December 3, 2018
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. Archives Here ...
January 7 & 8, 2019
Faith United Methodist Church, North Canton
Led by Bill Blank of the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center
Sponsored by East Ohio Conference Office of Congregational Vitality and Faith UMC
The workshop uses the insights of family systems theory to help church leaders and all members become more effective stewards of their congregation’s health. It is designed to equip leaders to respond to anxiety in ways that prevent destructive conflict and help the church stay focused on its unique mission and purpose.
Register at by December 31st
Video: What Concerns about the 2019 General Conference are You Hearing from Churches?
Bishop Ken Carter, episcopal leader of the Florida Conference and president of the Council of Bishops, shares some of the questions he’s been hearing about the special called General Conference taking place in February 2019. Carter spoke with UM News as part of “Seeing a Way Forward,” a video series featuring different perspectives of church leaders on the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.
Addressing Issue of Immigration: How Pastors Can help Their Congregrations Address the Issue of Immigration
by Matthew Soerens
For much of my life as a Christian, I thought about immigration primarily as a political, cultural, economic and security matter -- and rarely if ever as a biblical or missiological concern. My views on the subject mostly reflected those of my preferred cable news commentators; it never occurred to me that my faith might be relevant to the issue.
I’m not unique in that regard. [A] 2015 LifeWay Research poll found that just 12 percent identify the Bible as the primary influence on their beliefs about immigration. In another 2015 survey, white evangelical and mainline Protestant Christians were the most likely religious subgroups to regard immigrants as a threat to American values. And while most Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to admit refugees, most white Protestants do not.
But in my experience, those views are not shared by most pastors. In a 2016 LifeWay Research poll, 86 percent of Protestant senior pastors agreed that Christians should “care sacrificially for refugees and foreigners.” Though pastors may be troubled by the hostility that some of their members feel toward immigrants, many steer clear of the issue, fearing that it could splinter their congregations, pushing some members to withhold tithes and offerings or even to leave.
For those pastors -- especially in a time of declining church attendance and budgets -- the easiest path is to avoid the subject of immigration altogether. But that only perpetuates a deficit of discipleship, leaving formation on this critical issue to Fox News, MSNBC and social media. . . .
For church leaders to engage such a politically fraught issue is not easy or without risk. But if they do so strategically -- guided by Scripture, equipped with the facts and informed by relationships with immigrants -- the immigration issue can be transformative for a church and its people. It can spur congregations to grow not only in discipleship but also in numbers. The witness of a local church that extends hospitality can be a beacon for immigrants and native-born U.S. citizens alike, for anyone and everyone attracted to a community of radical, Christlike welcome.
Churches Balanced Safety and Maintaining Piety
by Jim Patterson
[P]astors and church officials [are] thinking about church security precautions in light of the acceleration of mass shootings — some of them at churches. Some think that measures like employing armed guards threaten the very atmosphere churches want to provide — an open place for worship, fellowship and prayer.
Can security be achieved without disrupting the purpose of church?
Advent after the Storms, and the Boundary between Darkness and Light
by Hope Morgan Ward
As Advent begins, we stand once again amid the destruction left by devastating storms. In the darkness, we yearn for light, a UMC bishop writes. (November 28,2017)
"God has described a circle on the face of the waters, at the boundary between light and darkness." -- Job 26:10 (NRSV)
Hurricane Matthew fell upon us, wreaking havoc, shattering order, breaking hearts, creating chaos.
That is what disasters do.
When overshadowed by disaster, we pray, we engage, we give, we work together to restore.
That is what we do. And as we do these things, we embody the petition in Psalm 80:7, the appointed lesson for the first Sunday in Advent:
"Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved."
In this season of Advent, as in so many others, we stand once again amid the destruction left by devastating storms [and forest fires and shootings in houses of worship and schools]. . . .
As we sing our way through Advent toward Christmas, we embody the artistry of God, who is with us in lament and supplication, who always comes toward us, who abides in our midst and who enlivens our spirits. In the darkness, we yearn for light.
Every lit candle in our homes and churches is a brave, artful and resistant witness to our painful realization of the persistent darkness in this world. Every lit candle pleads for the light that shatters darkness. . . Every lit candle is a sign of faith in God, who is present when and where violence erupts, people suffer and hearts ache.
God is proximate to pain, as the Rev. Dr. Michael Waters, the pastor of Joy Tabernacle AME Church in Dallas, has observed. In darkness and trouble, we pray for light and experience God in serendipitous and amazing ways. Neighbors connect, helping one another. Assistance is given and received. Gratitude swells for the simple necessities of life: light, water, food, shelter, transportation. Faith is revived as prayers swirl in a beautiful pattern of lament and hope. People embrace often and express openly love for one another. Creativity blossoms in the midst of trouble. . . .
Disasters, despite their grief, weariness, filth and chaos, are a canvas upon which God continues to paint. . . .
Advent comes. God is present in every circle on the waters where darkness meets light.
Shine Your Light
by Hoshin Group, Cindy Cornell, Principal
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness of the world. All things break. And all things can be mended. Not with time, as they say, but with intention. So go. Love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally. The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.” ~L.R. Knost
This world. This news. It just doesn’t stop.
For years, I looked away from the news, aware of the media bias to share negativity. I had enough chaos raging in my small corner of the world and I didn’t feel that I had the bandwidth to take in any more. As a student of neuroscience, I know that my brain (and yours) is wired to pay more attention to the bad than the good. Uncertainty means risk and risk means danger – like being eaten by a sabre tooth tiger. It’s an incredibly helpful design to ensure our continued existence. . . .
Not knowing doesn’t change the fact that people are starving and dying of thirst, being abused and tortured, driven from their homes, and yes, children are dying at school in their classrooms [and parishioners are murdered in their houses of worship]. . . .
There are headlines that are so scary and disturbing they bring me to my knees and I have cried and sobbed, my heart breaking at the unjust suffering and brokenness of the world. I have questioned it all, asking, “What is the point? How can what I do and what I fill my pedestrian life with matter when these horrible things are happening?” And then I get back up. . . .
Recently, after reading yet another headline that shook me to my core, one where I again personally know people quite literally on the ground and in the line of fire (children, families, and first responders), I went through my routine. Denial, shock, sob, question, get back up. What they were dealing with, as close as it felt to me, was not mine to carry. But what could I do? And then it hit me like a bolt out of the blue. Shine my light. Shine it bright.
This broken world is also full of beauty that grows with our nurturing. As a steward of humanity, I seek to make a positive difference, doing some small thing (and sometimes large things) to leave each day better than I found it. . . .
I will not let go of my vision for a kinder, more tolerant and peaceful world and I will, by my words and by my actions, help others see it, too. I know that we get what we focus on. I will continue to look for and see the unique yet sometimes still small light in everyone I meet, to fan the flames, and to encourage connection with other shining souls in each of our communities. I am confident that through our coming together, love and light will ultimately win in the perpetual struggle of good over evil.
The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you. Find your gift and shine with me. We’ve got this.
Waiting in Darkness
by Fr. Richard Rohr
"Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky." —Psalm 85:10–11
The darkness will never totally go away. I’ve worked long enough in ministry to know that darkness isn’t going to disappear, but that, as John’s Gospel says, “the light shines on inside of the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it” (1:5). Such is the Christian form of yin-yang, our own belief in paradox and mystery.
We must all hope and work to eliminate darkness, especially in many of the great social issues of our time. We wish world hunger could be eliminated. We wish we could stop wasting the earth’s resources on armaments. We wish we could stop killing people from womb to tomb. But at a certain point, we have to surrender to the fact that the darkness has always been here, and the only real question is how to receive the light and spread the light. That is not capitulation any more than the cross was capitulation. It is real transformation into the absolutely unique character and program of the risen Christ.
What we need to do is recognize what is, in fact, darkness and then learn how to live in creative and courageous relationship to it. In other words, don’t name darkness light. Don’t name darkness good, which is the seduction that has happened to many of our people on both left and right. They have not been taught wisdom or discernment for the most part. The most common way to release our inner tension is to cease calling darkness darkness and to pretend it is passable light. Another way to release your inner tension is to stand angrily, obsessively against it, but then you become a mirror image of it. Everyone can usually see this but you!
Our Christian wisdom is to name the darkness as darkness, and the Light as light, and to learn how to live and work in the Light so that the darkness does not overcome us. If we have a pie-in-the-sky, everything-is-beautiful attitude, we are in fact going to be trapped by the darkness because we are not seeing clearly enough to separate the wheat from the chaff (the more common “liberal” temptation).
Conversely, if we can only see the darkness and forget the more foundational Light, we will be destroyed by our own negativity and fanaticism, or we will naively think we are apart from the darkness (the more common “conservative” temptations). Instead, we must wait and work with hope inside of the darkness—while never doubting the light that God always is—and that we are too (Mt 5:14). That is the narrow birth canal of God into the world—through the darkness and into an ever greater Light.
In what parts of your life are you trying to push away darkness instead of living with it as a teacher and transformer?
From Preparing for Christmas With Richard Rohr: Daily Meditations for Advent, by Father Richard Rohr (St. Anthony Messenger Press Books, 2008)
Focus of the Year: “Being Peace”
Considering the conflict and lack of civility in our world and communities, our churches and families, and within ourselves, the focus for the year is: “Being Peace.” Following Jesus’ practice of going into a quiet place to spend time alone with Abba, we will seek to find our center and listen for what God is calling us to, so that we may emerge as agents of transformation in the world.
Ashland—2nd Wednesdays, 1:00 - 2:30 pm
Canton—3rd Thursdays, 1:30 - 3:00 pm
Solon—2nd Thursday, 1:00 - 2:30 pm
Vermilion—3rd Friday, 11:00 am -12:30 pm
Please indicate your interest, including location preference, by email: email@example.com, or call the Office of Pastoral Care: 330-456-0486.
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
Joyce Gordon - firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Hollingsworth - email@example.com
Liz Nau – firstname.lastname@example.org
Hazel Partington – email@example.com
Jennifer Olin-Hitt – firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Ringler - email@example.com
Sharon Seyfarth Garner – firstname.lastname@example.org
Carol Topping - email@example.com
Laura Tradowsky -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Laurie Tucker - email@example.com
Holiday Depression, Anxiety, and Stress
by Dr. Melissa Conrad Stoppler
Those suffering from any type of holiday depression or stress may benefit from increased social support during this time of year. For uncomplicated holiday blues, improvement may be found by finding ways to reduce the stresses associated with the holiday, either by limiting commitments and outside activities, making arrangements to share family responsibilities such as gift shopping and meal preparation, agreeing upon financial limits for purchases, or taking extra time to rest and rejuvenate.
If you have any questions or issues you would like for us to address or would like to get email alerts when new resources have been posted please contact Howard Humphress at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our quick contact form.
Or contact our office at email@example.com or call 330-456-0486.
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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