Edition: March 2, 2015
Hope in Conflict
by Maria Mallory White
“Can conflict be constructive? How can leaders in conflict-riven systems help achieve resolution, transformation and even reconciliation?”
“Questions to consider:
When a topic gets hot in a meeting, how do you respond?
What questions do you ask yourself and others about what might be at stake in the conversation?
What makes a conflict destructive or constructive?
What are the leadership ‘moves’ that move a conflict toward a transformative resolution?
How do you determine what the deeper issues are in a conflict? How do you respond to the ‘presenting issue’ as well as the deeper one?”
“‘God’s power is so unique and distinctive that in every difficulty, in every hardship, in every difference that we encounter that really challenges us, there is this offer that God makes for our lives to be enriched, for us to be transformed, for the world to be a better place, . . .’ said the Rev. Dr. Marcia Mount Shoop, who serves as a moderator of the Presbyterian Multicultural Network.”
“When pastors and leaders said up front, ‘Let’s confront that and look at it head on. Let’s convene and talk,’ people didn’t necessarily end up agreeing and feeling happy, but they discovered a strength in the church. . . . It wasn’t as vulnerable to fragmentation as they feared, but rather there was a community of faith that could survive disagreement. There was a community they had not experienced or claimed before.”
How Common is Congregational Conflict?
By: Mark Chaves
How often do churches fight? Are some congregations perennially at odds? The National Congregations Study has some answers.
“So how common is congregational conflict? Fewer than 1 in 10 congregations experience what we might call persistent conflict, 1 in 4 congregations experience some sort of conflict over a two year period, and 2 in 5 experience some sort of conflict over a four year period.”
Prophets: Self Critical Thinking
by Fr. Richard Rohr
“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with your shadow. I wish someone had told me that when I was young. It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way.”
Speaking Truth to Power
by Fr. Richard Rohr
“The American Friends Service Committee published Speak Truth to Power in 1955, and their study of international conflict is still compelling and relevant for a world full of injustice and violence. Read this prophetic call to repentance--metanoia, to turn around--with an open heart and mind, or in other words, contemplatively:
“The politics of eternity works not by might but by spirit; a Spirit whose redemptive power is released among [people] through suffering endured on behalf of the evildoer, and in obedience to the divine command to love all [people]. Such love is worlds apart from the expedient of loving those who love us, of doing good to those who have done good to us. It is the essence of such love that it does not require an advance guarantee that it will succeed, will prove easy or cheap, or that it will be met with swift answering love. Whether practiced by [individuals] or nations, it well may encounter opposition, hate, humiliation, utter defeat. In the familiar words of the epistle, such love suffers long, is always kind, never fails. . . . This is the Spirit that overcomes the world.
“To act on such a faith, the politics of eternity demand of us, first, repentance. As individuals and as a nation we must literally turn about. We must turn from our self-righteousness and arrogance and confess that we do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord. We must turn from the substitution of material for spiritual values; we must turn not only from our use of mass violence but from what is worse, our readiness to use this violence whenever it suits our purpose, regardless of the pain it inflicts on others. We must turn about.”Find Article Here ...
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, 1:00 PM
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
Prophets as Liberators
By Fr. Richard Rohr
We find the beginnings of the prophetic tradition in Deuteronomy 18, where Moses calls himself a prophet and sets out the first daring criteria for the role. Moses has led the people out of slavery and into freedom, which is the archetypal spiritual pattern for every human life. Poor Moses' job is finding out how to keep the Israelites really free, after they first found their physical freedom. This is a much more difficult job, and I know almost no republics, democracies, or monarchies that achieve it. Ironically, some oppressed and enslaved people do achieve it, as we have seen with so many Black Americans.
“Let's use this as our simple understanding of a prophet. A prophetis one who keeps God free for people and who keeps people free for God. It is a two-sided task. He or she is committed to the covenant love between humanity and the Divine--at all costs--and keeping God totally free for people. That is a very hard thing to do, because at least in the Bible the priestly class invariably makes God less accessible instead of more so: "Neither entering yourselves nor letting others enter in" as Jesus boldly puts it (Matthew 23:13). For our own job-security, the priestly mentality tends to say, "You can only come to God through us, by doing the right rituals and obeying the rules." Formal ministers are too often good at teaching people "learned helplessness." That's why the prophets spend so much time destroying and dismissing these barriers to create "a straight highway to God" (Matthew 3:3) as John the Baptist tries to do, and Jesus does with such determination and partial success. But now you know why they were both killed.
“The other half of the prophet's job is to keep people free for God. People get trapped in chains of guilt and low self-esteem, what they judge to be poor performance and less than perfect attendance. As if the goal of religion is "attendance" at an occasional ritual instead of constant participation in an Eternal Mystery!
“Walter Brueggemann has given his whole life to understanding the Hebrew Scriptures, and is my favorite Old Testament Christian scholar, hands down. I think he is a prophet himself. In the end, he says that the only consistent pattern he could find in the way God works with God's people is that there is no pattern! There is no one image of God in the Bible. There must be at least 50, I would think. God is always breaking God's own rules to get to this person, to change this situation, to transform this event. If you are honest about the text, this should be clear. You do realize, I hope, that every time God forgives, God is breaking God's own rules, and saying relationship with YOU matters more than God being right! I would base my life on that assertion.”
Harvard Unveils MRI Study Proving Meditation Literally Rebuilds The Brain’s Gray Matter In 8 Weeks
“Test subjects taking part in an 8-week program of mindfulness meditation showed results that astonished even the most experienced neuroscientists at Harvard University. The study was led by a Harvard-affiliated team of researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the team’s MRI scans documented for the very first time in medical history how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter. ‘Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,’ says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. ‘This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.’”
Should I See a Doctor or Accept What Is?
By Eckhart Tolle
Eckhart answers a question from a viewer, who asks if he should see a doctor or accept what is. Eckhart says it is not a question of seeing a doctor or not. You can be present and accept what is while you see a doctor to attend to your body’s needs.
Self Care for Life: Find Joy, Peace, Serenity, Vitality, Sensuality, Abundance, and Enlightenment – Each and Every Day
By Alexander Skye and Lester Meera
“The best way to take care of your self is to take care of your Self. With its unique three-fold approach, this book helps you nurture and nourish the mind, body, and spirit within the natural course of every day.
“Self-care for life. That’s a tall order, but a crucial one. We often spend our lives looking out for other people—so much so that we forget to take care of ourselves! That stress takes a toll not only on our bodies, but also on our minds and spirits. Studies show that about half of Americans feel that the amount of stress they experience has increased in the last five years, and one-third of Americans feel they are under extreme stress.
“The results? Burnout, unhappiness, and mental and physical diseases. We may experience everything from headache to divorce simply because we’re not taking care of ourselves in a way that will reduce stress and improve our health.
“Self-care isn’t something you do once a year at a spa. And it isn’t something you do a few times and then drop. It’s a commitment you make to yourself each and every day. Not enough time, you say? It doesn’t have to take a lot of time (many of the tips in this book take only a few minutes). More than time, you simply need intention—and follow-through. Promise yourself you’ll do it, and then do it.”
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