June 26, 2013

Help Needed: What Interests You About the Doctrine of Creation?

Dear Friends, If you could help me out, it would be much appreciated. I'm doing some research about the possibility of a book project about creation. What do know and what else would you like to know about the doctrine of creation? And what do you think might interest your church folks?
Please let me know and feel free to post a reply.

Thanks, Kathy

June 25, 2013

First Sunday at a New Church

As many transition to new churches, please know that there are spouses who are praying for you.

Going to a new church can be difficult because the congregation may still be grieving the loss of the former pastor and the parsonage family. But there will also be many who were ready for a pastoral change and will welcome you with open arms.

In every congregation there are people who were close to the previous pastor and family and some of these people will continue their relationship. It's not that they don't want you, it's just that they may have had a special affinity for the previous family. In our case, there have been people in every congregation that we have kept in touch with over the years. I treasure these friendships. These friends have been with us through difficult times and we have seen each other's kids grow up. But this is not to say that this interferes with their relationship with their current pastor.Their pastor is still their pastor. And frankly, it is often easier to be friends after we leave their church.

So I hope that those of you who are moving meeting some new friends and get off to a great start.

When the church is at its best, it really becomes the Body of Christ.

Grace, Kathy

June 20, 2013

For Our DSs and Their Spouses

Just as many pastors are moving to new local churches, there are also changes for DSs and their spouses. Here is an opportunity to welcome and begin new relationships with these traveling elders and their spouses and families.

To New DSs:
First, welcome to our district. We realize that you have an impossible job and are pulled in many directions all at once, so in some ways your new job is still like serving a local church. We want to make your job as easy as possible.

Second, remember that folks in the local church really have no idea what you do. In fact some may even think that you've left the ministry altogether.

Third, we hope you will remain the servant leader you've always been and won't let the new power go to your head. And personally, I hope you won't starting running for bishop.

Fourth, while we all realize that DSs are necessary and are here to help keep the church and pastors accountable in a helpful way, please remember how ambivalent pastors and laity are about church hierarchy. It's not personal.

To New DS Spouses:
First, welcome to our district. We realize that you have a new role. And if you are a male DS spouse, you are still breaking new ground. We also hope that you find a local church where you feel comfortable and at home.

Second, remember that folks in the local church have no idea what your spouse does and many church folk don't see themselves are part of anything except the local church. They may not even care about the denomination and, as you may know, they won't know UM lingo; and you may not either.

Third, and this may come as a surprise or shock, but other minister spouses may see you as a person who will advocate for them. Historically, this has been a role of the DS and bishop's spouse. As you know, we spouses and our families do not have an official voice and are often the collateral damage of denominational politics, so we might look to you for support. If you are a male spouse, please know that you have a part to play and are a role model.

Fourth, please keep your spouse on the straight and narrow, but also please make sure they take care of themselves, you, and your family, because they have an impossible and often thankless job.

Grace, Kathy

June 14, 2013

The Next Time Someone Complains about Giving Money to the Church for Mission

Today CNN announced the results of its investigation of charities. To see the 50 worst, go to

I think some of these will surprise you. But do you see any from the United Methodist Church or any other denominational agency for that matter? The answer is no.

The church may not have glitzy ads or tear-jerking pictures on TV, but when we give our money to the United Methodist World Service fund or United Methodist Committee on Relief, for example well over 90% if not 100% of the money goes directly where needed. This beats the puny percentage that goes from many other charities.

So when someone complains about the church and then turns around and gives money to one of these charities, please direct them to the CNN link.

I just came from our UM Annual Conference, where we talk and debate over how much we can afford to give to missions, where the average member gives only about 2-3% of their income to the church. If we committed ourselves to really supporting mission with our tithes (10%), think what we can do.

Grace and Peace,

June 13, 2013

How Was Your Annual Conference?

Our Annual Conference concluded yesterday and it actually was pretty good this year. Of special note were the worship services. This year we also have a new bishop, and what a difference it makes when the bishop is accessible and open.

This year we were all invited to help package meals for Stop Hunger Now. So after the Tuesday afternoon session, about 240 of us assembled in the Fellowship Hall. It was great fun and knowing that the food would be going directly to people in need was priceless. We plan to host a similar event at our church. At conference, we packaged over 20,000 meals for 6 people, so food for 120,000 people in about one hour. Check them out at www.stophungernow.com

Another highlight were the God stories. These short videos show ordinary people telling how God has acted extraordinarily in their lives. It was especially inspiring if you knew any of the people, which I did. If you need or want inspiration go to www.god-story.org  Also check them out on YouTube.

We also had our annual spouse lunch at Conference. It was fun to see folks and catch-up.

So often we lament that Annual Conference is irrelevant to our churches. If we have more Conferences like this one, we'll have to change our tune.

Grace, Kathy
Tennessee Annual Conference

June 7, 2013

Needed: Christian Business People

A friend works for a major communications business here in our city. The company is also noted for treating its employees unjustly. For no apparent reason, with no warning, the company decided to shuffle its teams. People would stay on the same team, maybe, but the teams themselves would be retrained for new jobs. This was ok with my friend, as he has been through many company reorganizations, and he is very open to learning new things. But in mixing things up, the changes include changing everybody's hours. So there is a chance that a person might work any time, for the standard 8 hours, anywhere from 8 am and 10 pm. Can you imagine what havoc that will heap on employees and their families? And it's not like there is a choice about overtime--you take it if told to. What makes this especially difficult is that many employees commute great distances to work. Parking is costly, so people carpool whenever possible. Then there are issues regarding daycare and caring for children.

In addition in my friend's group, there are a number of people who are almost at retirement, and they see the company changes as a means the company is using to get them to quit. Believe me, this accusation is based on many previous experiences.

What is unjust is that employees see no recourse and they feel that they are being treated as disposable commodities--not faithful, hardworking people who want to contribute to the company goals.

I have to wonder, who runs this company? And why are they grinding their people into the ground? Surely, they are not Christian. We all want business to be profitable, but isn't part of being profitable, having employees who feel like they have a stake in the well-being of the company and who feel that their work matters?

My dad owned a small business, so I know all about the need for profit. But a successful business makes more than money. It makes people's lives better for working there. Surely that is part of the work ethic and a way that we live out our Christian faith. Maybe we just need more business people who live Monday through Friday like what they profess on Sunday.

Grace, Kathy


June 5, 2013

No Local only Global Churches

In Sunday's services, we prayed for all the people we have who are currently on mission trips. Some are youth; some are young adults; some are adults. We have an average worship attendance of about 350 people each Sunday in three services, so our church is not huge. And it wasn't long ago that, like many churches, the only mission trips were yearly treks by our youth.

But times have changed. This year we have folks going to Africa, Costa Rica, Guatemala but also Camp Barnabas, outside of St. Louis. And the youth will also do a week of local mission in our county later this summer.

As United Methodists our focus has always been on practical divinity; that is, making daily living better. We take the long view of mission work, but we don't neglect the short term either. We firmly believe that preaching the message of Christ also involves making sure people are healthy, well-fed, and educated, and living with dignity and justice. We know that the first priority of a hungry person is food for themselves and their families, so when preaching the Gospel, we also provide meals. And of course there is UMCOR--disaster relief.

As the United Methodist Church we are in mission around the world, but as congregations we are increasingly making a global impact by sending out our local people to places that the UMC may not be able to go.

It is a truism that through the Internet, each church has a global footprint. But we are also sending out more local missionaries each year making a global witness.

We are proud that we have Christian witnesses serving around the world. As you may know, there are more martyrs today than ever, so we should not take sending these people into a hostile world lightly. They are serious Christians who are putting their faith into practice and on the line; and we can all be strengthened by their commitment.

How many people is your church sending forth in mission?

Grace, Kathy

June 4, 2013

Missing Matisse....and God

Today I visited a home built in 1904, which I have admired from the street for decades. The home, part of a Home Decorator's charity event for a local hospital, was built by  Kurt Vonnegut's grandfather. The Vonnegut family is long established in Indianapolis. I was exited  to see the interior of this stately home.  

The decorators filled the three stories with many furnishings which looked a little out of place considering  the original floors, fireplaces, elaborate woodwork around hallways and stairs remained. I was more intrigued with the  designs and patterns appearing in the hardwood floors which varied from room to room. 

I carefully followed the arrows directing the visitors, but  almost missed an original Matisse painting located on an inner wall. I was thrilled. I don't think many noticed  because of the location. I took a few pictures while others walked around me captivated by couches, chairs, statues and vases.

Walking around my neighborhood later in the afternoon, I realized seeing the Matisse was the highlight of the tour. I am so lucky I was not distracted by the furniture and other decorations. I reflected further how seeing the famous painting was a metaphor for life with God.

How many times am I distracted by my "to do" list that I neglect a simple act of kindness, like holding open the door for the person behind me or greeting the cashier at the store? How often do I miss a rainbow in the sky or other signs  reminding me of God's presence? Do I let myself 'do one more thing' before I settle into daily meditation and prayer?

God, I ask that when I travel through my day, keep me ever alert to how you might appear in another person or in the natural world or on the radio or in an encounter. I want to receive all you offer me each day.  Amen.

Jacquie Reed  
Fishers, Indiana

June 3, 2013

Joys of Living Next Door to the Church: What to do about Visitors?

The Indiana Conference has a clergy spouse blog that offers a forum for discussion of many topics as well as asking for prayer. Last week, one person listed a concern living next door to the church. She commented, " People from the church don't bother us, but we have persons stopping by  who are looking for handouts.   Any suggestions how to prevent or discourage these 'visitors'?"

We lived next door to two different churches for a combined total of ten  years. One church even had a sign in our front yard identifying the parsonage. We had persons regularly knock on the door day and night, asking for everything from coffee to groceries to gasoline to meals. I was very apprehensive when my husband went out of town leaving me alone with two small children, praying that I would not be disturbed in the middle of the night. Even though I never answered the door when he was gone, still knowing a stranger was in a car in front of my house was cause for alarm.  

Small towns in particular are aware of the location of the church parsonage. Persons in a community   know that  donations are  available from the church when there is an emergency or special circumstance. One year my husband was in charge of the ministerial association Christmas Fund, which gave donations whenever there was a need. His  responsibility kept a steady stream of persons coming to the parsonage.

What ways have been effective where you live to handle persons who come to the parsonage seeking assistance?

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana