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Blueridge UMC to Host "Freedom School" this Summer

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:00
Members are bridging to the community by hosting a learning enrichment program for elementary children this summer.
For six weeks of summer, 30 underserved elementary students will enjoy affirmation and attention while sharpening their reading skills at Blueridge UMC near downtown Houston. “In partnership with HYPE Freedom School and support from The Moody Methodist Permanent Fund, we will host the national Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Freedom School™ for the first time,” explains Rev. Romonica Wardley, “This will allow us to offer 30 students from Reynold’s Elementary the opportunity to avoid the summer learning loss, and thus joining with the school in their goal of increasing and improving reading skills of their students.” It is also likely that the Blueridge UMC youth will be involved in various ways with students who visit their church campus.
This special opportunity started with a Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI) prescription encouraging church leaders to meet with community leaders and learn more about specific needs within their immediate community. “The goal was to help us refine our vision by connecting the needs of the community with the gifts, passions and skills of the congregation,” she shares, “and those meetings eventually led us to partner with Reynold’s Elementary School where I now serve on the Shared Decision Making Committee with Houston Area Urban League, and HYPE.” Though these conversations happened separately with no real agenda on the part of the church – other than listening, they led to a golden opportunity to be a blessing and accomplish the conference-wide goal to Invest in the Young. “What seemed like silo conversations converged as aligned opportunities to serve students in our area, all because we listened to discern where our church was called to assist.”
The CDF Freedom School program will be geared to not only K-5th graders in the Sunnyside community, but also those students who were chronically absent and tardy due to lack of adequate transportation. “When this concern was discussed in a community leadership meeting,” adds Romonica, “I took it as a signal that Blueridge UMC should volunteer our van and drivers to pick up four elementary students and two middle school students for the remainder of May to make sure they got there. We desire to keep these students engaged as the school year comes to a close, so offering these extended opportunities align well with our vision to share the love of Jesus within our community and beyond.”
HYPE provides parents and their children with access to educational enrichment activities outside normal school hours  -- specifically including children who need summer literacy opportunities the most, but can afford it the least. The Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools provide summer enrichment that helps children fall in love with reading, increase their self-esteem, and will ideally generate more positive attitudes toward learning. 
HYPE will offer the program in June and July at Blueridge UMC and four other locations throughout the city.
Members are ready and enthusiastic. New member Carolyn Richardson, serving as the school liaison. “I tutor children from all types of backgrounds and see firsthand the difference between the educational level of children based on their family income community,” notes Carolyn. “Continuing to engage students during the summer is vital if we are to bridge that gap and that is exactly what we are working together to do this summer.”
Arlinda Turner, who works with Christian Education and Family Ministries at Blueridge says, “I am so excited, about the Freedom School being hosted at my church! We have an opportunity to meet new youngsters and share the love of Christ with them as they have fun learning in this program. What better way to bless and be blessed?”
Chanica Brown, who also works at the church with the family ministry says, “One aspect of BUMC hosting the Freedom School that is great is the potential to make the connection between meeting an educational need in the community, as well as making it more comfortable and inviting for participants and their families to explore their spirituality and relationships with God. Freedom School can potentially help bridge that gap for some families.” Adds Arlinda, "Summer is a time of growing in many ways through fun activities, new adventure, learning, meeting new people, rest and relaxation.  I pray this Freedom School provides our bright, lively and inquisitive young neighbors all of these opportunities!"
Member Stephanie Wilkins adds, “We look forward to being in partnership with everyone and thank God for an opportunity to serve." 
“We are truly blessed to launch the CDF Freedom School program at BUMC,” shares Brandi Brown, executive director of HYPE Freedom School, Inc. “This experience gives the families a community of believers who also believe in children so they can believe in themselves.”

Creating a Discipleship Pathway: A Series of Next Steps

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:00
Guest columnist Marilyn Wadkins, an ordained deacon and certified executive coach, consults with churches on ways to help individuals deepen their spiritual journeys.
The importance of growing as a disciple, and facilitating discipleship in a church setting, has become more and more confusing because of the growing number of choices, resources, opinions and distractions. In our search for significance, the lure of the internet, 24-hour TV with hundreds of channels, and social media can create a time famine. Although everyone still has the same amount of time in a day – the increasing number of disruptions seem to impact our personal growth in a negative way. 
Creating a Discipleship Pathway so people will know the “next steps” in their spiritual growth has become a critical concern for churches that seek to grow their congregations and facilitate spiritual growth at the individual level. Some of the challenges being faced:
* Each church must decide and define what a “disciple” looks like in their setting (location and make-up of their membership).
* Churches are discovering that a “one-size fits all” doesn’t fit everyone’s learning styles or temperaments (their “God language”).
* Participation in church activities does not predict or drive long-term spiritual growth.   
Then there are missed opportunities in mapping and casting the vision for an individual’s spiritual journey due to:
* Lack of advanced planning
* Lack of leadership
* Lack of resources (budget)
* Life crisis (death, divorce)
* Knowledge of available opportunities, and
* Spiritual burnout.
A friend of mine who is a certified spiritual director believes discipleship is mostly a relationship issue. With the churches I work with through VCI, the struggle I see most often is that people are looking for a program or a process instead of focusing on their relationship to God. This relationship is a choice, not so much about behavior or even about learning more. It is a choice that is related to the source of all love – a loving God. It is a choice about knowing you are loved and loving others. We need a passionate love for our Creator, the One in Whom we "live and move and have our very being” (Acts 17:28a). Only then does our desire to live in love with Him create a path and a discipline for our lives -- of living as a beloved child who never wants to break their creator’s heart.
So, where do we go from here? Several suggestions are made in Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships (by Farr, Anderson, and Kotan):
  • Meet people where THEY are, not where WE are.
  • Since a discipleship pathway often begins by attending church as step one, churches can facilitate success by creating a culture of invitation. That might involve encouragement from the pulpit that members bring a friend to church, or it might be to provide a small invitation card members can hand out to friends, neighbors and coworkers.
  • Why God? Why church? And why my church? Share God-stories with each other on a regular basis -- not just your personal conversion story. Get comfortable with this by sharing the stories of your experience with God on an everyday basis and at every age level.
  • Additionally, it helps to realize that a crisis, spiritual boredom and/or a deep longing for more in life can be a positive driver by leading individuals to fill that need for spiritual growth.
While there is no formula for spiritual growth, churches can define the concept of a disciple in their individual context by providing next steps that move people along a journey to deeper and stronger faith. We are likely to grow most when our hearts are overflowing with the reality of God’s love to the point we want to please him in all that we say and do.

LEAD Student Retreat Fosters Leadership Skills

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:00
Youth workers left the April retreat with new ideas and a new sense of enthusiasm for their various ministries.
Several dozen youth and adult leaders sharing ideas, games, and worship makes for an inspiring combination, according to Eddie Erwin, Director of Youth/Young Adults for the Texas Conference. “I was really excited that we had students interested in spending time learning leadership qualities at the LEAD conference at the end of April,” he shares, “that they can take back to their local churches.  We were able to introduce them to other student leaders and connectional opportunities. There were student ministries from larger and smaller churches and ones that are in rural and suburban settings. It was great to see them come together, share, learn, worship and lead when they hadn’t met each other before showing up on Friday evening.” 
The retreat provided a forum where all could share in worship, led by several Texas Youth Academy alumni. Additionally, each group took turns contributing some best practices from their ministries.
For example, one ministry hosts a “Tacky” prom while another offers a “Senior” prom to their church community that is designed for members over 50 years old.  Other groups enjoy a game called “grog”, a different ministry offers “Chuber” or “church uber” as a ride share for other students who don’t have transportation to their gatherings. Another shared their experience with “Whataburger Wednesday” where they leave the walls of the church for a student-led Bible study. 
When asked what leadership quality they learned during the event, participant answers included:
  • “being prepared to fail”
  • “working together as a unit”
  • “passion and innovation”
  • “not to be fearful to try new things”
  • “inclusiveness” and
  • “the best leaders have the most love for everyone”
Student leaders mentioned they grew in their faith with regard to positivity and integrity, realizing God wants his children to change and grow, and trusting God to help in leadership situations. The most enjoyable aspects ranged from the team building time to the meeting of new friends. “I think it would be great if we do this again to have youth directors bring copies of applications, policies and such to share with others in attendance,” suggests one of the adult leaders.
The late April kickball tournament is another “team building” event within the conference to generate friendships and fun within the South District. “Youth Directors meet monthly to create and foster community among our churches,” shares J.T. Larue of Seabrook UMC.  Leaders decided to host the first annual kickball tournament which drew about 130 students from UMC’s including  St. Mark’s-Baytown, LaPorte, Cedar Bayou Grace, League City, Clear Lake, The Watershed, Crosby and youth from the host church of Seabrook UMC. “St. Mark’s took home the first place trophy, with Seabrook placing second and League City UMC in third. In addition, our district hosts collaborative youth events such as Engage and Holiday Hoopla since many of our churches are just 10 miles apart,” he says.

Small-Membership Church Retreat Inspires Many

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:00
At the fourth annual spring retreat, Bishop Scott Jones talked with laity and clergy about faith sharing in the small-membership church environment.
“It was like having John Wesley in blue jeans,” said a participant of this year’s small membership retreat. Organizer Dr. Dick White, pastor of First UMC Quitman agrees. “Bishop Jones is a master teacher, particularly regarding the Wesleyan Way.”
With over 80 attendees, the 2017 retreat was one of the largest to date, thanks in part to churches like Kelty’s UMC of Lufkin for bringing a group of laity and clergy – and youth. Rev. Cindy Doran says, “From the two churches that I pastor, we had five adults and three of our youth members attend, and it was great to see the different generations of our churches interact and serve together as they sought ways to generate growth in the churches and for the Kingdom.”
“During the discussion periods, and the trip home, conversation between our members focused on Bishop Jones' statement concerning the number of un-churched and non-believers within a five mile radius of our churches. That, along with the challenge to find the needs of our neighbors and be a visible and viable part in meeting their needs, encouraged us to come up with some means to reach out to our neighbors,” adds Cindy.
As a result of the retreat, the youth decided that everyone is in need of prayer and the church should provide the opportunity for prayer to their neighbors. Shares Cindy, “They have decided we need a prayer box that is accessible 24/7 and are currently designing a covered school bus stop and resting area to house that prayer box. We are also scheduling prayer walks for our neighborhoods, a study night at the youth building of the Hudson church and cards with information about our services and ministries for members to have when inviting people to church.”
Youth attendee Kade Lee says, "It was important to me to go to the retreat because I feel like I'm in church because God has a plan for me. Pretty much everything in my life would cause me to never end up in church, but I did. I think God just has a special plan for me, so He worked things out in my life and let me meet my friend Dylon so that I could hear about Jesus. Now that I'm in church, I want to be the one who helps other people find Christ. Mrs. Cindy let us talk about ideas and ways we can reach out to people in the church, and now we are making plans to make some of those happen."
Youth participant Kia Diwalt agrees. "Church is important because it teaches you things that you won't learn anywhere else,” she says. “Since I'm in church it is up to me to make sure other people, especially ones my age, know about church and have the chance to learn about God too. So the Saturday we went to hear the Bishop, he taught us ways to help do that."
Adds Cindy, “Attending this workshop was a wonderful experience for everyone involved and an excellent introduction to some of the things the church and community face every day for our young people. I know they enjoyed the extra attention from the Bishop, who was eager to acknowledge their willingness to get up early on a Saturday! It was a great ‘eye-opener’ for us on behalf of those around us and the duty we have as Christians and as the church to reach out to them in the name of Jesus Christ.”
“We had to relocate the retreat from Lakeview to Perrite Memorial UMC at the last minute,” shares Dick, “but it was a blessing in disguise because the new location landed us more folks from the East District and even as far away as Houston, since it is easy to get to Nacogdoches from many locations.”
Rev. Rick Tate, pastor, FUMC Onalaska enjoyed his experience at the retreat. ”I am an Associate Member/Deacon who has been serving as a pastor of small churches in east Texas for over 27 years. I have been emphasizing some of what was shared including the fact that the members themselves are the evangelists, and it is their role to befriend and invite the unchurched so that they too may hear the gospel and come to know Jesus Christ. We have included the unchurched in our community on our prayer list in our bulletin.” Adds Rick, “It has been my experience that the key to making of disciples is found in relationships formed through having open hearts and minds and doors."
Following the nominations process and vote at Annual Conference, Dick will pass the retreat baton over to the successor elected next to the Small Church Membership Committee at Annual Conference. “As I recall, the earliest retreats for small membership churches took place mid-week and included only clergy, but four years ago we expanded them to include laity and moved them to a Saturday and that has been a winning combination,” Dick adds. “I look forward to hearing what will be planned for 2018.”

Special Event: Preaching Hope in a Culture of Violence

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:00
Plan now to attend an ecumenical event featuring social activist and preacher Tony Campolo this fall in Texarkana.
"Sunday morning remains the most segregated hour in America as Rev. Dr. King noted two generations ago," notes Rev. Brad Morgan, Williams Memorial UMC, Texarkana. “It is my hope that churches can move beyond that reality in society and deal with poverty and race in a way that the whole body of Christ is represented.” To that end, the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence of Southern Methodist University (PCPE) and Williams Memorial UMC are sponsoring the First Annual ARKLATEX Lecture, featuring the dynamic Dr. Tony Campolo as the featured speaker October 8-9. TAC Bishop Scott Jones will also be one of the presenters.
Tony Campolo is a speaker, author, sociologist, pastor, social activist and passionate follower of Jesus.  Dr. Tony Campolo will be speaking on the topic of “Preaching Hope in a Culture of Violence.” According to Brad, “No topic is off limits in this series. We want to invite clergy and laity from across the country to attend and get fired up about challenging topics and preaching that matters. I’m grateful for the generosity of Williams members for funding this forward leaning program that I pray is the first of many.” More information on Tony Campolo is available at: http://tonycampolo.org. See Event Flier
“The Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence ARKLATEX Lectures are devoted to enhancing the quality of preaching in local congregations in the region,” notes Perkins professor Dr. Alyce McKenzie. “This event is designed to appeal to clergy and laity in all conferences and all denominations.”
Sunday, October 8th
Morning - Dr. Campolo will be the featured preacher at the 8:15 and 10:30am Sanctuary worship services of Williams Memorial UMC
Evening - 6 p.m. Open Lecture Event with Dinner followed by a Q & A Session led by Dr. Campolo in Wesley Hall of Williams Memorial.

Monday, October 9th
9 a.m. - Noon – Lecture/ Workshop led by Dr. Campolo
Noon - 1 p.m. - Lunch Break
From 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., preaching workshops will be led by Dr. Alyce M. McKenzie and Dr. O. Wesley Allen, Jr., professors of preaching and worship at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Vincent Harris, Lead Pastor at Journey of Faith UMC (who becomes a District Superintendent July 1) will also lead a breakout session that draws on his passion for partnerships, education, poverty prevention and being the church by ‘doing.’
Preaching Peer Group Forming
Clergy seeking a deeper experience through peer learning and discussions can apply to become a Perkins Preaching Fellow. As an outgrowth of this this event, a preaching peer group of 6-8 pastors will meet periodically (see schedule below) to discuss themes from the lectures and workshops and offer constructive feedback on one another’s sermons. The group will be selected from the pool of those who apply by the leadership team of the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence. The Perkins Preaching Fellows will have an additional session with Tony Campolo on Monday, October 9th from 1-3 p.m., followed by a session with Drs. Allen and McKenzie Monday evening. They will meet from 9-12 Tuesday morning with Rev. Dr. Brad Morgan, senior pastor of Williams Memorial UMC, who will facilitate the group.
Following this initial experience October 9-10 (Monday/Tuesday), Perkins preaching fellows will have three retreat events in 2018: February 9-10, April 13-14, and June 8-9.  These events include two additional sessions via Skype with Tony Campolo and a peer review of sermons.  Fellows chosen will pay $50 to participate and have all accommodations, meals, and event expenses beyond the initial fee covered.
Applications to be a Perkins Preaching Fellow can be made by contacting the Perkins Center for Preaching Excellence’s Administrative Assistant Sabina Hulem: shulem@smu.edu  or 214-768-2124. A group of 6-8 Fellows will be selected from the applicants by The Center for Preaching Excellence. 

TAC Representatives Visit Texas Border as Part of Mexico Border Partnership Initiative

Thu, 05/11/2017 - 00:00
Travelers explored the concept of shared discipleship and training, worship, a youth camp, as well as assistance with construction of sanctuaries, education buildings, and parsonages.

In years past, the temptation in mission engagement was to go somewhere and do something for someone else.  “Now we are moving to a model of being in ministry with another community,” explains Rev. Scott Moore, who directs the TAC Mission Center and will head the Center for Missional Excellence beginning this July. The 50/50 ‘In Mission Together’ model, conceived by the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM), looks at both partners as equals and allows both communities to share their gifts and graces together for the Kingdom of God.

The most recent example of this model in action took place at the end of March when representatives from six TAC churches, Lakeview Methodist Conference Center, and the Center for Missional Excellence visited the Texas/Mexico border to meet with representatives from the Rio Texas Conference and the Mexican Methodist Church as part of a new Border Partnership Initiative. 

The trip, explains Scott, “is part of a new mission initiative birthed through the TAC Center for Missional Excellence, the El Valle District of the Rio Texas Conference and General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) Missionary Willie Berman. The group is beginning this partnership from an asset-based approach rather than a needs-based approach.” 

Adds Scott, “We are looking to this mission field and asking ‘what do we have to share with that community, and what do they have to share with us?’” Using 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (many members of one body of Christ) as a guide, partner churches share their unique talents and callings for ministry. 
Notes Scott, “During this trip we discussed ideas for partnership in the area of shared discipleship and training sessions, shared worship experiences, a shared youth camp experience, as well as assistance with construction of sanctuaries, education buildings, and parsonages.”

Churches represented from the Texas Annual Conference included Kirbyville UMC, Faith UMC – Orange, Livingston FUMC, FUMC-Conroe, FUMC-Humble, and Christ Church UMC – Sugar Land.  Representatives from the Center for Missional Excellence and Lakeview Methodist Conference Center attended to explore conference-wide partnership possibilities. 

Participant Rev. Matt Idom says, “Lakeview Methodist Conference Center is excited to begin a partnership with the Methodists of Mexico with the ambition of helping create a camping ministry for children and youth. We have already begun work to begin a ministry together.”
As a first step, he has extended an invitation for a number of older Mexican teens and adult youth leaders to attend camp this summer at Lakeview. “Not only will they get to experience camp, “ he says, “we will train them for leadership when they return home. Funding is available for this to happen this summer!”
Likewise, camping leaders are discussing the possibilities of their summer staff of college leaders traveling to Mexico in 2018 to help conduct either a week of residential camp or a week of day camp. Adds Matt, “There is a facility available at the border that would house close to 100 campers including a dining hall and worship center, so we are particularly excited to be part of this ministry partnership.”
Rev. Janet Stilwell, associate pastor of FUMC Conroe, attended the 50/50 border partnership trip looking at ways for her church to participate in a mission trip that would be accessible to a larger number of people in the congregation. “The border presents a great opportunity to do international missions closer to home,” she shares.

“When I was able to meet around the table with pastors from both sides of the border, my focus for the trip shifted. Instead of seeing churches that needed our help, I saw churches working toward discipling their members and new believers in unique and powerful ways. It was inspiring to hear their enthusiasm toward their ministries. I could see how TAC and my church would be called to not simply help, but participate alongside the efforts already taking place. We also imagined how these creative congregations could be a part of what we are doing in our conference and community through video links and other possible collaborations.”
Janet sees great possibilities for smaller churches to join together by forming relationships with churches at the border. She explains, “The first and most important step is getting to know one another. This doesn’t take a lot of training, just a willingness to be open to a new kind of relationship. The training really consists of recognizing that we are not being sent there because they need our resources, but we are being called there to find Christ and Christ’s work.”
For information on the next 50/50 In Mission Together training contact Christine Riggle at criggle@txcumc.org or call the Mission Center at 936-788-6650.
Adds Janet, “We are in the very preliminary steps at this point, but I can see great possibilities ahead. I like that churches can participate individually, in collaboration with other churches, or even as districts. The key thing for me is the relationship component that enables God’s Kingdom to be so readily evident.”

Cokesbury Unveils Resource Center

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00
Cokesbury announced today that it is bringing a new consultative retail experience to Annual Conferences this year with the new Cokesbury Ministry Resource Center.
Focused on equipping leaders to build disciples, the Ministry Resource Center will offer the opportunity for more personalized consultations with church leaders in order to match products with their specific ministry needs.

Features of the Ministry Resource Center include:
• Showcases highlighting new and classic resources ranging from adult and children’s curriculum to
church-wide stewardship and Bible studies – all available for review and ordering.

• A robust selection of additional new titles and best sellers available on-site for immediate
purchase featuring the Bishop’s “picks,” speaker’s books, and UMC official resources, new titles
and best sellers.

• Consultation areas where church leaders can meet with trained consultants regarding ministry
needs including studies, curriculum, robes, signs, sanctuary furnishings and much more.

• An ordering kiosk with access to titles unique to each conference as well as resources not included
in the Ministry Resource Center.

• Free shipping on all orders placed at Annual Conferences on regularly stocked merchandise.

“We are excited to bring this new approach to each annual conference,” said the Rev. Brian K. Milford, president and publisher of The United Methodist Publishing House. “In previous years, up to 80% of purchases were from only 20% of the titles displayed. The new approach will showcase products that are intentionally selected for each location and focused on equipping your church leaders for ministry.”

See Flyer                See Press Release

About Cokesbury
Cokesbury is the retail and customer service arm of The United Methodist Publishing House, which serves more than 11 million United Methodists worldwide as well as a broad ecumenical audience representing many denominations and independent churches, with books, Bibles, curriculum, worship resources, and church supplies. Cokesbury offers more than 200,000 products to congregations through www.Cokesbury.com and the Cokesbury Customer Care Center 1-800-672-1789.

Confirmation Ideas Exchange May 24

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00
Kingwood & the Central North District are hosting a Lunch & Learn focusing on Confirmation Conversations.

The event will be on May 24th from 12-2 at Kingwood UMC and anyone who is involved with Confirmation is invited; youth worker, pastors, volunteers, prayer partners, etc.  RSVP here by May 19th and the cost for lunch is $10. 

Leadership Institute 2017

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00
Leadership Institute 2017 in Leawood KS Wednesday-Friday September 27-29 at 8:00 a.m.
Join clergy, church staff and volunteers from across the nation for one of the largest mainline training events in the country.
Come and Experience:
•  Expanded Pre-Institute Sessions, featuring workshops covering a wide variety of ministry topics, led by Resurrection staff and guest speakers
• Inspiring worship
• Connection and fellowship with church leaders serving a variety of church settings and sizes across the nation
• A line-up of well-known General Session speakers bringing a three-day infusion of practical tools, leadership growth strategies and a renewed vision for ministry
The line-up of nationally known General Session speakers includes:
  • Adam Hamilton
  • Adam Weber
  • Nancy Beach
  • Olu Brown
  • Tony Morgan
  • Chris Folmsbee
  • Scott Chrostek
  • Sarah Heath
Invest in your own leadership development and the development of your ministry teams. Clergy, staff and lay leaders will all find valuable takeaways from this year's event.
The Church of the Resurrection
13720 Roe Avenue
Leawood, KS 66224
For details and registration, visit:  http://li.cor.org/

Mission Inspiration: Third Saturday

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00
Come join us for a morning or afternoon session (or both!) as we verify UMCOR health kits and prepare them for shipment to those in need for our 3rd Saturday at the Mission Center in Conroe on May 20th.
Please contact Christine Riggle at the Mission Center for more information or to register at at 936-788-6650 or by email: criggle@txcumc.org.  

Perritte Memorial Crescendo Academy Summer Art Camps

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00
Perritte Memorial UMC is offering two options for Crescendo Academy Summer Art Camps in 2017.

The first camp will be an Art Camp for students in grades K-2. This camp will be taught by Tanya San Nicolas. During the camp, students will use a variety of materials to develop manipulative skills including air dry clay, watercolor, pastels and acrylic paint. 
The second camp will be for students in grades 3-5 and will include Art and Music! During this camp, students will learn about music history, art history, as well as completing projects, playing musical games and learning some basic piano skills! This camp will be taught by Polina Golubkova and Tanya San Nicolas. Both camps will be held at Perritte Memorial United Methodist Church. More information and a registration form are attached.
Pre-Registration is preferred as there are limited spots available for each camp!

See flyer for more details

Pisgah UMC Selected Best of Carthage Awards for Religion

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00

Pisgah United Methodist Church has been selected for the 2017 Best of Carthage Award in the Religion category by the Carthage Award Program.

Each year, the Carthage Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Carthage area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2017 Carthage Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Carthage Award Program and data provided by third parties.

More about the award

Third Sunday Native American Worship May 21: Anna Edwards

Wed, 05/10/2017 - 00:00
Third Sunday Fellowship May 21 will be Anna Edwards, Veteran's & N.A. Advocate & Speaker (OhkayOwingeh) 
St. Marks United Methodist Church
1615 Patterson St., Houston, Tx.
(One block south of I-10 & west of I-45
Close to I-10 and Shepherd Dr.)
Potluck and fellowship follow the service

2017 Speakers
**June 11 Rev. Ross Hyde, Maud UMC, near Texarkana (Mohawk)
July 16 Jim Cochran, Christian Lay Minister (Cherokee)
August 20 Pastor Bryan Jacobs (Seminole, Creek)
September 17 James Stevenson, Lay speaker & Gifted Musician (Lumbee)
October 15 Pastor Melody Jacobs, Christian Speaker (Mescalero Apache)
November 19 Sayani, NAMA Award Winning Music Ministry(Cherokee/Creek/Choctaw)
December 17 Rev. David Wilson, Supt of OK Indian Missionary Conference (Choctaw)
 *  - 4th Sunday of April
** -  2nd Sunday of June

2017 Mission Project: Fight Human Trafficking

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 00:00
The Center for Mission Excellence mission project this year is to help raise funds to fight against human trafficking.
The districts of the Texas Annual Conference are raising awareness and funds to support the fight against human trafficking in the state of Texas and around the world. During 2017, through run/walk/bike events and as the Annual Conference Mission Project, each district will raise funds for one local organization and one international organization. The goal for each district is $100,000.
Choose and register for an event at: http://info.reason2race.com/tacteams/  
Monetary donations may be brought during annual conference in the Outler Atrium. A Mission Project table will be there to make it easy to drop off your donation. Or, you may send your donation to the conference office at:
Texas Annual Conference
5215 Main St.
Houston, TX 77002
Please make checks payable to the Texas Annual Conference or TAC and add “TAC Mission Project” in the notation.
See who you are supporting when you raise money in:
The Central North District
The Central South District
The East District
The North District
The Northwest District
The South District
The Southeast District
The Southwest District
The West District
The project donations will be administered by The Texas Annual Conference United Methodist Church.
Contact: Missional Excellence if you have questions at 713-521-9383, ext. 301.

TAC 2017 Information for Laity

Thu, 05/04/2017 - 00:00
In the video below, Texas Conference Lay Leader John Esquivel talks about laity events coming up at Annual Conference 2017 including the laity luncheon and laity session. Check it out: 

Laity Luncheon Brochure
Laity Luncheon Registration
Annual Conference Information is available at: http://www.txcumc.org/tac2017 

Texas Trail of Tornadoes: UMC Response Underway

Wed, 05/03/2017 - 00:00
In the wake of deadly and destructive tornadoes and twisters over a 50-mile stretch, the United Methodist connectional system is full-response mode to mitigate the aftermath of damage to some 5,000 structures in a three-county region.

According to TAC Mission Center Director Rev. Scott Moore, the path of devastation occurred along the border of the North and Northwest districts, sparing much of Canton but hitting many small towns in the nearby vicinity. “The Mission Center immediately sent 150 cleaning kits, 60 tarps along with lumber and screws to protect damaged roofs,” he says. “A trained and badged ERT team from Rusk deployed May 2, and will soon be followed by teams from Greggton UMC and Atlanta FUMC. Thankfully, FUMC Canton will be serving as an American Red Cross shelter as well as a hub for many of our volunteers in the area.”
Rev. Jon Thornsbury, pastor of FUMC Canton says, “The response to the need for those who are suffering has been a clear testimony of people's care for those in need: from the couple who drove from Oklahoma to bring diapers, water and blankets to the man and his dog from Alvin who brought macaroni and cheese, peanut butter, diapers and cleaning wipes..” Adds Jon, “Many, many people from the East Texas and Dallas area just showed up with much-needed items. We were overwhelmed by the response of people who will never meet those who live on the country roads --whose lives were devastated  -- who are so appreciative for water, food items and a blanket. The supplies multiplied in the first 24 hours.”
“All of our local churches of all denominations have been working on panic projects to recover from the storms,” reports Rev. Alan Van Hooser, Cheatham Memorial UMC from Canton’s neighboring town of Edgewood. The county is officially open to volunteer teams and we are organizing clients for roof tarps, tree removal and clean out. We have teams and equipment from all over and they are ready to get busy!”
According to District Superintendent Marlin Fenn, the 50 miles of damage from Eustace to Emory is dramatic. “We are thankful to Alan for coordinating much of our conference ERT work,” he says. “It's a massive situation and all the relief organizations are trying to get their feet on the ground.” According to Marlin, the Catholic Church in Emory was destroyed but the Methodist congregation has invited them to share their facility.
Adds Marlin, “Canton First is the center for donations and the entire time I was there, the line of cars and trucks bringing donations never stopped. Mercy Chefs, Red Cross, Salvation Army, TV cameras and radio stations are all working hard. However, the damage is largely rural and some is not easily reached because of blocked roads.”
Since only trained and badged teams are being deployed at this time, Scott encourages individuals that want to help immediately to give to the UMCOR Disaster Response Advance #901670. “If we put out a call for general volunteers, it will be a few weeks down the road,” he adds.
Adds Marlin, “Out of tornadoes come the most amazing stories and miracles. I am so grateful for our conference early response teams, for Scott Moore's quick action, and for our pastors and churches that are working to bring peace in the midst of chaos, and hope in the presence of devastation. The Holy Spirit unites us in tragedy and the presence of God is even more visible than the damage of the winds.”

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Calling All Singing Clergy

Tue, 05/02/2017 - 00:00
For this year’s Retiree Worship service – Tuesday, May 30, 2:00 pm - honoring our Retirees, we will once again have a “Y’all Come” Clergy Choir. As we did two years ago, the clergy choir will join in the singing of hymns during the service and then will provide a very special anthem in honor of our retiring clergy, “Bound for Greater Things.” The last time we did this we filled the choir loft to standing room only with over 90 clergy singers!
I would like to personally invite all clergy to gather together joining our voices as one praising God and honoring our new retirees! Joining is easy, please come early for the rehearsal in the choir loft on the day of the service. We will begin at 1:30 pm.
Practice in advance is encouraged and easy to do. Follow this link to prerecorded, voice part specific practice parts. 
We will have extra copies of the music available at the rehearsal prior to the service.
Please contact me at laurie.purcell@strawbridge-umc.org or Craig at cgilbert@chapelwood.org for more information.
We can’t wait to have you singing God’s story in honor of these wonderful clergy!

East Texas Tornadoes

Mon, 05/01/2017 - 00:00

Canton, TX and the surrounding area were hit very hard by a string of tornados Saturday night. Please be in prayer for those affected by this disaster. At this time, only trained and badged ERT members are asked to respond. 

ERTs wishing to respond should contact Rev. Alan Van Hooser at 254-203-4868.  Housing is available.

Please do NOT send non-badged volunteers at this time.

Also, please do NOT send unsolicited donations of food, water, flood buckets, etc.  Those wishing to help financially may contribute to the UMCOR US Disaster Response, Advance #901670.

Call Scott Moore at the Conference Mission Center, 936-788-6650 if you have any questions.

Council of Bishops President Responds to Judicial Council Ruling

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 00:00
In the wake of the United Methodist Judicial Council’s ruling that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law, the president of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Bruce R. Ough urged all United Methodists to respect the decision and pray for the unity of the church.

Although the Judicial Council ruled that “a self-avowed homosexual clergy person cannot be legally consecrated a bishop,” the council said that “self-avowal does not nullify the consecration and cause removal from office.” The denomination’s top court decreed that the bishop's constitutional right to fair and due process must be protected, and until the completion of the administrative and/or judicial process, the bishop remains in good standing.

The ruling came in response to a request from the South Central Jurisdiction for a declaratory decision regarding the nomination, election, consecration and/or assignment as a bishop of a person who claims to be a "self-avowed practicing homosexual" or who is in a same-sex marriage.

Bishop Ough acknowledged that there will be mixed reactions to the court’s conclusion, but he stressed that the Council continues to remain committed to keeping the church united for the sake of our mission.

“We acknowledge that the decision does not help to ease the disagreements, impatience and anxiety that permeates The United Methodist Church over the matter of human sexuality, and particularly this case,” said Bishop Ough. “Our compassion and prayers of intercession extend to all those who are hurt, relieved, confused or fearful.”

“The Council of Bishops remains committed to the unity of the church and the flourishing of its mission,” he said. “We are confident of the work that the Commission on a Way Forward has begun and we believe the Holy Spirit is working through the Commission and Council to accomplish God’s purposes.”
The South Central Jurisdictional Conference’s (SCJ) request for a decision related to questions surrounding the lawfulness of last year’s election by the Western Jurisdiction of Bishop Karen Oliveto, who is a spouse in a same-sex marriage. The SCJ passed a motion by lay delegate Dixie Brewster of the Great Plains Annual Conference to request a decision during their meeting in July 2016.

He also expressed confidence in the process that has already begun: to lead the church along the path that the General Conference has laid out with the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.

“I am encouraged by the relationships that are developing within the Commission. The distinct and diverse opinions among its members reflect the richness and vitality of The United Methodist Church. The Commission is committed to its task. I believe that their work will bear fruit as we meet for a Special Session of the General Conference in February 2019,” said Ough.

As the highest judicial body of The United Methodist Church, the nine-member council determines whether actions of the denomination’s official bodies conform to church law. Traditionally the Judicial Council speaks only through its decisions, and those decisions are final and not subject to appeal.
Bishop Ough expressed appreciation for the Judicial Council’s careful and deliberate consideration of the matter and for the thoughtful and considerate participation of all parties to the case.

“The Judicial Council has a distinct and critical role in the governance structure of the denomination,” said Ough. “We recognize and respect the Judicial Council as the body responsible for deciding complex questions of church law, including the right to declare jurisdiction. We implore all within the United Methodist structure and family to honor the Judicial Council ruling.”

Bishop Ough said that he remains optimistic for the future of the denomination despite the divisions that exist.

“Nearly every day, I hear an inspiring new story of how the people of The United Methodist Church are at work in the world, enriching people’s lives,” said Bishop Ough. “This is what we’re about. This is our calling. This is the work we do together, no matter our differences. May we continue to do so for the greater glory of God.”

Read the full statement.

See Original Post from UMNS

Review All Clergy Qualifications, Court Says

Sat, 04/29/2017 - 00:00
By Linda Bloom, UMNS
United Methodist boards of ordained ministry must look at all qualifications to determine whether a ministerial candidate is a fitting applicant — including adherence to the church’s position on homosexuality.

That is the ruling of the Judicial Council, the denomination’s top court, in petitions related to the New York and Northern Illinois conferences, where those boards had publicly declared they would not consider issues of sexuality when evaluating a candidate.

In total, the nine-member Judicial Council deliberated on seven docket items during its April 25-28 spring session, including a petition challenging last year’s election of a lesbian bishop, Bishop Karen Oliveto, that drew attention from church members worldwide. About 200 people attended an April 25 oral hearing on the matter.

In that case, the court ruled that the consecration of a gay bishop violates church law, but said the bishop “remains in good standing” until an administrative or judicial process is completed.

One of the qualifications for candidacy and ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church — as stated in church law — is “fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness.”

“The board of ordained ministry is mandated by the Book of Discipline 2012 to examine all applicants as to their fitness for the ordained ministry…,” the council declared in both Decision 1343 regarding a New York Conference bishop’s decision of law, and Decision 1344, related to a bishop’s decision of law in Northern Illinois.

This “full inquiry” of candidates in the categories of local pastor, associate membership, provisional membership and full conference membership should include all provisions relevant to pastoral ministry, including issues of sexuality, the decisions said.

“Candidates for licensed and ordained ministry seeking election into The United Methodist Church should be treated fairly and denial of entry must be based upon the evidence received from the results of the full examination,” the decisions said.

The New York decision is the continuation of a petition on a bishop’s decision of law that was on the council’s October 2016 docket. Decision 1343 modifies the ruling the court received from Bishop Jane Allen Middleton, now retired, on two questions raised during annual conference in June.

Paragraph 304.3 in the Book of Discipline, which prohibits self-avowed practicing homosexuals from being “certified as candidates, ordained as ministers or appointed to serve in the Methodist Church,” prevents a board of ordained ministry “from ignoring statements of self-disclosure,” the decision said.
The Northern Illinois decision, which modified a decision of law by Bishop Sally Dyck, stressed the duty of the board of ordained ministry “to conduct a careful and thorough examination and investigation, not only in terms of depth but also breadth of scope.”

Only after a thorough examination can a person who has met “the disciplinary standards for fitness” be recommended to a conference’s clergy session as a candidate for the ministry, Judicial Council said.

In other rulings on the spring docket, Judicial Council affirmed a bishop’s decision of law from the 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

A “Stop the Trials” resolution — calling for the jurisdiction’s college of bishops to stop church trials — was debated, amended and “untitled” before being approved by delegates on July 14.

The court agreed with Bishop Mark J. Webb, who ruled the resolution to be “null, void and of no effect.”

“Jurisdictional conferences are free to adopt resolutions that are aspirational in nature, and to express their ideals and opinions as long as they do not attempt to negate, ignore or contradict the Discipline,” Judicial Council said in Decision 1340.

“They may not pass resolutions that encourage a violation of church law or discourage the enforcement of church law.”

The council found the “untitled resolution” adopted by the Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference to be “contrary to the Constitution and The Discipline, and, therefore, null and void.”

See Original Article from UMNS

Related: Consecration of Gay Bishop Against Church Law