights you need. Includes images and models and strategies that reflect the profound uniqueness of the small church. It clearly shows leaders how to lead within the dynamics and culture of the small congregation. This is theologically sound and eminently practical. A must reading for anyone who is or plans to be a leader in a small church. Excellent for small group study.
Imagining the Small Church: Celebrating a Simpler Path
by Steve Willis
Steve Willis has pastored small churches in rural, town, and urban settings for the last nineteen years and now writes about the sustainability of small church life. As a Presbyterian (USA) minister he has served Presbyterian and United Church of Christ congregations in Washington state, Cincinnati, and the southeast, where he is now pastor of the Virginia Presbyterian Church in the Appalachian Mountains in Buchanan, Virginia.
Imagining the Small Church: Celebrating a Simpler Path bears witness to what God is doing in small churches. Steve Willis tells stories from the small churches he has pastored in rural, town, and urban settings and dares to imagine that their way of being has something to teach all churches in this time of change in the American Christian Church. Willis tells us in the introduction, 'This book boasts no ten or fifteen steps to a successful small church. Instead, I hope to encourage you to give up on steps altogether and even to give up on success, at least how success is usually measured. I also hope to help the reader imagine the small church differently; to see with new eyes the joys and pleasures of living small and sustainably.'
The joys and sorrows Willis helps us see through the compelling stories of faith in the small church puts flesh and bones on the possibilities that lie ahead for congregations in the future as well as the here and now.
From the foreword by Tony Pappas: 'In Imagining the Small Church, pastor, writer, and lover of small things Steve Willis takes us on a narrative and imaginative journey. Some readers will have a sense that what Willis is describing simply names what they have already known in their hearts about their small churches. For them the journey will cover some familiar ground, explore some territory from a fresh angle, but deposit them nearly home again, hopefully with just a bit more awareness and appreciation. For others, though, Willis will take them on a long journey to a far and foreign place. They probably won't bother to finish reading it, and they will miss his invitation to find pastoring a small church extremely rewarding and meaningful. They will find this a strange book weird, off-center, and impractical; unlivable in the twenty-first century and undesirable in any event. This is because Willis is taking on the ethos, the values of our age, and claiming that it needn't be so. We can live on a different basis. We can live on the basis of gospel values.' There will be a variety of paths as the Church seeks new ways of being in this time. Willis knows this. In Imagining the Small Church he presents us with one that embraces a life of faith on the periphery and challenges church leaders to do the same.
“God’s love is an effective love. It changes us—our way of seeing and our way of responding. Although we cannot see God, we can see the effect of God’s love in the circumstances of our lives. God’s love becomes visible in an awareness of his caring for us through all the people who have loved us. It becomes visible in the realization of the many times we have been spared the consequences of our sin and foolishness.
“Most of all, God’s love becomes visible when we feel our fears dissipating and our hearts expanding with love and concern for others. Even if our personal experiences of being loved have sometimes been disappointing, there is within the core of us, always alive, always yearning, the Spirit of love, the Spirit of God, which continues to create us and to hold us in being.
“God is love; he has first loved us.”
- Excerpted from Love: A Guide for Prayer by Jacqueline Syrup Bergan and Sister Marie Schwan, CSJ
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Third Thursdays, 1:00 PM
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Cleveland: East Shore UMC, 23002 Lakeshore Blvd., Euclid – First Thursdays, 1:00 PM
Medina: Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, (February meeting will be at 10:30 AM to accommodate Ash Wednesday Service)s
New Philadelphia: First UMC, 201 W. High St. – Second Thursdays, 9:00 AM - (This group will not be meeting in March)
Sandusky: Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:00 PM
If you are interested in being part of one of these groups, it would be helpful if you let us know for planning purposes. For questions and to receive information about a particular group, please call our office 330-456-0486 or email us at email@example.com
The Program in Pastoral Care and Counseling encourages the spiritual formation of our pastors believing a strong spiritual base is the greatest resource a church leader can possess. It helps us weather the many storms of ministry and deepens the incredible joys ministry provides. Following is a list of Spiritual Directors in our area. We encourage you to take advantage of this rich resource. This listing will appear in each edition of our bi-monthly webpage updates and new names and contact information will be provided as we learn of them and have permission to include them. If you are a director or know of a director that is not included here please let us know.
Debbie Baker - firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Batchler-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Lent as Divine Therapy
by Father Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk at St. Benedict's monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, is a co-founder of the centering prayer movement. He recently spoke to Beliefnet producer Anne A. Simpkinson about the contemplative dimensions of the Lenten season.
How can we make Lent a more contemplative time? And, if people are already practicing contemplative prayer, how can they deepen their practice?
Lent is meant to be a communal retreat for all Christians--at least those who observe Lent. The liturgy is an instruction in the mystical meaning of Lent as preparation for the Holy Week celebration of the mystery of redemption.
Read Online Article ...
Our Biosphere, Ourselves: A guided meditation to remember who we are
“Welcome to this Lenten meditation. The season of Lent marks the 40 days that Jesus spent outside – in the wilderness – connecting and communing with the elements, with the divine. It was this deep connection, this profound union that gave him the spiritual wisdom and power he needed to meet the challenges before him, and fulfill his call to spiritual leadership in his time and place. We, too, are called to spiritual leadership in our time and place. Practicing this meditation over the course of 40 days, we can access spiritual wisdom and power through deep communion with the Divine in the most basic elements within and around us – air, water, earth, fire – and the great mystery that unites and ignites them all in compassion and love.”
The Building Blocks of Calm
by Ruth Wilson
“Today, I use my own sayings—or mantras—to guide my thinking and to deepen my spirituality. I base my practice on . . . [the wisdom I once heard]:
‘You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.’
“I find that if I want to grow spiritually, I need to nourish my soul. One way I do this is through the mantras I’ve chosen to guide my way.”
“I have a tool kit of mantras I use on a regular basis. I’m not committed to keeping these particular mantras forever and will likely add something new as needed, but if you look in my tool kit today, these are among the mantras you’ll find:
“Over time, these mantras have taken on deeper meanings for me and now serve as guides for how I want to live.”
Losing Yourself in Something
by M.J. Ryan
“In every part and corner of our life, to lose one self is to be a gainer, to forget oneself is to be happy.” —Robert Louis Stevenson
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, professor of social science at the Peter Drucker School of Business at Claremont University, [wrote about a form of happiness he] called it flow, a state of mind when we are performing at our best, are involved fully in a task, and enjoy ourselves most. The poet David Whyte calls it the “numinous experience of the present where we forget ourselves in the consummation of the moment.” This self-forgetfulness is at the heart of flow, whether it is expressed through writing a poem or racing down a mountain trail on a bike. Because we forget ourselves, flow is usually experienced as an absence of emotion; you tend to feel nothing at the time because you are fully absorbed in the task.
Are you a bored couch potato? What could you do that could increase the possibility of experiencing flow? Learning photography? Gardening? Writing a book? One way to get started is to write down three times you’ve felt most alive. What were you doing? How could you do that more? The more we challenge ourselves— mentally, physically, emotionally—the greater a sense of gratification we will experience.
The Happiness Makeover: Teach Yourself to Enjoy Every Day
by M. J. Ryan
M.J. Ryan is one of the creators of the New York Times bestselling Random Acts of Kindness and the author of How to Survive Change...You Didn't Ask For among other titles. She is a contributing editor to Health.com and Good Housekeeping and has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, and hundreds of radio programs. Visit her at www.mj-ryan.com.
Be Happy, Stay Happy -
We all want the things that we're sure will make us happy--money, success, independence, love. But when we finally get them, we can find to our surprise that we are the same miserable, moody, or just neutral people we always were. Is that just the way things are?
Luckily, no! We can teach ourselves to be happy and enjoy every day, and M.J. Ryan, bestselling author of The Power of Patience and Attitudes of Gratitude, shows us how.
The Happiness Makeover draws on this wide-ranging knowledge and presents a plan that will help readers:
Breathe: Making Room for Sabbath: 5-Session Bible Study
by Priscilla Shirer
The Breathe Study Journal includes 5 sessions of teaching by Priscilla Shirer with 4 weeks of homework in a reflective, journaling format. One of the greatest challenges among women in our culture is taking time to stop and cease from all the activities and busyness and just breathe. We are in bondage to busyness. We constantly strive to complete the limitless to-do lists that hinder us from experiencing all that God has for us. We miss the moments because we rush ahead to the next thing. By neglecting time for tranquility, serenity, and repose, we limit our Christlikeness and miss out on some of God's greatest gifts. It is time for us to breathe and build margin into our lives for God. In the Old Testament, God instituted principles and laws that would transform the Israelites' mindset. He didn't just want them legally free; He wanted them to be able to walk in the freedom and enjoy it. So God gave them many gifts, including boundaries in which to enjoy those gifts. Sabbath was intended as a gift, and it is still a gift to us today. If you are weary, worn out, and exhausted the concept of Sabbath will change your life.
Week 1 – The Freedom of Sabbath
Week 2 – Stops Along the Sabbath Journey
Week 3 – Double-Portion Friday
Week 4 – Coming Into Focus
Week 5 – Sabbath Margin
Author: A communications major in college, Priscilla Shirer planned to be a TV news anchor¬—but God had other ideas. While interning at a Christian radio station in Houston, she began to receive invitations to do Bible studies at small women's events. At only 18 she shared the simple truths of Scripture that she was studying during her quiet time, and she's been in full-time ministry ever since. Priscilla is married to her best friend, Jerry. Together they have founded Going Beyond Ministries. Her desire is to see women come to a full understanding of who they are in Christ by hearing the uncompromising truth of Scripture. Jerry and Priscilla live in Dallas and take seriously their main role of parents to their three young sons: Jackson, Jerry Jr., and Jude.
The East Ohio Conference Pastoral Care Office:
1445 Harrison Avenue NW · Suite 301
Canton, Ohio 44708
Toll Free: 866-456-3600
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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