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.
October 10, 2016 Edition
How Spirituality Affects the Physical, Mental and Social Well-being of People Going through Cancer
by Bess O’Connor
According to a new study, spirituality plays a key role in the health and well-being of patients going through cancer. In this particular study, published in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, published studies on cancer were thoroughly analyzed, which included the data from 44,000 patients. The study gave new insight into how spirituality and religion plays a key role in the overall well-being of cancer patients.
Preaching Advent Online Course
Alban at Duke Divinity School
Advent, the four-Sunday season preceding Christmas, is approaching rapidly. Because you may be looking for a little help in preparing to preach Advent this year, Alban is offering a three-week online short course that will provide you with new insights into Scripture and with specific ways to engage your congregation’s imagination during this sacred season.
Course Dates: October 31 – November 18, 2016
Time Commitment: 3 hours/week
Course Fee: $200
Each week, we will explore together the rich themes of Advent through the assigned lectionary passages for the season. In the first week, we will read the Old Testament lections, hearing the voice of the prophets and psalmists as they look in hope for the coming of the Messiah. In the second week, our focus will turn to the New Testament lections, listening to the Gospel and epistles for words of challenge, comfort, and joy. In our final week, we will reflect together on teaching and preaching the themes of Advent more generally. We will watch model sermons and consider how preachers hold heartbreak and hope together in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Throughout the course, you will be encouraged to participate in online discussion with your peers. Registration is limited; consequently, your active participation is important. How you hear the Scriptures, how you hold the tradition, and how you will mark the days – all matter. Offer your voice to this learning community — and receive the wisdom of others!
Guiding the course will be The Rev’d. Nathan E. Kirkpatrick, managing director of Alban at Duke Divinity School.
by Richard Rohr
Did you ever imagine that what we call “vulnerability” might just be the key to ongoing growth? In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change, and grow. Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other—because it means others could sometimes actually wound us. Indeed, vulnera comes from the Latin for “to wound.” But only if we take this risk do we also allow the opposite possibility: the other might also gift us, free us, and even love us.
If and when we can live an honestly vulnerable life—the life we see mirrored in a God who is described as three persons perfectly handing themselves over, emptying themselves out, and then fully receiving what has been handed over—there will always be a centrifugal force flowing through, out, and beyond us. Then our spiritual life simply becomes “the imitation of God” (see Ephesians 5:1), as impossible as this sounds to our ordinary ears.
This, then, seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself and to resist all that destroys the Life Flow. Notice that the major metaphors for the Spirit are always dynamic, energetic, and moving: elusive wind, descending dove, falling fire, and flowing water. Spirit-led people never stop growing and changing and recognizing the new moment of opportunity. How strange to think that so much of religion became worship of the status quo and a neurotic fear of failure. It does make sense, though, when we consider that the ego hates and fears change and failure.
What, then, is the path to holiness? It’s the same as the path to wholeness. And we are never “there” yet. We are always just in the river. Don’t try to push the river or make the river happen; it is already happening, and you cannot stop it. All you can do is recognize it, enjoy it, and ever more fully allow it to carry you.
As John O’Donohue put it:
I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding. 
This is the great surprise, and for some a disappointment: this divine Flow has very little to do with you. The Flow doesn’t have to do with you being perfect, right, belonging to the right group, or even understanding the Flow. Jesus never has any such checklist test before he heals someone. He just says, as it were, “Are you going to ask for or allow yourself to be touched? If so, let’s go!”
The touchable ones are the healed ones; it’s pretty much that simple. There’s no doctrinal or moral test whatsoever. Jesus doesn’t check if the people he heals are Jewish, gay, baptized, or in their first marriage. There’s only the one question, which he asks in various ways:
Do you want to be healed?
If the answer is a vulnerable, trusting one, the Flow always happens, and the person is always healed, usually on several levels. That is the real New Testament message, much more than miraculous medical cures.
Simplicity: Brothers and Sisters to All
by Richard Rohr
My brothers, my sisters, God has called me to walk in the way of humility, and showed me the way of simplicity. . . . The Lord has shown me that he wants me to be a new kind of fool in the world, and God does not want to lead us by any other knowledge than that. —Francis of Assisi 
Franciscan prophecy is at its core “soft prophecy”—which is often the hardest of all! Rather than criticize and shame the evils of his time, St. Francis simply lived differently and let his lifestyle be his sermon. This way of life is counter to the ways of the world, a kind of “holy foolishness” that doesn’t make logical sense to our consumer, quid-pro-quo economy.
My father Francis is probably the poster child for the way of simplicity. It is only fitting that his namesake, Pope Francis, turned to him in the introduction to his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home:
10. . . . I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. . . . He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, justice for the poor, commitment to society, and interior peace.
11. . . . Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason.”  His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister.’”  . . . If we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled. 
Saints and mystics do not know things subject to object, but they know things subject to subject, center to center, two dignities mirroring one another.
Gateway to Silence:
Live simply so that others may simply live.
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Meet: monthly 1 ½ hours
Where and when:
Ashland: Christ UMC, 1140 Claremont Ave. – Second Wednesdays, 1:00 PM
Canton: Faith UMC, 300 9th St. NW—Second Thursdays, 10:30 AM
Sandusky: Trinity UMC, 214 E. Jefferson St. – Second Thursdays, 2:00 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
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 Batchlor-Glader – email@example.com
Harry Finkbone - Finkbone1@gmail.com
Karen Hollingsworth – firstname.lastname@example.org
Liz Nau – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – email@example.com
Valerie Stultz - firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Transcendental Meditation Changed My Life
by Chuck Otto
Like so many members of our boomer generation, I walked away from organized religion long ago. Baptized and confirmed Episcopalian in childhood, my last steady churchgoing experience involved attending “youth services” in my teens, where we stood around in a prayer circle in our jeans and sandals, singing contemporary hymns in a fog of incense. In recent years, my presence in any house of worship largely has been confined to weddings, funerals, a few bat mitzvahs and the occasional Christmas Eve service.
So, what’s it like to meditate? Speaking personally, it’s a calming, welcome break I look forward to ideally twice a day, but one that requires a constant, gentle nudging away from intruding thoughts.
My process is simple: I set the 21-minute timer on my iPhone — I always need a minute to settle in — close my eyes, and start to silently repeat my mantra. Per my TM teachings, I don’t try to maintain a steady rhythm to the sound, although it usually coincides loosely with my breathing.Read full article ...
My Recovery from Nighttime Bingeing
by Joyce Babik
Pretty much every night, for 46 years, I woke up in a semihypnotic state and ravaged for food…
Psst, You're Probably Eating Too Much. Here's What Servings Should Look Like
by Thrive Market
Here are some visual guides that can help demystify what constitutes moderate portions for nutritious foods, before the concept of serving sizes becomes even more abstract.
Step into any American restaurant, and as soon as the plate hits the table, it’s evident that our ideas about serving sizes have become distorted over the years.
The concept of serving sizes first originated in in the early 1990s when the Food and Drug Administration first introduced nutrition labels. At the time, these numbers were determined by the average amount of food that Americans ate in one sitting. Fast forward more than 20 years later, and colossal burgers and heaping bowls of linguine are the new normal—and the average American is about 20 pounds heavier.
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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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