January 30, 2012

General Conference Information

This year's General Conference promises to bring needed changes. Even though I have heard this many times before, I remain hopeful that the changes will be helpful. I promise these changes, if adopted, will effect you and your family. See the information about appointments, pension, power of the bishops, in particular.

With 87 days left until 2012 General Conference begins in Tampa, Fla., several resources to help prepare for the UMC's every-four-year lawmaking session are now available. An overview of issues presented at a recent Pre-General Conference News Briefing, an overview of the restructuring legislation that will go before the assembly and videos of the Pre-General Conference News Briefing are available. The Advance Edition of the Daily Christian Advocate, the official journal of General Conference, is now online and available for download. The advance contains all the legislation submitted for consideration by the delegates.

For more information, go to:

Grace, Kathy

January 26, 2012

What Lent Study Style Are You?

Lent is a time of preparation for Easter, but it means different things to each of us. We prepare in different ways. Some focus on Jesus' time in the wilderness, some on Holy Week, others on Easter itself and what comes after. Whatever your style, there are studies to take you or your group on a meaningful path to Easter.

The Traditionalist
If it's less than seven weeks before the first Sunday succeeding the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, then it must be Lent! The liturgical seasons are important to you and you're so devoted to the lectionary you wonder if Jesus handed out a bibliography of Old Testament readings with every parable.

You prefer straightforward, Bible-based studies and devotions that engage the mind and touch the heart. You probably have your favorite Lenten study preordered by Proper 27, but if not, you may want to check out Call Him Savior or Mosaic: When God Uses All the Pieces, by Shane Stanford.

The Neomonastic
Taize, candles, lectio divina . . . It's ancient-modern all the way for you, as you find meaning in simplicity, self-denial, fasting, and spiritual practices. Your focus on Jesus' time in the desert, resisting temptation, lends itself to a more austere observance culminating in meditation on Christ's suffering.

You'll love Simplifying the Soul, from Catholic author Paula Huston, a collection of daily practices for Lent that draws on the wisdom of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. And Holy Week just wouldn't be, well, holy, without walking the Stations of the Cross. Pray the stations with Paul Hoffman's photographs and meditations, or Alfred McBride's The Challenge of the Cross, which includes a fifteenth station for the resurrection.

The Pre-Easter-er
It's not Lent, it's our Easter series. Isn't Lent that stuff that gathers in your belly button? Christ is risen, so why focus so much on his suffering and death? For the seven weeks (or six, or four) leading up to Easter, you want to focus on what Christ's death and resurrection mean for us today. Themes of redemption and new life reign. Try Beth Moore's Breaking Free, J. Scott Duvall's New People Forever, or John Stott's LifeGuide Bible Study, The Cross.

The Jesus Journeyer
For you, Lent is all about following the path of Jesus, studying and discussing death and resurrection, sin and atonement. You embrace the roller coaster of Christ's final week in Jerusalem, pondering everything from the donkey Jesus rode in on to those war drums that end Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ.

Lucky you, there are many studies available exploring Jesus' journey to the cross, many with a DVD component. Check out The Last Days of Jesus by Matt Williams, and two from Adam Hamilton: 24 Hours That Changed the World, and his newest, Final Words from the Cross.

The Activist
If you're more focused on the actions and attitudes that got Jesus on the wanted poster in the first place, you may be an Activist. You're tired of giving up something for Lent—you want to give back instead, focusing on living out Jesus' values in the world. If this is you, you won't want to miss A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor.

So what "style" are you?

Jessica Kelley

January 25, 2012

On-line Bible Studying at Your Church?

Today in the church bulletin there was a notice about a new Bible study beginning this month. I was excited because I was hoping to start a new direction in 2012. I read the notice further , and quickly was dismayed - the class was online. Although I knew that many colleges and even high schools have online classes, but a Bible study?????

I remember the rich discussions from numerous Bible studies, including Disciple through the years. I also treasured the prayer support and opportunity to get to know others each week.

Maybe I need to adjust to the times, but I know that I would really miss the aspect of community that comes with studying God's word.

Are there other churches doing online studies?

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

January 19, 2012

Are You Really Part of Your Church?

Dear Friends, A couple of weeks ago, I was at a share group when one of the other women made, what she thought, was an innocent remark. She recalled a couple of former pastors (in a good way) and remarked how pastors just come and go in the life of the church. The important people were the laity, who where there through it all--good times and bad.

I can't tell you how this made me feel. Because she wasn't taking aim at either me or my spouse. She was just making an observation. Who could argue with that? But her comments underscored the fact that she also thought pastor's families just "come and go" as well. We are merely transients or place holders for the next clergy family. True, I might be reading more into this that she meant, even so, it hurt my feelings. It make me feel like an outsider.

How odd because so many church people think clergy families are the consummate insiders. If they only knew. While I am active in the church and have been a member longer than the couple of hundred folks who have joined since, some people will always think of clergy families as "different." When the church is a sick, unhealthy place, that is OK with me. But when the church prides itself on being a loving family, being on the outside feels like rejection.

I haven't decided if I'm going to say anything to her or not yet. Actually, I probably won't. But how do you feel? Do you feel like a part of your church? Do you want to? How do you see yourself related to your church?

Grace, Kathy

January 12, 2012

Face 2 Face, New Experience on the Walk to Emmaus

Friends, Just want you to know about an exciting new program from the same folks who bring us the Walk to Emmaus and Chrysalis. There is a new experience called Face 2 Face. It was created to provide an opportunity for seniors (defined as 6o+) to walk the Emmaus road without the stresses of the 3-day, 72 hour format. Face 2 Face is open to members of any Christian denomination who want to strengthen their spiritual lived, discover answers to their questions about faith, and are open to understanding the responsibility of live a Christian lifestyle.

Participants commit to 4 Fridays from 9-4 and will enjoy in-depth table group discussion, input in the form of talks (Priorities, Prevenient Grace, Priesthood of all Believers, Justifying Grace, Life of Piety, Means of Grace, Christian Action, Obstacles of Grace, Discipleship, Changing our World, Sanctifying Grace, Body of Christ, Coping in Tough Times, Perseverance, New Day), lots of fellowship, and great food.

Cost is $50 per person. The next Face 2 Face will be held at Hilldale United Methodist Church. For more information contact Rev. Skip Armistead by phone at 931-647-2249 (church office).

Peace, Kathy

January 6, 2012

People Dying for the Faith in Iran

Let's tell it like it is. The country of Iran is backward in thinking and barbaric in practice. And Christians who live there are at risk for their lives. Then add to the fact that these women are also leaders and one is also a pastor in her community, and you have an explosive situation.


Please pray for Ms Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. And as Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute Christians, please also pray for these misguided souls in Iran and other places in the world who are willing to destroy, maim, and kill in the name of their god.

Grace and Peace,

January 5, 2012

"Be Still" is a ministry in the Indiana Conference for clergy spouses who need a listening ear or a word of encouragement. I am putting together an information booklet to use with the program. I wonder if there are other conferences which have a booklet or information pamphlet given to clergy spouses when his/her spouse begins ministry?

If you are interested in sharing with me and my committee I would be grateful. My email is jreed46038@hotmail.com. Thank you so much for helping.

God, we your children are mindful that we must care for each other in the way that you would. Guide the ministry that is beginning to reach out to those spouses who need your touch. Amen.

Jacquie Reed,
Fishers, Indiana

January 3, 2012

God Answers Prayers

Here is a great (and true) story. Yes, it involves my 5 year-old granddaughter, but this will bless you too.

My daughter, son-in-law, and their kids, Katie (5) and Zachary (2) arrived at the Philadelphia airport in plenty of time to catch their flight to see us. Except that it was Christmas day and there were no parking places--anywhere. Even the illegal places were full. No one was leaving and there were many more cars behind them also looking frantically.

Time ticked by. After an hour of searching, they began to feel a bit paniced. Just then Katie, piped up from her car seat in the back, "Why don't we pray for a parking spot?" So she did. She prayed a prayer of exceeding generosity. "Please," she prayed, "let us and all the other cars find a place--all together."

A foolish prayer you think?

In desperation, Eric decided that they would have to park inside and pay four times the economy price. As they headed that way, low and behold they came across another whole and very empty parking lot with lots of spaces so the cars behind them could park all together.

Coincidence? An answered prayer? Just a wonderful story?

You decide, but they made their flight and we had a great week celebrating the generous love of God. And now, I'm ready to being a new year with renewed confidence in God's steadfast loving kindness.

Grace, Kathy