A Word from the Pastor
"We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God's grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons."
The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, paragraph 161g
If ever there were a sentence that seems out of place in an otherwise wonderful statement of the church's understanding of human beings and of human sexuality it is this sentence found in the middle of paragraph 161g in the Book of Discipline. We are all individuals of sacred worth. We all need the ministry of the church. We are all recipients of God's grace. We all deserve to be welcomed by the church and included in its ministry. The statement "the United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching" stands out as a big "but" that seems to nullify all of the other statements. If only we could have left it that all people are of sacred worth, with no buts, with no one excluded.
Beginning on Saturday, February 23rd the special session of General Conference will once again grapple with how we as a church can truly treat everyone as individuals of sacred worth. While I don't expect that everyone will be on the same page regarding homosexuality it is my hope and prayer that we will agree to stop discriminating against our gay members and truly welcome them as people of sacred worth, no buts! My prayer is that love will prevail in all of the discussions and that we will truly love our neighbor as ourselves, including our homosexual neighbors.
Should you like to know more or follow the proceedings in real time please check out the following websites: http://www.umc.org/topics/general-conference-2019-special-session and www.umc.org/live
Please join me in praying for all of the delegates, for the movement of the Holy Spirit, and for the future of the United Methodist Church that we might somehow be both a just and a united church. I would encourage you to mark your calendar now for Monday, March 18th at 7:00pm when we will host a District Conversation led by our District Superintendent, Jim McPhee, at which time we will be able to get a better idea as to what the decisions made at this special session of General Conference will mean for our Conference and our church.
2/24 The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany
Scripture: Psalm 37:1-11; Luke 6:27-38
Theme: Taking the High Road- How do we respond to those who mistreat us? Do we respond in kind? Jesus shows us a better way in his "sermon on the plain".
OPPORTUNITY OF THE WEEK
At our most recent Church Council meeting we talked about how we might better highlight some of the opportunities for service that are available through the church. A suggestion was made that maybe we could have an "opportunity of the week". This will now be a new feature in the weekly e-mail blast so look for these wonderful opportunities and see if there is something that sounds inviting to you.
This week's opportunity involves volunteering to assist with the Bean Supper that will take place on Saturday, March 2nd from 4:30-6:30pm. Did you know that you can volunteer on Friday morning to help with preparation as well as on Saturday evening to serve food, wait on tables, or even wash dishes? Help is always needed so why not give Joyce Tagliaferro a call and let her know that you don't want to miss out on this wonderful opportunity. Joyce can be reached at 889-5707.
F Troop Pot Luck and Movie Night
Saturday, February, 23 at 6:00 PM Church Vestry
Please join the F Troop, our over 40 fellowship group, for a pot luck supper and a movie. There will be cherry pie to celebrate Washington's Birthday, and because we like pie! We will eat supper and then enjoy a movie, so feel free to bring some popcorn as well! A sign-up sheet will be posted on the bulletin board beneath the clock in the vestry to let us know what you would like to bring. We hope to see you there!
Book Sale - Saturday, March 16, from 9:00 AM till 2:00 PM
Please bring your donations to the church on Sunday mornings and leave them on the steps near the Education office, clearly labeled for the book sale. If you cannot bring them on Sunday morning, please speak to Mavis Pyle or Bonnie Williams about when you can drop them off. No encyclopedias, textbooks or National Geographics, please! And if you are someone who loves to underline, highlight, and notate in the margins of your books, but no longer want them, please discard or recycle them-others do not really want to know your thoughts and what was important to you may not be important to them and is a real distraction from enjoyment of the book. Thank you.
QUILT OF VALOR PRESENTATION
Back on Veteran's Day, Donna Swanson, who is the NH Coordinator of the Quilts of Valor program presented quilts to both Redding Thompson and Steve Rogers. She had hoped to present a third quilt to Jim Hinkle on that day as well but Jim was in the nursing home at that time. Thankfully, on Christmas Eve, Jim finally received his "quilt of valor" recognizing his year's of service to our country in the United States Navy. Thankfully Jim is now back home and was even in church recently for which we are grateful.
Souper Bowl of Caring: You filled those soup pots with over $373 for our food pantry. Thanks for the youth who encouraged you to fill them and to all of those who did. Thanks to our soup cooks and those who bought soup, another $185 was raised for our food pantry at the Nashua Soup Kitchen. Souper! Often a purchase of $50 at the food bank will fill three cars with 1500 pounds of food!
Food Pantry: Thanks to those who pick up, bag and distribute the food, recycle boxes, and staff the computer, and for your donations of food and money to purchase food from the NH Food Bank. Most needed items right now include soup, cereal, snacks, canned or dried beans, and even Ramen noodles! Thanks to Al James for creating a sign for our third Sunday Methodist Food Pantry at the Nashua Soup Kitchen. Our next food pantry will be on March 17 from 2 to 4 at the Soup Kitchen. If you can volunteer, please meet us at 1:30 at the Nashua Soup Kitchen, 2 Quincy Street, about a block from our church!
Hoodie Sunday: Thanks to all who brought a new or gently used hoodie to church on February 17. They will be shared with our refugee community as well as Café Agape friends.
Following the Special Session of General Conference that was held February 23-26 there are lots of questions as to what the implications of the decisions made will be for our annual conference and for the churches that make up the United Methodist Church. In order to provide opportunity for members of our district churches to have "courageous" conversations our District Superintendent, Jim McPhee, will lead us in discussion on Monday, March 18th at 7:00pm. We will be hosting this session here at MSUMC and will need volunteers to help with refreshments, sound, projection, and greeting. If you are willing to assist please let Pastor Rich know asap. A second session will be held on Tuesday, March 19th at 7:00pm at in South Portland, Maine.
Welcome to our March Finance and Stewardship column. This month I would like to bring up grants through the United Methodist Foundation of New England. This is the season of grant writing, often with applications due June 1 or September 1. For more information, you may Google grants or specifically go to http://www.umc.org/resources/grants-and-loans-available-through-the-united-methodist-church.
Some of the descriptions below are directly quoted from the respective websites.
Youth Service Fund and Grants for Ministries for Young People have a June 1 application deadline. The UMC website has hints for grant writing as the first is outside the UMC. Grants for Ministries with Young People funding are for creative, innovative approaches to ministries for, with, and by young people. There are also scholarships on this site. For example the Richard S. Smith Scholarship is for minority youth active in the church.
Once our young scholars gain acceptance to college, there are numerous grants for research and papers.
Church and Society organization has 3 grants. Ethnic Local Church Grants (ELCG) Program is to provide grants to strengthen the ethnic local church. Human Relations Day Grant is to provide funding to promote ministries that respond to non-violent young offenders through education, advocacy, or leadership training and development. Peace with Justice is geared towards efforts directed at world peace – from education to national policies.
Unitedmethodistwomen.org has various grants for national and international ministries, often geared for lifting women and children out of oppression. Their mission focus for 2019 is "Building a Thriving Generation of Children and Youth Worldwide."
There are other grants on the above sites, and of course elsewhere. Please feel the inspiration and take a look.
Our existing church leaders should have such grants in mind. However this may be an opportunity for an emerging leader who hears a calling from God to look into new directions where we can serve!
Thank you, Joe Dechene.