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East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church

DECEMBER 2013 | Volume 13 | Issue 3

joining hands east ohio

- informed, inspired and in touch.

Jesus is Calling ... The Vision of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church is to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is Calling...

The Search Continues By Rick Wolcott*

East Ohio Joining Hands DECEMBER 2013

“… what we shall be has not yet been revealed.”


ith those words from I John 3:2 on the cover, Joining Hands Volume 1, Issue 1 was published in October 2003. It’s fitting that we should use those same words to say goodbye. This is the last issue of Joining Hands. Technology now makes it possible for us to highlight life-changing ministries to a wider audience in a timely, more cost-effective manner, than we could a decade ago. Consider how the world has changed since then. Joining Hands debuted a few weeks before the Facemash program was written by Harvard sophomore Mark Zuckerberg. The program was the predecessor of Facebook, which would launch in February 2004. What began as a website for Harvard University students has grown to “727 million daily active users on average in September 2013,” according to Facebook’s website. What we shall be has not yet been revealed. The world is full of examples of products and services that began as one thing but morphed to become something totally different. Take the story of the Post-it® Note. The reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive that sticks the colorful notes to almost anything is the result of a failed experiment. In 1968 Dr. Spencer Silver, a 3M scientist, attempted to create a super-strong adhesive. What he “invented” was exactly the opposite.

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For the next five years he showed his invention during seminars at 3M, convinced there was a use for it. In 1974 colleague Art Fry experimented using the adhesive to try and hold a book mark in place in his church hymnal. It worked and the rest is history. What we shall be has not yet been revealed. Growing up I loved reading the newspaper while I ate breakfast before school. I would then spend part of the day in the library researching term papers with an encyclopedia. I can’t recall the last time I opened an encyclopedia or held a newspaper. Times change. Now the world is at the tips of our fingers thanks to cellphone technology. The camera phone is another product that debuted in 2003. Now the pictures we take with our phones can be sent to friends and family worldwide thanks to mobile internet access. In fact, Facebook recently reported that 350 million photos are uploaded to the site daily! What we shall be has not yet been revealed. Our competitive spirit keeps us searching for the next best thing. That is true at home, at work, in the marketplace, and in church. This issue of Joining Hands celebrates the innovation, creativity, forward movement, and outside-the-box thinking of East Ohio Conference United Methodists. * Rick Wolcott is the Director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Vol. 13 No. 3

East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church Office of Communications Editor/Director of Communications Rick Wolcott Graphic Designer Sue Zakovec Subscriptions/Administrative Lois Speelman Under the direction of: The Conference Board of Communications Mail: Editor East Ohio Joining Hands 8800 Cleveland Ave. N.W. North Canton, Ohio 44720 Phone: ext. ext. ext.

800.831.3972 118 Editor 105 Graphic Designer 119 Subscriptions

Web site: East Ohio Joining Hands USPS (005-882) is published quarterly by the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church, Office of Communications, 8800 Cleveland Ave. N.W., North Canton, Ohio 44720. Periodical Postage paid at Canton, Ohio. Postmaster: Send address corrections to: East Ohio Joining Hands 8800 Cleveland Ave. N.W. North Canton, Ohio 44720

Jesus is Calling ...




Our United Methodist Mission is “to make and mature diciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” To do that, visualize building a pyramid.

• First, we lay a strong foundation by aligning our financial, human and capital resources. • Next we focus on developing transformational clergy and lay leaders. • Finally, we inspire growth by increasing the number of vital congregations. When we align resources to develop leaders we inspire growth in vital congregations, make disciples and transform the world.

The East Ohio Conference is aligning capital resources by:

Align Resources

The East Ohio Conference is aligning financial resources to support churches that:

• have demonstrated spirit-filled, formative ministries. • are willing to start new work. • are helping other churches become more vital.

The East Ohio Conference is aligning human resources by:

• appointing more pastors to be a team over a cluster of churches, thus providing more leadership than any one church could afford.

• growing peer accountability of pastors and churches through the use of compass groups. • encouraging longer appointments when churches are vital.

• creating mergers to strengthen our United Methodist presence in communities where other denominations are closing churches. • looking for opportunities for existing strong churches to provide off-site worship and ministries at existing congregations in strategic areas.

Develop Leaders

Our most important assets — our Godgiven resources — are our spirit-filled, dedicated pastors and church members. To help us form and equip lay leaders for their ministry in the world, the East Ohio Conference is:

Inspire Growth

We don’t make disciples, God makes disciples. But God works through us to reach people with the love of Jesus Christ. We need to inspire more congregations to be on fire for God in meeting the needs of people in their communities. This strategic pyramid applies to the conference, every district, and each local church in East Ohio.

• Are your lay members claiming the ministry of their baptism and making disciples? • Is your pastor equipping laity for ministry? • Is your church aligning its money, people, and building for the mission of developing people? • Is your church making disciples who make disciples?

• working on what it means to be one church with more than 750 outposts. • focusing on recruiting and forming young clergy and lay leaders who are disciples who make disciples. • focusing on people rather than events.

*Excerpted from Bishop John L. Hopkins’ State of the Conference address at Annual Conference 2013. A PowerPoint presentation of this East Ohio Conference Strategic Vision can be found at

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The new East Ohio Conference website went live in October. Ministry is interactive and so is the new site. The online resource is a teaching and sharing tool with a fresh new look and many distinct and useful features redesigned with the user in mind. Responsive Design

The pages adapt to the screen size of the desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone used to access the site.


Information found scattered across various places before is now available at the click of a button. The subject tabs across the top of the home page were reimagined, eliminating the need for the subdirectories that populated the previous site.

www. eocumc. New tabs include:

Missions • Links users to East Ohio’s community and social service ministries. • Contains the conference Disaster Response Plan. Advocacy • Links users to East Ohio’s health and welfare agencies. Pathways to Ministry • Makes it easy to find information about clergy or lay ministry. Finance/Benefits • Consolidates information about the treasurer’s office, health benefits and pensions. • Offers the most up-to-date information on the Affordable Care Act. • Contains online forms.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Clicking this button on the lower left side of the home page will reveal scholarship, grant, loan and internship information from across all levels of the Church. Also located here are descriptions of what is available to whom, application deadlines, online registration forms and agency links.

Media Center

It’s easier than ever to find all that the Media Center has to offer. Just click on “What’s New at the Media Center” on the bottom of the home page. Descriptions of the newest available resources can be found here, as well as the link to the online catalog of worship, Sunday school and small group curriculum.


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Quadrennial Theme

“Jesus is Calling” is featured on the banner of every page. As the 2012-2016 East Ohio Conference quadrennial theme, it played a key role in the planning, design and layout of the new site. The theme is based on the mission of The United Methodist Church to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

“Jesus is Calling Us In” Annual Conference 2014 will address how we can identify potential new disciples.

“Jesus is Calling Us Up” Annual Conference 2015 will focus on ways we can motivate and mature all disciples in their faith walks. “Jesus is Calling Us Out” Annual Conference 2016 will challenge us to transform the world as the hands and feet of Christ. Districts/Churches

The new site contains an interactive map of the districts. Clicking on the map or on the sidebar will display contact information and the website link for the district selected, as well as a list of links for each church in that district. The information in this database is updated daily. The interactive map can be found on the footer of each page or by clicking on the About Us tab just below the banner.

North Coast

Western Reserve

Firelands Canal Mid-Ohio

Mahoning Valley

Tuscarawas Three Rivers

Ohio Valley

Southern Hills

Stay Connected


Our lives revolve around our schedules. We could think of no better placement for the conference calendar than right in the middle of the home page. The Upcoming Events section provides a glimpse of what is taking place across the conference in the next few days. Each item on the list has a link that provides all the details needed if you plan to attend that event.


Click the link at the bottom of the section to be directed to the conference calendar. There you will find all meetings and activities taking place over the next 12 months.

Users can utilize RSS feeds, e-mail alerts and social networks to stay informed. All East Ohio news stories are now together in one blog. You can sign up on the sidebar of any page on the news site to receive an RSS feed or an e-mail alert each time a new story is posted. Updates to the blog automatically post to Facebook and Twitter, sharing East Ohio with the world. Join the conversation! We’d like to stay connected to you too. You may leave comments to a news post or contact us on the “Let’s Hear from You” page.

The events listed there have been submitted for inclusion on the calendar. Anyone interested in posting a United Methodist event can click the link in the right column of the page to be directed to the event submission form. Events on the calendar are color-coded based upon the event’s host. The calendar contains a drop down menu that allows users to choose which events are displayed. The directory options are:

• All • Area Center • East Ohio Conference • District • Local Church • Jurisdictional/General Church

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People see us before we see them. That is why it is more important than ever that local churches have a website. Why?

A Window for the World By Rick Wolcott*

Web Hosting United Methodist Communications now offers web hosting for United Methodist Churches and ministries at   Users can choose from three different levels of service:

Level 1

• Provides a web address for your church’s Find-A-Church profile, such as  or • Offers instant setup. • Non-customized domain names are free of charge.

Level 2


onsider this: Statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department show that Americans spent more than $250 billion last year in online purchases. Those shoppers say using the internet saves time, allowing them to compare items side-by-side on their computer screen without having to drive from store to store. More than three-quarters of Americans use the internet. Shopping isn’t the only activity that has been transformed by the World Wide Web. The click of a mouse has replaced learning about a potential new church through faceto-face interactions with the congregation and its pastor. For a local church to be discovered by seekers, it must be where the people are – online. The church website is now the first impression a congregation will make on potential visitors. That’s important because if people don’t visit they are not going to become active in the life of that church.

Level 3

For websites to be effective they must be:

• Current – The Church is in the midst of Advent. Now is not the time to be promoting the new fall schedule.

• Visual – If a picture is worth a thousand words, don’t use the church website to write about your great worship service, show the service! Don’t write about mission outreach, post video clips of the church actively serving the community.

A church website should be a priority and not an afterthought. If your church invests time in scheduling greeters to welcome people to worship, it should also invest in having a website that welcomes online visitors. If your church is looking to start a website or if it currently has one that is outdated and due for a redesign, the East Ohio Communications office is here to help. Conference web designer Sue Zakovec conducts handson workshops that illustrate the ease and cost-effectiveness of creating a website using WordPress. The workshops, held at the Area Center, are free of cost. The dates and times of each session are announced in E-News.

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• Upgrades to a stand-alone website built on the WordPress engine. • sub-domain addresses are available or a domain can be purchased or transferred for use. • Churches are able to choose from template designs, both UMC-branded and others that can be configured with the church’s brand. • Features several easy ways to pull UMCsponsored content from sources such as the UM News Service.   • Includes up to five e-mail accounts and provides 2 GB of storage. • Costs $5 per month, not including a discount that is available with annual or semi-annual billing.

• Built on the WordPress engine and also allows access to all its features. • sub-domain addresses are available or a domain can be purchased or transferred for use. • Offers the same template designs as Level 2 but churches can also bring in any other WordPress Themes or have a custom design built for use on their site.  • In addition to the UMC content available in Level 2 churches can bring in any WordPress plug-in for added functionality on their site.   • Includes up to 30 e-mail accounts and provides 5 GB of storage. • Costs $19 per month, not including a discount that is available with annual or semi-annual billing.

Jesus is Calling ...

Copyright Compliance


n an effort to keep East Ohio Conference United Methodist Churches compliant with copyright law, the conference has agreements with Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) and with Church Video Licensing International (CVLI). The discounted cost for these two licenses is calculated into apportionment bills.


• Each EOC church has its own, unique Church Copyright License number. • The license gives the church legal authorization to copy from more than 300,000 approved songs for congregational use. • Churches may distribute photocopies of lyrics and/or display the lyrics on projection screens. • When doing so the CCLI number should be listed along with the title of the song, the writer, the lyricist, and the year the song was copyrighted. • Covers only services held within the four walls of the church building.


• Every EOC church has the same Church Video License number. • This license provides legal coverage to publicly show preapproved motion pictures and other audiovisual programs intended for personal, private use. • Movies must be shown within the four walls of the church building. Many churches now post video of their services online. Because live streaming and podcasting over the internet are recognized as “broadcast performances,” neither is covered by the religious services performance exemption written into the Copyright Law of The United States. To live stream or podcast legally, churches must either purchase webcasting licenses from each of the three major performance rights societies (ASCAP, BMI and SESAC) or buy a CCLI Streaming and Podcasting License.

Restructuring the Board Delegates to Annual Conference 2013 approved changes to the structure of the board of communications. The changes had been recommended by Conference Director of Communications Rick Wolcott and endorsed by the Leadership Committee prior to the Annual Conference vote. Under the new configuration, board members will be facilitators, instead of doers – the role given them in 2008, when the board was last reorganized. That year, Annual Conference increased the size of the board of communications from 17 members to 24. Those members were divided into four task groups: Technology, Annual Conference Facilitation, Writers/Photographers, and Trainers. The vote at Annual Conference in June reduced the size of the board to 18 members. The chairperson will coordinate the efforts of the members, ten of whom will function as district communicators. These individuals will inform the conference communications office of events and human-interest stories within their respective districts. The district communicators will work with Wolcott to recruit volunteers to cover the events he can’t attend. Individuals across the conference will be able to lend their talents to write articles, take photos, shoot and edit video stories, and post to social media. East Ohio is blessed to have many talented individuals in its midst, many of whom aren’t available to serve on committees but still want to be involved in building the Kingdom. Re-imagining the board of communications makes it possible to involve more people and share more stories, across more formats, of the life-changing powers of Jesus Christ.

CCLI Streaming and Podcasting

• Allows churches to legally include copyrighted songs from an approved list of more than 300,000 songs in a webcast or a video posted to the church website. • Does not cover use of prerecorded accompaniment tracks. • The cost of the license is based upon the size of the purchasing church’s membership and is the sole responsibility of the purchasing church.

east ohio joining hands



Jesus is Calling...

Embracing the Future By Rev. Liz Nau*

From the beginning of my time as pastor of South Euclid-Hillcrest United Methodist Church (North Coast District), we worked to cultivate a sense of connection and cooperation with other United Methodist churches in the Hillcrest area east of Cleveland. We worked to meet the needs of the community, while providing discipleship opportunities to our church family and others. As membership decreased, due primarily to death and to job relocation, we worked for the past year and a half to create a partnership with another church to allow a continued UMC presence in the community.  It was a choice to be proactive, recognizing that the time would come when South Euclid-Hillcrest UMC would no longer be able to serve as a stand-alone church. We first partnered with Mayfield United Methodist Church (Western Reserve District), the church to the east of the Hillcrest area. Together we adopted an elementary school in South Euclid and provided break-

fast and lunch to more than 400 kids during the holiday break. We collaborated on leadership trainings, coordinated cooperative Bible studies, and donated money from our respective Christmas offerings to help rebuild two playgrounds.  Continuing the partnership would have led to a merger of the churches and the closing of the South Euclid building.  South Euclid-Hillcrest UMC had become an important presence in the community through its local farmers market and participation in community events and services. The congregation felt that closing would not fulfil the vision that God had given for this church. We turned our focus in a different direction and began conversations  to develop a partnership with Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church (North Coast District) in Pepper Pike. Like Mayfield UMC, it is a church with many resources that is focused on drawing from a diverse population to reach younger and unchurched families. As God would have it, Garfield Memorial

One Church … Two Locations

By Rick Wolcott

In September Garfield Memorial United Methodist Church (North Coast District) in Pepper Pike launched a satellite service in South Euclid. Two services are held each Sunday in the home of the former South Euclid-Hillcrest United Methodist Church. The congregation of that church voted to merge with Garfield Memorial UMC (see above). Location pastor Nate Berkey preaches, and the chancel choir sings at the 9 a.m. Heritage service. At 11:15 a.m., Mosaic is a multicultural praise service featuring a band and an East Ohio Conference first – a simulcast sermon (see opposite page). Here’s how it works: Rev. Chip Freed preaches the sermon live and in person during the 10:30 a.m. Mosaic service that is held at the Pepper Pike location of Garfield Memorial UMC. Freed’s sermon is simul-


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taneously video recorded and uploaded to Boxcast, a special computer created by a Cleveland company that sends video from a camera to the cloud. There it is formatted to be broadcast to any online device. The tech team at the South Euclid location then uses a tablet to play back the sermon on a large video wall during the 11:15 a.m. Mosaic service. “The system has worked fairly well,” said Berkey, who is always ready to preach if any hiccups occur in the still-developing system. “We’ve had a couple of challenges but everything new does.” “It’s exciting to try new ministry,” said Cheri Shumaker a member of the Garfield Memorial UMC Radical Hospitality team. “Nate is a great preacher so we are in good hands if the simulcast doesn’t work.” The technology allows Freed to preach exactly the same 30-minute message in

UMC was feeling called to create a satellite campus in the Hillcrest area. During conversations we discovered a common vision. The congregations began by sharing meals together, which then led to South Euclid UMC joining in worship at Garfield UMC. Change is never easy but it was necessary. I feel like God has done mighty things in this church by opening hearts to receive God’s love. The congregation turned its focus outward into the community, offering Jesus Christ in word, action and mission.  The church is now positioned and ready to embrace the opportunity to expand the call to make disciples for Jesus Christ in new ways. The process, which had begun in the fall of 2012, became official in May 2013 when the congregation voted to become “One Church in Two Locations.” *Rev. Liz Nau served South Euclid-Hillcrest United Methodist Church from 2009-2013. She is currently in her 1st year as pastor at North Royalton United Methodist Church.

two different locations in little more than an hour’s time. It’s the content that matters. Freed told his congregation during a recent sermon, “everything you need is in you. The life of God is in you. This is the message Cleveland needs to hear.” “There has been some kickback from people about not having the sermon preached live in the building but it’s been mostly well-received,” Berkey said. “It’s another way to reach into the community.” Boxcast offers the ability to view recordings on demand. The church would eventually like to send e-mail invitations to people. Clicking on the invitation would allow them to view the sermons on demand from the comfort of their homes. “I’ve always said we need to be Biblically sound and culturally relevant,” said Freed.


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east ohio joining hands



“How can I promote camps in my local church?”

Summer Camp 2013 By Rev. Gary Jones*


ummer in Northeast Ohio is always unpredictable. Blue skies and bright sunshine quickly can turn to rain. What can be an irritant to us – canceling our outdoor plans – is a life-giving resource for the earth. We experienced that firsthand when a powerful storm hit East Ohio on July 11. All campers were safe and cared for by the staffs at each site, who worked the plan they have been trained to execute. Camp Aldersgate and Camp Asbury lost power for periods of time and sustained downed limbs and localized flooding. At Camp Wanake, cabins, not in use at the time, were damaged by falling trees. Volunteers from across the conference descended on Camp Wanake the next day, a Saturday, to clean up the debris. Accompanying his family to assist in any way he could was 10-year-old Nolan. His week of camp was set to begin on Sunday and he wanted to make sure the session would be held. Nolan had attended camp for the first time the summer before and had waited almost a year for the opportunity to make new memories. Thanks to his efforts, and those of the other volunteers, the next camp session proceeded as planned on Sunday. Summer camp is very much like predicting the weather. Despite countless hours of preparation by dedicated professionals, forecasting is still not an exact science. Of course, all the work put into planning the summer camp schedule is worth it. That’s because camp changes the lives of those who attend Camp Aldersgate, Camp Asbury, Camp Wanake, CYF, Reach


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Out and Lakeside Institute. Every camper leaves with a story to tell about new or renewed friendships, fun, and most importantly, a celebration of their walk with God. For some, their faith journey began this summer. For others, camp offered a chance to find their way back on the path. Summer Camp 2013 offered reasons to celebrate. Thanks to your generous apportionment-giving, to endowment income, and to financial gifts, we were able to grant more than $30,000 in camperships. Thank you for your support! Summer Camp 2013 offered reasons to question. What can we each do to help promote all that camp has to offer? This summer saw 2,014 youth attend one of the East Ohio Camps. It is the fourth time in five years that there was a decline in campers from the previous year. Numbers are not the end-all-be-all but they are a way to measure ourselves. What’s truly important, however, are the lessons learned from the stories behind the numbers. The best way to increase camp enrollment is also the best way to increase church involvement – talking about why it is important to us. Statistics never tell the whole story but more youth attending camp means more people telling the life-changing story of Jesus Christ. *Rev. Gary Jones is Director of Camps and Retreat Ministries for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Hold a Camp Sunday: Decorate the sanctuary with canoes, sleeping bags, and camping supplies and use the service to promote Summer Camp to children and youth. Invite a guest speaker: Ask a past camper to share their story or call Gary in the EOC Camps office (1800-831-3972 ext. 120) for a speaker to share about our camping ministry and retreat facilities. Speakers are great for worship, Sunday school, youth groups, church dinners, or after-school programs. Display the Summer Camp 2014 brochure: Call Margaret in the EOC Camps office (1-800-831-3972 ext. 108) to request as many brochures as you need. They will be mailed free of charge to your church. Celebrate campers from your church: List their names in the bulletin or newsletter and encourage the congregation to pray for these campers. Seeing the names of their friends may prompt others to want to go to camp too. Write to campers from your church: Campers like to receive mail. Organize a letter-writing campaign so campers feel connected while they are away from church. Pray for our Summer Camp program: A few minutes each day goes a long way. Visit the EOC Camps and Retreat Ministries website (www.EOCSummercamps. org/resources.html) for additional resources.

Jesus is Calling ...


Exploring Their Call


By Rick Wolcott

ast Ohio was well-represented in Denver, Colo. last month when more than 400 young adults ages 18 to 26 gathered for Exploration 2013. The weekend conference gave participants the opportunity to hear, discern and respond to God’s call to ordained ministry. It allowed them to explore their gifts for service as a deacon or an elder in The United Methodist Church. Exploration was designed as a way to increase the number of young adult clergy in the denomination. Meaningful fellowship, passionate worship and theological reflection are key elements of the biannual event sponsored by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Nine young adults from East Ohio gathered with their mentors at Hopkins International Airport on Nov. 15 to begin their journey. “I don’t know what to expect but I am excited to meet new people and learn new things,” said Adrianne Nolan, a freshman at Malone University and a member of the United Methodist Church of Berea (North Coast District). This year’s theme, “Gather on the Journey,” emphasized that the call to ministry is not an individual activity but rather one that requires cultivating a team of companions. Rev. Tim Morrison, associate pastor at Elyria First United Methodist Church (North Coast District), recognizes the importance of working in ministry teams. He planned to model that for the young participants during their weekend together. “For me it’s about spending time with these guys, getting

to know them and learning their faith stories, and talking about the ways God is calling them,” Morrison said. He was co-leader for the trip with his wife Lisa, the associate pastor at Lorain Lighthouse United Methodist Church (Firelands District). Some on the trip were just beginning to sort out their call. “God has been doing some crazy things on my heart lately,” said Ryan Cockril, a member of Church of the Lakes United Methodist Church (Tuscarawas District). “I heard about this opportunity, prayed about it and decided I needed to follow my heart and see what it is about.” Others, like Jake Heskett, have already begun their ministry but understand there is a long road yet to travel. He is a licensed local pastor serving both Winterset United Methodist Church and Antrim United Methodist Church (Southern Hills District), near Cambridge. “I’m looking forward to the leadership session,” Heskett said. “The congregations I serve are great but I am only 20 years old so I don’t have all the life experience of older pastors.” Church leaders from across the denomination led the worship and workshops at Exploration 2013. They included the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts, Bishops Cynthia Fierro Harvey and Elaine Stanovsky, and young church planter and pastor the Rev. Eric Huffman. It’s never too late to answer your call. Planning is now underway for Exploration 2015.

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Jesus is Calling ...

The Connection at Work By Rick Wolcott


here is power in connection. Working together. Sharing the load. Reaching farther. Changing lives. I was taught to lead by example. Don’t tell people what to do. Show them by the way in which you live your life. That concept of modeling for others was on full display Nov. 5 in Worthington. Bishops Gregory V. Palmer, of Ohio Area West, and John L. Hopkins, of Ohio Area East, convened a joint meeting of their extended cabinets. It was a day of fellowship, friendship, and unity. “As the saying goes, ‘we are better together,’” Palmer said. “We share so many issues and opportunities, why not study and learn from each other?” The day began with worship and communion in the West Ohio Conference Center. The remainder of the morning was spent with members of each extended cabinet highlighting the ministries and initiatives that are shaping their respective conferences. “The quality of leadership of both cabinets feed off each other as we study

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best practices and work together as a team,” Hopkins said. The energy in the room was palpable as examples of successes, and the lessons learned from well-intentioned missteps, were shared among colleagues in Christ. “I see hope because we are working together to understand the Spirit,” said the Rev. Steve Court, dean of the East Ohio cabinet. The morning business session adjourned from the conference room to intimate tables for lunch. No high school cliques here. No boundaries drawn. The air was filled with stories and laughter as followers of Christ fellowshipped with one another. While the morning focused on the here and now, the afternoon was devoted to the future. The latest Pew Research Center poll shows that “one-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today.” That is the highest percentage ever. In order to effectively reach those individuals it’s important for leaders at all levels of the

Church to have a plan and be well-trained in executing it. The topic on this day focused on clergy leadership. The two cabinets collaborated on the best methods for recruitment, deployment and supervision of clergy. “There’s a power of collegiality that comes from days like this that shepherds us and takes us to a higher reality,” said the Rev. Marcus Atha, dean of the West Ohio cabinet. “It gives us an opportunity to relate, connect and discuss best practices, while deepening relationships for more effectively reaching people for Jesus Christ.” Fear of the unknown has stopped each of us from trying something new at some point in our lives. On this day, leadership from two conferences came together to model the benefit of collaboration. We all have the same mission, to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We can each choose to do it alone, but there is power in connection.

Fewer Delegates to 2016 General Conference By Heather Hahn*

The 2016 General Conference

in Portland, Ore., will have about 15 percent fewer delegates than recent gatherings of The United Methodist Church’s top lawmaking body have had. The Commission on the 2016 General Conference on Oct. 18, voted 14 to 2 to set the target number of delegates at 850. General Conference, which meets for nearly two weeks every four years, has lawmaking authority “over all matters distinctly connectional.” Half of the delegates are lay, and half are clergy. It is the only body that can officially speak for the global denomination of about 12 million professing members. Since the merger that created The United Methodist Church in 1968, the number of delegates at each General Conference has remained closer to 1,000. The reduction will save the church around $600,000, Sara Hotchkiss, General Conference business manager, told the commission. Before the vote, the projected costs for the 2016 General Conference were more than $10 million. More significantly, the reduction in delegates begins to smooth the way for The United Methodist Church to hold its first General Conference outside the United States, said the Rev. L. Fitzgerald Reist II, the General Conference secretary. That move could happen as early as 2024. “At the present time, there is no one willing to host us because of what is involved in moving General Conference outside the United States,” he told the commission. “One of the changes that will probably need to be made is in the size of the delegation. I think it would be a mistake to move outside the United

States and reduce the size of the delegation at the same time.” The commission’s vote came after hours of discussion that touched on stewardship of the denomination’s resources, the need for adequate representation and the balance of power in the denomination. The denomination’s constitution sets a range of 600 to 1,000 delegates and a ratio for representation based on an annual conference’s membership. Each annual and missionary conference is allowed to send at least one lay and one clergy delegate. Annual conferences elect their delegates. The 2012 General Conference had 988 delegates from around the globe. It cost about $8.4 million. Hotchkiss pointed out that some fixed costs for General Conference would remain or increase no matter how steeply the number of delegates decreased. Such costs include interpreters in multiple languages. For example, the 2012 General Conference voted to require that starting in 2016, General Conference materials must now be translated into Kiswahili. Based on the membership numbers used for the 2012 General Conference, no U.S. jurisdiction would lose or gain more than about 1 percent of its representation at the 2016 General Conference, said commission member Stephanie Deckard Henry, a member of the Upper New York Conference. Also based on the figures for the 2012 General Conference, U.S. delegates still would comprise nearly 60 percent. Reist did note that a reduction in delegation size would increase the proportionate representation of smaller annual conferences as well as the central con-

ferences — church areas in Africa, Asia and Europe. Initially, the commission considered a motion to reduce the number of delegates to 750. But ultimately the board approved an amendment to increase that number to 850. “This was a compromise,” said the Rev. Diane Wasson Eberhart, the commission member who proposed the amendment. “I was on the fence about the issue because I feel strongly that we have a lot of voices that need to be heard, but I also feel strongly that we need a culture of change. If we do the same thing over and over again, we’ll get the same results.” A number of United Methodists have denounced the 2012 gathering as the “do-nothing” General Conference. The Judicial Council — the denomination’s top court — overturned an effort to restructure the church’s general agencies and overturned other legislation to eliminate  guaranteed security of appointments for ordained elders in good standing. The wider General Conference ran out of time before it could consider a number of petitions approved by legislative committees. Some commissioners expressed the hope that a smaller General Conference also might increase the efficiency in handling petitions. The East Ohio Conference will be represented by 12 delegates (6 clergy, 6 lay) at General Conference 2016, down from 14 delegates at General Conference 2012. A breakdown of delegation sizes can be viewed at gc2016delegatecount. *Heather Hahn is a multimedia news reporter for United Methodist News Service. Photo Courtesy of the Oregon Convention Center.

east ohio joining hands



ty i n u t r o p p Land of O


n Sunday, Oct.27, the congregation of Middlefield United Methodist Church (Western Reserve District) dedicated 15 acres of land, which will be the new site for the church. In 2009, the congregation began to feel a nudge that God was calling it to do something.  Members recognized that the present facility was limiting the ability to expand current, and initiate new, ministries.  Building an addition to the current facility was not possible, so the search for a new location began.  The site where the new church will be built is within walking distance for all students in the local school system. It is also adjacent to one of the most identifiable landmarks in Geauga County – Mary Yoder’s Restaurant.  On the day of dedication, the cross led the way as the congregation processed from the current building through the center of Middlefield to the new site.  The cross was placed in the soil and the ground was consecrated to the glory of God.  Construction on the building is yet to be scheduled. In the meantime, the land will serve as the site for new ministries. Current possibilities being considered are an off-site worship service, a community garden, and recreation fields.

14 east ohio joining hands


By Rev. Ed Peterson* *Rev. Ed Peterson is in his 9th year as pastor of Middlefield United Methodist Church.

Coming Home


he congregation of Somerton United Methodist Church (Southern Hills District) lost the roof of its building during a storm in the summer of 2012. The building, constructed in 1873, had to be torn down. Since then, members have been worshipping at their sister church, Jerusalem United Methodist. On Nov. 3 Somerton UMC returned to town for a special service. Ninety people attended worship in the Somerton Volunteer Fire Department firehouse. Following the service a ground-breaking ceremony was held for the new Somerton UMC. “It is a pleasure to see the church coming together to worship and break ground back home in Somerton,” said pastor Jean Cooper. “The huge outpouring of support through the past year and a half of fund-raising and dreaming is evidence that the surrounding community wants Somerton UMC to again be a visible presence in this town.”  “It is a sign to me that we are going forth with returning to a community in which many of our members have established deep roots and raised our families,” said lay speaker Christy Goodhart. “It gives me a sense of homecoming.” The congregation will continue to meet in the firehouse until construction is complete on the new church building. Additional funds still need to be raised so it is unknown when church members will be able to move into their new permanent home. “We have always been known as the ‘red brick church’ and the folks of Somerton are excited and eagerly awaiting its return,” said Goodhart.

Stepping Into the Future

Jesus is Calling ...


he Winter 2011 issue of Joining Hands was my first as conference director of communications. On page 2 of that issue we printed the lyrics of the 1972 Richard K. Avery and Donald S. March hymn, “We Are the Church.”

The first verse says it all:

By Rick Wolcott *Rick Wolcott is the Director of Communications for the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church.

The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people.

Somerton UMC lost its building but its ministries continue, as do those at Middlefield UMC while the congregation makes plans to build on a new site. Our church buildings across the conference are visual reminders to community members of the ministries we carry out. But the church is not those buildings, it is the people. We live in a visual world. I remember a television commercial from my early childhood. It featured the 1974 Carly Simon song “Anticipation.” The image of the thick Heinz ketchup moving ever-so-closer to exiting the glass bottle is etched in my memory. Fast forward to 1983 – emphasis on the word “fast.” That year, Heinz introduced the squeeze bottle. No more anticipation. The company was adapting the delivery system of its product to meet the demands of a society that didn’t want to wait. That was 40 years ago! Before cellphones and the World Wide Web. The pace of life has only intensified since then. What’s important to point out is that Heinz didn’t change the product. The ketchup stayed the same. But now consumers had a choice. They could buy it in the same clear glass bottle that was introduced in 1890 or in the new plastic squeeze bottle. Today, there are more choices still – for ketchup and for church. Our mission as United Methodists, to make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, hasn’t changed. What is changing across East Ohio and the rest of the denomination is the deliv-

ery system for spreading the message that Christ died so that we might live. We are moving from telling the story inside the sanctuary on Sunday morning to living it daily in the community. In doing so we are offering more ways in which people can connect with the church. Websites, Facebook pages, text messages, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr and YouTube are just a few examples of ways in which we are telling the stories of Jesus. In my first article in that Winter 2011 issue I challenged each of us “to leave our personal comfort zones” when spreading the love of God. Joining Hands has become comfortable. The stories are relevant but the delivery system needs updating. Conversations with conference leaders confirmed they prefer the quicker turnaround time and larger audience offered by the Internet. Publishing stories online as they happen increases their impact across the conference, as opposed to waiting three or more months to print them in the next issue of the magazine. The money spent printing four issues a year can be better utilized producing video stories that can be posted to the conference YouTube page. It’s unlikely that Joining Hands articles are read aloud during a worship service or small group gathering. But imagine the impact of showing a 3-minute video story. A lot of time and discussion went into making the decision that this is the last regular issue of Joining Hands. As we prepare to move forward, I want to acknowledge everyone who brought us to this point. Joining Hands has been blessed by talented writers these past 10 years, and even more importantly, by passionate individuals who shared their stories. Thank you for your ministries! May you continue to be a blessing to others by being the living hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

east ohio joining hands



Jesus is


people will l l a is h t y “B are my u o y t a h t w o kn have u o y if , s e l discip nother.” a e n o r o f e v lo (ESV) -John 13:35

Youth from across East Ohio gathered in Columbus Nov. 16-17 for Project 13:35. Small group discussions, speaker Curtis Zachery, New Zealand music group Rapture Ruckus, and worship reinforced the message found in the Book of John. Discipleship will be the focus of Youth Annual Conference 2014. The theme for the June 13-15 event held at Lakeside is “Navigate.”


east ohio joining hands



Joining Hands Magazine  

December 2013 Issue

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