Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (2): What the Korean Church Learned from Us

A second installment of the reflections of our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, on his pilgrimage to Korea with our Bishop and others:

            As we met with the pastors of the churches, they kept talking about their growth and why they believed the churches are growing.  The host pastor of the Bupyeong Church said numerous times, “we learned these things from you”.  He went on to explain that the principles that the Methodist Church in Korea abide by are the principles that the missionaries from the US taught them over and over.
            Pastor Hong, the senior pastor of Bupyeong Methodist Church articulated that they are growing because they take seriously what the missionaries from America taught them.  He referred to the missionaries as teaching them about:
·         A passion for Jesus Christ and the need to commit oneself to Jesus Christ
·         A need for fervent prayer and an indwelling of the Holy Spirit
·         A generous spirit of tithing and beyond
·         A need to serve others.
When Korea was open to the missionaries, the missionaries weren’t allowed to start churches or to preach.   So they started hospitals, schools, universities and other agencies to meet the needs of the Korean people.  They did their evangelism in ways that were tied with getting to know the people and meeting their needs.
It was at this point that the Methodist movement began to really make a difference in the lives of the Korean people.
More than once Rev. Hong talked about the fact that Korea was introduced to Christianity because of the Methodists in the States who sent missionaries.
It was the missionaries who taught them by example to care for the poor, the least and the lost.  It was the missionaries who by their example prayed without ceasing, instilling in the converts the need to pray long and hard.
The missionaries also taught the converts that it wasn’t enough to accept Jesus Christ, they had to serve others.  It was the role of the Christian to serve and not be served.
The missionaries also taught the new Christians to be generous in giving—and that tithing was the minimum not the maximum.  Rev. Hong reminded us that the reason the Korean Methodists give so much—even when they have so little is because Jesus Christ gave so much—he gave himself—and we can do no less.  (Next week’s article will be about their generosity.)
Two of the most notable missionaries were Mary Scranton and Henry Appenzeller.  Mary Scranton has ties to the Wyoming Seminary (a UM prep school) and Rev. Appenzeller was out of First Methodist Church, Lancaster.  Mary Scranton started a women’s school which now is one of the most prestigious universities in Korea.  Rev. Appenzeller was the first missionary to Korea and was a powerful force in bringing people to Christianity.
It was because of the generosity of the Methodist Church and the call of God on the lives of the missionaries that Korea was changed forever.
Listening to Rev. Hong and experiencing what we did with the Korean Methodist Church, I have to wonder if we have lost what we and our fore parents were taught.
Early Methodists—and EUB’s were clear about the generosity of tithing.  They taught and lived serving others.  They dedicated themselves to fervent prayer and to boldly claim the name of Jesus Christ.

Could it be that we need to get back to those teachings and those practices?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

The UMCOR team

Morgan Richards is the monitoring and evaluation technical officer with UMCOR’s International Programs, providing support to UMCOR’s country offices. 

Richards, who recently joined the UMCOR team, says, “Coming from a family of Methodists, UMCOR was a household name for me growing up, so I’m really excited to be here.”

About her work, she explains, “My job is to make sure that we document how UMCOR impacts people’s lives, so we can prove our work is effective. We are constantly learning how to serve vulnerable communities even better. I love this work, and doing it to strengthen UMCOR’s ministry is one of the greatest honors I can imagine.” 

Richards has a Master’s degree in Sociology, with a research focus on international development and women’s empowerment. Before joining UMCOR, she worked as a monitoring and evaluation officer for local nongovernmental organizations in Mombasa, Kenya. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Wrestling Jacob

1. Come, 0 thou Traveler unknown, 
 whom still I hold, but cannot see! 
 My company before is gone, 
 and I am left alone with thee; 
 with thee all night I mean to stay 
 and wrestle till the break of day. 

2. I need not tell thee who I am, 
 my misery and sin declare; 
 thyself hast called me by my name, 
 look on thy hands and read it there. 
 But who, I ask thee, who art thou? 
 Tell me thy name, and tell me now. 

3. In vain thou strugglest to get free, 
 I never will unloose my hold; 
 art thou the man that died for me? 
 The secret of thy love unfold; 
 wrestling, I will not let thee go 
 till I thy name, thy nature know. 

4. Wilt thou not yet to me reveal 
 thy new, unutterable name? 
 Tell me, I still beseech thee, tell, 
 to know it now resolved I am; 
 wrestling, I will not let thee go, 
 till I thy name, thy nature know. 

Baggage Claim (3): Nothing Left to Lose

2014/10/19 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 85
Children, Genesis 32.1-21
Message, Genesis 32.22-32

I love the Jacob story, and I’ve repeated that a few times over the weeks we’ve been looking at his story.
      Baggage – sibling rivalry, mommy/daddy issues
      Destructive behavior – treating human connections as commodities
            “I hired you with my son’s mandrakes” (Leah to Jacob, 30.16)

Yet, this rascal is chosen and loved by God!
      Not because of anything he has done
      Even before he is born
An act of grace, a reminder that we are God’s simply because God is gracious, that we are loved simply because God is love.

But Jacob does not “get it”
      “Grabber”, his name, his birth
      Birthright & blessing – but never received his father’s approval
      Wealth – from Laban
He has fought for everything he has, he has earned it all
And that is an illusion – it is all a gift, it is all grace

The illusion of being my father’s equal – boxing

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Spiritual Pilgrimage to Korea (1)

Reflections from our District Superintendent, Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver:

            As you are probably aware, 32 pastors and spouses joined Bishop Park and his wife Lisa for a pilgrimage to Korea.  It was a phenomenal trip.  We not only learned so much, we observed churches alive and on fire for Jesus Christ who understands their sole passion is to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ.
            Over the next several weeks I want to highlight some of the things that I found helpful, inspiring and what I believe is God directed.  I hope some of the things that I write about will stir us in the Lewisburg District.
            We visited 6 churches and the Methodist Seminary of Korea.  All of the churches we visited are growing in numbers and in disciples.  Some of the pastors were quick to point out that this is difficult because of the culture in Korea.  Like the US, going to church is against the culture of the society in which they live.
Our host Church was the Bupyeong Methodist Church.  They are the epitome of a church who cares deeply for its community and for the unchurched.  They are also a church that takes hospitality to a new level.  (I’ll talk about the hospitality in another article.)
One of the links of all of the churches growth was that they were crystal clear as to their mission as a church.  Our host church understands that all they are about is bringing people to know Jesus Christ and to grow disciples.  If it doesn’t fit these two goals—they don’t engage in it.  It’s about their goal of bringing people to Jesus Christ.
Another church we visited called themselves the Joyful Church.  Their goal is to bring joy to the community through the Gospel of serving and to find ways to help make the community joyful in Jesus Christ.
This joyful church sees as their mission field the children in the community.   To serve the children, they built—with church funds—a 3 floor community center for the church.  The 3rd floor is a children’s library, the second floor a coffee shop for the community and the 1st floor a theater for performing.   This is next to their sanctuary.
The pastor of this church said that they opened this as a place for children.  He went on to say our only reason is to serve children in our community well.  To that end, they now worship 1,100 adults and 1,400 children.  They are clear about their mission and they do not stray from it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ebola program director

Dr. Olusimbo Ige is the senior program manager for Imagine No Malaria (INM) of the Global Health arm of the General Board of Global Ministries. 

Dr. Ige oversees the design, implementation and evaluation of malaria-control programs by United Methodist health boards in 16 African countries, which receive funds from INM. 

Dr. Ige says of her work, “I am excited about working towards a future where African children and women no longer fear untimely death as a result of malaria. Being able to support efforts that help prevent, educate and treat malaria in the most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Africa is a unique privilege that I am very grateful for.” 

Dr. Ige is a public health physician with a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery, Masters in Public health and fellowship of the West African Post-graduate College of Medicine. 

Prior to her work with UMCOR, Dr. Ige held a position with USAID/Malaria Action Program for States as the Management Capacity Building Officer in Southwest Nigeria. 

(From the 08 Oct 2014 UMCOR hotline) Dr. Ige is also program manager for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pounding the Pastor

Thanks to everyone for your gifts for Pounding the Pastor - over five times Pastor JP's weight, 1036 pounds (as of the Oct 5 count). And thanks to Shirley & Lee and Bruce for serving on the food pantry board.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Baggage Claim (2): Jacob Meets His Match(es), or You Can't Buy Love

2014/10/05 Christ Church, Mountain Top
Prayer, Psalm 46
Children, Genesis 28.10-22
Message, Genesis 29.1-35

As we ended the message last week, we pointed out that Jacob had been chosen by God, Jacob had been loved, before he was born, before he had done anything good or bad. And, once we got to know him, it was easy to see that he was no Eagle Scout. The fact that God would choose a rascal like Jacob is an act of grace, a reminder that we are God’s simply because God is gracious – not because of anything we have done to earn it or anything we are that deserves it. We are simply loved because God is love.

Today, we continue the story with this …
Momma’s boy, away from home for the first time
Fleeing his brother
Looking for a wife, to “meet his match”
      Stubborn man, uses a stone for a pillow “as hard as his head”
            (Michael Card, Genesis 28.11)
            He’s always gotten his way
                  What happens when he doesn’t?
                  When he “meets his match”

      Marriage as a match for families – finding a girl from the “right family”
      Marriage as a financial transaction (bride price) – not about romance
Deconstructed centuries later in Song of Solomon 8.7b:
      If one offered for love
      All the wealth of one’s house,
      It would be utterly scorned
You can’t buy love.

RENT: “I’ll Cover You” (Angel and Collins, lyrics Jonathan Larson)
I think they meant it
When they said you can’t buy love
Now I know you can rent it
A new lease you are my love
On life, be my life

Connections as commodity, as transaction - TODAY
If I am totally fulfilled in our sexual relationship, I will be faithful
If I am totally fulfilled emotionally,
If you live up to my expectations,
Why porn, prostitution … not just poverty but also because connection is a commodity.

Sunday School

The music class and the youth class having fun and learning lots.