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Two Sections

Inside the Pages

Taking Off

Lighthouse Overlook

Section A

Enhance your ministry | 2A

Urban Youth Camp Flourishes | 4A & 5A

Let your light so shine | 6A

Vol. 157 No. 18

079000 September 3, 2010

CLERGY’S O R ‘Y’all come N E on home now’ R Rev. Jack Harnish First UMC, Birmingham

Operation Motown PHOTO COURTESY OF MOTOWNMISSION.ORG

For six straight weeks, youth and young adults helped transform Detroit and made memories and built relationships that will last long beyond the summer.

Detroit mission trips take off during summer By RJ Walters Editor Detroit is a destination. Maybe not the kind people pack extra sun-tan lotion for or the type people fly in from the other side of the country to visit, but it’s a becoming a destination nonetheless—the kind where United Methodists help a city in need of revival

by organizing their own weeklong revivals of sorts. The Motown Mission Experience, a project of the Young Leaders Initiative, has been rebuilding homes and sprucing up abandoned lots for six years, but the summer of 2010 breathed new life into a mission that has a future that is full of potential.

Between 225 and 250 workers graced the streets of the Motor City for six separate weeklong missions, nearly five times the number of participants from 2009. Carl Thomas Gladstone, the director of the Young Leaders Initiative, said transformation was alive and well in Detroit this summer, both in changing percepSee Mission trips . . . on page 2A

Over Labor Day last year I read a lovely book called The Big House. Lest you assume it has to do with my preference of college football stadiums, it’s actually about a family’s long-time summer home on Cape Cod. The author describes it as an extraordinary four-story, shingle-covered house with gables and dormers, 19 rooms, seven fireplaces, and a warren of closets and crannies that four generations of children used for hide-and-seek. The house had been through five weddings, four divorces, three funerals, several nervous breakdowns, an untold number of conceptions and countless birthday parties and anniversaries. Even though the family is now scattered coast to coast, they always came back. After 42 of his own summers at the Big House, author George Howe Colt concludes:“I have always thought of it as home, if home is the one place that will be in your bones forever.” And I thought, “That’s church. That’s God’s Big House, the place that will be in your bones forever.“ Now shifting my geographical metaphor from New England to my one-time home of Tennessee let me offer the invitation: “Y’all come on home now, ya hear?” “Y’all” really is a wonderful plural form of the word “you”. It certainly beats the plural form I grew up with in rural Western Pennsylvania: “you’ns”. And it is more inclusive than the Midwestern “you guys” or even worse, the East Coast double plural See Y’all come on home now . . . on page 2A

Phyllis Tickle: ‘We are in tumultuous times’ By RJ Walters Editor By Phyllis Tickle’s estimation,” Emergent Christianity” is more than just a popular catchphrase that describes a temporary fad of contemporary churchgoers. In fact Tickle believes anyone who doesn’t understand the term “Emergent Christian” is in severe danger of ignoring important ramifications of a shift in the institutionalization of Christian churches—including United Methodist congregations. As one of the keynote speakers for the Michigan Area School for Pastoral Ministry in Lansing Aug. 17-19, Tickle, once called “the Walter Cronkite of religious publishing,” urged UMC pastors to wake up and acknowledge the “300-pound gorilla in the room” that is Emergent Christianity.

Pinning down an exact definition of Emergent Christianity is almost as difficult as catering to it, but Tickle said it is everything from evangelical to Anabaptist to liberal and/or conservative to neo-this and post-that. At its core Emergent Christianity focuses on horizontal, communal organizational (church) structures as opposed to hierarchical ones—or simply Phyllis Tickle community and unity over individuality, through dialogue and exploration, as Tickle says in her latest book The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. What it means for pastors of every denomination though, including United Methodists, is there are God-seeking individuals foregoing the traditional church experience in search of some-

thing else. “I have breaking news for you: We are in tumultuous times. If you hadn’t come here you would have never known it,” Tickle said shrewdly. She argues that there is inevitable social-religious upheaval every 500 years—such as the Maxie Dunnam Great Reformation of the 1500s, the East-West Schism that started in the 11th Century, the decline and fall of the Roman Empire and the transformation of Biblical times—and the Great Emergence is coming full force. She believes scripture is still the central point of this new movement, but the “emergents” desire room for interpretation See Phyllis Tickle … on page 3A

The United Methodist Reporter (USPS 954-500) is published weekly by UMR Communications, 1221 Profit Drive, Dallas, TX 75247-3919. Periodicals Postage Paid at Dallas, Texas and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to The United Methodist Reporter, PO Box 660275, Dallas, TX 75266-0275.


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SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

Misssion trips take off Continued from front page tion’s of the often-condemned city and in the faithful gathering of UMC servants. “Our major partner in the home repair projects is the Joy Southfield Community Development Corporation…over the course of the six weeks they have cleared out like 88 empty lots that had been overgrown to the point of jungles,” he said. “With six weeks in a row of projects we were kind of able to see more kind of successful endpoints for a lot of the projects compared to previous years where it was one or two weeks at a time. That was really cool.” The increased workload was made possible by the help of three summer interns, as well as a grantfunded position that took care of updating www.motownmission.org, multimedia projects and PR outreach. More workers meant more people getting a close-up look at Detroit, and Gladstone said educating people about the devastation and the hope they can provide is job number one. “One of the things we try to say at the beginning of the week is that many of our churches are sending mission teams down to Haiti, down to the Gulf Coast after Katrina…and we’re letting them know that the same kind of devastation that happened in Katrina is happening here in Detroit,” he said. “In a recent BBC documentary one of the guys said, ‘Detroit is like a slow-mo-

See videos, hear stories and find out how you can get involved with the Motown Mission Experience at www.motownmission.org.

tion Katrina.’ So I think one of the things people are realizing about this city is it’s not just ‘people down there who can’t make a go of it,’— this is a place that is facing the kind of disaster that if you look at it the right way, we should be called to disaster recovery work.” Local metro churches are a big help with the project, providing casserole dishes and other foods to help make dinner for 30-40 people—something Gladstone encourages local church members to share with work crews so they can hear their stories. The mission team is also working on building up a database of people who can show up at sites and show groups of high school students how to do things like “drywall or build stairs.” They are looking into the possibility of adding additional staff leadership in the future through a University of Michigan program called “Semester in Detroit.” “Students come and live downtown and they take classes at Wayne State University and they also have two days a week, 9-5, working with a local non-profit on some sort of project,” Gladstone said. “It’s an ongoing program entering its third year, so a number of non-profits have benefited from this.” The Motown Mission Experience would also like to be more than just a summertime destination. Gladstone said there have been ongoing discussions about making the project an “alternative break option” for college students in either February or March. No matter what time of year it is though, it’s not all work without play at the Experience. “Everyday we encourage groups to work from about 9 (a.m.) to 3 (p.m.) and then from about 3:30 to dinner time we encourage them to go out and explore Detroit, so some days they might go to Belle Isle to play Ultimate Frisbee or other days they might go to the waterfront or visiting the Motown music museum or different places around Detroit,” he said. Groups also go to Detroit Tigers’ games nearly every week and Gladstone brings in musicians each week, varying from cover bands to “a rap artist with spiritual lyrics,” to worship music.

INSIDE THE PAGES Michigan Area book reviews to enhance leadership and ministry Direct Hit: Aiming Real Leaders at the Mission Field, by Paul Borden (Abingdon Press, 2006) Review by: Barbara Flory, West Michigan Conference Director of New Church Development Would the real pastor/leader please stand up? Do you remember that television show called What’s My Line? A panel of experts would ask clever questions and based on the responses given by the guests the panel would determine what the vocation of the person was. What questions would you ask to help you decide if a person were a pastor? After reading Direct Hit by Paul Borden you would be better equipped for that challenge. Just one word is the essential descriptor of a pastor: Leader. Unfortunately, most pastors don’t view themselves as the leader of the congregation and most congregations don’t view the pastor as their leader. Spiritual leader? Maybe. Chaplain? For sure. But the visionary strategic leader? Not so much. This misunderstanding of the pastor’s role is what stands between most churches and the growth they desire. This insightful book begins with a description of the role of a pastor and then leads us through the necessary steps of systemic change. A major assumption of the book is that “congrega-

tions are created by God to be God’s primary tool for making individual disciples and for changing entire communities.” Borden provides a concise outline of the priorities of a pastor during the 3-5 years that must be spent preparing a congregation for systemic change. Many pastors fail to lead change in their congregation because they don’t understand the time needed for the project and they lack patience. Many others fail because when the preparation is completed they lack the courage to make decisive moves forward. In most of our congregations, which are on the downside of their life cycle, a pastor cannot lead systemic change alone. An outside consultant with a breadth of experience will be needed to help the pastor and the congregation to face the reality of the situation. Borden walks through the entire process of preparing a congregation for systemic change and then leading it through that. Then Borden puts the cherry on the cake by describing the brand new world the pastor and congregation will live in as a result of the process. In Borden’s mind the pastor’s primary responsibility is to lead, as chaplaincy fades away. The congregation finds it has a great future ahead, filled with young families, new disciples and new ministries. Borden writes with clarity and a passion for the church that is contagious. Do yourself a favor—get yourself a copy of this one.

‘Y’all come on home now’ Continued from front page “you’s guys,” but wherever you are from and however you say it, Jesus’ invitation to all is: “Ya’ll come.” In Luke chapter 14-15, Luke tells the story of a Sabbath sunset dinner party. During the pre-dinner cocktail hour, much to the dismay of the hostess and the other guests, Jesus heals a sick man. Now first you have to ask, “who invited a man sick with dropsy (probably edema in the legs, due to congestive heart failure) to the party, anyway?” It was embarrassing. And second, it’s the Sabbath and everyone knows you can’t touch sick people on the Sabbath. That would mess up the whole party! But Luke, the physician, records that Jesus took note of this man. Jesus healed him right there—at the party, even on the Sabbath. Then, perhaps to break the uncomfortable silence, he tells a few after-dinner stories.“Did you hear the one about the great banquet? Once upon a time, there was a father who had two sons, a woman who lost a coin and a shepherd who lost his sheep.” The stories are all about who gets invited and who gets found, who comes home and who gets welcomed to the Big House. Frankly, the

invitation list is a bit shocking. Jesus says, “Don’t just invite the people you know, the people you like and are like, but expand the table. Stretch the invitation list to include the poor, the lame, the blind, the lonely, the lost, the outsider and the overlooked, because at God’s party in God’s Big House, the invitation is to all. “Y’all come.” And the task of the church is to offer this invitation—to go into the world with the winsome word of Christ’s gracious invitation to come on home. To go with the message of a God who welcomes all to his joy-filled banquet. I remember when Bishop Judy Craig first came to Michigan back in the ’80s. She described the United Methodist Church as a great banquet feast. We have wonderful facilities, good food (always good food!), great music, and even pretty good after-dinner speakers. The only problem is, we have stopped inviting others to the banquet. So a church that was born as an evangelistic movement becomes stagnant, withers and dies. Our purpose is not to serve dinner to the folks who are already at the party, but to offer a place at the

table for those we haven’t reached yet; to invite others into God’s big house and to say to those who have not yet found their place at the table, “Y’all come on home now, ya hear? Come on home to God’s great feast.” Church-growth experts tell us there are certain times of year when people are more open to the invitation. Obviously the most significant is Christmas Eve when more unchurched people will look for a place to worship than any other day of the year.Another might be Easter, but “Back-to-school” time is also one of the best. Families are getting back into a routine, the kids are going back to school and parents are saying, “Maybe we should get back to church.” The only thing lacking for most of our churches is the invitation, ways of opening the doors, letting others know that they really are welcome—ways of saying “Y’all come.” It really is a “Big House”, you know. This church of Christ is meant to be a home that stays in your bones forever. Now is the time to offer the invitation. “Y’all come on home now, ya hear?”


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THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

Engaging high waves and lost dogs I strapped on the life jacket, wrapped my arms around the inner tube and we headed into the waves of Lake Michigan as if we were surfers on a Hawaiian Island. The sun was blazing—water temperature was a near bath BENTON HEISLER water 80 degrees. My college-age WEST MICHIGAN daughter and I belly laughed like CONFRENCE DIRECTOR OF two pre-school children as the CONNECTIONAL waves tossed us about as “Mom” MINISTRIES watched from a safe distance on shore. We both knew how to swim. We had extra safety equipment and a “support team” watching out for us. This summer people have moved into your community and they too face crashing waves. They are the waves of change in a sea of new surroundings. They may or may not have the “equipment” to help them and maybe their “support team” is in another town or state. We, the Church, need to be a place of welcome, safety, relationships of support and sense of community that transforms the threatening waves with their undertow of loneliness into the celebration of life which friendships provide. This week we adopted a new member into our family. She may be 5-7 years old. No one knows for sure. No records. No history. No name. She seems to know the meaning of a few words and is quickly catching on to the household routine. She knew none of our home’s expectations and we needed to pay attention to her cues so we could learn from her as well. Welcoming new persons into our congregations is similar. Hospitality, being attentive to a wide variety of

potential needs and creating opportunities to engage in activities together, along with simply spending quality time with people, are essential components. Be patient and willing to allow mistakes in the “accepted social etiquette.” We do not know everything that has shaped each of us, but we do know God loves and accepts all of us as we are. It is crucial to create a welcoming climate in our congregations as well as one that sets an expectation that we will be engaging. Our adoption of an abandoned Golden Retriever is nothing compared a congregation welcoming people who are searching for a place to belong. We took Ellie for her first neighborhood walk recently. She is a gracious greeter but not over exuberant. (She would be a good example for front door greeters of any congregation.) We met people only a few doors down who we had yet to encounter in our first 20 months at our residence. We exchanged names. We discovered the approximate ages of our children. Together we noted that we were not the only ones with a variety of life transitions going on. As we meet again and begin to get acquainted, if they have no church home, I will invite them to the one we attend. It always feels awkward, but I know it is what the Gospel calls me to do. I have never had a person go ballistic with me just for inviting them. In fact they have always been gracious in their acceptance or refusal. Put your gear on and wade into the waves. The joy and blessings in life are not found just driving by the beach, or the Humane Society, or your neighbor. The joy and the blessings come as we engage life and others. May God give us the grace and the courage to step forward.

We are in tumultuous times Continued from front page and discussion that includes their own experiences. Tickle also believes Emergent Christianity is “no good at the rules” and it doesn’t always do a good job of upholding traditional power structures. She said many Emergent Christians look for guidance from Micah 6:8. “Does thy Lord require the particular adherence to specific scripture or as Micah 6:8 states, “to be full of love, care and justice”? That is what these people are asking themselves and they are seeing if a church is the place to fulfill their needs,” she said. Tickle classifies Emergent Christians as Christians who like to openly debate long-held interpretations of scripture, while exploring ways their own worldliness might teach them something beyond the text of the Bible. “A good Emergent Christian, if pushed, will (likely) say ‘You tell me that an omniscient, omnipotent God couldn’t find a better way to atone for our sins than killing his only kid?’” she said. “I promise that at least 10 percent of your congregation is playing with (Emergent Christianity) inside their heads.” Fellow keynote speaker Maxie Dunnam, President Emeritus of Asbury Theological Seminary, said it may be unsettling to think about any chinks in the armor of traditional churches, but pastors and leaders can learn a lot from viewing their con-

gregation more as a community instead of a collection of individuals. “You might find this odd for a president of a seminary…but you as an ordained pastor can’t be the person who can nail down all these emergent groups in your church. So you better find lay people in your congregation to facilitate these types of things,” he said. “We can’t pay enough ordained pastors to go the place the lay people, the homeless, etc. can go.” Tickle said Rob Bell’s nationally recognized Mars Hill Church is a good example of Emergent Christians spreading and sharing the Gospel as a large body, but often times they stick to smaller groups. “I was part of a pub theology and doctors, lawyers, homeless—people of all types were there. And there wasn’t a single Bible opened, but people quoted the Bible by exact chapter and verse,” Tickle said. “I bet that doesn’t happen with most people in your congregations.” She said mission trips of the 21st century could be to bars, the local Starbucks or even yoga classes. “If I was a professional clergy right now…I would be earnestly looking at my 21-30 year-olds. I don’t know what you do, except day-by-day look to the needs of your most important demographics,” she said. “We are here to serve the Kingdom of God, and sometimes there is a new change among us.”

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COMING UP Super Sunday offers superb leadership training By Rev. Dr. Glenn Wagner Holt United Methodist Church For the 14th straight year the Lansing District will host Super Sunday and it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl. Super Sunday is a free, open-to-all leadership-training event on Sunday, Nov. 14 from 2:30-5:00 p.m. at Mount Hope United Methodist Church in Lansing. The event features a keynote address by Bishop Sharon Rader, Ecumenical Officer for the United Methodist Council on Bishops. The theme will be, “To be or not to be? That is the question!” Bishop Rader served as Pastor at University UMC in East Lansing from 198689. Participants will choose one of 16 90minute workshops in areas inspired by Bishop Robert Schnase’s book, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” Workshops will be offered by gifted, credentialed leaders to equip congregations in each of the following areas: radical hospitality, extravagant giving, intentional faith development, risk taking mission and service, passionate worship, and developing world class leadership teams. Last year over 300 people attended, representing five districts and both Michigan Area conferences. Early arrivals will be treated to a free concert of the Mount Hope Praise Team beginning at 2 p.m. Childcare will be provided More detailed information is available at http://holtumc.org/. Questions can be directed to Rev. Dr. Glenn Wagner at pastorglenn@acd.net

Has your heart been ‘strangely warmed’ lately? By Paul Thomas Detroit Conference Director of Communications The Rev. Mike Slaughter, of Ginghamsburg Church (www.ginghamsburg.org), will be the keynote speaker at Hearts Strangely Warmed, a worship and evangelism workshop scheduled for 8:45 a.m.-4:45 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, at Swartz Creek UMC. Slaughter will be speaking at the opening worship and plenary session, and will also be teaching a workshop entitled “Change the World: Recovering the Message and Mission of Jesus,” focused around his new book released earlier this year. The Rev. Jim Walker, pastor at Hot Meal Bridge Faith Community (www.hotmetalbridge.com), a church plant on the south side of Pittsburgh, Pa., will be speaking at the closing worship and plenary session.

Walker has been a speaker at emergent worship conferences and is the author of Dirty Word: The Vulgar, Offensive Language of The Kingdom of God. Walker will also be teaching a workshop entitled “The long, hard journey of sharing in authentic, intimate, and meaningful community together.” In addition to Slaughter and Walker, five other presenters will be teaching workshops, including Flint District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Eugene Blair, Dr. Ron Crandall of the E. Stanley Jones School of World Mission and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary, Rev. Dr. Sherry Parker of Brighton FUMC, Rev. Dr. Wayne Barrett who is the president and executive director of the United Methodist Foundation of Michigan and Rev. Beth Bryant. Participants will be able to attend three workshops, in addition to the two plenary sessions. The cost for the event is $15 per person if the registration is received by Oct. 30. On-site registrations will be $20. Childcare is available for $10 per child. A limited number of scholarships are available upon request. Scholarship requests should be directed to the Rev. Margie Bryce at megbryce@charter.net. People can register for the event by downloading a brochure on www.detroitconference.org.

Celebrate and learn how to share your faith By Paul Thomas Detroit Conference Director of Communications For its 125th anniversary, and to celebrate the opening of the Metropolitan United Methodist Ministry Center, which contains the Detroit East and Detroit West District offices as well as the offices of the United Methodist Union of Greater Detroit, Detroit: Metropolitan UMC will host a faith-sharing seminar from 10:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11. The Rev. Dr. George Morris, senior professor of world evangelism for the World Methodist Council, will be the keynote speaker. Morris co-authored the textbooks Faith Sharing and The FaithSharing New Testament and Psalms. The seminar is intended for pastors, lay speakers, lay leaders, youth workers, small group leaders, and anyone who wishes to gain confidence in their witness to others. The cost to attend the seminar is $15 per person, which covers lunch, a copy of The Faith-Sharing New Testament and Psalms and a seminar workbook. Registration forms can be downloaded at www.detroitconference.org. For more information, contact Detroit: Metropolitan UMC at 313-875-7407 or visit their website at www.metroumc.org.


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THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

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Urban Youth Camp offered some campers their first-ever canoeing and/or camping experiences.

Out of the city and into their hearts Urban Methodist Youth Camp takes off in second go-round ABOVE: The Super Plunge was a big hit with campers of all ages at Judson Collins this summer. BELOW: Paddle boats and canoes were at the disposal of campers and camp counselors at Urban Youth Camp.

By RJ Walters Editor “I came here because I was bored.” “I came here because my momma said I need to do something other than play football.” “I came here to learn the ways of God.” These real statements by real middleschool youth from Metro Detroit demonstrate the need for the Urban Methodist Youth Camp at Judson Collins Campground in Onsted. In its second year of summer programming it is providing crucial tools to strengthen faith, life skills, fitness and community for a group of energetic, moldable youth often left out in the church camping world. If growth is an ample measuring stick for the success of a program then the urban camp isn’t just a phase, it’s a soon-to-be craze. After having 118 high school and middle school youth pack the camp in 2009, camp leaders decided to break it into two weeks of fun and instruction in 2010. The first week of August brought in 88 high school students and the following week was filled with the voices and laughter of 96 middle school students. “They really, really look forward to it and they need it,” said Audrey Mangum, the camp’s program administrator. “Some don’t know what to expect—some have never been away from their parents and families.” It does the body good While campfires and marshmallows have their place, Urban Youth Camp is far from a traditional camping experience.

One of its foundations is its athletic offerings, which range from basketball and volleyball to archery, cheerleading and ultimate Frisbee. Prior to camp each participant chooses one offering to spend an “intensive” two hours developing skills and participating in each morning. This year the camp also offered Latino dance and drums, and drama, for people who are more artistically driven. Every afternoon also offers time for capture the flag competition, scavenger hunts, crafts, an array of tours and more. This year some of the high school students even had the opportunity to do an overnight canoe trip that took them across several lakes to the nearby Lutheran campground. “Canoeing is something a lot of urban kids have never experience before,” said Judson Collins Director Sarah Ratz. “Last week this girl was crying and didn’t want to go, but we put her in the lifeguard boat and at the end she said she was glad she got to do it. It’s really awesome to see people overcome fears here.” Cliff Stallings, the Judson Collins’ dean for 43 years strong and the chairman of the Urban Methodist Youth Camp Council, said the purpose of all of the activities is to help the kids bond. Digging deeper Those connections only begin with the fun. The theme this year is “Transformation,” and Rev. Carter Grimmett (People’s UMC) was the pastoral leader/speaker for the high school camp and Rev. Dr. Darryl Totty (Conant Avenue

UMC) was in charge of the spiritual growth of the middle school students. Utilizing other talented pastors and leaders from the Detroit East and West conferences, Grimmett and Totty helped inspire youth to become more disciplined and involved in discerning God’s call while also tackling tough issues like abstinence and pressing forward through difficult situations. Donna Stallings, Cliff ’s sister, facilitated abstinence/prevention talks with middle school girls and she said this week could be a real turning point in the lives of some youth. “Even some of these counselors—they could have gone the wrong way. They were tough as (kid campers) themselves,” she said. “Remember, these kids will be taking care of you and me one day. We have an investment in these kids.” She said boys and girls alike are being transformed in powerful ways through this new life experience. “Last week there were 16,17,18 year-old boys at the end of camp…just letting it all out, not afraid to release the emotions stored up inside them.” Attention: Help wanted As everybody’s mother or father probably once told them: “Nothing is free.” One of the urban camp’s big successes is the ability to offer a weeklong experience for just $100 per camper, about $225 less than it would usually cost for a similar experience, according to Ratz. Cliff Stallings said that is made possible

For the second straight year some high school campers took on camp leaders in the Counselors vs. Campers Basketball Game.

through the help of the United Methodist Union who provided $25,000 in grant money to the camp this year. Mangum is currently busy finding and writing local and national grants to help subsidize other costs and projects and Stallings said he wants to see a continually improving commitment to the urban camp cause. “I would like to see the conference invest more in this camp,” he said, noting that the Lake Huron Retreat Center, used primarily by adults, has seen ongoing renovations and upgrades since 1999 Stallings would like to see the day where some of the 60-70 year old cabins are replaced or repaired and the 240-acre campground reaches more of its full potential. “This camp is an ideal situation for MetroDetroit area kids,” he said. “I’m convinced we can get some more youth down here, as well as counselors if we had some more renovated facilities.” Grants and donations, which can be made online at www.judsoncollinscenter.org, are for more than just subsidizing costs for campers. Mangum said nearly $4,200 was poured into transportation to and from camp in the two weeks and Stalling said the purchase of a “cheap bus or two” in the future could eliminate most of that annually. In the meantime the five-person Youth Camp Council is fine-tuning its own new mission statement, which reads: “The mission of the Urban Methodist Youth Camp is to provide a Christ-centered, affordable, fun, overnight camping experience for youth from urban set-

ting and with an interest in learning about urban life.” The camp is a fluid mission of the Detroit East and West conferences and Stallings is urging more pastors and congregations to reap the benefits of the fruits being harvested.

“We want to recruit more United Methodist ministers in our group, (to join the council),” he said. “We’re finding that when you get pastors involved it’s easier then to get their congregation and members involved in something.”

Got the summer fever? Judson Collins was just one of the many hotspots for recreation and transformation this summer. For photo galleries from camps all over the state check out http://umccamps.org/Photos.htm For a story on a new partnership between The Baldwin Center and Camp Kinawind go to www.detroitconference.org.

PHOTOS BY AUDREY MANGUM

From left to right, Rev. Lester Mangum, Rev. Carter Grimmett, Detroit West Superintendent John Lee, Program Administrator Audrey Mangum and Camp Dean Cliff Stallings all played a major role in this summer’s Urban Youth Camps.


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SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

5A

Urban Youth Camp offered some campers their first-ever canoeing and/or camping experiences.

Out of the city and into their hearts Urban Methodist Youth Camp takes off in second go-round ABOVE: The Super Plunge was a big hit with campers of all ages at Judson Collins this summer. BELOW: Paddle boats and canoes were at the disposal of campers and camp counselors at Urban Youth Camp.

By RJ Walters Editor “I came here because I was bored.” “I came here because my momma said I need to do something other than play football.” “I came here to learn the ways of God.” These real statements by real middleschool youth from Metro Detroit demonstrate the need for the Urban Methodist Youth Camp at Judson Collins Campground in Onsted. In its second year of summer programming it is providing crucial tools to strengthen faith, life skills, fitness and community for a group of energetic, moldable youth often left out in the church camping world. If growth is an ample measuring stick for the success of a program then the urban camp isn’t just a phase, it’s a soon-to-be craze. After having 118 high school and middle school youth pack the camp in 2009, camp leaders decided to break it into two weeks of fun and instruction in 2010. The first week of August brought in 88 high school students and the following week was filled with the voices and laughter of 96 middle school students. “They really, really look forward to it and they need it,” said Audrey Mangum, the camp’s program administrator. “Some don’t know what to expect—some have never been away from their parents and families.” It does the body good While campfires and marshmallows have their place, Urban Youth Camp is far from a traditional camping experience.

One of its foundations is its athletic offerings, which range from basketball and volleyball to archery, cheerleading and ultimate Frisbee. Prior to camp each participant chooses one offering to spend an “intensive” two hours developing skills and participating in each morning. This year the camp also offered Latino dance and drums, and drama, for people who are more artistically driven. Every afternoon also offers time for capture the flag competition, scavenger hunts, crafts, an array of tours and more. This year some of the high school students even had the opportunity to do an overnight canoe trip that took them across several lakes to the nearby Lutheran campground. “Canoeing is something a lot of urban kids have never experience before,” said Judson Collins Director Sarah Ratz. “Last week this girl was crying and didn’t want to go, but we put her in the lifeguard boat and at the end she said she was glad she got to do it. It’s really awesome to see people overcome fears here.” Cliff Stallings, the Judson Collins’ dean for 43 years strong and the chairman of the Urban Methodist Youth Camp Council, said the purpose of all of the activities is to help the kids bond. Digging deeper Those connections only begin with the fun. The theme this year is “Transformation,” and Rev. Carter Grimmett (People’s UMC) was the pastoral leader/speaker for the high school camp and Rev. Dr. Darryl Totty (Conant Avenue

UMC) was in charge of the spiritual growth of the middle school students. Utilizing other talented pastors and leaders from the Detroit East and West conferences, Grimmett and Totty helped inspire youth to become more disciplined and involved in discerning God’s call while also tackling tough issues like abstinence and pressing forward through difficult situations. Donna Stallings, Cliff ’s sister, facilitated abstinence/prevention talks with middle school girls and she said this week could be a real turning point in the lives of some youth. “Even some of these counselors—they could have gone the wrong way. They were tough as (kid campers) themselves,” she said. “Remember, these kids will be taking care of you and me one day. We have an investment in these kids.” She said boys and girls alike are being transformed in powerful ways through this new life experience. “Last week there were 16,17,18 year-old boys at the end of camp…just letting it all out, not afraid to release the emotions stored up inside them.” Attention: Help wanted As everybody’s mother or father probably once told them: “Nothing is free.” One of the urban camp’s big successes is the ability to offer a weeklong experience for just $100 per camper, about $225 less than it would usually cost for a similar experience, according to Ratz. Cliff Stallings said that is made possible

For the second straight year some high school campers took on camp leaders in the Counselors vs. Campers Basketball Game.

through the help of the United Methodist Union who provided $25,000 in grant money to the camp this year. Mangum is currently busy finding and writing local and national grants to help subsidize other costs and projects and Stallings said he wants to see a continually improving commitment to the urban camp cause. “I would like to see the conference invest more in this camp,” he said, noting that the Lake Huron Retreat Center, used primarily by adults, has seen ongoing renovations and upgrades since 1999 Stallings would like to see the day where some of the 60-70 year old cabins are replaced or repaired and the 240-acre campground reaches more of its full potential. “This camp is an ideal situation for MetroDetroit area kids,” he said. “I’m convinced we can get some more youth down here, as well as counselors if we had some more renovated facilities.” Grants and donations, which can be made online at www.judsoncollinscenter.org, are for more than just subsidizing costs for campers. Mangum said nearly $4,200 was poured into transportation to and from camp in the two weeks and Stalling said the purchase of a “cheap bus or two” in the future could eliminate most of that annually. In the meantime the five-person Youth Camp Council is fine-tuning its own new mission statement, which reads: “The mission of the Urban Methodist Youth Camp is to provide a Christ-centered, affordable, fun, overnight camping experience for youth from urban set-

ting and with an interest in learning about urban life.” The camp is a fluid mission of the Detroit East and West conferences and Stallings is urging more pastors and congregations to reap the benefits of the fruits being harvested.

“We want to recruit more United Methodist ministers in our group, (to join the council),” he said. “We’re finding that when you get pastors involved it’s easier then to get their congregation and members involved in something.”

Got the summer fever? Judson Collins was just one of the many hotspots for recreation and transformation this summer. For photo galleries from camps all over the state check out http://umccamps.org/Photos.htm For a story on a new partnership between The Baldwin Center and Camp Kinawind go to www.detroitconference.org.

PHOTOS BY AUDREY MANGUM

From left to right, Rev. Lester Mangum, Rev. Carter Grimmett, Detroit West Superintendent John Lee, Program Administrator Audrey Mangum and Camp Dean Cliff Stallings all played a major role in this summer’s Urban Youth Camps.


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SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

The Lighthouse

Overlook

Let your light so shine…

The N.O.A.H. Project What is it? N.O.A.H stands for Networking, Organizing and Advocacy for Health and it’s a collaboration of more than 65 metro-Detroit churches teaming with Family Service, Inc. to provide food, shelter, basic needs, health services and more for the “chronically homeless” of Detroit. It is a project of the Alliance for Urban Ministry and local churches team up to provide sack lunches and other meals for the ministry—to the tune of more than 25,000 meals served in 2009. N.O.A.H. is funded primarily through foundations that support them, as well as federal and state grants. How did it start? In 1999 N.O.A.H. coordinator John Barnett helped transform the Bag Lunch Program into something much broader through his work with Family Services, Inc. He said he realized there was a great need to assist people who suffered from mental illnesses, substance abuse, lack of affordable housing, etc. and Central UMC and Family Services decided to form an alliance. Barnett said N.O.A.H. continues to evolve as community needs change and there is always room for more help and improvement. “We change according to the staff we bring in and we also change based on the needs of the population we deal with,” he said.

work prepared her to help N.O.A.H. make the most of its resources. She said what inspires her most is seeing friendships blossom. “Once they start being in (healthy) relationships for a while they start trusting others and growing and you realize the small things they have, they are willing to share with others,” she said. “And to me that’s really living out the message of the Gospel—like the five loaves and two fish story, things multiply themselves around here and people are willing to share with each other.” What churches/people can do to help? Although state and federal grants help the project’s cause, they have lost some funding in recent years, Brown said. They have a goal of $60,000 in donations from its Ministry Jubilee listing (# MJ 1162) each year and that money goes directly to funding a US-2 missionary for the project, as well as bagged lunch supplies and things like bus tickets and IDs. Brown said over 40 local UMCs help make bagged lunches, but there is always a need for more. Churches can also donate supplies for hygiene kits and clothes, especially with fall and winter just around the corner. “As winter approaches we’re always in need of socks, gloves and hats. Socks and gloves are the number one and number two preventers of frostbite, which people on the street are constantly concerned about getting,” she said. “We also need a lot of men’s underwear to help people survive.” Churches or individuals can donate directly through the Ministry Jubilee outreach or reach Brown or Barnett by calling 313-965-5422 or e-mailing them at yourpalamybrown@ yahoo.com or johnbarnett13@hotmail.com.

What type of progress has been made? N.O.A.H. has four full-time employees, two part-time staff members and 15-20 volunteers who help out on a weekly basis. Barnett said they help all ages, but 70-80 percent of the project’s clients are 50-60 years old. “Most of the individuals we work with aren’t transient homeless—they’re not like somebody who just lost a job last week—we’re working with people who have been on the street 10 or 15 years and we’re trying to change behaviors and attitudes to help them get off the street,” he said. Some N.O.A.H. clients actually volunteer and assist N.O.A.H. workers as they learn to gain trust and build relationships. PHOTO BY AMY BROWN Amy Brown has worked with N.O.A.H. for six years, and N.O.A.H. coordinator John Barnett sits down with a client at his office in Detroit. her Master’s Degree in social Let the Reporter shine the light: Each month the Reporter wants to highlight ministries that are working hard to live out the mission of the United Methodist Church. The publication would like to focus dedicated space to the missions and missionaries of The Advance and Ministry Jubilee projects. If you are part of or know of a specific ministry that is making a difference and fits the bill, please contact the Reporter via e-mail at editor@miareaumc.org.

PHOTO BY PAUL JEFFREY

HAPI helps empower Haitian women and provide them with some source of income.

Haitian Artisans for Peace International What is it? HAPI stands for Haitian Artisans for Peace International. It is an initiative of The Advance that was co-founded in 2007 by West Michigan Conference Council on Ministries Staff Office Manager Valerie Mossman-Celestin and Paul Prevost, a former mayor of Mizak, Haiti. It is a United Methodist Women-supported project that was founded as a fair trade artisan co-op focused on women’s economic development and empowerment. The goal is to help skilled Haitian workers earn just and fair wages to help stimulate economic growth. HAPI’s work extends into the community through community-based health care and programs for youth and its four major areas of focus are: economic opportunity, children, health, healing and wholeness, and building capacity. How did it start? Prevost introduced Mossman-Celestin to an artisan cooperative on her visit to Haiti. Mossman-Celestin said it was not a sustainable business model, but the women earned a paycheck and had the dignity of their work. “The effects were transformational; children were in school. Women were respected at home and in the community,” she said. “They didn’t have to travel long distances on risky and costly public transportation to sell products in dangerous urban areas. The women were happy.” Prevost and Mossman-Celestin have helped people in Mizak make partnerships with local churches, local civic bodies, media outlets and even North American organizations. What type of progress has been made?

Mossman-Celestin wrote the following about one Haitian woman’s experience in the August edition of the UMW publication Response: Artisan Leonne Ridore’s husband once held traditional views of a woman’s role. He did not see the value of a woman going off to work, and instead believed Ms. Ridore should stay home. But he changed his mind when he slipped in a muddy field and severed his wrist on his machete. Ms. Ridore had just received her first paycheck from HAPI, which enabled them to pay for the transportation to rush him to the hospital. “If I had not gotten there as soon as I did, I would have bled to death,” Mr. Ridore said, as he exposed the scar on his wrist. “Now I am happy HAPI is in the community.” Some of the anticipated long-term outcomes of HAPI are more households living above $2 per day, the empowerment of women and girls, a reduction of emigration to other areas of the country and improved health and mortality numbers. What churches/people can do to help? There are plenty of ways to get involved. As with any project, funding is essential. People can donate through The Advance by donating to special project #3020490. Tax-deductible donations can also be made at www.haitianartisans.com, where individuals or groups can choose specifically where their money goes. HAPI is also looking for people interested in serving as long-term volunteers in the areas of business, creativity, medical, agricultural, photography and more. Prevost can be reached at Hapiest2007@yahoo.fr and Mossman-Celestin can be contacted at valeriem@wmcumc.org.


SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

7A

Stewardship lessons from passing generations Have you ever heard a person say one of the following comments? “I paid good money for that . . .” “You never know how much you will need.” “Save it for a rainy day.” Statements like these often remind us of people who lived through the Great Depression. Their practicality mixed with generosity DAVID S. BELL created their code of living. They lived frugally VICE PRESIDENT OF so they could care for one another and supSTEWARDSHIP OF THE UNITED METHODIST port the Church and other societal causes. FOUNDATION Their generosity grew out of faithful duty, OF MICHIGAN human obligation, and Christian responsibility. They internalized and lived the stewardship message of the Gospel. These generations understood that we do not actually gain power or prestige by accumulating more. Most people had a comfortable, small home appointed with durable goods and personal items. In later years, many of them could have easily bought a larger home or more lavish cars, but they grasped the balance between having enough for themselves and having enough to share with others. They were able to support charitable causes and share their faith because they found contentment in living well within their means. These generations also understood the difference between a want and a need. Extravagant consumption—not extravagant

generosity—has become the standard lifestyle for so many in our culture. The line between want and need is blurred.We can all think of examples of this blurry delineation between want and need and have mixed emotions when distinguishing between them. Our hyper-consumer lifestyle has lead to a perception that we need everything we both can and cannot afford. It is time for us to review the lifestyle choices and advice freely offered by the depression era generations: 1) monitor your expenditures; 2) spend significantly less than you earn; 3) save with a patient and purposeful will; 4) determine if your spending leads to deep, abiding contentment in Jesus Christ or temporary joy from the accumulation of possessions, and 5) discover the freedom inherent in generosity. True contentment comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. Finally, a prevalent truth for these generations and, in fact, for all generations is that God loves us. God’s love for us through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant stewardship message of the Gospel. God loves us. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 2:4-10 that the sacrifice of Jesus dying on the cross is God’s living example of stewardship and extravagant generosity. God frees all who believe in God’s redemptive love to be Christian stewards on Earth. Reflect on people whom you can recall from the Depression Era.

Tear down your walls to open new doors Leaders do not need answers. Leaders must have the right questions. A church council comprised of most of the volunteer leadership in a small congregation wanted a relatively simple way to think about the future of their church. They made two lists on newsprint. One inJERRY DEVINE cluded words that described the current real- DETROIT CONFRENCE ity of their congregation. The other included DIRECTOR OF CONNECTIONAL words describing what they most hoped their MINISTRIES church could be in five years. Then, they used this question: What will be required to close the gap between where we are and where we believe God is calling us to go? (check out www.churchleadership.com) I have been storing that quote in my memory for a while because it makes the clear point that vision creates passion and passion creates commitment. The focus was on the goal, not the gap. Thus the planning process creates viable ministry solutions. Sometimes I discover anew a part of The Book of Discipline that makes so much sense it needs to be shared: ¶ 252. 3.b) In order for the council (church council) to give adequate consideration to the missional purpose of the local church, it is recommended that the first agenda item at each meeting be related to its ministries of nurture, outreach, and witness. The administrative and supportive responsibilities of the church will then be given attention. As you enter the flurry of September program-growth in your congregation, what questions are you asking about your ministry? Help each other reframe how you explore living out “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” To reframe something, one has to have a clear picture of the current reality, as well as a clear and yearned for picture in mind for what the new reality can be. When my family and I first moved to Michigan we moved

into a 100 year-old farmhouse. It had “good bones”, meaning the basics were still good, but it needed work to embrace a next generation of life. The information on the real estate materials had a category for the “lifespan” of the house—it was projected to only be around for another 40 years. But that is only true if one does nothing to altar the current course of deterioration. Things were torn apart, things were replaced. But each project required an assessment, or “picture” of the current reality, along with a clear sense of where it needed to be changed to embrace the needs of our contemporary family without losing the richness of its heritage. One particular project that stretched both the house and myself was opening up full access to the welcoming covered front porch. We wanted to allow for light and movement; we desired to create space to welcome and relate. This was not a new house. Change did not come easily, and each time it was attempted there would surely be some unexpected glitch that not only could be messy, but possibly irreparable. Thus, I knew I had to take risks, but with deliberate care for the existing house. I can still vividly remember the day that I removed the trim work all across that wall and around the windows before cutting the windows out. I could’ve turned back, but went ahead and cut out the entire section of wall. Afterward I carefully put in additional supports for the old structure. While there were many details to care for yet, when we put in the new French doors it was transformational. What new doorways are you opening up in your gathering patterns and your going out practices that will let the light of Christ shine more fully into your community and individual lives this September? There are always risks, but the transformation is worth moving toward. You may need to apply extra support for those that are most vulnerable to opening up the walls that have been there for perhaps a hundred years, but then move forward with clarity of vision.

What example of giving and generosity did they model for you? I remember my grandparents. They understood that their generosity provided short-term help with long-term consequences. Their giving offered an immediate boost to a person’s life or a charity’s income. However, their giving provided a lasting impact. Their focus remained steadfast on these long-term outcomes. For example, a contribution to a seminary student’s education provides immediate relief to the seminarian, but the seminary education offered the student a foundation for a lifetime of pastoral service. The small contribution to the local church endowment fund was an immediate gesture of remembrance in memory of a close friend, but the growth of the endowment fund over the years strengthens the church’s ministry. My grandparents, like many of these generations, were inspired by their faith to be generous with their church, their family, and their community. They gave beyond tithing because of the experiential joy they received sharing God’s blessings. I invite you to reflect on some of the lessons expressed by these generations. Adapt these lessons to your own discipleship today. Reflect with a sense of respect for their witness and with an expectant vision toward future generations. In so doing, I pray that you will find the freedom offered to those who choose to be extravagantly generous.

Subscribe to The Michigan Area Reporter Get connected. . . to a larger community of faith The Detroit and West Michigan Conferences are pleased to offer individual subscriptions to our new newspaper. Option #1—Individuals can subscribe to receive the monthly Michigan Area Reporter Edition delivered to their homes. This connectional publication features our area's news and features as Section 1. Section B and additional supplements will provide news about our denomination and the faith community around the world. Option #2—Bring weekly news to your home. In addition to our 12 monthly Michigan Area issues each year, you can receive the national edition of The United Methodist Reporter on the other 40 weeks. To begin your individual subscription immediately, fill in your information below: Name ___________________________________________ Address __________________________________________ City ____________________State ________Zip __________ Church/City _______________________________________ ! Enclosed is my check for $ 12.00 for 1 year (12 issues) of The Michigan Area Reporter Edition ! Enclosed is my check for $ 32.00 for 1 year (52 newspapers with Michigan Area featured as Section A in 12 monthly issues) Mail this completed form and your check, payable to your conference (Detroit or West Michigan), to: MICHIGAN AREA SUBSCRIPTIONS P.O. BOX 226625 DALLAS, TX 75222-6625


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SEPTEMBER 3, 2010

THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER

Hands joined, hearts united

Hands Across the City provides plenty of smiles for Grand Rapids By Laurie Haller Grand Rapids District Superintendent The people of The United Methodist Church believe that the church is not a building, an idea, or a belief and on Aug. 7 they showed exactly what they mean by that in downtown Grand Rapids. Nearly 650 United Methodists and community volunteers spent a day offering their hands in service through a ReThink Church event called Hands Across the City, sponsored by United Methodist Metro Ministry of Grand Rapids. They built a $76,800 playground from scratch and weeded, painted, built tables and benches, and fixed equipment in 11 other city parks and public schools. At Palmer School a lady named Alice weeded a community garden as she shared her passion for helping people help themselves by growing food in public places. At Congress School there was Shana, a young adult who is attending the local community college in large part because of the outreach of Trinity UMC. Coming from a highly dysfunctional family, caring church members have mentored Shana since secondgrade and her goal is to become the first African American Supreme Court justice. At Cherry Park, K.C., a neighborhood community organizer, was deeply grateful for the volunteers who painted her little office building, and weeded and cleaned up a wading pool that is used by 30 neighborhood children every weekday. “The partnership is the greatest thing,” K.C. said “The only way to make a difference in our city is by working together.” A man named Jim drove in from Muskegon to volunteer at Aberdeen Park, and he brought along two strapping grandsons, his sister-inlaw, and her four grandchildren. They cleaned out a supply closet, picked up trash, painted picnic tables, and touched up playground equipment. At Briggs Park a group of volunteers dug dirt out of a track gutter with their bare hands to ensure that when it rains, water flows smoothly through the gutter and keeps the running track dry. Dave, a young man who just moved to the neighborhood a week ago, could not believe all the volunteers who were lov-

ingly and meticulously cleaning a park that is usually trashed. He whipped out his camera to take numerous pictures of the group. “I know you are not here to gain recognition, but I want you to know how grateful I am for what you are doing,” he said. Lou, a resident in the neighborhood of Lincoln Park, and a few neighbors “take care of their park” since the City of Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Department has lost 68 percent of its staff and 40 percent of its maintenance workers since 2004 because of budget cuts. Lou, who expressed appreciation for the red-shirted ReThink volunteers, said, “You get angel points for doing nice things. Our satisfaction is in the doing, not the recognition.” The most challenging project of the day was at Sweet Street Park, where three bouncy riding toys needed to be moved to a safer location because of vandalism problem and because they were not within sight of watchful parents. Aided by a backhoe, seven volunteers moved three 500-pound concrete foundation blocks to the new location for these popular toys. At Garfield Park several hundred volunteers build a $76,800 state of the art KaBOOM playground in five hours. The only major project that had been done in this park in the past 20 years was removing the swimming pool. The playground was designed entirely by children in the neighborhood and after the cement dries it will be a source of laughter, fun, and endless joy for hundreds of God’s precious little ones. During the playground build, a HispanicLatino man walked through the park with five young children under the age of 10. As the children saw what is happening, their eyes grew huge, and they asked, “Can we help?” Volunteers reluctantly told the children that they had to be 18 years old to be on the construction site but that they could come back and play on the new playground any time. “Thank you so much for building this playground for us,” one small child said. They stayed and helped set up chairs for the afternoon musical celebration. The ripple effect of Hands Across the City will be felt all over Grand Rapids.

PHOTOS BY JIM SEARLS

TOP: Grand Rapids Mayor George Hartwell (left) and Grand Rapids DS Laurie Haller (right) celebrate the completion of the new KaBOOM playground with the help of a KaBOOM worker. ABOVE: Hands Across the City volunteers had no shortage of woodchips to deal with as they helped create some new play spaces in downtown Grand Rapids on Aug. 7.

Several dozen United Methodist churches worked side-by-side with city and neighborhood organizations, which will open new doors to mission and ministry. People met new friends, which will facilitate greater connections and cooperation. Thanks to one day thousands of city residents will be blessed by cleaner, safer, more beautiful parks, which will instill pride and en-

courage more people to take more responsibility for their city. The 1,300 hands across the city were dirty on Saturday. The hands were scratched, stained with paint, had a few splinters, and were sore and weary. But they were Christ’s hands, for Christ has no hands but ours to do his work in the world.

Michigan Area member named Director of Michigan Department of Civil Rights By Paul Thomas Detroit Conference Director of Communications The Rev. Dr. Daniel Krichbaum, a clergy member of the Detroit Conference, was recently named director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, a position he has been serving as the interim for since March. The Civil Rights Commission is an eightmember body, appointed by the governor to four-year staggered terms. It works to prevent discrimination through educational programs that promote voluntary compliance with civil rights laws and investigates and resolves dis- Rev. Dr. crimination complaints. Daniel Prior to his current post, Krichbaum Krichbaum

served as Governor Jennifer M. Granholm’s Chief Operating Officer. In that position he championed efforts to aggressively improve the state’s economy, increase access to health care for all people, and ensure a high-quality, highly-educated workforce. Before his work in state government, Krichbaum served as president and CEO of the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion for 11 years. He was also Executive Vice President at WTVS (Channel 56), Detroit’s public television station. Krichbaum also served as Director of Recreation and Parks for the City of Detroit and he was the minister of several churches in both New York and southeast Michigan. His educational background enhances his wealth of state government and private non-profit experience. Krichbaum

holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the College of Wooster, a master’s of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, a master’s of philosophy of education from Wayne State University and he is an ordained United Methodist Minister. In 1976, he was awarded a Ph.D. in philosophy of education from Wayne State University. His community service includes the United Way Community Impact Council, Greater Detroit Area Health Council Board of Directors, Michigan Interfaith Loan Fund Executive Committee and the SEMCOG (Southeast Michigan Council of Government) Board of Directors. Krichbaum lives in Bingham Farms with his wife, Susan and he is the father of four grown children.


umportal org Ready to go back

Is being Methodist too easy?

Wesleyan Wisdom

UM volunteers help kids stock up for school | 4B

Pundit likens membership to online degree | 6B

Methodism founder was ahead of his time | 7B

Section B

September 3, 2010

Church leaders urge countering fear on mosque B Y H E AT H E R H A H N United Methodist News Service

© 2010 DESIGN PICS PHOTO

Should the sermon start here? More than 60 percent of United Methodist pastors say they preach from the lectionary, but one recent study links topical preaching to church vitality.

Topical sermons are popular, but lectionary holds its own B Y M A RY J AC O B S Staff Writer

If you want your church to grow, should the pastor preach topical sermons? One denominational survey suggests the answer is “yes,” identifying “topical preaching in traditional worship” as a common characteristic of vital churches. But other surveys show that most United Methodist pastors start with the Revised Common Lectionary (a three-year cycle of weekly Scripture

readings) when they prepare their sermons. So is that a disconnect? Do topical sermons bring in the numbers and motivate attendees to participate more actively in church? And is the lectionary-based approach still relevant as United Methodist pastors seek to create more vital churches? Topical preaching does seem to have an evangelistic edge, admits Ronald J. Allen, professor of preaching and New Testament at Christian Theological School. “It allows the minister

to get immediately to an issue, and it’s inviting for people who are not part of the Christian community to recognize connections between their lives and the gospel,” he said. But denominational leaders aren’t ready to sacrifice the lectionary on the altar of church growth. “Both approaches are essential, but for different purposes,” writes Taylor Burton-Edwards, director of worship resources for the denomination’s General Board of Discipleship (GBOD). The Call to Action Steering Team commissioned the independent re-

search project that identified “common factors that work together to influence congregational vitality.” The survey asked United Methodist church leaders about the types of worship offered—such as contemporary, traditional and contemplative—and whether the preaching was lectionarybased, topical or a blend of the two. Those results were correlated with whether the churches were “high-vitality” or “low-vitality.” The results: High-vitality churches “offered both traditional and contem" See ‘Sermons’ page 3B

Each year, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Rev. Myrna Bethke has visited the World Trade Center site to remember her brother who perished in the towers that day. The United Methodist pastor does not blame Islam for those attacks or her family’s loss. She associates the faith with the Muslims she has joined for interfaith Thanksgiving services and the mosque that welcomes visits from her confirmation students. “This, to me, is Islam,” she said, “not the people who got together and decided to hijack the religion as they hijacked the planes.” Ms. Bethke, pastor of Red Bank United Methodist Church in New Jersey, also supports the Islamic cultural center planned near ground zero. She is a member of “September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows,” a group of the bereaved that announced its support for the project in May. But others who lost loved ones that day vehemently oppose the proposal, and the issue has become a source of political debate on cable news and the campaign trail. The controversy has not been limited to the proposed center in lower Manhattan. In recent months, confrontations have broken out over the construction or expansion of mosques across the United States— " See ‘Muslims’ page 2B

UMNS PHOTO BY MIKE DUBOSE

Rifaat Bedawi (left) and Imam Abdulrahman Yusuf help volunteers paint over antiMuslim graffiti at the Al-Farooq Mosque in Nashville, Tenn.


2B FAITH focus FAITH WATCH UM college president resigns over finances David Pollick, president of Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, resigned Aug. 11 after controversy over accounting errors and overspending at the United Methodist-affiliated school. Earlier this year, Dr. Pollick said the college had for years failed to subtract Pell grants from students’ financial aid, creating revenue shortfalls. Drastic budget cuts have included cutting five academic majors, 29 faculty and 51 staff.

Religious groups urge action on prison rape A coalition of religious leaders and civil-rights groups sent a letter Aug. 2 to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging enforcement of new standards to prevent an estimated 60,000 cases of prison rape each year. Signers included the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

Churches fall short as U.S. denies visas Many foreign delegates were unable to attend global church assemblies in the U.S. this summer because the State Department denied their visas, according to Religion News Service. About 1,000 delegates were missing when the Baptist World Alliance met in Honolulu, Hawaii; many of the rejected visas came from povertystricken areas of the world. Applicants must convince officials “beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will return to their home country after their stay in the U.S.,” said State Department spokeswoman Rosemary Macray.

" MUSLIMS Continued from page 1B far from New York’s hallowed ground. These include protests in Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Sheboygan, Wis.; and Temecula, Calif.

Being neighbors The United Methodist Book of Resolutions calls for “better relationships between Christians and Muslims on the basis of informed understanding, critical appreciation and balanced perspective of one another’s basic beliefs.” Another resolution calls for United Methodists to denounce discrimination against Muslims and “counter stereotypical and bigoted statements made against Muslims and Islam, Arabs and Arabic culture.” When it comes to the issue of allowing Muslims to build mosques, supporting their right to worship is not just in line with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, said the Rev. Stephen J. Sidorak Jr., the top executive at the United Methodist General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. It’s also part of Jesus’ command to love our neighbor, which as the parable of the Good Samaritan shows, can include those of different religions. “If we want to repair the breach that opened up between some Christians and some Muslims on Sept. 11, 2001, if we want to redeem the tragic events of that day, we must—as Isaiah said—come now and reason together,” Dr. Sidorak said. “That’s clearly the foundation of any interreligious work.” Welcoming local mosques also may help national security. A twoyear Duke University study on American Muslims and terrorism concluded that mosques might actually be a deterrent to the spread of militant Islam. “Our findings are that healthy, robust Muslim communities can be a bulwark against radicalization,” said David Schanzer, an associate professor at Duke and one of the study’s authors. “We don’t know exactly why individuals radicalize. But most

Florida UMC plans interfaith open house Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Fla., will host an open house Sept. 10 to counteract plans by the local Dove World Outreach Center to burn copies of the Quran on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Gathering for Peace, Understanding and Hope—co-sponsored by the Gainesville Interfaith Forum—will include prayer, cultural displays and games for children of different faiths to play together. —Compiled by Bill Fentum

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Students peer out through windows covered with anti-Muslim graffiti while neighbors of various faiths gather to help clean up the vandalism at the Al-Farooq Mosque in Nashville, Tenn.

terrorism studies show that individuals who go down that path feel alienated. They don’t feel that they fit into [the] wider society in which they live.” A strong Muslim community that is part of the mainstream can offer young Muslims the support they need without them turning to radical clerics online, he said.

Competing claims The proposed Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan won the unanimous approval of New York City zoning authorities. Plans call for the building to contain a fitness center, swimming pool, space for art exhibitions and an auditorium for public programs as well as a place for Muslim prayer. Organizers say their goal is to promote tolerance and community cohesion. However, the ethical case for locating an Islamic center near ground zero is more complex. Some critics have likened the debate surrounding the Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan to the acTHE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER (USPS954-500) is published weekly by UMR Communications Inc., 1221 Profit Drive, Dallas, Texas 75247-3919. Periodicals postage paid at Dallas, Texas and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER. PO Box 660275, Dallas Texas 75266-0275. THE UNITED METHODIST REPORTER has provided denominational news coverage since its beginning as the Texas Methodist newspaper in 1847. The Reporter has no official ties to the United Methodist General Conference or to any of the denomination’s general boards or agencies. This newspaper aims to provide readers with a broad spectrum of information and viewpoints consistent with the diversity of Christians. All material published in this newspaper is copyrighted by UMR Communications Inc. unless otherwise noted. Reprint of material from this newspaper must be authorized in advance by the Editor, and fees are assessed in some cases. To request reprints, e-mail news@umr.org, or fax a request to (214) 630-0079. Telephone requests are not accepted. Send Correspondence and Address Changes (include mailing label) To: P.O. Box 660275, Dallas, TX 75266-0275 Telephone: (214) 630-6495. Subscriptions are $26 for 52 issues per year. Click on “subscriptions” at www.umportal.org, e-mail circulation@umr.org or send a check to UMR Communications, Attn: Circulation, 1221 Profit Dr., Dallas, TX 75247.

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rimony that followed when Carmelite nuns moved into a convent near the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. After a public outcry, Pope John Paul II ordered the nuns to move in 1993. Taking a similar stand, some argue that it is insensitive to those who lost loved ones for Islamic center organizers to build near the World Trade Center site.

Addressing the mosque disputes and other issues in United MethodistMuslim relations is going to take more than a press release of solidarity or conference resolution, interfaith advocates said. Ms. Bethke and other United Methodist leaders urge fellow Christians to learn more about Islam and get to know their Muslim neighbors.

‘As pastors and laity, we need to do the long, difficult work of countering the false fear, incorrect history and bad theology that is out there.’ —The Rev. Omar Al-Rikabi “When I look over there and see a mosque, it’s going to hurt,” C. Lee Hanson, whose son, Peter, was killed in the attacks, said at a New York City public hearing, The New York Times reported. “Build it someplace else.” Ms. Bethke sympathized with those who oppose the Lower Manhattan center. “You want to be sensitive to people’s feelings,” she said, “but at the same time remember that we do have religious freedom in this country.” The Rev. Stephen Bauman, senior minister of Christ United Methodist Church in Manhattan, has worked with Imam Feisel Abdul Rauf, the religious leader who is spearheading the project. The pastor has no doubt the center is exactly what Mr. Rauf and others purport it to be. “I think the church ought to be about supporting it,” Dr. Bauman said. “It ought to be expressing a voice of compassion and hospitality.”

When you know someone well, she said, you won’t judge that person by the worst acts committed in his religion’s name. The Rev. Omar Al-Rikabi has been watching the angry responses to mosques around the country with increasing concern. Mr. Al-Rikabi, the United Methodist campus minister at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, is the son of a Muslim father from Iraq and a United Methodist mother from Texas. “As pastors and laity we need to do the long, difficult work of countering the false fear, incorrect history and bad theology that is out there,” he said. “It is seeping into too many of our churches, sermons and small group studies. We need to begin by looking at the start of the story: Genesis One: God created humanity in his image. . . . Every human is of sacred worth and loved through the work of Christ on the cross.”


FAITH focus 3B " SERMONS Continued from page 1B porary worship, and in those same churches, a very high number were found to use topical rather than lectionary preaching in their traditional services,” according to Neil Alexander, co-chair of the steering committee and president of the United Methodist Publishing House. That seems to confirm conventional wisdom. Many large, growing churches offer sermons on practical topics that address needs of the congregation. Witness the enormous popularity of United Methodist preachers like Adam Hamilton at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kan., who typically preaches sermon series on topics like “Seven Deadly Sins,”“Confessions of a Struggling Parent” or “Women of the Bible.” (And many of those sermon series, in turn, become popular books.)

invitational preaching ministries. When parishioners read the lectionary text, they are reading the same text as many others in Protestant churches throughout the Englishspeaking world and beyond. “This is something that we can do together, even if we can’t do anything else together,” she said. The denomination’s Music and Worship Study, conducted from 20042007, showed that about two-thirds of churches use the lectionary at least 75 percent of the time. Similarly, a 2010 survey of readers of Circuit Rider magazine showed that a gradually increasing number—more than 60 percent—of United Methodist pastors rely on the lectionary. “Going back 10-15 years, it was more around 50-50,” said Mary Catherine Dean, associate publisher

‘The most important question is not whether the pastor starts with a topic or a lectionary passage, but whether the Bible is cited with integrity.’ Visit the websites for United Methodist megachurches Granger Community Church in Granger, Ind., or Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, and you’ll find a link to the “Current Series” of topically based sermons, but no mention of the lectionary. And as many preachers will admit, some people in the pews don’t even know what the lectionary is, much less why it’s relevant to worship or their lives. “I don’t think the lectionary means much to most people,” said the Rev. Eddie Rester, pastor of Parkway Heights UMC in Hattiesburg, Miss. “More than anything it’s a churchy thing.”

What’s a lectionary? According to the United Methodist Book of Worship, the Revised Common Lectionary is a three-year cycle of readings for every week in the Christian year that is a “tool for voluntary use in planning and leading worship.” Over the three-year period, about 80 percent of the Bible is covered. Each Sunday’s readings typically include one passage each from the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Epistles and Gospels, and the readings follow the outline of the Christian year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. The Revised Common Lectionary was created in 1992 and is used by many Protestant denominations around the world. That’s one of its advantages, says Safiyah Fosua, the GBOD’s director of

and editor-in-chief for Abingdon Press. “So there was a move during that period toward the lectionary.” Sales have remained steady for worship resources relating to the threeyear lectionary cycle. The survey didn’t explore why more are using the lectionary, but Ms. Dean offered a couple of theories. The ecumenical Academy of Homiletics has supported use of the lectionary on a continued basis; for pastors who attended seminary in the 1980s or later, the lectionary-based approach was the “default position.” Similarly, the Course of Study for licensed local pastors in the United Methodist Church recommends the lectionary, and local pastors represent a growing portion of the denomination’s clergy. The lectionary-based ap-

proach also seems to fit with the emergent Christianity notion that “everything traditional is new again.” “Topical preaching isn’t the only way to be relevant,” asserts the Rev. Jim Bankston. He has used the lectionary regularly in his preaching at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston, a 3,800-member congregation that’s growing steadily. “Our whole experience here is defined around the lectionary,” he said. “For me, it helps address the entire Bible, so that you can’t avoid the more difficult passages that might not be toward your inclination.” Recently, for example, the lectionary led him to preach on a passage in which Jesus urges followers to sell all their possessions and give all their money away—not a natural crowd-pleaser of a topic. Working from the lectionary strikes Dr. Bankston as a more neutral starting point for a sermon. “It doesn’t look as if you’ve chosen a passage to embarrass somebody or beat someone up,” he said. “You start from the Bible, rather than from an idea you have.”

Hybrid preachers The ranks of United Methodist pastors include strong advocates of each approach. “Topical preaching allows me to address what’s going on in the world and in the community,” said the Rev. Richard Heyduck, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg, Texas. For many pastors, however, the question isn’t an “either/or” matter. Many report using a hybrid of lectionary-based sermons as well as topical sermons or sermon series based on a book of the Bible or other passage. “We use a combination,” said Mr. Rester of Parkway Heights. “Sometimes we’ll fashion the lectionary into a series, and sometimes we abandon the lectionary altogether to fashion a

UNITED METHODIST NEWS SERVICE FILE PHOTO BY MIKE DUBOSE

The Rev. Adam Hamilton preaches topical sermons at United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in suburban Kansas City, Kan.

COURTESY PHOTO

The Rev. Jim Bankston follows the Revised Common Lectionary in his sermons for St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, a growing congregation with traditional worship in Houston.

series that speaks to the needs of the congregation, such as a series on relationships.” In both cases, he added, “We’ve found that people respond well to something thematic that has an overarching goal or purpose.” “I preach both ways, depending on the pulse of the church,” says Andy Stoddard, pastor of Asbury United Methodist in Petal, Miss. At his current church, which favors a traditional worship style, he uses the lectionary most Sundays, but opts for a topical approach in the summer. In his previous church, however, he preached topically more often. “Topical preaching allows me to be more creative,” he said. “I can start with something like, ‘I have a friend who’s been hurt by the church,’ or ‘I have a friend who can’t forgive.’ That kind of sermon tends to get a lot of feedback.”

Not just marketing Seminary professors say the most important question is not whether the pastor starts with a topic or a lectionary passage, but whether the Bible is cited with integrity in the sermon. “One of the caveats for topical sermons is that the preacher can end up choosing texts that support the wisdom that he or she already had,” said Charles Campbell, professor of homiletics at Duke Divinity School. “In that case, the Bible is used to support conclusions that have already been reached.” In preparing a topical sermon, he says, a preacher who honestly searches the Bible should expect to have his or her presuppositions challenged or even overturned somewhere along the way. “If there’s not a moment where that happens,” Dr. Campbell said, “then the preacher has to ask if he or she is truly offering a sermon or just an editorial with a few Scripture passages thrown in to support the position.” Dr. Allen of Christian Theological School has written books about both

lectionary-based and topical preaching, and cautions that both approaches are equally fraught with possibilities for sloppy preaching. “Topical preachers are often accused of being shallow,” he said. “But I don’t think those difficulties are inherent to topical preaching.” The lectionary, he asserts, isn’t the bias-free approach to Scripture that many assume, and preachers can be just as tempted to “read their own theology into any text,” even when it’s part of the lectionary.

A closer look So which works better—topical preaching or lectionary-based preaching? Denominational leaders say that the answer falls, as the United Methodist faith often does, in the “radical middle.” “I think that the lectionary is a reliable guide that keeps us broadening ourselves and the congregation simultaneously,” said the GBOD’s Dr. Fosua. “But there are times in the life of the congregation where you need to stop the survey tour and dig in right here to address a particular crisis or concern.” Church experts also point out that the denominational survey of preaching styles doesn’t prove a cause-andeffect link. Rather, a combination of factors contributes to vitality, not just any one or two. The preaching style is just one piece in the puzzle. Good sermons can help create a vital, witnessing community, says Dr. Allen, but that’s not their ultimate goal. Instead, it’s to help bring the world closer to God’s purposes of love, justice, hope and liberation. Ms. Dean agrees. “The challenge for all pastors, whether they preach topically or from the lectionary, is to connect to the lives of the people in the pews,” she said. “That’s always the goal.” mjacobs@umr.org

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Checking OFF THEIR LIST

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: United Methodist volunteers from six churches in the Dallas area helped stuff nearly 500 backpacks with school supplies for students of all ages in the West Dallas community; Wesley-Rankin Community Center serves the diverse West Dallas community with a variety of programs for children, youth, adults and families; Young church volunteers enjoy picking out folders, highlighters and other classroom essentials for their peers; School supplies were collected and donated by United Methodist churches in Dallas, and financial donations were used for program and additional supply costs.

Dallas-area center keeps kids stocked up on school supplies B Y M A L L O RY M C C A L L Staff Writer

TOP: Community and church volunteers work together to make sure each backpack has all of the supplies on the school-designated supply list. ABOVE: WesleyRankin Community Center teaches children at an early age that academic achievement is important and provides preschool for children ages 3-5 and afterschool programs for youth. RIGHT: Volunteers of all ages support the Wesley-Rankin community with their prayers, donations, time, services and friendship. UMR PHOTOS BY MALLORY MCCALL

4 B | SE P T E M B E R 3 , 2 0 1 0 | U N I T E D M ET HODI ST R E P ORT E R

DALLAS—The cost of school supplies can add up these days, especially for families in impoverished West Dallas, where the per capita income in 2005 was barely over $9,000—less than the per capita income in Mexico. But through the Care4Kids and Families program at the WesleyRankin Community Center, a loaded backpack is paid for in service hours, not dollars. Program participants are required to volunteer at least 100 hours every year in exchange for school supplies and Christmas gifts—complete with wrapping. “This program is designed to work with the community and promote more parent involvement,” says Maria Pintor, the center’s director of community outreach. At least half of the hours must be completed at Wesley-Rankin, while the other 50 may be done at their children’s school, their church or any other agency that is providing service to children, says Ms. Pintor. At Wesley-Rankin, parents earn hours by working in the kitchen, which provides meals for senior citizens in the morning and kids who come after school, or by working to maintain the grounds, volunteering with the Mi Escuelita preschool or attending educational classes the center

offers, such as computer or parenting classes. The center, related to the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, has been serving Dallas since the early 1900s. Staff established Care4Kids and Families in 1999 to help the community help itself. Program participants volunteer 20-30,000 hours to the community of West Dallas, and that is an invaluable gift to non-profit organizations like Wesley-Rankin, says Kathy Stutesman, the center’s executive director.

Outside help “We’re definitely a connecting ministry,” said the Rev. Sarah Squires, director of development. WesleyRankin relies on United Methodist churches across the city to provide the school supplies that are given away through Care4Kids. Churches help by setting up a drop-box outside the sanctuary, cutting a check for backpacks and other program costs, donating pre-filled backpacks or volunteering to sort and pack the supplies. Donations can look very different, says Ms. Squires. It can be anything from an individual dropping off a bag full of folders and pencils to a church bringing multiple loads of backpacks fully packed and ready to go. “Big or small, it all counts,” she said. “We are indebted to our volun-

teers, to our churches and the individuals that help support this program with their time and financial contributions,” says Ms. Stutesman. Not only is the Care4Kids school supplies drive beneficial for the residents of West Dallas, it also offers something memorable to contributing families. “Getting school supplies for those who can’t [afford them] offers a tangible lesson for kids and is a great place for families to start mission work together,” said Ms. Squires. About 35 volunteers from six Dallas area churches spent a recent Saturday filling nearly 500 backpacks with gender- and grade-specific supplies. Retired couples, high school boys, moms, dads and even elementary kids strapped on backpacks and paraded through the maze of notebook towers and pencil bundles, carefully collecting each item on the school-issued supply list.

tion day at the center. Families line up to redeem the school supplies, and as Ms. Pintor checks to see if they have completed at least 50 volunteer hours, she invites the adults to sign up for computer classes. The Care4Kids program brings a lot of people into the center, she says. “As for Wesley-Rankin, it helps us do a check on what we are actually doing in this community. It shows us if we are meeting the needs of the community and if there are needs we haven’t ad-

dressed.” The kids are excited to start school as they bop down the stairs and out the door with backpacks in tow, and their parents or guardians are just as excited and thankful. “We’re Spirit-filled and Spirit-led,” said Ms. Squires as she hugged Wesley-Rankin summer campers goodbye. “Like [John] Wesley said, the world is our parish and this is ours.”

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Working with schools “We try to work very closely with the schools’ administration,” said Ms. Squires. “It’s about giving these kids the foundation and support they need to succeed.” Supplies were provided for every age student, from pre-kindergarten to college, and no backpack is left incomplete. The following Monday is distribu-

CALL TOLL FREE Wesley-Rankin Community Center serves a neighborhood that is home to more than 1,400 low-income families that are primarily Latino.

(800) 841-3403

WWW. PECANTREATS.COM

Other Proven Products.. Call Today! Schermer Pecans, P.O. Box 399, Glennville, GA 30427 UMR08

U N I T E D M ET HODI ST R E P ORT E R | SE P T E M B E R 3 , 2 0 1 0 | 5 B


Checking OFF THEIR LIST

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: United Methodist volunteers from six churches in the Dallas area helped stuff nearly 500 backpacks with school supplies for students of all ages in the West Dallas community; Wesley-Rankin Community Center serves the diverse West Dallas community with a variety of programs for children, youth, adults and families; Young church volunteers enjoy picking out folders, highlighters and other classroom essentials for their peers; School supplies were collected and donated by United Methodist churches in Dallas, and financial donations were used for program and additional supply costs.

Dallas-area center keeps kids stocked up on school supplies B Y M A L L O RY M C C A L L Staff Writer

TOP: Community and church volunteers work together to make sure each backpack has all of the supplies on the school-designated supply list. ABOVE: WesleyRankin Community Center teaches children at an early age that academic achievement is important and provides preschool for children ages 3-5 and afterschool programs for youth. RIGHT: Volunteers of all ages support the Wesley-Rankin community with their prayers, donations, time, services and friendship. UMR PHOTOS BY MALLORY MCCALL

4 B | SE P T E M B E R 3 , 2 0 1 0 | U N I T E D M ET HODI ST R E P ORT E R

DALLAS—The cost of school supplies can add up these days, especially for families in impoverished West Dallas, where the per capita income in 2005 was barely over $9,000—less than the per capita income in Mexico. But through the Care4Kids and Families program at the WesleyRankin Community Center, a loaded backpack is paid for in service hours, not dollars. Program participants are required to volunteer at least 100 hours every year in exchange for school supplies and Christmas gifts—complete with wrapping. “This program is designed to work with the community and promote more parent involvement,” says Maria Pintor, the center’s director of community outreach. At least half of the hours must be completed at Wesley-Rankin, while the other 50 may be done at their children’s school, their church or any other agency that is providing service to children, says Ms. Pintor. At Wesley-Rankin, parents earn hours by working in the kitchen, which provides meals for senior citizens in the morning and kids who come after school, or by working to maintain the grounds, volunteering with the Mi Escuelita preschool or attending educational classes the center

offers, such as computer or parenting classes. The center, related to the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, has been serving Dallas since the early 1900s. Staff established Care4Kids and Families in 1999 to help the community help itself. Program participants volunteer 20-30,000 hours to the community of West Dallas, and that is an invaluable gift to non-profit organizations like Wesley-Rankin, says Kathy Stutesman, the center’s executive director.

Outside help “We’re definitely a connecting ministry,” said the Rev. Sarah Squires, director of development. WesleyRankin relies on United Methodist churches across the city to provide the school supplies that are given away through Care4Kids. Churches help by setting up a drop-box outside the sanctuary, cutting a check for backpacks and other program costs, donating pre-filled backpacks or volunteering to sort and pack the supplies. Donations can look very different, says Ms. Squires. It can be anything from an individual dropping off a bag full of folders and pencils to a church bringing multiple loads of backpacks fully packed and ready to go. “Big or small, it all counts,” she said. “We are indebted to our volun-

teers, to our churches and the individuals that help support this program with their time and financial contributions,” says Ms. Stutesman. Not only is the Care4Kids school supplies drive beneficial for the residents of West Dallas, it also offers something memorable to contributing families. “Getting school supplies for those who can’t [afford them] offers a tangible lesson for kids and is a great place for families to start mission work together,” said Ms. Squires. About 35 volunteers from six Dallas area churches spent a recent Saturday filling nearly 500 backpacks with gender- and grade-specific supplies. Retired couples, high school boys, moms, dads and even elementary kids strapped on backpacks and paraded through the maze of notebook towers and pencil bundles, carefully collecting each item on the school-issued supply list.

tion day at the center. Families line up to redeem the school supplies, and as Ms. Pintor checks to see if they have completed at least 50 volunteer hours, she invites the adults to sign up for computer classes. The Care4Kids program brings a lot of people into the center, she says. “As for Wesley-Rankin, it helps us do a check on what we are actually doing in this community. It shows us if we are meeting the needs of the community and if there are needs we haven’t ad-

dressed.” The kids are excited to start school as they bop down the stairs and out the door with backpacks in tow, and their parents or guardians are just as excited and thankful. “We’re Spirit-filled and Spirit-led,” said Ms. Squires as she hugged Wesley-Rankin summer campers goodbye. “Like [John] Wesley said, the world is our parish and this is ours.”

No Money Needed Up Front!* Nutritious & Delicious Quality & Freshness Guaranteed!

mmccall@umr.org

* with approved credit

Free Shipping! * To approved business addresses

Working with schools “We try to work very closely with the schools’ administration,” said Ms. Squires. “It’s about giving these kids the foundation and support they need to succeed.” Supplies were provided for every age student, from pre-kindergarten to college, and no backpack is left incomplete. The following Monday is distribu-

CALL TOLL FREE Wesley-Rankin Community Center serves a neighborhood that is home to more than 1,400 low-income families that are primarily Latino.

(800) 841-3403

WWW. PECANTREATS.COM

Other Proven Products.. Call Today! Schermer Pecans, P.O. Box 399, Glennville, GA 30427 UMR08

U N I T E D M ET HODI ST R E P ORT E R | SE P T E M B E R 3 , 2 0 1 0 | 5 B


6B FAITH forum

Are we changing lives EDITOR’S CORNER or merely affiliations? Too bland for our own good? B Y B I S H O P R O B E RT S C H NA S E Special Contributor

Recently I heard church leadership consultant Gil Rendle say, “I was not trained to change people’s lives, but to change their membership affiliations.” Gil, who serves with the Texas Methodist Foundation, captures how our understanding of the church and pastoral ministry has evolved over the last few generations. This insight brought a rush of memories about how I learned to invite and welcome people into the life of the church. When I served my seminary internship as an associate pastor, our congregation offered a ministry called EmVees, which stood for Monday Visitors. Lynn Day led the program. Lynn was a gracious and spiritually grounded laywoman who loved her volunteer work with the church.

Personal calls Each Monday evening she would host four to six active laypersons in her home and distribute cards with the names of first-time visitors who had attended church the day before. The names were taken from the registration pads used during worship. She’d tell everything she knew about each person on the cards and lead us in prayer. Then the Monday Visitors would Bishop leave in pairs to Robert visit the visitors at Schnase their homes. We’d step into people’s homes, sit down with them for a few minutes, learn something about their faith background, tell them about our church and invite them back. As a newbie pastor, I served as an EmVees visitor nearly every Monday, teaming up with a different layperson each week. We’d reconvene back at Lynn’s house and report on our visits. Lynn would record the information, make notes on the cards and report the next day to the pastor. This was an excellent 1980s way of following-up with visitors. We were hoping that people who had moved to our area from another city, or who had become inactive in another church or who had little church experience would change their membership affiliation, or reactivate or initiate their membership by joining our church. Our focus was helping people decide to join us. When someone stood

before the congregation and repeated the membership vows, we would celebrate, remove their cards from our files and our work was completed. Our work was based on the assumption that joining a church was good for people’s lives and would have a positive effect over time. I learned much from those visits, and if all United Methodist churches of that era had been as active in their follow-up, our denomination would be immeasurably stronger today. As my ministry matured through the years, the congregations I served developed greater follow-up systems.

Making disciples Today, expectations are different. The church’s mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The most vital number for assessing a congregation is attendance rather than membership; being “an active attendee” is more valued than being “an inactive member.”

‘Churches that are growing have learned that ministry is about a way of life.’ The goal of invitation, welcome and assimilation is not merely to change people’s affiliations but to change their lives. The goal is to help people further their relationship to Christ. Worship, Bible study, Sunday school, mission projects, women’s ministries, youth groups, teaching the personal practices of prayer—these are the means that help us cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our growth in Christ. Churches that are growing have learned that ministry is about a way of life, not merely a membership pledge. How do we organize our ministries so they support that way of life? Personal transformation precedes the transformation of the world. People who capture a vision of life in Christ become motivated to serve, seek justice, love peace, forgive others and take on the ministry of reconciliation. They become ambassadors for Christ. How is your congregation reimagining and redesigning ministry to change people’s lives, rather than merely their affiliations? Missouri Bishop Schnase blogs at fivepractices.org.

SE P T E M B E R 3 , 2 0 1 0 | U N I T E D M ET HODI ST R E P ORT E R

B Y RO B I N RU S S E L L Managing Editor

Jon Stewart got a big laugh recently on The Daily Show when he said the United Methodist Church “is like the University of Phoenix of religions”—inferring that being a United Methodist is as easy as getting an online diploma. You don’t have to show up in person. You don’t have to work very hard at it. And as long as you pay your dues, you stay in good standing. Please, no e-mails telling me that your church is not like that. I know there are many thriving and healthy United Methodist congregations. But considering how the joke resonated with Mr. Stewart’s television audience, we might have to admit that the United Methodist Church has a bit of an image problem. Notwithstanding the hip, new “Rethink Church” ad campaign (which doesn’t always translate down to the local congregation experience), the perception of United Methodism seems to be a rather lukewarm version of Christianity. You know what I mean. The place where you and your spouse from another denomination can find “neutral” ground. The place where no one tells you what to believe. The place where the Christian journey is selfpaced, and where questions are better than answers. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things, as Seinfeld would say. But if you are seriously seeking Christian faith development and an engaged, authentic community, some of our United Methodist churches would undoubtedly fall short (as would any number of churches in any denomination— but this is about Robin us). Russell Check out the findings from an exit poll of people who attended a seeker study from 2003-2006 at United Methodist churches, and walked away disappointed. Among their comments: “You don’t know your own story. You don’t know who you are and what you believe.” “You believe some of the lamest, weirdest stuff and ignore the simple,

kind, and helpful stuff.” “Methodists are all over the map. . . . they don’t have a clue what they really believe.” “It feels like a time warp—like 1984, but from the other side.” Respondents felt the church was lacking in prayer, reading the Bible and spiritual conversation, says Dan Dick, director of connectional ministries for the Wisconsin Conference, who posted these comments on his blog, “United Methodeviations.” “People are disappointed that we don’t seem to know why we do the things we do; why we believe the things we believe; why we say the things we say,” Dr. Dick said. “Jon Stewart is not the only person who thinks you can believe and do anything and be a Methodist.”

Straying from roots So what does it mean to be a Methodist? I am amazed at how many readers write in each week to thank our Wesleyan Wisdom columnist Donald Haynes for explaining the basics of United Methodism (and in a shameless plug, see www.umportal.org for information on his book, On the Threshold of Grace: Methodist Fundamentals). This sense of spiritual mushiness is a far cry from John Wesley’s approach when he launched the Methodist revival movement in the mid-18th century. There was no mistaking Wesley’s take on the importance of the spiritual disciplines—fasting, prayer, Bible study, Communion, worship and smallgroup accountability—and reaching out to those outside the faith. Can the average United Methodist explain grace theology? John Wesley, the father of smallgroup ministry, is a hero of the faith to many outside the Wesleyan traditions. Lifegroups and cell groups for study, fellowship and accountability are a hallmark of most growing nondenominational churches. But a typical United Methodist church bulletin shows more announcements for Zumba classes and senior citizen outings than for Bible studies or accountability groups. So what’s a spiritually minded person to do? Perkins School of Theology professor William Abraham describes the current malaise as “doctrinal amnesia.” The General Board of Discipleship’s Taylor Burton-Edwards takes it a bit further in a comment on Mr. Dick’s blog: “I’m wondering if

Jon Stewart it has not advanced to doctrinal and practical dementia.”

Membership vows Persons who take membership vows promise to “uphold this congregation of the United Methodist Church by [their] prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.” All too often, however, there are few expectations beyond serving on a committee, showing up on Sunday and making a financial pledge—and certainly no follow-through or consequences. Yet churches that ask something of their members tend to have a more engaged and active laity who feel empowered for the work of the ministry. Young people, in particular, are eager to invest their lives in something bigger than themselves. To be sure, you can’t quite fit Wesley’s theological nuances into a gospel tract or a pithy slogan. But offering a path toward spiritual formation shouldn’t be beyond our capabilities. And isn’t that what people are looking for in a church—a place where they can become a Christ-follower? “They want to know how to pray,” writes Dr. Dick. “They want to know how to read and interpret the Bible. They want to be able to talk about Christian beliefs and practices. They want companions on the journey. “People are seeking depth . . . and reject those places where people don’t know their own story—the story of the church, the faith and God.” Can the United Methodist Church rediscover its story? Or will Comedy Central have the last laugh? rrussell@umr.org


FAITH forum 7B WESLEYAN WISDOM

Imitate Wesley: Use every medium for witnessing B Y D O NA L D W. H AY N E S UMR Columnist

John Wesley would have loved the worldwide web! He would have had one of the first websites in England and insisted that all his preachers use e-mail correspondence. In all likelihood he would have “blogged” and “tweeted.” Wesley was much more diverse in his interests, urbane in his worldview and cuttingedge in his methodology than many of us United Methodists today. We often assume that Wesley conducted only what he calls “necessary talk,” or conversation of a religious nature. Donald The fact is he said, Haynes even from the pulpit, “sour godliness is the devil’s religion,” and he could regale for an evening, using anecdotes that brought an uproar of laughter, according to his sister Martha. While at Oxford, he not only led the Holy Club but also “rowed on the river, and played billiards, tennis, chess, and cards,” his sister wrote. Wesley delighted to write in Latin verses, wrote a Hebrew grammar text, annotated his Greek New Testament in Greek and was fluent in French. Later he learned German from the Moravians. For Bible study, he used a “polyglot” which translated the Scriptures into 18 languages so he could see which expressed the Hebrew and Greek most accurately. According to Franklin Wilder’s biography, Wesley could hold his own in any discussion or “quoting match” from the works of Shakespeare, Spenser and Milton. Wesley read Voltaire and Hume and Montesquieu, and could debate any of their premises as well as Madison and Jefferson could. During Wesley’s lifetime, Isaac Newton experimented with the law of gravity and developed “Newtonian” physics; William Harvey discovered the circulatory system of the human body; Antoine Lavoisier became the father of modern chemistry; and James Watt invented the steam engine that would propel the Industrial Revolution. The power of the pen was felt from the mind and hand of Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope and Oliver Goldsmith. George Eliot’s Adam

Bede was a fictionalized portrait of Dinah Evans, one of Wesley’s women “exhorters.” William Blackstone was writing law books that would train lawyers for a century. The agnostic Edward Gibbon was writing The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. It was the time of which Dickens wrote: “It was the worst of times; it was the best of times.” No one’s name was known and company more sought than John Wesley. Dr. Samuel Johnson was, hands down, the most envied host in all England. To be invited to his table talk was the dream of anyone who wanted to be part of the “upper crust” circles of London society. Wesley was often invited to Johnson’s home, and sometimes offended his rather pompous host by turning down the invitation because he had to preach. After Wesley began a school at Kingswood, he wrote the textbooks for the pupils. He published 233 works on many subjects, including a four-volume set on the History of England. He set up spinning and knitting shops to provide employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the poor. He published several hymnbooks because he and Charles were pioneers in congregational singing. He encouraged Hannah Ball to set up a Sunday school more than a dozen years before Robert Raikes, who is usually credited with founding the Sunday school. He encouraged Thomas Coke to start a Tract Society for which he wrote many tracts. He wrote on science and philosophy, publishing A Compendium on Natural Philosophy. He was a good friend to English potter Josiah Wedgwood, who made a personal teapot for Wesley. Wedgwood’s grandson was Charles Darwin. He first saw slavery in South Carolina in 1736, and hated it. (Slavery was not legal in Georgia until 1751— long after Wesley had left). In 1758, he baptized two slaves of Nathaniel Gilbert, calling them the “first African Christians I have known.” Gilbert later returned to his native Antiqua in the West Indies to become the father of Methodism there. Wesley was a tireless enemy of slavery; in his last dictated letter, he urged William Wilberforce to press on in his crusade to have slavery outlawed in Great Britain. Wesley was a man of so many interests. Benjamin Franklin began writing about his experiments in electricity to the Royal Society of England

in 1752. Wesley read them, wrote a list of 10 things he learned from Franklin and was a pioneer in electrotherapy. His “electric machine” is still in his study on City Road in London. In 1760 he published Electricity Made Plain and Useful. In his book Primitive Physick, he itemized a list of ailments that “electrifying cures.” Doctors called it nonsense; it would not become accepted in medical science until the 20th century. Wesley insisted on bathing in cold water, and wrote, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” He urged: “Let

experience of saving grace. Wesley virtually salvaged the theology of Jacob Arminius from what would have been left to scholars and rare bookrooms. In 1777, when the concept and word “magazine” was new, Wesley launched the Arminian Magazine, which he edited and published for 14 years. Widely read, it gave Wesley the kind of exposure one could only get today on the Internet. Wesley wrote scores of tracts and a number of books from which he received royalties. He had the income to be a wealthy man, but instead he gave

‘Millions are longing to hear that God loves every one of us, warts and all; that God’s is a seeking love and not sheer philosophy of religion.’ Methodists take the pattern of the Quakers—avoid nastiness, dirt, slovenliness. Do not stink. Keep your hair clean, free of lice. Cure yourself and your family of the itch. Let none ever see a ragged Methodist; take care of one another.” In the development of his “grace theology,” Wesley drew from many sources. Almost all Reformation theology was derived from Augustine, but Wesley read deeply in Eastern Christianity. Wesley scholar Randy Maddox documents that Wesley’s salvation language was not so juridical as Augustine’s, but reflected the therapeutic idioms of clinical healing. Wesley even used the term “taking the cure” for the

away over $200,000, a fortune in the 18th century, and died as he had sworn he would, with assets of less than £10. Like Wesley, a major life goal and ministry of outreach was to get Methodism’s historic doctrines into the public square. Yes, we can see John Wesley reveling in the web! As a foot soldier among his progeny, I was thrilled to be able to set up a website where I post the weekly sermons that I preach to about 100 people at Kallam Grove Christian Church, 25 miles from the nearest city. I am also thrilled to post these Wesleyan Wisdom columns and to hear from the United Methodist Reporter’s worldwide readership, some of whom hit

my website. My deep conviction, which borders on near obsession, is that Methodism has a message that the worldwide web of humankind needs to hear. Millions are longing to hear that God loves every one of us, warts and all; that God’s is a seeking love and not sheer philosophy of religion; and that we can experience three dimensions of God amazing grace: the Holy Spirit’s “preparing grace,” the blessed assurance of saving grace, and the long days’ journey into fuller light through perfecting grace. Jesus’ at-onement is not limited; he died for every human being. But they cannot get home alone. Every church and every pastor must prioritize relational evangelism. Every local church should have a website. Every pastor should read and read and read, and let both secular cultural knowledge and spiritual wisdom be reflected in sermons so that we speak to the people in the room as well as speak the eternal truth. That was the genius of Wesley, and is our calling to fulfill if we are to serve this present age. We cannot grow slack. We cannot grow weary in well doing. We cannot quit. There is a world out there and we can touch it. Mr. Wesley would insist that we do so through every medium available. Dr. Haynes is a retired clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference and author of On the Threshold of Grace: Methodist Fundamentals (www.umportal.org). E-mail: dhaynes11@triad.rr.com.

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8B FAITH focus

Church sets training event on sexual ethics B Y B A R B A R A D U N L A P -B E R G United Methodist News Service

It began three decades ago with anxious phone calls and letters. Women dealing with sexual misconduct started to contact the United Methodist General Commission on the Status and Role of Women in Chicago and say: “I see that you are a women’s support organization, and I’ve had this experience in the church. Nobody in my local church knows how to help me. I don’t know what to do. Can you help me?” Rather than trying to provide a one-size-fits-all answer, the commission went to work studying trends, developing training modules and providing information. And in the years that followed, other United Methodist agencies got on board. “We have grown into an interagency movement,” said Garlinda Burton, top staff executive for the commission. “We are branching out and embracing the different aspects of the denomination that also have a stake in this discussion.” To that end, the commission has scheduled a churchwide training opportunity on sexual ethics Jan. 26-29, 2011, in Houston. “Do No Harm” is for anyone in the United Methodist Church who has a leadership role in sexual-ethics training or in intervening when sexual misconduct occurs. Ms. Burton said the gathering will focus on prevention of sexual misconduct in churches or by church professionals or anyone in a ministerial role, intervention techniques for adjudicating cases and information on how to arrive at just resolutions. It is geared toward bishops, district superintendents, and response and

A handful of clergymen have reported harassment as well, Ms. Burton said. “Men are becoming more comfortable in drawing boundaries with their congregants.”

safe-sanctuary teams in annual conferences. Planners hope to draw 150 to 200 participants. The church’s Social Principles and Book of Resolutions have paragraphs about human sexuality, sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Ms. Burton credited the commission with “getting policies in the Book of Discipline that require training, name sexual misconduct as a chargeable offense, and require policies and procedures to be published.”

Safe, sacred spaces

‘A pastoral role’ The Book of Discipline, the denomination’s law book, defines sexual harassment as “any unwanted sexual comment, advance, or demand, either verbal or physical, that is reasonably perceived by the recipient as demeaning, intimidating, or coercive.” Sexual harassment should be understood as an exploitation of power, according to the Discipline. “Sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the creation of a hostile or abusive working environment resulting from discrimination on the basis of gender,” the book says. Women continue to be disproportionately targeted for sexual abuse and sexual harassment in the church, Ms. Burton said. The majority of complaints the commission receives come from laywomen, where the perpetrators or alleged perpetrators are clergymen. Often, Ms. Burton said, the women have no idea how to file a complaint. “They have no idea whether anyone will listen. They don’t know that sexual misconduct is a chargeable offense in the United Methodist Church, and that there are remedies, that there is a place for them to go. They don’t know

UMNS PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY RONNY PERRY

Women continue to be “disproportionately targeted” for sexual abuse and sexual harassment, according to the United Methodist General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.

whom to contact. Most of our work is helping to point victim survivors to the correct person through which they can file a complaint.” The commission’s goal, she said, is not to investigate or to resolve complaints, “but to make sure our church leaders are equipped to deal with complaints in a way that not only has legal integrity, but also has pastoral integrity.” “If the church cannot adequately

address sexual misconduct and make people feel safe,” Ms. Burton said, “we are not being a credible witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this as a pastoral role.” Ninety percent of the calls to the commission are laity complaining about clergy. However, as more women enter ordained ministry and congregations are unsure how to relate to women as pastors, clergywomen are also reporting harassment.

Ms. Burton is encouraged that the church is becoming more serious about education and prevention. “I think most of our annual conferences in the United States require some sort of boundary and sexual ethics training for their clergy,” she said. Some conferences require something every year, others every quadrennium. Safe-sanctuary training focuses on congregants, parents, adult workers with youth and adult workers with developmentally delayed adults. “Safe sanctuary” is a term used for churches that are providing an environment free from abuse, harassment or misconduct. Kansas East was the first conference to require background checks and certification of anyone working with children and youth on any level in the church. The conference has certified 11,000 people, according to Safe and Sacred Space coordinator Nancy Brown. The commission is seeking to replicate that training for the entire denomination, Ms. Burton said.

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10-Fold is an interactive web event launching

interactive features, podcasts, and webcasts

on October 10, 2010, that features 10 mission

in which participants will have the opportunity

ministries of The United Methodist Church. For

to pose questions or reply to experts on each

10 days following the launch, a project will be

project via Facebook and Twitter.

highlighted each day through streaming videos,


September 2010 Edition of the Michigan Area Reporter