Thursday, May 19, 2016

Uprooted Syrians


Aise is 7 years-old. Her parents struggled for years during the civil war in Syria. All of her family members have to work to cover the rent, and other life expenses. Food packages from UMCOR are helping to bring relief to uprooted families. Photo: IBC

Aise is 7 years-old. Her parents struggled for years during the civil war in Syria. All of her family members have to work to cover the rent, and other life expenses. Food packages from UMCOR are helping to bring relief to uprooted families. Photo: IBC
By David Tereshchuk*
April 12, 2016—As the complex conflict in Syria surpasses its fifth full year, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is continuing its aid for Syrians forced to flee their strife-torn homes.
UMCOR, through its partners, is extending assistance to those displaced within Syria and those who have fled to neighboring countries and beyond.
In a district north of Damascus, the Syrian capital, UMCOR is working with a trusted regional partner, International Blue Crescent (IBC), to supply some 1,000 displaced families with urgently needed food packages.
“Many of these internally displaced persons [IDPs] have been made homeless multiple times, but due to repeated shifts in the fighting, they often are much more difficult to reach and support,” noted Laurie Felder, executive secretary for UMCOR International Disaster Response.
In March, the Syrian conflict marked its fifth anniversary. A ceasefire brokered earlier this year and that went into effect on February 27 continues to hold, allowing space for increased humanitarian assistance. But, as the United Nations noted, “intermittent fighting, shifting conflict lines and persisting deprivation have continued to displace people across the country.”
UMCOR is partnering with the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) to help uprooted Syrians on the outskirts of Damascus find housing and pay the rent. Because of the conflict, housing is scarce and livelihoods remain in upheaval. This partnership offers protection to a vulnerable population, while also respecting and acknowledging their human dignity.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Gift of the Spirit (2016-0515)


2016/05/15 Christ Church, Mountain Top, Pentecost
Call to Worship, Psalm 104.24-35
Children, Acts 2.1-21
Message, John 14.8-27

Pentecost: My focus on mission, church growth, and powerful “manifestations” of the Spirit
      3000 added to their number
      # baptized (110)
      # new members (165)
      Christ Church, new members 2429 (historically)
John 14:12  Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.
      Youth, last week, Ascension theme
      Practical dimensions of that theme
            Ruth’s Place
            Broken hearts & families

This passage is focused elsewhere:
      The Spirit as Gift, as a personal gift to the people of God

Monday, May 16, 2016

Habitat for Humanity story

Young People Speak at General Conference

Chelsea Spyres of the Peninsula-Deleware Conference helps deliver the young people's address during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

 Peter Cibuabua of the Central Congo Conference helps deliver the young people's address during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS
These two young people were nurtured, live and serve half a world apart; yet, they professed a common message, “Be like Jesus and build relationships and love before anything else.”

Spyres grew up in Delaware and now serves as a missionary in Detroit. She explained that she began attending her home congregation at a young age with her grandmother, Nana. Church camp and mission work followed during her teen years. Spyres spoke of her appreciation for the nurture she continues to receive from her home congregation in Newark, Delaware. “That family of faith allowed me to see how powerful the body of Christ can be, when the church is looking outwardly more than inwardly,” she said.

What she learned from them about “the power of relationships” carried her to commissioning as a Global Mission Fellow (US2) in 2014. She credits her service at NOAH Project in downtown Detroit for showing her how powerful love really is. “Every day I get a glimpse of the Kin-dom here on earth through a bagged lunch and stories shared.”

Chibuabua is from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. His faith story began in a Muslim household.

“But it happened that I began studying in one of the United Methodist schools in my home village,” he said. His decision to start attending a United Methodist church made him “like a stranger in my own house.” Eventually, he was baptized and confirmed. Like Spryes, Chibuabua notes, “I loved the preaching about love and grace.”

Today Chibuabua is the evangelism chairperson and president of the young people’s ministry in his conference, showing others “when we have love, we can live above and beyond any situation with a neighbor.” Teaching English, speaking on the Methodist Radio and cleaning the church “are still my favorite work in life,” he noted.

Read the rest of the story.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Youth Sunday, Scripture and Dialogue

Gypsy Moth update, from the expert

From our own environmental scientist, Mike Case:

Regarding the gypsy moth egg cases, it is good that you could remove some. Remember that many cases are cryptic (underneath things, in trunk crevasses, etc.) The caterpillars are now emerging as 2 mm long instars, climbing to the tops of trees on the nearby Nescopeck ridge and dispersing on 20 cm silk threads on the wind. The babies are all over our farm now, blown in from Nescopeck Mt. ridge. In about 5 days, they will start feeding. So, if you have any favorite small trees on your property, now is the time to buy some BT (Bacillus thurengensis) concentrate and spray when you are sure it is not going to rain for a couple of days. The BT spores are ingested by the caterpillars as they eat the leaves. The BT (which is organic approved) will kill the caterpillars within 24 hours.

There is nothing you can do to protect the canopy of larger trees. However, the caterpillars when large will migrate down (or up) the trunk some. So, a band of some sticky tape (like Duct Tape) or sticky roll of material that you can buy at Agway or a garden store might help a little bit. Realistically, there is a tremendous reproductive potential in the number of egg cases and dispersal conditions this year. The only thing that might collapse the population now is a 32 F night with some rain or cold snow.

Probably in about 5-10 days people are really going to start to notice the impacts of the defoliation and start calling the local TV stations. They will do some investigation and maybe talk to a few scientists like me only to discover the inadequacies and crazy expense to landowners of the PA aerial spraying program. The practical and scientific reality is that PA forestry resources are a contiguous, integrated system which are important to the whole state. Piecemeal treatments of selected blocks of land for landowners who can afford the cost of aerial spraying do not address the issue of long-distance aerial dispersal of the caterpillar larvae early in the game. Luzerne County opted out of the spray program 2 years ago. Now, Keri Skevarla, one of my former students and head of the county spray program, is trying to catch them up.

So, pray for 32 F and a light snow!