Dear Partners in Ministry,
♦ "SENDING OUT" SUNDAY It was a short Sunday service.....in the sanctuary. After about a half hour of praying and singing, the congregations of the Washburn and Mapleton UM Churches in Maine headed for the streets. Some folks went to the common room at senior housing where the singing continued and prayers were shared. Some took prayer shawls to shut-ins. Some took "care packages" to low income housing...laundry soap, health and beauty aids...pocket crosses, prayer books, bookmarks. Some of the church members stayed at the churches and prayed for those who had gone out. In the process they built relationships of caring with elderly folk and mothers with new babies. They were able to supply a man, who was sleeping in his motorized wheelchair, with a recliner to sleep in. (He can't lie down.) "A life was literally saved, said the pastor, Dot Matson. One of the mothers has started bringing her children to Sunday School.
On Monday, the church was still "sending out"......(church is not just about Sunday, you know). They took a big box of school supplies to the school and the teachers were thrilled. The school has now asked if the church can supply Kleenex....there's nothing worse than a second grader with the sniffles all day....so they've started a Kleenex ministry! Find a need and fill it....in the name of Jesus.
One of the parishioners who "went out" shared how excited people are..."word is around town"...people are noticing the impact our churches are having on these communities....sharing the love of Christ....loving their neighbors...welcoming people in.
DON'T WAIT FOR PEOPLE TO COME TO CHURCH......TAKE THE CHURCH OUT TO PEOPLE!
♦ A GRANDMA'S PRAYERS Recently I was talking to a wonderful grandmother who said that she was keeping some of her grandchildren at her house for several nights. As they went to bed she said to the kids, "Let's have a prayer time and each of us thank God for one good thing that has happened today." For the children this was a new thing. They wanted to know what prayer is. It also led to conversation about who God is. The children were fascinated and eagerly joined in a prayer time each night.
Grandparents, you can be "grandpartners" in ministry by gently sharing your faith and faith practices with your grandchildren when they visit you. These are important "seeds planted."
♦ THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN continues to claim a great toll in the death of our service personnel, Afghans, and others. Our hearts and prayers go out to all who have lost loved ones. Let us all pray and work for peace. Some of our churches send care packages to those they know from the congregation or community who are deployed throughout the world. Our General Commission on United Methodist Men has special Bibles and devotional literature that can be sent (this is a tradition dating back to World War I). Pray for our United Methodist Chaplains, including some from our Conference, who serve around the world.
We also have missionaries in many of the "hot spots," including Afghanistan, "waging peace." Daniel Terry, a United Methodist missionary supported by our Mission Shares, who had served in Afghanistan for thirty years, was among the eight aid workers killed by the Taliban August 5 in a remote northeast section of the country. He was a layman, highly skilled in the logistics of relief work, a master mechanic, and language interpreter. Next week at our General Board of Global Ministries meeting we will honor his memory. It is a reminder that Christians are still risking their lives for Christ in many parts of the world. The Terry family (Dan and his wife have three daughters) had been there through the Soviet invasion, the harsh rule of the Taliban and the recent years of violence. Pray for our missionaries everywhere...and as they sacrifice much, sacrifice to support them.
♦ GO TO CHURCH...GET A JOB That was one of the headlines on the front of the October "AARP Bulletin." (Don't tell anyone I get things from the AARP). The article tells of churches, including two United Methodist ones, that have started ministries reaching out to the unemployed. Steve Brandt, 52, was laid off in July, 2009. A friend invited him to the weekly CareerCare support group at a local United Methodist Church. He says, "There's a grieving process after a layoff that leaves you lost and confused." In the support group "You learn you're not alone and that's a huge consolation." Coaching, support meetings, scriptural studies, prayer, and networking provided hope during his job search. Faith "sustained me during the layoff." He got a job in the fall. The AARP Bulletin even carries a picture of people holding hands in a prayer circle. The leader of one of these ministries says, "Anyone who thinks they don't need God's help in this job market is fooling themselves."
What is your church doing to help the unemployed in your area? Form a support group open to the community....share your faith....have prayer time....network about job openings...check in with Crossroads Career Network for resources that assist churches with career ministries. Large to small membership churches can do this. There is a great need out there!
♦ DID YOU KNOW?
- Our Camp Aldersgate had a Hispanic Camp week this summer with 300 in attendance!
- Remember the Orphans in our world with our Conference "Orphaned Awareness Week (and Sunday), Nov. 7-14.
- Fifty-seven of us will be traveling to the Holy Land from October 18-27 for study, inspiration, and fellowship with Palestinians and Israelis.....pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
- I will begin to visit each church or charge in Vermont this month as I did all the other churches in the New England Conference when I first came. Let us all thank God for the "new New England Conference."
♦ METHODIST BLUES Someone gave me a copy of "The Methodist Blues" that Garrison Keeler sang last Saturday on his radio program, A Prairie Home Companion. One verse goes:
"The same ten people always volunteer,
Half of them old, the others just weird,
How ever do we manage to persist,
We do it by being Methodist
I got the Methodist blues."
After they read one of my Partners in Ministry, some people probably think I am both "old and weird," but somehow God "manages to persist" in using the likes of us in God's transforming work here in New England....and around the world. I'm glad to be Partners in Ministry with you as Methodists....no "blues" here!
Grace and Peace,