Find tips and resources for self-care, material to assist you in providing pastoral care, and general information to help you in your practice of ministry. Information will be updated every two weeks concurrent with the East Ohio E-news.
May 31, 2016 Edition
Annual Conference Spiritual Formation Luncheon and Gathering
Our Annual Conference Spiritual Formation Gathering and FREE lunch will be held again this year on Tuesday after the morning session has concluded. We will meet in the Upper Room of the Pavilion at the dock. This will be a time of fellowship and an opportunity to quiet your mind and heart in the midst of the busyness of the week. A light lunch of finger foods will be provided at no cost. Reservations are not necessary but if you have questions or would like to contact us you can do so at email@example.com .
Nikki Giovanni: Soul Food, Sex and Space: On-Being
with Krista Tippett
In the 1960s, Nikki Giovanni was a revolutionary poet of the Black Arts Movement that nourished civil rights. She had a famous dialogue with James Baldwin in Paris in 1971. Now a professor at Virginia Tech, she brought beauty and courage by way of poetry after the shooting there. Today, she is a self-proclaimed space freak and a delighted elder — an adored voice to hip-hop artists and the new forms of social change this generation is creating.
Why I Returned to Church
by Teresa Bergen
Reflections on Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy and my return to being Catholic
I’m an unlikely Catholic. When nuns forced my childhood self to contemplate the Stations of the Cross, I was mainly belligerent. Why should I feel responsible for Jesus’ brutal treatment nearly 2,000 years after the fact? When nuns tried to railroad me into confirmation—my adult decision to join the church—I refused.
Boy, was I surprised when more than three decades later I felt a pull to return. It wasn’t the homophobia, pedophilia, sexism, antichoice position or bizarre stance on birth control that beckoned. Nor was it Jesus. Instead, it was the incense, candles, saints, relics, statues, stained glass and, most of all, the holy water and the Holy Spirit. Plus, Pope Francis had come into power. He’s smart, humble, stubborn, and ready to shift the church away from shaming poor, weak individuals and toward shaming large, abusive power structures.
Returning was frightening and emotional. But at my neighborhood church, the cherub-faced Vietnamese priest gave me a comedic lecture about keeping God waiting so long, then shook my hand and welcomed me back. I was stunned it was so simple. No year of penance, no cat-o’-nine-tails. I was in.
I photographed the tall green candle I lit after entering the holy door and set it as the wallpaper on my phone, a reminder of mercy. My year-of-mercy goal is to reset my default, so I give people the benefit of the doubt rather than automatically assuming they’re jerks. This sounds like what any halfway decent person would naturally do. But how often do we readily extend this mercy to other drivers, our partners, or relatives at holiday dinners?
Growing up, hearing, “See what he’s going through for your sins?” while a forehead-poking thorn streamed blood into Jesus’ eye, I never would have considered the church merciful. But when I came back decades later and the priest in my neighborhood church smiled and said, “Welcome back,” it felt merciful beyond my imagining. And maybe showing mercy is as simple as assuring ourselves and the people around us, You’re welcome here. You belong here.
Baptist Pastor from Dallas Shares 7 Things He's Learning about Transgender People
by Mark Wingfield
I don’t know much about transgender issues, but I’m trying to learn.
How about you? How much do you really know about this subject beyond all the screaming headlines and concerns about who goes to the bathroom where?
The truth is that I don’t know any transgender persons — at least I don’t think I do. But with the help of a pediatrician friend and a geneticist friend, I’m listening and trying to learn. This is hard, though, because understanding the transgender experience seems so far outside what I have ever contemplated before. And the more I learn, the more theological questions I face as well. This is hard, even for a pastor.
A Simple but Powerful Definition of Prayer
by Charles Pope
I have read many definitions of prayer. I have been especially fond of St Therese’s description.
But one of the nicest and briefest descriptions of prayer I have read comes from Dr. Ralph Martin, in his book The Fulfillment of All Desire. Dr. Martin says beautifully, in a way that is succinct and yet comprehensive and inclusive of diverse expression:
Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God (p. 121).
Such a wonderful image: paying attention to God. Imagine that, actually paying attention to God. So simple, yet so often overlooked. . . .
Life Is Hard
by Richard Rohr
In my cross-cultural research on initiation rites, I have observed five consistent lessons communicated to the initiate. These lessons are meant to separate initiates from their thoughts about themselves and reattach them to who they really are. These messages are essential for a man to know experientially if he is to be rightly aligned with reality (and perhaps also for a woman, though in some cases women need to be taught the reverse first).
1. Life is hard.
2. You are not that important.
3. Your life is not about you.
4. You are not in control.
5. You are going to die.
Within each initiation rite I've studied, a major portion of the experience is grief work. The natural survival instinct for the male is to block suffering and pain. Somehow the young male has to be taught how to receive wounding and scarring (which was often done through circumcision) and to empathically connect with the pain of the world. In our archetypal psyche and memory, blood flowing from a man's body symbolizes death, which of course we're eager to avoid. When blood flows out of a woman's body, it points toward life, the ability to conceive and carry new life. Maybe this is part of the reason why women are not as afraid of pain as we men tend to be.
All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. So the first lesson of initiation is to teach the young man not to try to get rid of his pain until he has first learned whatever it has to teach him. By trying to handle all suffering through willpower, denial, medication, or even therapy, we have forgotten something that should be obvious: we do not handle suffering; suffering handles us in deep and mysterious ways that ironically become the very matrix of life. Suffering--and sometimes awe--has the most power to lead us into genuinely new experiences. . . .
Our wounds are the only things humbling enough to break our attachment to our false self and make us yearn for our True Self.
Followers of the Crucified One will pray for the grace to do what he did: hold the pain until it transformed him into the Risen Christ. If you do not transform your pain, you will almost certainly transmit your pain to others through anger, blame, projection, hatred, or scapegoating.
Our groups will be on recess June-August.
Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Alliance: Christ UMC, 470 E. Broadway – Second Tuesday, 2:00 PM
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Cleveland Heights: Church of the Saviour, 2537 Lee Road – Third Thursdays, 1:30 PM
Medina: Granger UMC, 1235 Granger Rd. – Third Wednesdays, 1:30 PM
Painesville: UMC, 71 North Park Pl. – Third Thursdays 10-15-15, 10:30 AM
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 - email@example.com
Bruce Batchler-Glader – firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Karen Hollingsworth – email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – email@example.com
Sue Palmer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
The Crazy Way Complaining Alters Your Brain
by Thrive Market
I’m sitting at my favorite local diner on a warm and sunny Saturday in February, with my boyfriend across from me—so many things to be grateful for. Only, I’m starving. One-by-one, I watch every table around get served their burgers and sundaes—nada for us. Then, the waitress drops the bomb that she forgot to put our order in.
All of a sudden, anger surges through me—literally. According to basic neuroscience, each thought triggers the brain to shoot neurotransmitters across synapses, where signals pass from one nerve cell to another. And every time a certain type of thought occurs, the brain allows the synapses associated with that thought to grow closer together to make it easier for them to communicate. Translation: The more often a person engages a negative thought, the easier it is for it to occur regularly, since it has a shorter distance to travel in order to be processed. So frequent complaintive behavior (read: lamenting over “Mondays” week after week) can hardwire the brain for chronic negativity. . . .
Often all it takes to get out of a black hole of displeasure is to consciously reframe your thinking. If you can’t help the words from coming out of your mouth, then at least think about how you can follow it up on a positive note. Not saying you need to fake the funk, but when you start to feel all worked up about the presidential candidates, remember that you get a vote in it. How cool is that?
Shut Down Anxiety in 5 Minutes with this Guided Meditation
by Dana Poblet
You’re running for your life through a burning building—someone or something fearsome is hot on your heels. Gasping for air, you feel the floor give out beneath your feet. This is your brain on anxiety, according to people who’ve experienced panic attacks.
Even when it’s not quite that intense, a mind buzzing with stress and worry can really screw up the day. Instead of getting sucked into that black hole of fear and loathing, get some help from meditation and pranayama. Prana-whatta? This Sanskrit-derived term you may have heard in yoga class essentially translates to “breath work.”
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or would like to get email alerts when new reources have been posted please contact Howard Humphress at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our quick contact form.
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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