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The Information You Need To Know: 

Cooper Memorial United Methodist Church

9901 Cooper Church Dr., Louisville, Ky 40229
Click here for Map

Phone Number:  

(502) 969-4792

 

Pastor’s e-mail:

revgreg9566@gmail.com


Office- email: 

cooper.office@bellsouth.net

E-mail addresses:

cooperaudiovideo@cooperchurch.com

cooperfinance@cooperchurch.com

cooperyouth@cooperchurch.com

coopertrustee@cooperchurch.com

 

Calendar Coordinator:  caroline.young4@outlook.com

Website Questions:

cooperwebsite@cooperchurch.com

 

Other Links:

 United Methodist Website

 

 

 

 

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 Rev. Greg's Points to Ponder

 Winter 2015-2016

    I have not had a pastor’s pondering for a while but here is something that has disturbed me strongly and I really feel I need to weigh in on this. There has been an increase in violent acts recently that is scary. It depends upon which study you choose to accept about how many “Mass killings” we have had this past year. As far as I am concerned one is too many. Then we need to look at the responses from different sides of the political world. I am somewhere in the middle.

    Many of the shootings have happened because of a disturbed individual went untreated or their illness went unrecognized. That is sad and needs to be addressed. Some have been terrorist attacks and that is an issue that also needs to be addressed. Some have been the result of criminal enterprises. There is not a single cause that we can place on these atrocities. We have two very vocal sides that say we must take away all guns or we need to increase the number of guns. There are valid parts to both arguments as well as parts that just do not make any sense at all. The issue is way more complex. There are places that have very strict gun laws and have a very high number of gun crimes. There are places with much less restrictive laws that have much lower gun crime figures.

  I read an article today that was very well written. It talked about the danger of untrained people carrying weapons and using them when they should not have and in a way that tactically was just plain wrong. I had to agree that I agreed with the author. I grew up with long guns around, shotguns and rifles. I was taught gun safety from the very beginning. When I became a police officer I learned about pistols and fell in love with shooting them. When I became a father I made sure that my guns were safe and that both my boys became familiar with them and learned gun safety. I go to the range as often as I can to better my skills. I carried a gun for 23 years both openly and concealed. I never had to use it in anger although I came close several times. I think that if you are going to carry a gun you should be properly trained. Of course at the level of a Navy Seal is ridiculous but at the level of a street cop is not. 

   I do not offer a solution to the issues of violence we are facing. It is a very complex issue that needs more than a knee jerk reaction. It requires study and careful thought. I have friends on all sides of this issue and respect their opinion, even if I disagree with it.

   My response as a pastor is this. We are called to be Christ like in all we do. As imitators of Christ we are to be like him and respond in love. My go to scripture is Micah 6:8. This tells us what is required of us by our God. That means there is no choice and it is not debatable. We are to love mercy, seek out places where justice is needed and then do something about it. And we are to walk humbly with our God. Whatever your opinion of the violence, shooting, gun, mental health, terrorist issue if you are a Christian, love must be the first response. We must look at everything through the lens of God as revealed to us through Jesus Christ and his life and teachings. In the communities where we live there is a great need for Christians to reach out and help change that part of their world. Work with the students in the schools to help them however you can. Make your church a safe place for the kids in your community. Seek out the hungry and the homeless and feed them and show them they are loved. Corey Nelson of Heathen church starts off every worship service by reminding us that we are in this together. Now that sounds great as you look around and see others that are just like you. Where it becomes difficult is when you see someone that makes you want to cross the street to avoid them, or someone that looks different than you are, or someone that smells different. You must learn to look at them and see them as created in the image of God. You must say this over and over until you believe it. These are the people that Jesus sought out and walked with. To all that read this we are in this together. Peace to you and God’s blessings upon you.

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Fall 2015 Update

Our Charge Conference is coming up and we still have the need for 9 people to volunteer for our new committee structure. It is known as DNA, Discipleship,  Nurture and Administration. We have 4 that have volunteered for the administration committee and can use one more. We have two with the Nurture committee and need thee more. We have no one that has volunteered for the Discipleship committee yet. Barb will be working closely with this committee.  She is the Lay Delegate and is on all by virtue of her position.

The duties of each committee is as follows:

The Discipleship Committee will handle all things regarding education and outreach. They will be responsible for organizing our Open table meal and other outreach activities such as mission trips and evangelism.

The Nurture Committee will cover all things dealing with  congregational care. They will organize all of the fellowship events, Dinner and a Movie, Potlucks, picnics, bereavement dinners, ETC.

The Administration Committee covers all the committees we currently have in place, finance, Trustees, and Lay Leadership. 

We need to know pretty quick as the paperwork need to be turned in by the end of the month. Please pray about how you can be a part of this.

 

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Pastor's Ponderings for May

 

Are we in a state of confusion as we enter into a new era of just what the definition of church is? When I was a youth we were at church, pretty much every time they opened the doors. We had things to do on Wednesday (no one else scheduled things on Wednesday because that was church day), Of course we had Sunday School and then worship on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon or early evening was filled with choir then UMYF. It is a bit different now. We have more and more demands placed upon our time. If you drive through a normal neighborhood on Sunday morning you are likely to find more people out doing yard work than they are getting ready for church.

 

I was talking to a young mother the other day. I told her that we missed them in church and wondered what we needed to do to get them back. Without thinking, she replied that it is only church. She quickly tried to cover the words with other excuses but it was too late the cat was out of the bag. She related that with the busy schedule of their children it seemed that Sunday morning was the only time during the week when the family could be together. It was the only morning they had to sleep in. It was after all only church that they were missing and everything else took precedence.

 

I wonder now if this isn't the truth for more than just this family. After all if you go to church 18 times a year you are a regular member of the church. We are seeing those in the age range of the mother I mentioned earlier leaving the church because it has lost its relevance. 

 

I realize that the message has not lost its relevance. It is timeless. I am beginning to wander of the way we are doing church today is what is losing its relevance. Ooooh now if that isn't going to rattle some nerves. The Methodist Church has a part called ReThink Church. I have not really explored what that is but I am going to do that. It is perhaps time that we rethink church and try to figure out how to make it more relevant.

 

I would love to have some great conversation with people in order to try to figure out how we can make our church a place where people want to be a part of. Each Friday I am at Cafe Lovewell from 10 until noon. The coffee shop is located on Mt. Washington Rd. just off of Preston Highway.

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Pastor's Ponderings for March 

 

My pondering this month is about our fascination with technology. I suffer from that. I want to have the latest and the greatest but I have a Champaign taste on a beer budget. As technology gets smarter and bigger or smaller depending, we are also having to pay a premium price for it. The companies that sell this stuff are figuring out more and more ways for us to be able to buy this without getting bitten too harshly in the wallet.

 

I just upgraded my phone. I got the iphone 6 plus. My wife calls it my TV monitor. It is big. I really like the other parts of it better. It has a better camera with more capabilities. It has a better processor that does things better and faster. Oh I could just go on and on about what they say this phone will do. When I went in to see about my upgrade they gave me options about how to pay for it. I could get a substantial discount on it even greater if I turned in my phone. I could pay the full price for it over 2 years and get a 60% discount on my cost with an added fee that would make my phone bill 10 more a month. Then if I spent 100 in other stuff they would give me 20 off a month for the next 12 months. On top of that they gave me more than 100 in trade for my phone. So the trade paid for my extras, meaning I would get 240 off over the next year. When you add that onto the 2 year program I am getting my phone for free. My bill will average out the same as it is now for two years. Oh, I forgot, I have to pay the tax on the phone so it is costing me just about 50 for the phone and the case and extra battery I got.

 

I am not sure how that plays out for the company. But I don't think I am going to complain. No change in average payment and a fancy new phone. WOW, I am sure I am overlooking something here. I am sure that there will be hidden charges somewhere along the way that I just didn't understand.

 

How we go to church over the years has changed dramatically. We have gone from perhaps three or four denominations to more than you can count. We each are sure that we know the correct way to achieve salvation. I will not say they are wrong. Most are probably not all that different in the way we perceive God's plan for our salvation. I think it is when we place more value on our plan than we do on God's that we start to get in trouble.

 

Whatever the changes we experience in our worship, the message remains the same. God tells us that He loves us and wants to have a close relationship with us. He is the very embodiment of love. For that relationship we don't have to worry about any complicated payment plan. All we have to do is say yes to His love. That is all it takes now and all that will ever be charged for this gift that is given so very freely. The upgrade will come later on down the road. When we get to heaven there are no going to be any walls separating us by denomination. We will not go to different churches. There will be One God, one People, all singing praises in the same way and the same language.

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Pastor's Pondering for February 2015

 

I have been dealing with Leukemia for the last two years. That means I have been trying to understand what my new normal is. I have gone through four go rounds of chemo, and been appointed to a new church during that time. Tomorrow will be the first Sunday I have not been well enough to preach since being appointed to Cooper Memorial. It feels weird to not be getting ready to preach. I have a young man newly called to ministry filling in for me and I wish I could be there to hear him bring God's Word to the people.

What has caused me to ruminate today is self-care. I am discovering that I really do not know how to be still. Even when I have a bad night with little sleep I still have to do those things that need to be done. At least I feel like I have to do them. I am really blessed to have a team that stepped up and told me they have my back and I should just concentrate on getting well.

What a great feeling it is to have such a wonderful team.  People that are so willing to do what needs to be done, to take on additional tasks when they can. As I get to know them I see them take vacations and go to exciting places. I see them come back renewed and ready to move forward.

As a pastor speaking to any other pastors but this really applies to everyone that is doing a job they really enjoy, Self-care will help you to do your job longer, better and with greater enthusiasm. I have a hard time doing this. I spent 20 years doing two full time jobs. While my family benefitted financially I am sure that I missed out on some important memories and now wish that I had been there for them. Now I do not know how to slow down. I am paying for that now. God rested on the Sabbath. As a pastor I spend all week preparing to work on the Sabbath. That means I must take my Sabbath on a different day. It means I must take time to be present with my family. It means I must find the time for recreation. I must find time for renewal.

We all must find time to spend in renewal and rest.

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Pastor's Ponderings for January 2015

 

Christmas is over and the New Year has been celebrated. Now it is time to focus on what is next. That is a great question, what is next? I think about the state of our churches today and really wonder if many want to see us work on filling our pews, paying our bills, keeping our building and grounds up and focusing on those things inward. This brings a new meaning or perhaps a misunderstood meaning to the word service. Perhaps it should be spelled serve us instead.


Jesus spent more of his time out in the world serving the lost, the needy, the poor and the broken than He did his congregation. He did spend time taking care of His flock. We see times where He gathered His disciples and spent time teaching them. We also see times where He sent them out into the world to do what He had taught them to do. Many times when people came to Him he healed them and then he sent them on their way. I imagine it was to be His voice in the world.


Service is the message he left us with. Go and make disciples of all the world. Teaching them everything that He taught us. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Go and do.


I think the message this year needs to be how can we serve others not how can you serve us. Pray about how you can serve someone this year.

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Rev. Greg's Ramblings for December 2014

 

Everywhere you go these days are signs of Christmas, at least the Christmas that the secular retail world would have us to see. There are sale flyers in every mail drop. My email is inundated with the latest sales from my favorite stores and some that got my email somehow. They seem to be trying to get us into the buying Christmas Spirit.

 

Each year as I prepare for Advent and Christmas I have had a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit.  This year I have already gotten there, but it makes me pause to try and decide just what is the Christmas Spirit. Is it what the media would have us to believe, it is all about buying the perfect gift for all of your friends and family. Is it decorating and having the brightest lights in the neighborhood? I can't help but wonder what Jesus would think about the way we have chosen to celebrate His birthday.

 

I must redefine what the Spirit should be and then work to get myself there. Jesus gave us the greatest gift we could ever imagine. He gave us the gift of eternal life with God. He also gave us the example of how we should live. He brought the Kingdom of God close to us everywhere He went all year long. There wasn't just one season that was filled with his blessings. To him the time of year was not a factor. To him it was the same in March as it was in July or any other month.

 

Now with this in mind I am beginning to believe that perhaps we should work on having the Christmas Spirit all year long. With this established we need to get back to the original question of just what is the Christmas Spirit. To do that we must look at the spirit that Jesus had in his time on earth. Throughout the Gospels we see where he looked on someone and loved them, He moved in the margins of society and shared healing and salvation through forgiveness of sins. He was compassionate, graceful, giving, loving, willing to serve, willing to fight for what was right (remember how he chased the animals and merchants out of the temple).

 

The Christmas Spirit is not tied to a season of the year. The Christmas Spirit is a spirit of humility and service. It is the attitude we are to maintain all year long. So you may hear me say to you in January of July, "Merry Christmas!" Enjoy the parties. Give as you can. Serve who you can in all the ways that you can, in all the places you can for as long as ever you can.

 

Merry Christmas

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Rev. Greg's Ramblings for November 2014

 

Conversations in a Restaurant.

 

I try each time I am in a restaurant before I get my food to try and get to know that waiter we have just a little better. I do this by telling them that we are going to pray for our food when it arrives and ask them if there is anything we can add to our prayers for them. It is funny but I have never gotten a bad reaction to this question. It takes them aback. They frequently tell me that they have never been asked that before. That is sad.  I have had a few say not. "Not really I am good" Most of the time they think about it and usually have some pretty cool requests.

 

I met a waitress in my favorite breakfast place and asked her for requests and she stopped, she didn't really know what to say. We talked for a bit and I got the impression she was a young single mom with a small son. She told me that his favorite thing to do was to wear costumes. She said that she would go out after Halloween and buy him costumes for his Christmas presents. Her request was that she made enough money this day to buy her child, who obviously was her world, a new costume for this coming Halloween. I left her a generous tip that day.

 

In another restaurant, my wife and I were sitting down to dinner and when I asked and after a little thought the waitress told us that she had been dating this young man for two years and asked him if he would go to church with her and he agreed. Evangelism at its best. She asked that we would pray that he come into a relationship with Jesus. How could we not give a passionate prayer for that?  

 

I love that fact that we get such wonderful acceptance when we ask this question. I challenge you to do this. What would it be like if we all did this? I mean what would it be like if His people prayed? If we can truly get into an attitude of including prayers for specific people we meet on a daily basis. Jesus asks, "What if my people prayed?"

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Rev. Greg's Points to Ponder for October 2014


I recently have had a significant increase in people coming to church asking for alms. I feel for them and will help when I can. Times are getting tough. We have had to deal with some of these issues ourselves, leukemia is incredibly expensive and I thank God for my insurance. Jobs are getting hard to find. Well let me put it this way, good paying jobs are hard to find. Jobs that pay up to 12-14 dollars an hour seem to be plentiful. I base this on the signs I see posted around. I understand that we cannot depend upon the government to help with all of this. It is becoming more and more dependent upon the faith community to help. We have a food pantry that is pretty well stocked. It is not set up for ongoing care but we can keep the wolf from the door until better arrangements can be made.

 

It is a scary world we live in. Let me give you some examples of who comes asking. In the last week, one gentleman has come several times, usually during or right after church. He has given a different story each time. They are so different that one time he was just passing through and other times needed help with utilities. I asked him when he asked for gas money if he would follow me to the closest gas station and he just disappeared. Another young woman and her child came to the church during a scout meeting and some there gave her some money. She came back pounding insistently on our door at 10:30 one night, I gave her all the cash I had, a few dollars. A few days later she came back at Midnight, all the way from Hikes Point, (10 or 15 miles). She had a boy of 7-8 with her. She claimed they were living in their car.  Both were clean and the child thought this was all a big game while Mom came off desperate. Lots of things just didn't fit. The third couple came in during our potluck, and seemed the most genuine. We invited them to join us and they did. We had a wonderful conversation.

 

In a lunch with other pastors that week I found out that several of these were regulars that make the rounds from one church to the next getting quite a haul. I am glad to help where I can, but having worked with the homeless since the late 70's there were things that just didn't ring true. When we ourselves have limited resources I really dislike being taken advantage of by those that do not need.

 

This is a real quandary. We are called to help where we can. As United Methodist, Wesley left us with the instructions to,

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

 

How can we be discerning about who really needs our help? I offer no solutions and welcome suggestions about how others have helped. May God open our eyes and hearts to be there for those that need the help we can provide.

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Rev. Greg's Ramblings for September 2014

 

I have spent a good bit of time answering the question that Jesus asks Peter three times. Do you love me? I do believe that it is easy for us to answer that question with our mouths but very hard for us to do that without lives. I can tell you over and over how people have related to me stories of how they have been the one left beaten on the side of the road and passed by many Pharisees.  One gentleman lived right next to a church and when he fell on hard times and became very ill the church to which he was a member ignored him. How on earth could that be living out the answer to the question, Do you love me?

 

This series of three sermons is causing me look deeply at myself about my own answer to this question. How am I living my life in such a way that I am showing Jesus how much I love him in my actions as well as my words? I cannot answer adequately to myself so I guess I need to figure out more ways to prove my love.

 

Can you ask yourself how do you show your love? Is it enough? Can someone who is watching you tell whose you are by your actions?

Jesus gave his all for you.

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Pastor's Ponderings for July 2014

 

I read and hear a lot of conversation about the United Methodist Church becoming split and no longer being united. The primary topic of this conversation is centered on the LGTB community.

 

I have to admit that I am at a point in my life where I am not sure where I stand on this issue. I have friends and relatives that are gay and I value those relationships highly. I also value the connectional relationships I have in my denomination. For me right now the issue I want to address is the split.

 

When I was ordained as an elder I took a vow to uphold the rules of our denomination. Please understand I may not agree with all of them but I hold in high regard those that have spent a lot of effort in putting them together. I also know that this is a work in progress.  We have a process in place to effect change as it is necessary for us to move forward. Sometimes that process is long and cumbersome. Sometimes it does not give the answer that we as individuals may want.

 

I think that when we consider a split that there will be hard feelings on both sides. I think that there will be legal battles over property issues for many years to come. I do not see good coming from a split. I guess my 23 years as a police officer have given me a different view of the laws we have in place. If I disagree with a rule I am not going to disregard it because I think it is unfair or wrong, and if I do I am going to be willing to accept the consequences of my actions.

 

One of the things that happens at our Annual Conference each year is that we hear of pastors that have chosen to leave our denomination for one reason or another. Sometimes that is the best action for them to take. I believe that rather than tear our denomination apart we really should come together in love and have Holy Conversation in order to find a synergistic way to move forward.

If I err let it be on the side of love.

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Pastor's Ponderings for June 2014

 

I guess by now most of you know that I really enjoy the coffee shop atmosphere. I enjoy being able to go and have a good cup of coffee and some good conversation. I also enjoy being able to go and sit at a table with my headphones on listening to good music while I focus on my sermon or other writings that I do on a weekly basis for the most part.

This morning as I pen these words I looked up and saw a group of men with their heads bowed obviously deep in prayer. They had been in study when I got here but that could have been anything. I see business groups gather here all the time. As they gather up their stuff and head out I see them putting Bibles in their bags so probably a Bible Study. Be it business or Bible study either way they all shared in a love for our God and Savior Jesus Christ.

As I noticed them praying I bowed my head in prayer and asked God to answer their prayers. I thanked God for the blessing of seeing men in public not ashamed to pray out loud. What would it be like if we just stopped what we were doing periodically and just prayed for those around us?

Let me challenge you today to find a time when you are so moved to just stop and pray for those you see around you, whether you are in a coffee shop or a restaurant or a mall or sitting at a red light in traffic (don't close your eyes then), just say a prayer for others.

Holy God I ask that you answer the prayers for those I see praying. Hear them and reply as only you can. Amen

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for May 2014


It seems that all too often in life we get involved in things we have no control over. I spent a career where being in charge was often a matter of life or death. As a policeman being in control was taught to us from the beginning. Now that I am professionally in ministry I am finding that I need to relinquish control. I am finding that in this particular appointment I am not in charge but I am responsible. That is ok.

As I go further on this walk with Leukemia I am finding that I have no control. I do not know why I have this disease. I do not know where I contracted it or how I got it. I do not have any control over how my body is reacting to it. I do not have any control over how my body is reacting to the treatments. I do not have much control over anything to do with this.

I do know that this is not from God. My prayers are more that God can use this for His glory then for healing. How much of the misery we experience in life is simply because we refuse to allow God to take control? I have heard that God will never give you more than you can handle. I cannot find that anywhere in the Bible. I do find lots of places where we are told that when we find we have more than we can handle God is right there with us ready to pick up what we cannot carry. God is ready right there to pick you up when your strength is waning and you do not have the strength to go on.

When you find yourself overwhelmed with the reality and difficulties of life give them over to God. Stop where you are and pray. Give thanks to God for listening and for being there for you. If God has your back there is nothing you cannot deal with.

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Rev. Greg's Ramblings for April 2014

 

We recently had a series of listening times. It was a time when the Bishop and many of his leadership team came out and told us of proposed changes coming to the Kentucky Annual Conference. Like all good Methodists I greeted the word change with a bit of fear and trepidation. But being who I am I was anxiously excited at the same time. Throughout my time as a provisional member and then as a member in full connection there have been discussions about change because we are falling on hard times financially. The conference has worked hard to reduce the amount asked of the local churches and at the same time tried to figure out how to return more resources to the local churches.

The Bishop and the cabinet all understand that it is at the local church level where the rubber meets the road and the primary work of the church is done. It is with this in mind that they gathered the clergy and the laity together to introduce us to the next step.

How we have done the superintendency has been changing over the years with more responsibilities being given to those selected to serve in that capacity. Becki Curry, the Louisville Superintendent, is also the assistant to the Bishop. Paul Brunstetter serves as the Elizabethtown DS and as the director of New Church Development for example. The proposed changes would reduce the number of Districts within the Conference from 12 to 9. This would save quite a bit in our annual budget. This will increase the number of churches each DS would oversee. It would increase the geographical areas considerably as well. That is one change and it makes sense to me. Discussions about how many districts we have had are not new and we have seen changes in that in many of our lifetimes. When we combined the Louisville Conference and the Ky. Annual Conference into one it was then that we settled on 12 districts. Now we have districts that have churches in different time zone, that has been addressed, other geographical issues have been addressed as well.

Here is the part that I was really impressed with. They were showing that giving trends show that it is going down. They have proposed that certain ministries are being looked at for alternative methods of funding, Camp and Campus are the two that come to mind first. It is not that we do not consider these ministries to be very important just that there are other avenues we can pursue for funding. All of this is to take some of the pressure off of the local church freeing them up to do more ministry. They also had a schedule reducing the percentage of our apportionment offering over the next few years. Despite the expected reduction in income they are figuring out how to return more monies to the local church for the purpose of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

These changes will be brought before Annual Conference this year in Covington and will be voted on. If it passes they will go into effect in 2015. Deep change such as is being proposed, especially form the top down is interesting. They are calling on us to be more active in reaching teaching and sending.

They said we have about 100 churches in our Conference that have not grown, baptized anyone or had a profession of faith in 5 years or so. I cannot imagine what that must be like. Are these churches doing the work of the church? Have they become a country club for the faithless? Should we continue to support them? Would the Conference be more efficient to suggest that they close their doors and restart as something new? I do not know. I want to make sure that we all understand that the message we bring is ageless but the way we present it must be such that those that need to hear it will. Let us move forward into the future with open hearts, open minds and open doors.

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for March, 2014

 

I was waiting on an appointment at fast food restaurant in town the other day. As I sat there I participated in one of my favorite activities, people watching. It was fairly busy, steady at least. There were people in suits and coveralls coming in and starting their day off with the offerings of the restaurant. I sipped my coffee and started paying attention to the group of men sitting on the opposite end of the dining room. One man in particular was a bit louder than the rest. But let me give you my impression of why these men gathered here in this third place. They were older and could be of the age where they were retired. They had obviously known each other for years and were very comfortable in each other’s presence. Many places like this have a group that gather to spend time with each other. I have come to affectionately come to call these groups, Liar’s Clubs. They spoke of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax-- Of cabbages--and kings-- And why the sea is boiling hot-- And whether pigs have wings."

The loud one got my attention because he seemed to ramble over topics that were very diverse yet were important to him. He spoke of politics, and weather and jumped from one area to another without any connection between them. His language was a bit rough. He would have embarrassed a sailor at some times. It was interesting when a father and his young daughter came in and sat down near this group two things happened, one the loud one became much more quiet and the language became much more family friendly.

Why did they change their behavior? Did they want to give the impression that they were different than they really are? Were they just being polite and this was the true image of themselves? Whatever the reason they changed their behavior. I see this in others especially when they find out that I am a preacher. People start cleaning up their language and apologizing for the off color talk.

This gave me pause to think of my own behavior. Am I the same in private as I am in public? I would like to think that what you see is what you get. Do I put on a different face depending upon the company I am in? Am I a different person when I am with my peers than I am when I am with my congregation? This is going to require some thought and contemplation on my part. Is it ok for me to present a different face?

I put this challenge to you all. What makes you change who you are? Do you try to hide the real you from the public? If so, why? I know that I respond differently to my wife and my children than I do to my congregation. I may respond differently when I am with my close friends than I do with strangers. Where is the line drawn? When is it ok to be who you truly are and when is it not? If you come up with an answer meet me for coffee one morning and let’s talk about this.

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for February, 2014

 

We are celebrating two different Scout Sundays this month. The first is going to be Boys Scouts and then two weeks later we will host a Girl Scout Sunday. I am proud to be in a church that has such a long standing ministry with the scouts. I think it is interesting how the church has such different relationships with the two organizations.

 

With the Boy Scouts it is the church that owns the charter. The Boy Scouts are an actual ministry of the church. If they choose to leave they must recharter somewhere else under a different troop number. I as the pastor of the church am the chief executive office of the troop. We have a church representative that handles all the paperwork, or at least most of it. At my last church with a troop I had to sign everything. There we only had one scout family that were members of the church. Here at Cooper we have several, in fact the most successful evangelism the church has had in recent years has been through the scouting program.

Recently changes in the scouting program has caused numerous churches to withdraw their support for their Boy Scout Troops. I am glad to say that just send them our way, we will be glad to welcome more Scouts into our church family.

 

The relationship with the Girl Scouts is different. The charter is owned by the troop and we basically just provide them with a place to meet. I am working hard to change that relationship. I do not necessarily mean to change the way they charter but just the relationship we have. We have one Boy Scout troop and one Cub Scout pack and one Venture Crew meeting at our church. We have three Girls troops meeting here. I have met with all of them at one time or another and feel like they are a part of our church family as well. After a shelving collapse in our pantry one of the Girl Scout Troops volunteered to redo the panty. They are taking it to the next level. I am really impressed with the way they stepped up right away.

 

We have several places around the church that are there because of the scouts. Our play ground in the front yard, the gazebo next to it, all of our picnic tables, they provided lots of help on our two work days last fall. Soon our fireside room will be getting a makeover, with Trustee oversight. Our pantry will have amazing shelves and the refrigerators will be cleaned out and repositioned. I am excited about all that they do with us and the relationship we have with both of the organizations.

 

February is a great month to celebrate the wonderful organizations called Boy and Girl Scouts. I really am glad that we have such a strong scouting program at Cooper Memorial United Methodist Church. 

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for January, 2014


We are starting a new year and that has the promise of new things for us. My experience has shown me that it also has the promise of old things rearing their heads. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it is not. I recently spoke of change in a sermon and said that is called a dirty word in many churches today. Many churches today are well prepared to do ministry as it was done in the 1950's. We don't want to sing new songs, just the same ones over and over again. We are reluctant to introduce new technology into church because we don't need it. We watch the world around us change and sit back and say that is not for me. We sit and watch as our congregations increase in the average age and decrease in the numbers present on Sunday morning. Change is happening to us whether we want it to or not.

 

The way we access information has changed amazingly so in the lifetimes of our friends and neighbors. Not too long ago information was transmitted by travelers, we were anxious to talk to them to hear what was happening in the rest of the world, then technology changed and we watched what was happening in brief clips on the big screen before a movie. The advent of television brought a whole new aspect to news reporting. We watched a war being fought on the other side of the world as we sat at our dinner table. Now we have all the news that is both fit and unfit right at our fingertips. I am finding that if I have a question about something I ask Siri for the answer. I have to be careful about the truth I receive, oh wait if it comes from the internet it has to be true, right. Not.

 

We make lots of resolutions to change this time each year but they are usually broken before they are spoken. I suggest we set some goals this year, specifically smart goals. Smart goals are specific, not I want to lose weight, but I want to lose 10 pounds. They are measurable, ten pounds is easy to measure, just step on a scale. Smart Goals are achievable. If I were to say I wanted to see our congregation grow by 1000 people this year that really is not attainable. We have a sanctuary that will hold 130 if we are close. We would have to have 10 services to reach that goal. If they come we will build it. It would be more realistic to say I want to increase our congregation by 100 this year. That brings us to the "R" which is realistic. An increase of 1000 just is not realistic, of course it is with in God's power to do that, in reality it is not realistic. Timely means we look at either long term or short term time frames for our goals. A long term goal is one that takes a year or more to achieve and a short term would be one that takes less than a year to reach.


What goals would you like to reach this year? I would like to see an increase in those participating in discipleship here at church. How can I make that a Smart Goal. Let’s think about that. I would like to see everyone in the congregation that regularly attends become involved in a Bible Study or small group during 2014. It is my belief that if we spend time really working on our relationship with God our relationships with each other will get better and better.

 

Peace be with you this coming year!

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for December, 2013


Everywhere you go these days are signs of Christmas, at least the Christmas that the secular retail world would have us to see. There are sale flyers in every mail drop. My email is inundated with the latest sales from my favorite stores and some that got my email somehow. They seem to be trying to get us into the buying Christmas Spirit.

Each year as I prepare for Advent and Christmas I have had a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit.  This year I have already gotten there, but it makes me pause to try and decide just what is the Christmas Spirit. Is it what the media would have us to believe, it is all about buying the perfect gift for all of your friends and family. Is it decorating and having the brightest lights in the neighborhood? I can't help but wonder what Jesus would think about the way we have chosen to celebrate His birthday.

I must redefine what the Spirit should be and then work to get myself there. Jesus gave us the greatest gift we could ever imagine. He gave us the gift of eternal life with God. He also gave us the example of how we should live. He brought the Kingdom of God close to us everywhere He went all year long. There wasn't just one season that was filled with his blessings. To him the time of year was not a factor. To him it was the same in March as it was in July or any other month.

Now with this in mind I am beginning to believe that perhaps we should work on having the Christmas Spirit all year long. With this established we need to get back to the original question of just what is the Christmas Spirit. To do that we must look at the spirit that Jesus had in his time on earth. Throughout the Gospels we see where he looked on someone and loved them, He moved in the margins of society and shared healing and salvation through forgiveness of sins. He was compassionate, graceful, giving, loving, willing to serve, willing to fight for what was right (remember how he chased the animals and merchants out of the temple).

The Christmas Spirit is not tied to a season of the year. The Christmas Spirit is a spirit of humility and service. It is the attitude we are to maintain all year long. So you may hear me say to you in January of July, "Merry Christmas!" Enjoy the parties. Give as you can. Serve who you can in all the ways that you can, in all the places you can for as long as ever you can.

Merry Christmas

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for November, 2013

One of the hardest parts of being a Methodist minister is the move. It is easy to pack up your belongings and put them on a truck then to unload them in a new parsonage or home. It is not so easy to separate yourself from the relationships you are leaving behind.  I know we are supposed to turn the pastoral duties over to the new pastor and allow them adequate time for building relationships of their own. Sometimes that is a very difficult thing to do. 

I have been contacted by the family of a lady that is in the final stages of her battle with cancer. While she was still lucid she and her husband talked about her final arrangements. She made it clear to him that she wanted me to preside at her funeral. What an incredible honor that is. I went to her home and spent some time with the family talking about their relationship with her and I spent some time with her praying. I plan on going back and spending more time with her, perhaps reading the Bible and praying with her. Here is the hard part. I will have to call her pastor and discuss this with him. I do not foresee any problems, but still it is something that I have to do.

This is just an example of the difficulties we (ministers) face when we move to a new ministry setting. How do we just close relationships we have had for years. With the advent of social networking it makes it even more difficult. I am still "friends" with many of the people I served with for the past 20 years. Now it gives me pause when I am posting something exciting about the new place I am because I don't want to offend some one from my previous location.

I have to admit that most of the pastors I have dealt with when there are times when either I must return to their post or they must come into mine have been very gracious. I can only hope that this will continue. Regardless of where I serve God is in charge and He will guide me through.

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for October, 2013 

October is rapidly approaching. That means cooler weather, a change of color all around, the sound of happy children running up to your door dressed as well just about anything hoping for their favorite candy to be put in their bag, pumpkins, gourds, leaf raking, no more grass cutting. Lots of things happen in the month of October. Football rules the Sunday afternoons and Monday evenings. Talks of fantasy football fill the coffee shops and restaurants.

It also is the time when we have our annual business meetings and plan for the coming year. I have to admit that I am not the best planner in the world. I am getting better because I am finding that it is making my uncertain life more certain. We have committees meeting to plan for advent, who will be the officers for our church next year, work days to prepare our building and grounds for winter, who will be using our building when, lots of activities going on.

Each October I take a week and go to Loucon and plan my sermons for the coming year. I do not write them all because that would be too much. I do select which Sundays I will follow the Lectionary, usually during specific liturgical seasons such as Lent, Easter and Advent, and which sermon series I would like to use. I read the Bible a lot to find the right scriptures for each sermon, pray, after all that is where the sermon starts, always in Holy Scripture and prayer. After each series I plan some sermons that are for only one Sunday. I am finding that there are things that come up that need to be addressed from the pulpit so these give me wiggle room. For example there were three things that popped up this fall  that interrupted my careful planning for that year, because I had allowed for this to happen, the most difficult part was redoing my planning calendar so that those that use it for their planning, calendar, music, bulletins, would be on the same page. I am finding that when we are able to plan for the coming year it is not that we won't have surprises but that when they happen we can better handle them. October used to be a month spent in a pumpkin patch selling the gourds, now it is spent in meetings and prayer and planning and research. Life is good and God is in charge.

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Rev. Greg's Ponderings for September, 2013

I was sitting in a Bob Evan's restaurant having breakfast with Jamie and I became mesmerized with the Way the staff worked together. It was very busy and orders were flowing in and out of the kitchen. The wait staff would yell into the kitchen questioning the cooks about their orders. The cooks just seemed impervious to the hollering. Now understand it wasn't angry hollering just loud enough to be heard over the noise of the hustle and bustle of a restaurant during a busy time.

There were several things that I noticed that just amazed me. It was how well the staff worked together to help each other during this time when they were just getting slammed. We were sitting at the counter so we had front row seats. The hostesses kept an eye on the comings and goings of the customers and distributed the new ones equally among the wait staff. They assisted in cleaning the dirty dishes off the tables when they had a moment. The waitresses helped each other by carrying orders to large tables that required more than one tray. They helped each other with drink orders either by filling them or by taking them to the right table. If our waitress was busy and we had an empty glass one of the less busy gave us a refill. It was pretty impressive. They worked together like a well-oiled machine. Despite this occasionally an order would not be filled properly and a customer would get angry but steps were made as quickly as possible to make it right.

I would like to see our churches run this smoothly. I understand that all of the ones in a restaurant are paid to be there and most of our churches are staffed by volunteers, but... We each have been given different gifts and graces and called to one place by the one True God.

I have seen meetings that were at best described as a boxing match, and when people did not get their way they either left the church or worked hard to make the winning side fail. We have entered into a process called Lay Mobilization Initiative. During our first meeting we watched a video about a design team. They were given a task that seemed a bit innocuous. They went after the project with great enthusiasm and controlled chaos. Everybody was welcome to voice their opinion. At no time was anybody's opinion talked about in a negative way. This encouraged the people to be free to express their ideas. Not every idea was practical, not everyone was going to get a lot of discussion. They did discuss and as they did the best ideas, the most practical rose to the top.

I think in some of our meetings we have people that are afraid they will be laughed at or ridiculed and are afraid to speak up. I wonder how many wonderful ministry opportunities were never explored because of an atmosphere of fear. When we meet we need to realize that we are all on the same side. We are all there to help the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. I think when we foster an atmosphere of love and acceptance where each person’s opinion is valued and listened to, the possibilities are endless. Whether this is in a church or a business we need to live together and love together as God would have us.

If you come to me with an idea for a new ministry, you will probably hear this response, "How can we work together to make this happen?"

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August Coffee Shop Ponderings

I am sitting in a coffee shop working on various projects I have. I have my earphones on listening to some good music. All around me are different little groups of people carrying on animated conversations. Everyone is happy. Some days there are business groups meeting. There is a man dressed for business, nice pants a matching shirt and a tie napping in an easy chair. A woman is curled up on the couch reading a novel. Two women are sitting at a small table by the front window deeply in conversation with each other.

Sometimes there are small groups from a local church doing their devotionals.   There are often couples sequestered in a quiet corner just enjoying being with each other. The baristas greet each customer with a smile and even welcome a brief bit of conversation as they prepare your beverage of choice. They take the time on certain drinks to finish them with a little piece of latte art, which is kind of neat. There is a real feeling of peace and comfort here. The people come here because they enjoy the atmosphere, the coffee, the feeling that seems to be everywhere.

I would like for our church to have this type of atmosphere. I am not saying we need to set up a latte station outside the sanctuary, although we do have coffee and sweets before Sunday School. How great would it be if everybody got this same feeling when we came to church? It should be a place where we feel safe, not only physically but where we are accepted as we are, where our opinion is welcomed and listened to, comfortable, loved, appreciated, welcome, challenged even. Church should be a place we are as excited to come to as this place is. Church should be a place where all of God's children are welcomed and valued. How can we make it such?

Rev. Greg

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 August 2013 Points to Ponder

I wonder sometimes how churches survive when all it seems they do is come in on Sunday morning for worship and don't come back until the next Week? One of my missions is to be sure that there are activities on a daily basis where ever I serve. I remember days not to long ago where the local church was the community center. You had civic organizations that would meet there. You had a ball field out back that was busy all the time. You had support groups that met in an empty class room. There was always thing going on.

You had churches with the parking lot out front so that you could see when some thing was going on. The building was surrounded with windows that were brightly lit showing the activities going on. Now it seems that we have these huge buildings with no windows and in many cases no outward evidence of what type of building it is. Their parking lots are hidden so you don't know when the building is in use. The new corporate headquarters looking place has no windows or they are so dark you can't see inside.

I want to return in some ways to the way it used to be. You won't hear me say that too often. In this case I want to see the church once again become a focal point in the community in which it sits. When I first came to Cooper Memorial you could only see the steeple from the road. The right of way had become a jungle hiding the church. After a wonderful day of the people coming together and spending a day of hard work, a beautiful stone wall was revealed in front of the church. You could not see the front of the church because the roses were so overgrown they hid it. Now we have cut back one bush to below the rail on the ramp and the beautiful front facade is clear. That has to be healthy for the plant.

I am of the belief that when you have organizations, not just churches, that experience declining memberships, the average age of the member’s increases to the point where they just are not able to do the work anymore, declining funds, and several other negative realities, there becomes an acceptance of the new reality, and a focus that turns inward. The care of the members becomes the primary focus of the organization. Jean Calvin wrote, "So highly does The Lord esteem the communion of His church that the church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non members." That is a quote that is attributed to a lot of people this was the oldest reference. Regardless of who said it first the truth remains the same. When we shift our focus to the benefit of the members we lose the original focus of the church.

On our website it says that we are, "Compassionately committed to loving Christ and serving our neighbor."

I know it is hard to reach out when the wolf is knocking on the door and finances may be difficult. I do believe with all of my heart that when we do a reveres paradigm shift and return to the original purpose of the church, reaching out to our neighbors, and doing so in love with the love of Christ, we will see blessings come that make us wonder why we weren't doing this all along.

It is Biblical that we care for and nurture each other. If we are not growing and seeing professions of faith and having baptisms in our church are we truly being the church God intended for us to be? This becomes a "We" thing not something we out on the shoulders of one person. Pray that we can come together to once again become the church that God wants us to be, the church that God created to begin with. Not everybody can do everything, but everybody can do something.

Rev. Greg

 

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July 2013 Points to Ponder

I had lunch with a friend today and we spent some time discussing the changes his church is going through. He was telling me that he is not sure if he is going to stay at the church he has been such an integral part of for many years much longer.It seems that they had a very dynamic pastor that left recently. They have also experienced growth in a good way . They have had almost a dozen babies born in the last year. While the dynamics of the church had been focused on singles and young marrieds it is now shifting to the young families that make up the majority of the church. There is not as much fellowship that doesn't involve diapers and bed times any more. My friend is a very contemplative person. He would be well suited to a life in a monastery. His favorite style of worship is Taize which has extended periods of silence and music that is repetitive and prayerful. He probably will not be able to find that type of service in the church he now attends. Now here is the part that is different. All this is ok.

Change happens. It is inevitable.

My friend will search until he finds the church that fits his preferred method of worship. He will still read the mystics of our faith and think deep thoughts.

As a worship leader I am bound to lead the congregation into the place where they truly experience the promised presence of God with us in worship. Sometimes this is by leading them in a worship that is not my preferred style. See God promised that where ever two or more gathered in his name He would be present. Not just present but right there in the middle of everyone. God does not care what your style of worship is. He does care about how you worship. He wants you to worship in spirit and in truth.

Regardless of whether or not you worship contemporary, traditional, Taize, Ancient-Future, blended or whatever. I really do not believe God cares as much about the style of the music used as He does about the passion with which we sing. Open your heart for the presence of God. Worship in spirit and in truth.

My God be with you.

Rev. Greg

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07/01/2013

Friday night Jamie and I met a couple of friends and went downtown for a dinner at a unique place. In the parking lot of the Apocalypse Brewing Company there were 6 food trucks parked and serving up their wares. People sat around at picnic tables or in camp chairs they brought with them. (We didn't know about that). It was like being surrounded by 6 different restaurants and each offering something totally different. The couple we were meeting had gotten there early and had already eaten. Jamie chose a Ravioli dish and I had a good ole Cajun dish, Boudin sausage over stone ground grits with a tomato gravy. It was so good. After dinner we drove a little ways to Frankfort Ave. with the idea of an ice cream cone from Comfy Cow. Let me tell you what the street was hopping. There are a surprising number of restaurants and bars along that stretch of road. People were out walking in groups going from one establishment to another and everyone was having a good time. There were musicians on the street tucked into the mouths of alleys and several other places. A group of women were putting down some pretty serious harmony out side of one place. It was exciting.  After we got our ice cream we found a little table on the sidewalk and sat and listened to the band next door. It didn't hurt that they were playing music from our youth. We had great conversation and renewed an old friendship. Really a good time. 

I am not saying this to just brag about the wonderful time we had but to point out a conclusion that I have come to. I am a city boy. I have loved the last 10 years of doing ministry in the country but I cannot tell you how happy I am to be in the city again. This is an exiting vibrant place to be. I am looking forward to building relationships and doing ministry here. The opportunities are almost without measure.

I am sitting in a coffee shop down on Woodlawn. No it is not right next door to the church but folks we have people that travel miles to worship with us. I am surrounded by young people carrying on conversations, doing school work, goofing off and just enjoying the day. I think that this is going to become a regular spot for me.

Where are the places you go that give you the opportunity to meet people that may be looking for a church home, or for that matter haven't come to realize they are looking for a church home yet?

I am happy to be back in the city. I am happy to be serving a wonderful church that is excited about doing ministry in this place.


Rev. Greg

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06/22/13

I guess the most obvious word to describe what is happening with a new pastor coming in is change. OOOh I said a dirty word. At least in church it seems that word is often considered a four letter word. The truth of the matter is that change and God’s love are constant. Let’s think about this for just a bit.  The Bible is replete with stories of change. It begins with the creation story, all was chaos and God brought order to the dark waters. He brought light to the darkness. He created mankind and breathed his breathe into us giving us life.

God called Abram and Sarai to his service and told them to pack up their bags and go. This to a family that probably had not traveled more than 20 mile from the place they had been born. We can go on and on about the changes throughout the Old Testament. The changes become even more dramatic once Jesus comes on the scene. Look how he changed the disciples. They were somewhat bumbling and stumbling almost comical until …….wait for it….. wait for it…. They Holy Spirit came and changed them in such a way that they were not the men they had been before. They no longer fumbled for the right words to say. They stepped out with courage to bring about the change that Christ charged them with when he gave them the Great Commission. Look at the change that Saul went through, from the lead punisher to the author of most of the epistles n the New Testament.

Just by our coming to the church we will bring change. It is inevitable. What we need to do is to work together to manage the change. It is not that we want to step in and change everything. Jamie and I have experienced enough of that in our own lives this past year. We can talk of those as we get to know each other. Let us move forward knowing that change is going to happen and work together to make it the change that God wants us to be a part of.

Rev. Greg

 

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Pastor's Ponderings                  


Pastor's Ponderings From Rev. Trish

 

February 2012

Why Lent?

Lent is a season of preparation, accompaniment, and journey. The whole church prepares itself to live more deeply into the baptismal covenant in worship, in small-group meetings, and through personal and corporate disciplines of devotion, worship, mercy, and justice.

But why do we do this? It's not just for ourselves. Lent isn't some kind of personal spiritual marathon!

We do this as congregations so we can be midwives for the work the Holy Spirit is doing in others in our midst.

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January 2012

We are beginning of a new year...2012, a time for reflection and resolutions. I trust that you have had a blessed Advent and Christmas season.  This is the perfect time to examine our priorities and commitment. I would like for everyone to consider the vows taken at church membership; “to be faithfully participate in the ministries of the congregation by prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. “  The transformation team has taken seriously these vows and will begin meeting this month. The process will include Loving God & Neighbor through Spiritual Formation and worship - Sharing with others their ongoing spiritual journey and relationship with God - Learning through Personal and congregational examination - Reading and discussion of recommended materials - Intentional efforts at Ministry Action Planning and Leading by Participation in and/or development of a generative ministry. Please be in pray for the team….Rev Trish

 

Card of thanks: We would like to thank the church members and friends for all the support and expressions of love shared with us throughout the year. May the Peace of Christmas remain with you and yours all year! Shalom, Rick, Trish, Jeremiah and Caleb Smith.

 

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July/August/September 2011

In the last edition, I shared with you an introduction to Spiritual Leadership, Inc. I am truly being blessed as a part of
this transformation team of the Louisville district. My small group meets 8 hours a month; it includes seven other clergy,
the district superintendent, 2 coaches and 2 coaches in training. We are holding each other accountable to our spiritual
disciples and to live as Christ calls us to live. In addition to the worship and accountability we are exploring leadership types, work and team types. We are at the beginning of the second cycle. Part of the next steps is to create a team from the membership of Cooper that will go through the process with me; to look at the church’s health and begin by taking ministries right where they are, clearing away obstacles to the Spirit’s work, and help called Spiritual Leaders faithfully to journey together improving with each month and year that goes by.


The vision of SLI: Changing leaders & environments for a changed world for Christ.

The Problem: What we have discovered - The Church in America is not what God wants it to be - Overworked, burned out pastors - Dying churches - Pastors struggling to turn the churcharound - Lay people with spiritual gifts, but no idea how to help the pastor or the church - The church not impacting today's society.
 

A Solution: SLI was formed to address these real problems in the church. It exists to help dying churches and struggling pastors, in part by
training spiritually-gifted lay people who have no idea how to help the pastor or the church. Our vision is to create changed leaders, changed
churches, and a changed world for Christ. (Rom 12:1-2; II Cor 3:18; Luke 9:23; Mat 22:37-40; 28:18-20; Rev 19:7).

Changed leaders: We envision a new breed of clergy & lay leaders grounded in scripture and spiritual disciplines and with the joy of serving in their hearts (Ps 119; Lk 8:11-15; Eph 6:10-20; I Tim 4:4-5; Heb 4:12; Jms 1:19-27). They will be spiritual leaders, living balanced lives of influence who will impact the world for Christ (Ex 33:15-16; Mat 22:37-40; 28:18-20; I Pet 5:1-11).

Changed environments: We envision churches who are freed from the desperation of ineffectiveness (Jonah 3; John 3). Instead, they are empowered by gift-based ministry (Rom 12; I Cor 12; Eph4) and Spirit-led teams of clergy and laity leading together to change the church and thereafter the world. Changed world: We envision an ever-widening circle of changed leaders and changed churches, who therefore begin to impact their communities. Community transformation is the first step toward cultural and national transformation.

The mission of SLI: Discover, Develop, and Deploy passionate spiritual leaders and teams for the transformation of churches, organizations, and communities.

The values of SLI: Our primary values are Developing spiritual leaders who model a Christian community that learns and leads together - Creating environments that foster transformation - Establishing processes that produce fruit.

Nomination forms will be available during the first three Sundays of July. All persons that are nominated will receive an application. The
applications will be reviewed by me, one of the coaches from SLI and a member of Cooper’s leadership team. Please be in prayer for the
selection of this team.

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May/June 2011

In the fall of 2010, Rev. Becky Curry, Louisville District Superintendent, asked me if I would like to join with a group of district pastors in a year long process of transformation and growth. She had been talking with Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (SLI) about working with a group of pastors/churches that she had invited to be a part of a renewal process. I will be sharing with you in a variety of settings over the next few months the process and what it might mean for Cooper. The group meets once a month for 8 hours. We are Loving God and neighbor through Spiritual formation & worship, sharing with others our ongoing spiritual journey with God; Learning through personal and congregational examination, reading and discussing recommended materials, intentional efforts at Ministry Action Planning and Leading by participation in and/or development of generative ministry. As a part of the process, a leadership team will be established within the local church to enter into a similar process over the next year.
The following information is from the website for Spiritual Leadership, Inc. (www.spiritual-leadership.org). It is my prayer this information
will help you begin to direct your prayers for the team that will be developed.
We were asked the following questions: Do you find yourself in a large ministry where growth has slowed? Are you in a small ministry
where the sense of God’s glory has waned? Are you part of a ministry that you feel could impact many if you could just get it going? Do you
wish you could invite church members to leave their comfort zones and commit to following their calling? Are you a Christian leader who
longs to find better ways to live out your faith in your secular workplace?
Spiritual Leadership Inc. (SLI) believes we are seeing the beginning of a new leadership movement where effective, rapidly multiplying
teams increase the quantity and quality of ministry, and also form the ideal environment for spiritual growth. We have learned to combine
Leadership Principles with Spiritual Principles and have discovered an embodiment of Spiritual Leadership that facilitates Generative
Ministries.
The SLI process takes ministries right where they are, clears away obstacles to the Spirit’s work, and helps called Spiritual Leaders faithfully
journey together improving with each month and year that goes by.
Levels of Development of Local Churches
Successful and Unsuccessful Churches are often at the Independent Level which makes success hard to sustain. Independent Ministries:
Success is dependent on the competence on heroics of individuals.; little innovation around the flow and process of making disciples;
fruitfulness in pockets, processes are usually isolated, disconnected, ad hoc or chaotic; characterized by a tendency to over commit and not
able repeat past successes; lacking unity, and teamwork, little focus; sole leadership with little accountability.
Connected: Success based on unity, momentum, and spiritual growth; clear mission; principles of spiritual leadership are being practices;
teamwork is strong with clear roles and accountability; ministry action plan is in place; flowing system established; adaptive problem solving
abilities. Incubator process helps ministries grow to the Connected Level.
Generative Ministries: success is based on continually of improving systems and the abilities for communities to quickly change directions
and follow the Spirit; Continual monitoring and improvement of the disciple making stream; Increasing efficiencies, forward momentum,
multiplication and innovation; Spiritual Leaders producing more Spiritual leaders. The goal of our transformation process is to help ministries
achieve the Generative level.
“Changing leaders and environments for a changed world for Christ”
The services of (SLI) are for leaders interested in their ministry becoming healthy, generative and moving to a new level of impact. Each of
the services includes a Walk Alongside process that will develop leaders or groups of leaders into teams that grow spiritually, learn
continuously, and lead processes that produce fruit.
SLI builds all work around an L3 model - Framework to create a transformative environment which allows the work of the Spirit to flourish.
It also gives spiritual leaders the tools to help their ministry stay on track. Once new teamwork begins to function then the current context
is assessed, the focus is clarified, and the team begins to build systems and strategies to facilitate the journey towards generative ministry.

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March/April 2011

Just wondering…. Have you said you were going to do something and then wondered …”why in the world did I say that? Now that it is out there….I have to follow through.” This happened for me recently. I was on the phone with Jeremiah, one of my boys, and mentioned that I wanted to walk the derby mini marathon on 30 April 2011. As we talked, I was online reading the information about the course and registration. I even went so far as to fill out the registration form. The topic of conversation changed and I simply closed the laptop. After we hung up, I opened my laptop and staring me in the face was the registration form waiting for me to fill in my payment information and hit send. Then I heard these words echoing in my ears… “Mom, unless you put money behind it, you won’t do it. You will find all kinds of excuses not to follow through”. I knew he was right; I had already mentally begun my list of excuses. I finished the registration and hit send. Done! Panic soon set in…what have I done? Now I need to get ready for this walk. I am working on my training program and plan to cross the finish line of the mini marathon on 30 April 2011. Will you join me on the walk?

Allow me to clarify; will you join me on the walk with Christ? It is a walk that takes as much discipline and training
as any other. I am on a pilgrimage/walk to love Christ, learn of Christ and lead as Christ would lead.
We all have said things like: I need to improve my prayer life, I would like to spend more time reading the Bible, I
wish I could give more to the church, I wish there was something for me to do at the church. I wish I had a small
group where I could be myself and be held accountable.
What better time of year than now to follow through with our plans to become more like Christ. Spring is just around
the corner (believe it or not). Lent will begin on 9 March 2011. There will be several opportunities to take that first
step of living into our commitments, knowing that we are preparing to cross the finish line of God’s preferred future
for our lives.

Just wondering…..how is your walk with the Lord? Think about it? Better yet, pray about it.

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January/February 2011

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~"The Flying V"~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I left church a week or so ago, my attention was drawn skyward. Wedges of geese
were noisily flying south. I commented to the member that had also taken notice, “looks
like they are in a hurry to get south”. Her comment, “they sure are trying hard to get there,
hope they can find warmth!” She got in her car and went home; I went back in the
building to pick up something I had left on the desk. I could faintly hear the geese, but
more importantly, part of her comment echoed in my head: “trying hard to get there”. I
have pondered the geese and her comment over the last few days.
Geese fly in the V (wedge) for two reasons. The first to conserve energy: each bird flies
slightly above the bird in front, thus a reduction of wind resistance. Each takes a turn in the front, falling back when they
are tired. The second reason, it is easier to keep track of each bird in the group. It also aids with communication and
coordination within the group. This is why fighter pilots use the V (wedge).
So what lessons can be learn from the geese?
Lesson one: Shared leadership is better than one person always in the lead. If everyone is willing to take a turn at leading,
and others are willing to allow another to lead, then energy will be conserved and more will be accomplished. Following is
as important as leading.
Lesson two: There is no shame in admitting that you are getting tired and need for someone to step up to leadership. A
refreshed leader is able to encourage and keep the forward momentum. There is no need for lone rangers; working together
facilitates reaching the desired destination.
Lesson three: Effective communication leads to more efficient results. With communication, everyone is aware of the
destination. Everyone may not agree with the chosen path, but is willing to work together for the focus is on the common
good for the group.
Lesson four: It is only with a coordinated effort that the goal can be accomplished.
As we end 2010 and move into 2011, it is my prayer that we can learn vital lessons from the flying pattern of the geese.
Let us resolve to share leadership, communicate, work together and find ourselves moving from good to great for the
Glory of God. Just wondering… would we have to work so hard to “get there”?

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November/December 2010

I write this article following two very busy months as we prepare for a very busy time of year: Thanksgiving and Christmas.
During September and October, I attended three continuing education events: “Not Your Parent’s Offering
Plate” by J Clif Christopher; “Exploring the Longevity Revolution: Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century”
led by: Dr. Richard Gentzler, Jr., Director of the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries, General
Board of Discipleship, UMC; and “Effective Evangelism in a Changing Culture” with David Kinnaman, author
of “UnChristian”. We observed Consecration Sunday on September 26, making our financial commitment
for 2011 and were reminded it is really a matter of our heart. When Christ truly has our whole heart,
we give through His church. Charge Conference was held on October 17. We remembered those who
died since our last meeting, celebrated baptisms and those with renewed walks with Christ, and elected
officers for 2011. The district superintendent, Rev. Becki Curry challenged us with a devotion based on
Acts 8:26-35: to come along side, to sit with and tell of Jesus and His love.
All of these events were very interesting and informative. Clif Christopher stressed there are more nonprofit organizations every
single year and the number of churches remain constant. The competition for charitable dollars is skyrocketing. The church needs
to shift its thinking and educate members and attendees as to why give to the church over other nonprofits. The church needs to
be better at telling the story of changed lives. Dr. Gentzler covered four important areas of aging and ministry concerns: myths and
realities of aging; spirituality and aging; Boomers and aging; and older adult ministry models.
David Kinnaman, a part of The Barna Group, shared what a new generation (16-29 year olds) really thinks about Christianity …
and why it matters. Kinnaman spent three years doing research and discovered six broad themes raised by the outsiders. The
most common points of skepticism and objections are (1) hypocritical – saying one thing and doing another; (2) too focused on getting
converts – do we genuinely care; (3) anti homosexual –bigoted and show disdain for gays and lesbians; (4) sheltered – oldfashioned,
boring, and out of touch with reality; (5) too political – overly motivated by political agenda; (6) judgmental – quick to
judge and they doubt we really love people as we say we do. We may not agree with these six broad themes, but we should not
ignore the views of the outsiders. We need to deal with this generation as they are, brazen, candid and irreverent. If we do not, it
makes their criticism even more forceful because it goes unanswered. (“UnChristian”, page 30)
Isaiah 43:18, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up; do you
not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” was the key verse for Mr. Kinnaman and
Bishop Lindsey Davis. Bishop Davis spoke on “Transforming Existing Congregations”. The reality of 1 in 6 Americans are
unaffiliated with any religious group and 1 in 4 young adults (ages 18-30) are unaffiliated was stressed over and over.
I wonder how different our Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas celebrations will be as we ponder the above verse, and the current
realities of what a new generation thinks about Christianity and the numbers that are unaffiliated with any religious group. Below
are the events that we will be planning in the next few weeks. Let us pray for direction as we, as a congregation, “Embrace
extraordinary risk and change in order to grow–experiment, innovate, adapt, create and learn new paths” to reach out to those that
are unaffiliated.
The Okolona Ministerial Association will be hosting an ecumenical Thanksgiving Worship on Wednesday, November 24, 2010,
place to be announced. Advent will be celebrated from November 28 – December 19. This will be a time to prepare ourselves for
the coming of Christ. December 19 will be an evening of sharing our gifts, followed by a Christmas

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September/October 2010

I was blessed to attend the Wisdom and Grace Conference held at Lake Junaluska, NC on August 9-12, 2010.
Bishop James Swanson, Holston Conference was the preacher for the event. I would like to share some of the
thoughts from his sermon. Bishop Swanson preached on “Refrigerator Soup”. There was
a member in one of the churches on his life journey that always made what she called
“refrigerator soup”. She would begin by reaching into the very back of the refrigerator,
moving forward she’d grab whatever was in the refrigerator and add it to the pot.
Usually it was a little bit of this and a little bit of that was added to her soup pot. For
juice, tomatoes would be added, at other times it might be broth, and then again it
may just be water. The pot would then be placed on the stove and allowed to simmer
for hours. When dished up, the soup was pleasing and a delight to the palate. The soup
was usually shared with others. Bishop continued preaching about the soup and how we
are all apart of God’s plan for His creation.
This comparison came to mind, so I share it with you. The church = the pot of soup. God reaches way
back into his refrigerator (creation), and puts a little bit of this and a little bit of that (people with a variety of
gifts) together in a pot (wherever the people are gathered at a particular time) then adds the “juice” (the
Holy Spirit). The soup simmers (the people live, grow, love God and come together). The result is a dish that is
pleasing to God (faithful, vital disciples) and a delight offered to others, bringing many to the table to feast on
the Bread of Life, and be filled with Christ. The seasoning/flavor for the “soup” comes from the
encouragement and inspiration of the members to those who are feasting or searching. We are living in a
time when more and more people need to hear words of encouragement and hope.
Just wondering… what it would be like if the following became our goal…
“You make me want to be like You - Your holiness I will pursue - I want the heart of Jesus
Show me the meaning of Your grace - I want to give the world a taste - Of the love of Jesus.”
“Make me salt - Make me light - Let Your holy fire ignite - Reveal Your glory in my life - I am not
ashamed To lift up Your holy name - Make me salt - Make me light”
As a city on a hill - A lamp on a stand - Mold me in Your image - The work of Your hand”
from Salt and Light by Jami Smith
Matthew 5: 13-14 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you
make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless. “You are the light of the
world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket.
Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your
good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (New Living Translation)
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July/August 2010

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Rethink Church - What if Church was a Verb?~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“Church” – is a verb –requiring transformative, collaborative action rather than simply a place where people gather to
worship on Sunday. This year the annual conference of the United Methodist Church of Kentucky meeting in Covington,
KY ‘churched’ the community. The Thursday afternoon of service found 600 people serving in the community; four
prayer walks took place, nursing home visits were made, 54 pints of blood collected, prayer shawls were made, 350
meals served, 285 food baskets handed out, 1700 bottles of water & cookies handed out, 1700+ health kits were sent to
the UMCOR disaster relief center…. The offering for Red Bird Mission was close to $200,000! That’s twice the amount
of the challenge. The golf scramble and ‘change for change’ for the Children and Poverty Task force brought in
$6000. That will fund six grants for congregations beginning new ministries with children and the poor. There was
passionate worship and inspirational Bible Study and Preaching. Truly, we were blessed to be blessings.
How can we become more than a place where people gather to worship on Sunday? On the cover of the book, 101 Ways
to Reach Your Community, by Steve Sjogren, it states “you may not be a gifted evangelist, but you do have the gift of
servant hood. You can use that gift to reach out to your community with the love of God. When people see the love of
God in action, they want to know more about Him. You can share your faith successfully.” I would like for us to begin
thinking of ways to impact the lives of the many folks that are in our building, those that pass by, and those in our
neighborhood.
I have scheduled a “Christmas in July” potluck for 7/25. After we eat and pray we will be in service to our community.
Plan now to be a part of this afternoon of service, there will be something for everyone no matter your age or ability.
As you look at our calendar from month to month, and the bulletin from week to week, it is my prayer that you will make
participation in passionate worship, radical hospitality, intentional faith development, risk taking service/mission and
extravagant giving a priority in your life as a part of the Body of Christ. We exist not for our own comfort and spiritual
growth; we exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Unless you are actively involved in the life of the Body of Christ you
will not have a full understanding of the why, where and when of God’s direction for the Body of Christ called Cooper
Memorial.

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May/June 2010

“What is she on a scavenger for Jesus?,” Jeremiah’s friend asked him this question when he told
them I would have some work to do for the church while I was in California for his graduation.
Indeed, I had some work to complete - this article. It became a catch phrase for the week…, but for
me it became a mission: to find Jesus wherever I could. On the drive home, I started my list…where
did I find Jesus. The list was quite lengthy. I will give a summary.

Where did I see Jesus from April 6 – April 13, 2010?
-in folks stepping up to fill in at Bible Study and Worship
-in people going the extra mile to offer rides: to and from the airports, in wheelchairs and golf
carts at the terminals.
-in people offering directions and assistance to other travelers
-in conversations of strangers to pass the time on the plane, train and bus.
-in friends offering rides, meals, a place to sleep…assistance with packing and moving out, in general
just helping out and being there.
-in the laughter, tears and hugs of children

Of course there was evidence of His handiwork and power in the beauty of the nature: the beach, the
sunset, the flowers, the surf, the desert, the wind and the rain.
In summary Jesus was everywhere, not really hidden. I just had to look. It was refreshing to see the
church in action. Maybe we need to be the church rather than just talk about it... or sit in a building and
call it church. I wonder…. what would happen if we “rethink church” - what if church was a verb?

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Mar/Apr 2010


Lent is upon us; the forty day period of reflection and preparation before Easter.
It is a necessary prelude. The death and resurrection are true whether or not we prepare for Easter.

For some Lent becomes a period of self denial and sacrifice. I have heard of people giving up
chocolate, coffee, sweet tea, soft drinks, even television for the forty day period. Others have
added disciplines; such as Bible reading, prayer, daily special offerings, deeds of mercy and justice.
All of these actions are designed to help us on our spiritual pilgrimage.
This year as I have been preparing for the Lenten season my thoughts have been haunted by a
verse that I learned in elementary school; “March – comes in like a lion, out like a lamb.” My
memories of elementary school were we talked about the weather: storms and wind and then the
beginning of spring and how things calmed down, at least until the April showers would bring May Flowers.
As we get serious in our discipleship, it seems like storms come upon us.
The closer we draw to Christ, sometimes the more complicated the journey becomes. We are
tossed about on all sides. Yet, we have the promise that God is always with us,
(John 14:18, Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 28:20). Therefore, we need to endure the “storms”
of the journey and face the lions that might roar at us. Be assured that as we pass through
them or stare them in the face we are not alone. God is with us. We can find comfort in the
fact that others have made this journey as well. Once we pass through to the other side of
the storm, we experience a peace, and sense of strength unlike any we’ve felt before.
We find rest in the arms of Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins the world.
May you face the Lenten journey unafraid this year, knowing that as the storms rage, God calms his child!

Lent is upon us; the forty day period of reflection and preparation before Easter.
It is a necessary prelude. The death and resurrection are true whether or not we prepare for Easter.

Please join me as we as prepare to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God.
Please see the calendar and watch the bulletins for opportunities to aid you on your pilgrimage.

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Jan/Feb 2010

It is hard to believe we are on the doorstep of a new year. For a moment, let us reflect on this past year of 2009.
We implemented the mission of the month program, which saw more people involved in mission in the first 4 months than
we had projected for the year. We experienced a slight increase in attendance of visitors and
new members. Our people continued to be generous in their giving. We held our second
Consecration Sunday Celebration. A preschool class on Sunday morning was added, other
classes took on new identities and focus. We celebrated our Scouting ministries: BSA Pack
190, BSA Troop 190, BSA Crew 190, BSA District Committees, GSA Troop 1794, GSA
Troop 1355, GSA Troop1021/242, GSA Troop 331, GSA Service Unit Meetings and Area
Events, continued to house the Okolona AARP, offered a flu clinic to the community,
participated in bell ringing for the Salvation Army. This summer we had a combined
worship experience and rocked the Crocodile Dock for VBS. We celebrated new arrivals
for the Mousers and Duncans, and grieved the loss of members Ralph Adams, Dorothy
Jared, and Tom Tichenor as well as several other deaths in the extended family of the
church. We continue to pray for comfort for these families during this season of grief. We
continue to take part in the Okolona Ecumenical Thanksgiving Service and Good Friday
Service with Okolona Presbyterian and Bethany United Church of Christ. We again
provided food baskets for ten families and had our second annual Thanksgiving Dinner for those who wanted to be with
friends and church family. Our Forever Young Group continues to meet, as does Sacred Stitches, Lamplighters, and Lydia
Circle. Currently we are gearing up for the 12th season of Upward Basketball, and continuing the discussion for soccer. The
Church Health Team, consisting of Deborah Bluestone, Mary Beth Granado, Renee Hudgell, Bob Murphy, and Bob Smith,
began reading and discussing “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations”, by Bishop Robert Schnase. They hope to have a
report at the Leadership Team meeting in January as we work through the Natural Church Development Program with Rev.
Fred Goodwin as our coach. Just a few of the things I remember…can you add more to the list?
What a year, we celebrate but now must plan for 2010. What can we do better? Where are the areas for
improvements? How can we continue to offer Hope and Love through Jesus Christ? There are three questions I would like
us to pray about as we go into a new year; send your responses to the church office: (1) What would you like to see happen
at Cooper Memorial this year? (2) What needs to take place for that to be accomplished? and (3) Are you willing to help
make it happen?
Use the words of the following hymn as a devotional tool for January. “This Is A Day of New Beginnings” United
Methodist Hymnal, 1989, #383.
This is a day of new beginnings. A time to remember and move on, A time to believe what love is bringing while laying to
rest the pain that’s gone. For by the life and death of Jesus, God’s mighty Spirit, now as then, can make for us a world of
difference, as faith and hope are born again. Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring, step from the past and leave behind our
disappointment, guilt, and grieving, seeking new paths, and sure to find. Christ is alive and goes before us to show and
share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new. In faith we’ll gather round the
table to taste and share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new.
Shalom

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Nov/Dec 2009

Fall... one of my favorite times of the year, but then again so is spring, summer, and winter. There are special things about each season where I find blessings.
Fall is full of color – the leaves changing, fall pansies, the mums; crisp mornings; pumpkins; Indian corn; apples, cider and festivals.
Winter - the freshly fallen snow reminds me of the purity of Christ and how our sin is washed away. I love the picture that is painted when the ice is hanging on everything. (Okay, I will admit that last winter there was a little much – but you have to admit it was beautiful.)
Spring brings forth with new life from the gloomy days of winter. The daffodils, tulips, and dandelions begin to make their appearance. Then come the variety of other spring flowers and the trees sprout new leaves. The robins return; in pastures you see colts and calves as you drive through the farming communities
Summer is hot and humid, full of bright sun. Laughter fills the air as people gather outside, at the pool, on the lake, at the beach.
I am just thankful for each new day and season that I am blessed to experience.
As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, I hope that all of us can find the many blessings that are in our life waiting to be counted. There is enough negativity around us. As God’s people, let us plan to live as a people that are giving thanks as a part of our daily lives. Share your blessings with others. Find the good in people. Praise God for His handiwork.
I hope that the following words will express gratitude to God for the things one has at the end of the harvest season. See the following site: http://www.prayer-and-prayers.info/thanksgiving-prayers/be-thankful-than...

Be Thankful Thanksgiving Poem

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.
It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

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Sept/Oct 2009

Consecration Sunday Is Coming
Congregations that approach financial stewardship from a biblical perspective do not view
the money Christians give to their church merely as a way to pay its bills. Rather, such
congregations see financial contributions as a way to help people grow spiritually in their
relationship with God by supporting their church’s mission and ministry with a percentage
of their incomes.
Our congregation’s finance committee has selected the New Consecration Sunday
Stewardship Program as a way to teach the biblical and spiritual principles of generous giving in our
stewardship education emphasis this year.
New Consecration Sunday is based on the biblical philosophy of the need of the giver to give for his or her
own spiritual development, rather than on the need of the church to receive. Instead of treating people like
members of a social club who should pay dues, we will treat people like followers of Jesus Christ who want
to give unselfishly as an act of discipleship. New Consecration Sunday encourages people toward
proportionate and systematic giving in response to the question, “What percentage of my income is God
calling me to give?”
During morning worship on Consecration Sunday, we are asking our attendees and members to make their
financial commitments to our church’s missionary, benevolent, and educational ministries in this community
and around the world.
Every attendee and member who completes an Estimate of Giving Card does so voluntarily by attending
morning worship on Consecration Sunday. We urge people to attend who feel strongly opposed to
completing a card. The procedure is done in such a way that no one feels personal embarrassment if he or
she chooses not to fill out a card.
We will do no home solicitation to ask people to complete cards. During morning worship our guest leader
will conduct a brief period of instruction and inspiration, climaxed by members making their commitments
as a confidential act of worship.
We will encourage participation in Consecration Sunday events through the Consecration Sunday team and
Leadership Council. Since we will make no follow-up visits to ask people to complete their cards, we will
make every effort to inform, inspire, and commit everyone to attend Consecration Sunday worship.
Thanks in advance for your enthusiastic participation in Consecration Sunday events.
Pastor Trish Smith

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July/Aug 2009

I was just wondering…have you ever had a time when you felt completely empty. For the last two months, as I have been attempting to
write this article for the newsletter, this is where I’ve been. Several times I would sit and look at the blank page and think, “I have nothing
to say; I am completely empty of any thoughts to put on paper.”
Frustration would set in. I would find something else to fill the time and come back later. This process repeated several times. So now
the deadline has passed and still no article for the newsletter.
I was awakened early this morning with this thought; when all else fails, go to the Source and be filled. I have read Scripture, listened
to music and read some poetry. Read John 4: 1-15.
The following poem is one that speaks.

Speechless
I don't know what to write
or what to say.
I can't decide how I feel,
thoughts and emotions colliding.
All I know is I'm feeling something,
and I don't know how to let it out.
I pull out pen and paper;
the page stays blank.
I drop to my knees to pray.
Silence.
My mouth cannot form the words my heart feels.
No markings of a pen can do it justice,
so I sit here quietly,
resting from my worries,
knowing that you're holding me tight,
and forming prayers from my innermost feelings
because words cannot express.

Megan, 17 North Carolina (www.upperroom.org/devozine/2009/mayjun/electropoetry)

Vacation was a busy time; we celebrated Jeremiah’s graduation from the Naval Academy.
Annual Conference was good; saw many friends and colleagues. You can view the highlights on the conference web site –
www.kyumc.org, click on the link for Netnews.
VBS (July 13-17) is coming together under the leadership of Chris Robinson and Danielle De Vincentis. Upward Soccer will happen this
fall, Donnie Mills. Both are need of volunteers. Please call the church office to volunteer.
We continue our “Missions of the Month”. Wayside Christian Mission scheduled for July will be rescheduled for later in the year.
Don’t forget the pool party on July 19, Oldham County Aquatic Park, 6:30-8:30pm. We will picnic in the park next to the pool before going
in.
Shalom---- Rev Trish

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May/June 2009

I read this quote in a devotional about four years ago by Hodding Carter that has stuck with me.
“There are two lasting bequests we can give our children. One is roots, the other is wings.” This
thought has challenged me as a mom and caused me to examine my efforts in raising my boys. I
had to ask myself, “What am I doing to give my boys “roots” and “wings”.
The author of the devotional went on to point out that, “a child who knows they are loved unconditionally
is a child with roots, they’ll stand in the storms of life. On the other hand, give
them self-worth and teach them to dream, and you’ll give them wings.” What a wonderful word
picture. As parents, we try to prepare our children for every possible situation. But you know, as you watch them go out
that door, there’s that nagging question, “will they be o.k.?”…” Are they really ready to use their wings?” As parents, we
need to have faith in our kids before they can really have faith in themselves. I believe we need to expect great things of our
kids, as long as we have given them a healthy, fertile environment to grow in. By providing training and encouragement for
them to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually we are giving them the “roots” they’ll need to stand in the storms of
life.
My boys never cease to amaze me with what they can do and how much they have grown in both wisdom and character. So
why am I so quick to be critical; to point out some minor detail that really makes no difference in the big scheme of things?
I know there are going to be disappointments and mistakes made. These are all a part of growing up, how I respond to them
in these times is the issue. While I focus on the roots, I need to keep in mind the wings as well. I need to encourage them to
dream big dreams. I need to let them know that I love them and am praying for them. They need to know I am proud of
their accomplishments. Even more they need to know I love them just because of who they are. This is the work of helping
shape those wings…delicate and sensitive. I picture the wings of a butterfly, bright and colorful, full of life yet so fragile
and sensitive.
Can there be any two areas of parenting more diverse and yet so vital to one another than the idea of giving our children
“roots and wings””? I know of none. The wisdom, creativity, and sensitivity required for us, as parents, to do this
effectively can only come from God. We’d be sadly mistaken to think this could be accomplished with our own wisdom
and strength and limited understanding. In Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) we read “train up a child in the way they should go and
when they are old they will not depart from it.” There are also guidelines in Deuteronomy 6: 6-9. Check it for yourself and
see if there might be something there to help you in giving your kids “Roots and Wings”.
As a part of the body of Christ, we have agreed at a child’s baptism that we would assist the parents in rearing their
children. Let us take seriously the role we play in helping a child establish their “roots and wings.”

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March/April 2009

In the last edition of the newsletter, I challenged everyone to join me in praying John Wesley’s covenant prayer daily for a month during January or February. What a two months it has been; an ice storm, power outage for 6 days at the parsonage and a wind storm. When I was without power it was an inconvenience, not a way of life. I can’t imagine how dark life would be without the power and light of Jesus in my life. Praying the covenant prayer has been a journey that brought me to a deeper sense of His presence in my life and a desire to please Him more. I found that as I willingly placed myself at the Lord’s disposal everyday, I am able to accomplish more for Him.
With this edition we find ourselves in the midst of Lent, a time of preparation, accompaniment, and journey. The whole church prepares itself to live more deeply into the baptismal covenant in worship, in
small-group meetings, and through personal and corporate disciplines of devotion, worship, mercy, and justice. We prepare and assist those that are new to the Christian journey as well as those who may have left the church and are seeking reconciliation and renewal. We begin the journey of this season together, grounding
ourselves in the two primal facts of Christian existence -- our mortality, symbolized in ashes -- and our Lord who has conquered death, symbolized in the sign of the cross in which those ashes are applied.
During Lent, there will be opportunities for small group gatherings beginning March 1, 2009.
Please see the calendar and schedule in this publication and make your plans and reservations to attend. Reservations are requested so as to have enough books.
It is my hope that as we journey these 40 days of Lent, we will reflect on the following words from Henri Nouwen,
Listen to what God is saying to us:
“You are my child,
You are written in the palms of my hand.
I have molded you in the secret of the earth.
I have knitted you together in your mother’s womb.
You belong to me.
I am yours. You are mine.
I have called you from eternity, and you are the one who is held safe and embraced in love from eternity to eternity.
You belong to me. And I am holding you safe and I want you too know that whatever happens to you,
I am always there. I was always there; I am always there;
I always will be there and hold you in my embrace.
You are mine. You are my child. You belong to my home. You belong to my intimate life, and I will never let you go.
I will be faithful to you.”
(an excerpt from a lecture at Scarritt-Bennett Center, Nashville, February 8, 1991)
Reflect on the feelings that come as you read this description of God’s embrace. Draw near and feel His arms around you.

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Dec 2008

The Space of Advent‏

Have a very blessed day!

WAITING FOR CHRISTMAS is like waiting for a star to fall. We know it will come, streaking across our lives with promised Light, but we can grow weary from the Advent strain of waiting. … We have been given this stretch of time and space of Advent. Here we are invited to grow in patience and to position our lives so that we do not miss what God is doing in the wide expanse of the world.
- Pamela C. Hawkins Simply Wait: Cultivating Stillness in the Season of Advent From pp. 54-55

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Submitted by Pastor Trish on Mon, 11/10/2008
Pastor's Ponderings from Rev. Trish

READY OR NOT, we’re coming up on another December; probably my favorite month in the year. Traditionally, I’ve had a hard time reconciling the way we do Christmas with my commitment to simply follow Jesus, but recently I’ve discovered increasing spiritual meaning in celebration. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son … so that we might receive adoption as children” (Gal. 4:4-5). What could be more exciting than that?
- Derek Maul In My Heart I Carry a Star: Stories for Advent From p. 12

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Submitted by Pastor Trish on Mon, 11/03/2008

In his book, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, George Barna shows that by the age of 13, “it is already set in the mind of a child - and they will take it all the way through adult life – everything they’re going to believe about the Bible and about God,” and “how that is going to affect them for the rest of their lives…they’ve got it by the age of 13”. He reminds us that “we only have a short period of time to share the love of Jesus Christ with these kids. “It’s a race to the heart of a child, and the first one there wins.” Through our children’s ministries, we’re on a mission to reach the hearts of children
in our community. Will you help?

Will you help win the race for God by introducing children to Jesus Christ? I have listed some areas where you might consider entering the race.

    1- Serve as a prayer partner and worship buddy for a child
    2- Serve as a mentor in the educational opportunities
    3- Love them no matter what!
    4- Take part in ministries that are planned;
    5- Suggest activities and other ministry events

Upward Basketball – need coaches, refs, concession workers, visitation team, prayer partners, friends to open and close for practice, devotion leaders Sponsor a child whose family may not have the money for them to play. (maximum time commitment: November – March)

Scouts - leaders and assistant leaders, support fundraisers, share your skills and knowledge that would help the scout meet badge requirements, service as a host/hostess as they are in building

Vacation Bible Schools – teach, assist in classroom/crafts/music/recreation, provide snacks, work in the kitchen, financially support, and be a host/hostess as we have guest in our building. Time commitment: one week in summer, a Saturday during Advent and Lent.

Educational Opportunities – teach, assist in classroom, provide craft supplies

Fellowship Opportunities - serve as a leader of a small group activity, support financially, chaperone outings and/or retreats.

Ponder this Scripture: One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. . When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” The he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. Mark 10:13-16 (New Living Translation)

The race to the heart of a child is not a sprint, it is a marathon. It takes time and patience. Not every event will reach every child. That is why we need a wide variety of events and activities, and every member of the team participating.

Will you join the team to win the hearts of children for Jesus?

Rev. Trish

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