From Pastor Debra
March, 2017 Message:
Do you find yourself nervous when you see a Muslim on the streets? Do you wonder if the person who looks different than you is safe? Does the immigration ban concern you? In continuation of our Lenten traditions of finding the sacred in everyday things; we will be exploring the way we find the sacred in our neighbors; particularly those who are different than us, the strangers among us. And we will talk about the fears that have become part of who we are.
One of the many things I appreciate about the United Methodist Women is their commitment to racial justice. But even more, I appreciate their commitment to loving and walking alongside the ‘stranger’. And I appreciate their commitment to teach us how to be people of God for the family of God.
In the February Response Magazine (the publication of the UMW), Harriet Jane Olson, General Secretary of the UMW, wrote: “Since the 1950’s, United Methodist Women has affirmed a version of the Charter for Racial Justice. (see the text of the charter below this article)
The charter was adopted by the UMC in 1980. We have engaged in the work since our founding because of who we are, who God is and what God expects of us. When the charter was written, white supremacy, Jim Crow and lynching of African Americans was a scourge affecting communities through-out the nation. Over the past 60 years the work of justice advocates changed these norms of expression and helped end some of the most heinous actions. However, persons with eyes to see and ears to hear know that the attitudes and prejudices that under-laid the violent expression of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia have remained.
As the charter reminds us: ‘racism robs all human being of their wholeness.’ We must affirm that ‘all women and men are made in God’s image and all persons are equally valuable in the sight of God’ and ‘our struggle for justice must be based on new attitudes, new understandings, and new relationships.’” (Response, February 2017, United Methodist Women)
I invite you to explore ways that we can be more solidly followers of Jesus Christ as we respond to the fear and hatred that continues to be a part of our society. But even, more I invite you to learn to love, even more deeply, the people who are God’s people. The strangers among us.
I hope Wednesday in Lent will be a safe place to explore these issues and learn together what we are called to be as a people who proclaim Open Hearts, Open Doors, Open Minds.
February, 2017 Message:
One of the tasks of being the pastor of Chatfield UMC is completing the dreaded “Tables I, II, and III”. These forms report on all the various statistics that are involved in the church’s life. From the details of the financials to the number of people involved in all aspects of our church life, these numbers are recorded and sent into the denominational offices for analysis and general record keeping.
First a huge THANK YOU to Bea Zincke and Teresa Narveson who keep our financial records in impeccable shape. Never do I ever worry about the minute details of our accounts or financial record keeping. Their faithfulness to this ministry is a true gift to me and to the church. And to Karen Hamm who keeps track of our membership books. This is no easy task and every time I have a question, she can find the answer. She has even been known to track down old membership records for people who call with very vague descriptions of former members.
Which brings me to the point of this article. As I fill in the statistics I am struck by something amazing. This year we have more recorded baptisms than we had deaths. And we had a good number of people join the church. This is notable in a time when church memberships are dropping and baby boomers are aging.
It is a sign of growth and health and fills me with joy. I love seeing the new faces, getting to know new stories, greeting new little ones who are growing right before our eyes.
I hope you are all enjoying the lovely sounds of babies in our worship services. (I just wish I had more time to hold each one and give them some hugs.)
As we grow into our new way of being a church I wanted to encourage you all to be ready to get a few more invitations to become involved in activities here at the church. As you can tell by our newsletter and announcements, we have many different ministries that happen. Each one is exciting and fun and rewarding. Each one requires a good deal of volunteer time.
In every setting it is common for the same people to do most of the volunteering. But we don’t want to be ‘common’. We want to be extraordinary. Therefore, we will be calling on people who haven’t been a part of the ‘action’ during this next year. Because we want everyone to have an opportunity to be a part of whatever ministry to which they feel called.
When you get called, don’t feel obligated. Instead feel honored. You are a part of US. We want you to know that you are valued and needed. Let us know what you can and cannot do. What you are willing to learn. How you are willing to serve. And know that we do take ‘no’ for an answer and don’t hold it against anyone. We understand. We’ve more than likely been ‘there’ wherever that may be.
Look through this newsletter, maybe something will jump out at you and you will say, “hey, I want to do that.” Volunteer! Really! It is how most of us got started in the life affirming thing called ministry.
Hope and Peace,