Archive for August, 2012

 

Paul Chilcote

Paul Chilcote

Why have United Methodists been so passionate about mission? What is it that propels them to offer Christ in holistic ways? And yet, what are the tensions the United Methodist Church currently faces in becoming a global church and in facing new challenges in North America?

Join Paul Chilcote, Professor of Wesley Studies and Mission at Ashland Theological Seminary and a member of the Indiana Conference, as he leads this engaging seminar on Mission in the Wesleyan Tradition and the transitions the church will need to navigate in the years ahead.

 

Mission in the Wesleyan Tradition: Tensions & Transitions

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

9am ~ 3pm

$45.00 (lunch included)

North United Methodist Church ~ 3808 N. Meridian St. ~ Indianapolis, IN 46208

This seminar is organized by the Wesleyan Connexion Project of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. It’s a great opportunity for all clergy and laity interested in mission.
Click here to register

 

 

Occasionally things happen in life that call us to pause. If we heed that call and pay attention, we often realize that we’ve been privy to something really special. That kind of thing has happened to me over the last several weeks.

Owl

Murdock the owl

We live in an ordinary suburban setting in West Lafayette, Indiana – nice front yard with neighbors a little over a driveway width away on either side. When we arrived in 1993 our back yard was lovely but our neighbors were in plain sight – no privacy whatsoever. In the years since, we’ve planted wisteria vines and built a pergola and our back yard turned into what our children have come to call the secret garden.

During good weather, we eat many of our meals under the pergola surrounded by wisteria and trumpet vines. A few weeks ago, as we were eating with friends we noticed a bird nestled in the wisteria – not the kind of bird we were used to seeing. It was a young screech-owl, about 12 inches tall, who had apparently been watching us for some time. We watched each other that night, and the next, soon naming him Murdock (after my grandfather who would also watch quietly, occasionally dropping some gem of wisdom or wit) and regularly checking for his whereabouts in the branches of the wisteria. Until one day he was gone.

That was a sad day.

owlet

Oscar the Owlet

But then another evening rolled around and John and I were out enjoying dinner in the shade of the pergola. John looked up and thought he saw Murdock! But no, it wasn’t him. It was a small owlet, so new he (she?) still had his fuzzy just-hatched feathers – and he had been watching us. So we named him Oscar (I’m not sure why) and began watching, checking every day to see where he might be nestled. Oscar lost his fuzzy feathers and fresh new, grown-up feathers took their place. He watched us and we watched him. And then Oscar was gone too. Another sad day.

But that’s when I realized that I had been privy to something special – nothing miraculous mind you, but definitely special.

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

An ordinary part of nature – owls – opened my eyes once again to the amazing glory of God’s creation. And it reminded me not to take things for granted, but to pay attention. So I am. Deliberately. Because I don’t want to miss meeting those who share my garden.

 

Then God said, “Let the waters swarm with fish and other life. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that scurries and swarms in the water, and every sort of bird—each producing offspring of the same kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply. Let the fish fill the seas, and let the birds multiply on the earth.”

…Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! 

Genesis 1.20-22, 31

 

MLM-splash-3

Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

 

Kim Reisman

Kim Reisman

What’s your next step?

It’s a good question – in this case as it relates to the United Methodist Church – what’s our next step? General Conference is a (sort of) distant memory; our regional Jurisdictional Conferences have come and gone. Various groups and people have publically staked out their claims about keeping their covenants or breaking them. So what’s next?

Jason Vickers

Jason Vickers

Now that my PhD work is officially over I’ve begun trying to catch up on my reading. Jason Vickers’ book, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal was a timely read in the aftermath of all the church politics that have unfolded thus far in 2012. The book is full of important insights that are particularly relevant to the current state of affairs in the UMC. I hope to explore some of those insights over the next several posts.

The first idea I want to highlight comes at the very end of the book – literally the next to last page. Jason writes:

…Many liberals and evangelicals are blinded to the shifts taking place around them precisely because they cannot take their eyes off one another long enough to take notice. It is as though evangelical and liberal Protestants are locked in a death embrace in which both sides are equally obsessed with killing one another. All the while, we keep buried in our basements the solid food for which a spiritually hungry generation is searching far and wide.*

I’m not sure I’ve read a better description of General Conference 2012. But more than that – Jason is spot on in his insight when it comes to the overall UMC. That’s what troubles me. How can we really understand the nature of the church, of what God has called us to be and do in the world, if we are so distracted?

Many folks these days talk about reviving the ‘movement’ nature of Methodism as a way of renewing the UMC. I find that somewhat ironic since in its institutionalism, the UM of today resembles the Church of England of John Wesley’s day. Being or behaving like a movement seems unlikely. A better option might be Wesley’s own approach of seeking ‘the lost sheep of United Methodism.’**

For that to happen though, we’ve got to take our eyes off each other long enough to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, on whom the very life of the church depends.

 

*Jason Vickers, Minding the Good Ground: A Theology for Church Renewal (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2011), 106

**In Reasons Against a Separation from the Church of England, Wesley described his work as being for ‘the lost sheep of the Church of England.’

The View from Here

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012 | By Bryan Collier
Filed in: Bryan Collier, The View from Here

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The View From Here: Working For God or Walking With Him?

 

Then the Lord gave this message to Solomon: Concerning this Temple you are building.  If you keep all my decrees and regulations and obey all my commands, I will fulfill through you the promise I made to your father, David.  I will live among the Israelites and will never abandon my people Israel. (1 Kings 6:11-13)

 

These three verses come right in the middle of the chapter that is entitled Solomon Builds the Temple.  The first half of the chapter leading up to these verses is replete with details about how high and wide and long the Temple is.  Included in the detail is the number of rooms and a descriptive floor plan.  The back half of chapter 6, the verses that follow 11-13, detail the Temple’s interior and inner sanctuary.

 

You can imagine Solomon, having surveyed the preparations his father David had made and the finishing preparations he had made wanted to get to work—and he did.  But in the middle of all that work, God interrupts—“Concerning this Temple you are building.” (11).  God has something to say to Solomon.  We might expect, and maybe Solomon did as well, that God had an opinion about the Temple.  Maybe God wanted to change something or remind Solomon of something or share His opinion about the Temple itself.  Instead, God re-orients Solomon by giving him a message about the role of the Temple.  “Concerning this Temple you are building…” God begins and then adds, “Solomon, you need to know that the basis for My presence is not a place, but obedience and faithfulness.”  You might think that because you build me a house I will live there (God seems to be saying), but the basis of my presence is not a place or what you are doing for me, but our relationship.

 

How many times leaders and especially ministers confuse working for God with walking with God.  The call and demands of ministry can distract us from the very thing that gives us the passion and power for the ministry we are called too—a vibrant ongoing relationship with God himself.  In the service of the Temple, its building and care we can be distracted from the real work of ministry—leading people to intimacy with Christ out of our own intimacy with him.

 

Some of the maladies of our denomination can be directly attributed to this distraction.  But this sickness has infected many of our local churches as well.  This is primarily because our leaders and pastors have forgotten that working for God is not the same as walking with him.

 

I never will forget when one of my mentors confessed that he realized that in hindsight a number of his early years of ministry were spent working for God but not walking with him.  “The problem with that arrangement”, said my mentor, “is that God doesn’t have any employees in His Kingdom, only sons and daughters.”

 

The godly leader pursues a relationship with God out of which the work of God through their life becomes fruitful.  In obedience and faithfulness God finds a son or a daughter through whom His purposes can be accomplished in the world.  How wonderful for the son or daughter who lives in this truth and doesn’t have to be interrupted by God to be reminded.  It is equally wonderful for the people they lead.

Bryan Collier 

 

Wesley statueWhy have United Methodists been so passionate about mission? What is it that propels them to offer Christ in holistic ways? And yet, what are the tensions the United Methodist Church currently faces in becoming a global church and in facing new challenges in North America?

Join Paul Chilcote, Professor of Wesley Studies and Mission at Ashland Theological Seminary and a member of the Indiana Conference, as he leads this engaging seminar on Mission in the Wesleyan Tradition and the transitions the church will need to navigate in the years ahead.

Mission in the Wesleyan Tradition: Tensions & Transitions

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

9am ~ 3pm

$45.00 (lunch included)

North United Methodist Church ~ 3808 N. Meridian St. ~ Indianapolis, IN 46208

This seminar is organized by the Wesleyan Connexion Project of the Indiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. It’s a great opportunity for all clergy and laity interested in mission.
Click here to register

 

Peace

Peace Camp Uganda

 

Aubrey and Patrick Woodson are two young Peace Corps volunteers I am blessed to call friends. They serve in Uganda and recently Aubrey worked with youth from the Greater North in a weeklong Peace Camp. She posted this on her blog:

We have been fortunate to grow up in an environment where people can argue about politics, the validity of eating at Chik-fil-A, Kony 2012…etc. None of them matter without peace. I know my campers learned a lot this week at Peace Camp but I also learned a lot from them about the power of forgiveness. It was truly inspirational to see the resilience of the youth, who have been through so much, and their willingness to learn about living in peace with themselves and with one another.

She went on to post a poem written by one of the youth:

Peace Peace Peace

Who are you?

Where do you stay?

Where were you born?

Who has ever seen you?

Peaceful Living UgandaSome people say that

you are love and joy.

Others say that you are happiness.

Others describe you as unity and respect.

To those who have read extensively

and widely, they think of you as a situation

or a period of time where there is

no war in a country. Yet others think of you

as a state of living in friendship with somebody.

How special are you?

You are too unique.

You are needed in our world now.

People are suffering and crying because you are not there.

Armies are fighting because you are not there.

Police are deployed where you are absent.

In the Greater North, many people were killed,

burnt, hammered and hung because you were absent.

Our children of this generation don’t know you.

Many people have lost their lives in the process of searching for you.

Many are still in the bush looking for you.

Many weapons were made to bring you back.

Married men and women have separated because you are nowhere to be seen.

Nobody can be comfortable without you.

Aubrey Woodson

Aubrey Woodson – Peace Camp 2012

It seems love is your father.

Happiness is your mother.

Joy, unity, and respect are you relatives.

Confusion and fighting are your greatest enemies.

Killing can chase you out of a country.

We cry, pray, and request

you humbly to stay in the

Greater North of our country

forever and ever.

-Omodo Boniface

 

Yes. Stay…but please, not only in the Greater North…

 

…If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.                                                  2 Chronicles 7.14

 

MLM-splash-3

Making Life Matter

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

 

 

The View from Here

Thursday, August 16th, 2012 | By Mike Coyner
Filed in: Michael Coyner, The View from Here

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“Hospitality and the Hospital” – August 15, 2012

Unfortunately we just had the opportunity to test out the hospitality
of a hospital while we were on vacation.  Marsha and I have been on a
short trip, and she became ill – which prompted a trip to the ER and
eventually a surgical procedure or her.  It could have been a terrible
experience going to a hospital in a town and state where we had never
traveled.  We were uncertain even of the location of the hospital, and
we were quite uncertain what level of care we could find.

To our relief, the hospital was clean, the staff was courteous, the
medical care was excellent, and everyone we encountered in the
hospital was so very hospitable.  Not only did my wife receive the
care she needed, but she received that care in an environment of
hospitality which helped move her toward wellness.

As I reflected on that experience in the “strange” hospital in the
“strange” city, I wondered how many congregations would measure up to
their standard.  Let me list a few of the ingredients of the
hospitality of that hospital to allow you to compare to your
congregation:

1.  Excellent signage so I could find the ER entrance even in the dark of night
2.  Free and plentiful parking
3.  A person greeting us as soon as we entered – who took us to the
right place to start the admission process (she did not just point and
tell us where to go)
4.  An admissions personnel who was an RN and really knew how to ask
the appropriate questions to determine the level of medical care
needed
5.  Prompt attention from a nurse and then a physician (we waited less
than 10 minutes)
6.  Many expressions of care, asking about Marsha’s level of pain,
offering words of comfort, and many comments about “I am so sorry that
has happened during your vacation”
7.  No one – NOT ONE PERSON – looked or acted strangely toward us
since we were from another state and not “local” persons
8.  The volunteer staff in the surgical waiting room gave me an
electronic caller (like you get in some restaurants when you wait to
be seated) that would locate me anywhere in the hospital when they
needed to alert me how Marsha was doing.  Those same volunteer staff
took the time to show me to the next location where I needed to wait
for Marsha in recovery.  Just like the greeter listed in #3 above,
they did not point and tell me where to go, they took me since I was
obviously new and did not know my way around
9.  The doctor gave me his business card and wrote his cell phone
number on the back, saying. “I know you are new to this area, so if
anything goes wrong or if you have any further concerns or questions,
just call me – even if it is 2 AM”
10.  The volunteer who wheeled Marsha out to my car took the time to
offer suggestions for places we could visit during the remainder of
our vacation, since our plans for bike-riding were changed by her
medical situation.

I could name others, but you get the point.  Hospitality means caring
enough to put oneself into another “shoes” and to try to provide for
their needs even before being asked.  Hospitality is really about the
Golden Rule of Jesus:  doing for others what we would want done for
us.

I pray that every congregation can offer as much hospitality as we
received at the hospital while traveling.

Mike Coyner

Bishop Michael Coyner

 

MLM-splash-3

Making Life Matter

 

Making Life Matter is a weekly 30 minute Christian inspirational and teaching program hosted by Maxie Dunnam and Shane Stanford. Next Step partners with Kingdom Catalysts to bring you MLM, which tackles issues of faith and life in order to deepen discipleship and encourage strong connections between following Jesus and living in today’s world. Mark your calendars to visit Next Step and listen regularly. Click below to hear today’s program.

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