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Ecumenical Lenten Services Schedule

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Faith Youth

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Stewardship 2018 – from Pastor Jim

A Pastors Letter on Stewardship

Dear Folks,

I believe the time when we complete our pledge or commitment card this presents each of us with an important opportunity in our ongoing journey as members of the body of Christ. The Finance folks would like a letter from me so here is the good word on finances from my point of view.
You have already heard some things about the mission work that the congregation does for the year in ministry. I want to add another dimension from my particular position as your Pastor who has served on many church council boards including Finance as a laity person in years past which amounts to over 30+ years of Lay Service in various church administrations.

I believe in God. I know God as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. In spite of my faults I am grateful to God for who I am and for what I have been given. My life and all that sustains it is a gift from God and a reflection of God’s love.
There are, of course, difficult times and bad moments in all of our lives which are beyond anyone’s control. But I believe God is always present, God’s grace prevails, and light overcomes the darkness.
When I think about my own personal stewardship over the years and all that God has entrusted to my care, the only word that seems to fit is “gratitude.”
The best kind of steward I know how to be is one who acts out of thanks to God.
STEWARDSHIP then becomes an attitude for one’s self.
Recently, Cheryl and I took a step of faith and moved from 10% to 15% of our household income in our giving to the Church’s we both serve. The United Methodist Church has witnessed to the tithe (10%) as the minimum standard of Christian giving. We are committed to working toward and above that tithe until we reach or exceed it. This also can be done in many ways of giving and not just the weekly collection, but that also is important to the finances of our church.
We encourage you to take a similar step of faith. Cheryl even took a position of ¾ time so that her church could make budget for 3-5 years and be in the black as to bottom line. Yet we both agree that the Lord God has blessed us so we need to be faithful and be giving back.
Please think about these things, and when the time comes for you to make your commitment, your pledge will reflect your faith. Thanks for sharing these moments with me and allowing me to share some thoughts with you that are so important to me.
Faithfully,
James E. Brown L.L.Pastor

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Ho-Ho-Hosted Santa Claus!

Faith hosts Santa and Mrs. Claus

34 families including their pets had their holiday photos taken with the merry man on Saturday, Nov. 18th.

Attendees were treated to cookies with Mrs. Claus and also made a holiday ornament for their tree with guidance of our youth helpers, Riley, Madi, and Cori.

Fresh Christmas wreaths filled the room with the smell of pine while Christmas music played.

Thank you to all who helped with this event and those who supported it by attending.

All profits will be directed to community missions projects.

 

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Bishop’s Message

UNY Notes
09 22 16
From the Desk of Bishop Mark J. Webb,

Prayers for Charlotte
Once again, pain and anger are leading to violent protests and division in our nation. This time it is happening in Charlotte, North Carolina. As we strive to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ and proclaimers of the Gospel, let us engage one another and invite others to experience and embrace healthy ways of confronting racism, injustices and broken systems. May God use us to show the way in which people live peacefully with one another, celebrating the value of each life. Let us be agents of change by offering the light of Jesus Christ that will erase the darkness. Let us get loud by speaking of and sharing God’s goodness in all ways. May we be loud in our prayers, our actions and our witness to Jesus Christ as the only lasting hope for brokenness and division.

I invite you to pray with me for all impacted by these recent events.

Dear God, let the pain that all people are feeling turn toward hope. Let the families of those directly involved find comfort and peace. Let the anger turn to dialogue and the violence change into understanding and constructive solutions.

Let us find wisdom and learn how to work on the deep-rooted issues that bring about such pain in ways that will draw us and others more deeply into your amazing love and into the fullness of life in you.
We pray in the powerful name of Jesus.
Amen!

~ Bishop Mark J. Webb

 

 

UNY Notes
July 13, 2016

Statement on recent acts of violence opens the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference
By The Northeastern College of Bishops of the United Methodist Church

 As we gather for this Jurisdictional Conference many persons have been confronted and consumed with the overwhelming reports of shootings and violence. Life taken! Trust broken! Anger and fear growing.

Frustration and despair looming. We believe that God’s heart breaks as our hearts break with these acts of violence – fed and complicated by fear, prejudice, racism, and privilege. We pray for each family and each community affected by profound loss and grief. We pray for the ripple effect of these acts of violence that strip away certainty of safety, sanctuary, value, and trust.

The death of young black males in encounters with white law enforcement officers calls for response. The loss of life within our Hispanic/Latino community and among our brothers and sisters identifying with the LGBTQ community in Orlando, calls for response. The death of police officers protecting the rights of persons to peaceably protest, points to a destructive cycle of violence and retribution, and calls for response.

We, the College of Bishops of the Northeastern Jurisdiction stand together to respond, and our response is not just for the moment. Our response is a commitment to acknowledge our participation in the sin of institutional racism and to have ongoing conversations within the College about racism, privilege, and oppression.

Our response is to give leadership and develop plans to continue these conversations within and among the Jurisdiction and with the leadership of the annual conferences to which we are assigned. The purpose of these dialogues will be talk about our own racism and prejudices, to heal the wounds that have been caused by racism, privilege, and oppression, to train our leadership and churches in intercultural competency; and lead them to celebrate diversity. We will lead and offer training for leaders in the craft of building bridges across cultures and ethnicity so that all those whom we profess to acknowledge as created in the image of God and persons of sacred worth, will truly feel welcome and find the safety, sanctuary, value and trust these recent and ongoing acts of violence have robbed from them. We in the college will hold one another accountable for this action, reporting to our Conferences at their annual sessions and providing a report to the 2020 Jurisdictional conference. At the Jurisdictional level we will partner with both the Multi-ethnic center and the Vision Table in our on-going response.

Together, we claim the need to listen more deeply and to seek greater understanding for those who cry out for justice. We commit ourselves to seeking justice, supporting faithful law enforcement officers, and empowering the movement of people toward more healthy community engagement within the areas we serve.
Because we believe that all persons are created in God’s image, from our United Methodist faith perspective, all people matter, all are valuable. In these particularly violent and life taking incidents and times, however, we need to intentionally lift up that black lives really do matter and the lives of all persons of color really do matter. The lives of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters really do matter. The NEJ College of Bishops believes that in the midst of the chaos, fear, and violence, there is a rich opportunity for the church to be the church.

We seek to be the leaders of this church. We seek justice, repentance and reconciliation. We seek not just to love peace, but to be peacemakers. God’s people need us to be bearers of peace.
At the beginning of this Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference, we ask you to join us. Join us as we make this response not just for the moment, but effecting the future. Our hope is that, together, Bishops, clergy, and laity, we might be quilted together more strongly in our work of allowing God to transform us, so that we might go out with God’s great transforming love – to bring healing, hope, and peace to the world.

As a beginning, we would ask that you think and reflect with us on these questions? How will you be a peacemaker in the midst of the storms of violence and destruction? How can you be a peacemaker and at the same time work for justice? What can you do to help develop a sense of well-being and harmony in your life, in the lives of neighbors, strangers, friends, and communities? What social problems move you to want to make a difference by building bridges, making connections, valuing people?

Blessed are the peacemakers! Blessed are the peacemakers! Blessed are the peacemakers! In the midst of all the storms encountered and perpetuated in this life, please think on these things! This work begins with each one of us – first individually and then collectively. We your bishops, will not only be thinking on these things, but are moving in response. We seek your prayers and support as we take this action.”

“But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the Head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15 -16)

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Pastor’s Desk

Faith

Whether one is “religious” or not, everyone is a person of faith. If that sounds like a contradiction, the fact is that each one of us has faith, because faith is defined as having belief and trust in someone or something. It might be something intangible, but it is the trust we put into whatever motivates, inspires and gives us energy and vision.
Believing gives us meaning and a sense of our own identity. For Christians, it is faith in a loving, compassionate Creator God shown to us in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ, born into our world and still present in the context of our own personal experience and religious tradition. Some others may put their faith in the satisfaction gained from such things as success, or relationships or power.
Many people say that they are not “religious” but they are “spiritual”, and this is recognition that life is more than just what we see. We are attracted to goodness and altruism. In our city of Auckland we all delight in the beauty of art and nature, and experience wonder and awe when we see deeds of great sacrifice and generosity and creativity.
These express that beyond our rational thinking there is something great at work, something visionary that surpasses the reach of our human horizons.
Sometimes those who are spiritual but not religious can have good reason to be suspicious of organized religion. When Christians and people of other faiths fail to live up to our ideals of love and forgiveness we are not being true to what we proclaim. We may observe the letter, but not the spirit of what our faith is all about.
Jesus warned against this when he spoke of the hypocrisy of the Pharisees whom he described as “whited sepulchers” – meaning looking good on the outside yet corrupt within.
For Christian believers and the church as a whole, there is always room to grow as we reach towards the goodness and holiness of God.
One of the big questions in today’s world is whether there is such a thing as truth, or whether everything is a matter of opinion. It is a profound question; part of the universal human search for truth that has engaged whole cultures, philosophies and sciences since the beginning of human history.
A glance at ancient history shows clearly how cultures in different parts of the world have sought answers to the fundamental questions, “Who am I? Where have I come from? Where am I going? Why is there evil? What is there after this life?” There was a common recognition that beyond human knowledge and understanding there is something transcendent – a reality beyond their limited vision and experience.
The answers to these questions decided the direction which people sought to give to their lives. They told their own creation stories about the origins and destiny of life, and they created gods to worship and appease that they believed represented the random forces of nature upon which their whole existence and survival depended. In the search for meaning beyond all these different understandings, there was a body of knowledge which may be judged the commonality or spiritual heritage of humanity.
In today’s world, with all the amazing insights gained and uncovered by the sciences we, more than in any other age or culture, have discovered truths about what once was speculation.
We apply rationality to what was superstition and mystery. Yet the search for meaning and purpose in life still lives on in the human heart.
This brings us to the matter of faith and reason, which comes especially into focus at Christmas when we celebrate the historical fact and the mystery of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. His birth, gospel teaching of grace and truth, and compassionate ministry, changed the course of human history forever.
Some with no religious faith may feel that there is an irreconcilable tension between faith and reason.
From its very beginnings two thousand years ago in the person of Jesus Christ, Christianity was not an exclusive sect.
Before his birth, people in that part of the world lived by the great theological or philosophical traditions of the Greek and Roman civilizations and the revelations given by God to the Jewish people.
The rise of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus was very public and its first adherents were Jews, Romans and Greeks. It was open to all and offered a rational account of God and of the creation and destiny of humanity which came to fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.
What is the relationship between divinely-inspired faith and human reason?
One contemporary philosopher wrote that without reason, faith tends towards uninformed feeling, emotion and intuition. Reason without faith tends towards self-interest, personal and transient satisfactions and the absence of altruism.
We affirm the intellectual credibility of the Christian faith, and remind ourselves and others that human intelligence will never be fully satisfied except by God. The centuries-long procession of Christian thinkers, humanitarians, artists and scientists for whom faith and reason were central to their work is unequalled and unparalleled in its contribution to our civilization.
Naturally there have been problems along the way, as we are all flawed human beings prone to sin and greed. This is all the more reason to believe that co-operation and dialogue is essential nowadays, with many pressing issues facing humanity – ecology, peace and the co-existence of different peoples and cultures.
It is vital that there is a clear and honest collaboration between Christians and followers of other religions and those who, while not sharing a religious belief, have a heart for the renewal of humanity.
We read in the gospels that Mary responded with great joy to the news that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus.
So the words in the New Testament announcing the birth of Jesus are about joy.
This was the message first preached in New Zealand on Christmas Day nearly 200 years ago.
This is the true meaning of Christmas: God is willing to be found by us in our searching – God is with us and became like us in the person of the child who was Jesus, who came to redeem all of humanity.
In those places where people are dominated by fear and uncertainty the words, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47) truly give us hope.
Joy and peace are the real gifts of Christmas, not expensive presents.
We can communicate this joy simply: with a smile, a kind gesture, with hospitality, reconciliation and forgiveness of past wrongs. The joy we give will certainly come back to us.
I pray that the presence of the liberating joy and peace of God expressed in the birth of Jesus Christ will shine forth in all our lives and in our Nation this season. ~ Pastor Jim Brown

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