Friday, September 16, 2016

Quilted by Connection - 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference

Clergy and lay delegates of the Susquehanna Conference participated in the (quadrennial) 2016 Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference held in Lancaster July 11-15. The Northeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church covers the nine Episcopal areas (10 annual conferences) located in the area from Maine south to West Virginia. The Northeastern Jurisdiction is one of five U.S. jurisdictions, along with seven central conferences that serve United Methodists around the globe. For a summary of the week’s events and business, you can read the summary edition of the NEJ Daily Christian Advocate at www.nejumc.org/pdf/2016-NEJ-DCA-Summary.pdf.

Bishop Park challenges new bishops to keep UMC united

By Maidstone Mulenga, Editor of NEJ DCA

The newest members of the Northeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops have been challenged to help keep The United Methodist Church alive and thriving despite the differences over human sexuality.

Harrisburg Area Resident Bishop Jeremiah Park issued the challenge during the consecration service for Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi and Bishop LaTrelle Easterling on Friday, July 15, at First United Methodist Church in Lancaster, Pa.

Bishop Moore-Koikoi and Bishop Easterling were elected on the 11th and 17th ballots, respectively, during the 2016 NEJ Conference at Lancaster Marriott Hotel.

In his sermon before he consecrated the two to the episcopacy, Bishop Park urged United Methodists to focus on what is right with the church instead of focusing on the differences and things that were not going well in the denomination.

He pointed out such success stories as raising nearly 70 million dollars to combat the killer disease malaria; feeding of thousands of hungry people and children by our churches daily; hundreds of thousands of Volunteers in Mission serving the broken and hurting lives as they repair the damaged houses and rebuild the homes of hope. “That’s what’s right with our church!”

Bishop Park also noted that the NEJ College of Bishops has taken a stance to seek justice, repentance and reconciliation in the midst of the chaos, fear, and violence so that the church can be the church. “We seek not just to love peace, but to be peacemakers.”

“And our people responded to the statement with such a spirit-filled and passionate affirmation and gave their commitment to confront injustice and violence in partnership with the bishops and one another. That’s what’s right with our church!”

He reminded the newly elected bishops all their colleagues in the College of Bishops are “your partners in the spectacular mission, ministry, and witness of our beloved church. Let’s do our best to keep the church of our dream alive and thriving.”

Urging the church to remain united as leaders discern the best way forward in regarding human sexuality, Bishop Park used the example of his homeland Korea to illustrate the importance of unity. “The divided Korea ended the Christian presence in the North. Families and loved ones have been separated for more than 70 years. It is the only country still divided since the Cold War ended. Korea represents the pain and suffering of the tragedy of division and separation in the most heart-breaking way.”

He emphasized that United Methodists have a rich opportunity now to show and lead the broken world on the best way of overcoming fear of differences and all kinds of isms and phobias that continue to build walls of division, hostility and disunity. “Will the church show the way? Will The United Methodist Church represent healing to our broken world? Will people look at United Methodists and see a sign of hope?”

If United Methodists remain united, it would reflect the commitment of God’s people to oneness as is represented in the prayer at the Lord’s Table: “Make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.” At the same time, it is a witness to healing and hope in our broken and divided and hurting world, he said.

Turning to the new bishops, Bishop Park encouraged them not to have fear but to remember Isaiah 41:10 shows that God is with them and that prayers are being offered for them and their loved ones.
“May the grace of God surround you as you lead our beloved United Methodist Church to a way forward in unity for such a time as this,” he said.

Bishop Moore-Koikoi has been assigned to the Pittsburgh Area where she will lead the Western Pennsylvania Conference while Bishop Easterling has been assigned to the Washington Area where she will lead the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Both assignments start Sept. 1, 2016.

Hearts Strangely Warmed



“While the leader was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ alone for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.” — John Wesley, May 24, 1738

God calls us to tell our story so that others may come to know Jesus Christ. “Hearts Strangely Warmed” was created to share these stories about transformational encounters with the Living God.

Rev. Terry Brosius (third from left) celebrated his ordination with his family in 2015.

Always motivated

Rev. Terry Brosius

Before my call to become a pastor 

After graduating from Halifax High school, I studied art at Harrisburg Area Community College. I then attended Lancaster Bible College and dreamed of becoming a youth director. My first position as a youth director was at Trinity Evangelical Congregational Church in Lititz, Pa., where after a few years I was told by Dr. Rev. Roy Haupt, “Terry, you are called to be an ordained elder.” I said no way, and like Jonah, ran the other way.

The call

Eventually I became a youth director serving under Rev. Don Nolder at First UMC in Chambersburg. I then sensed an overwhelming call of God to become a pastor. While sitting in my office, I said, yes, Lord, if that’s what you want me to be. But if I looked like a pastor, I hoped someone could tell me so I could change. In my mind, pastors couldn’t relate well to ordinary people. I continued to pursue that goal, however, and in time I earned an Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary, thanks to the pastors who checked in with me over the years as my mentors. In June 2015 I was ordained as an elder during our Annual Conference at Messiah College. Throughout my life I’ve had to persistently work hard and maintain an overcomer’s attitude to achieve my goals, so that moment brought an overwhelming feeling of joy and tears.

Since the call 

Ever since ordination, I’ve experienced a flood of emotions, affirmations, and confirmations. I’ve been told, “Pastor, after your sermon, you motivated me to clean my house.” And I’m thinking, that wasn’t what the sermon was about, was it? Through college, seminary, and working through various questions with the ordination process, I’ve had a lot of support, as many folks rallied behind my call from God. I’ve kept a lot of pastors and mentors busy with my questions over the years as I sought to understand the Wesleyan ways, to model hospitality, and to visit all who needed a visit. One book of many I purchased was one that Rev. Dr. Lew Parks wrote, titled, Preaching in the Small Membership Church, and signed: “Terry, preach well in season and out of season.”

My hopes and dreams

 I am living my hopes and dreams, and I trust I am fulfilling my purpose for the Lord. One book I love is Every Move Has a Purpose by Bruce Pandolfini, which has influenced me. In this book he says, “Seize the initiative. Play with a plan. Look at your opponent’s moves. Don’t waste material. Seek small advantages” (Pandolfini, 3). As I’ve been involved with youth groups and churches over the years, my purpose is to make disciples by investing in people. The more I discover my spiritual gifts, the more I want to use them for the United Methodist Church in Central Pennsylvania. My pastoral gifts include teaching, leadership, faith, evangelism, and administration. People tell me, “Pastor, you’re always in continual momentum.” Rev. Dr. Roy Haupt told me, “Terry, never, never land.” And I don’t intend to land. I’ve always been a goal setter in order to accomplish something for the Lord. Right now I am happy and joyful to use my gifts and talents for the Lord as an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, whether or not I look like a pastor.

Abundant Health Initiative

Over the past decade, we as a church have experienced God’s abundance through the gifts and graces of those who supported the Imagine No Malaria initiative. But there’s more work to do. The next step in our global health initiative is to fulfill our calling as a global church by reaching one million children with lifesaving and health-promoting measures by 2020.

If we can imagine no malaria we can imagine abundant health. 

Connecting for Better Health

By Olusimbo Ige, M.D., and Linda Unger, GBGM*

Thirty years ago, 6.5 million Americans held hands from coast to coast for 15 minutes in a human chain called Hands Across America. It was a compassionate gesture with a practical side: to raise money for the homeless and hungry around the United States.

Today, United Methodists are figuratively holding hands across the world in a new gesture of love with a practical commitment to improve health in communities around the globe. Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children, a new initiative of The United Methodist Church, vows to reach 1 million children with lifesaving interventions.

In the U.S., the initiative encourages churches to take decisive steps to reduce preventable deaths in their communities by increasing opportunities for healthy lifestyle choices. Administered by the General Board of Global Ministries, Abundant Health aims to sign on 10,000 U.S. congregations as health-promoting churches by 2020.

When a congregation signs onto the 10,000 Church Challenge, parishioners commit themselves to increase access in their communities to one or more of four key health areas: Physical activity, healthy diet and nutrition, tobacco- and drug-free living, and mental health education and promotion.
For each church that signs up — multiplied by 10,000 — this commitment can translate into fewer lives lost in their community due to unhealthy lifestyle choices. For more details, click here, and read this article to learn how even small actions can make a big difference to your health.

Howard walks: One church’s challenge to its community

Some of the 25 participants in the Howard United Methodist Church (Pa.) walking program. Howard UMC was among the first churches to sign onto the 10,000 Church Challenge of the Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children, a new global initiative of the United Methodist Church. 


In Howard, Pa. (pop. 718), United Methodists and their neighbors are lacing up their sneakers for a 10-week walking program organized by Howard United Methodist Church. In just the first week, 25 walkers, ranging in age from 10 years to 70+, racked up a total of 1,578,117 steps — 789 miles.

Howard UMC was among the first U.S. congregations to sign onto the 10,000 Church Challenge. For the Rev. Craig Q. Rose, pastor of Howard UMC, the decision was simple.

“The challenge of living a healthy lifestyle is a very real and present need to people, and one the community of believers can help with,” he said. “That’s God showing his love for people through his 21st century church!”

Even before Abundant Health was approved at General Conference 2016, Howard UMC was committed to healthy living. The walking program is in its third year (the step total in 2015 was 20 million, more than 10,000 miles). And the church was already offering yoga classes and mid-week chair massages to help the community manage stress and other issues.

The idea for the walking program “rose organically from conversations,” Rose said.

Finding support in local connections

Because Howard is located just 30 miles from Penn State University, the congregation availed itself of a valuable resource. “I knew somebody who knew somebody in the Kinesiology Department who happened to work on using houses of worship to promote healthy lifestyles,” said Rose.
That contact, Associate Professor Melissa Bopp, was already intrigued with the intersection of faith communities and health. “I was interested in how the close social networks of churches — between members and also with members and leaders — seemed to help people become healthier,” she said.
Dr. Bopp and her students helped Howard UMC with information on nutrition, creating a workout plan, and facilitating maps of local walking trails. They also helped the walkers set up a website to track their status, develop logbooks to record their steps, and recommended a good, low-cost pedometer.

The church also reached out to their Susquehanna Annual Conference for support and received a $500 health ministries grant. They used the grant to purchase pedometers for each of the walkers.
Before the program kicked off, Howard UMC members actively promoted it. They talked it up in services, wrote about it in the church’s bulletins and newsletters, and shared information with other faith communities and local media outlets that promote community events for free.

Benefits

“The walking program has motivated me to walk when I would prefer to stay sedentary,” said congregation member Sue Repine. “It’s like counting calories: You’re just more vigilant when you are keeping track.”

Repine set her goal at 10,000 steps a day. “Knowing I will be recording my steps makes me walk more. If I get to the end of the day and I’m short on steps, I’ll go get on the treadmill or walk around the house until I get to 10K,” she said. “I find that 10K steps a day is critical to maintaining my weight.”

Rose reckoned that since the program began, many members of the congregation have come to value exercise and are more active. “I believe there is an unstated, though real, appreciation that their church supports their attempts to exercise and, by extension, that God supports them, too!” he said.

The pastor’s advice for other congregations pondering their commitment to healthy living? “It really is very easy to get started! Many people are looking for a little nudge, a little help in motivating themselves. Get some pretty good pedometers, and away you go!”

Visit the Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children web page ( www.umcmission.org/Abundant-Health/abundanthealth) and sign onto the 10,000 Church Challenge.

*Olusimbo Ige, M.D., M.S., M.P.H. is executive director of the Global Health program of the General Board of Global Ministries. Linda Unger is senior writer.

Visit the Abundant Health: Our Promise to Children Web page at 
and sign onto the 10,000 Church Challenge.

Editorial: The next generation might have named itself

“We’re more connected to people around the world because of technology. In past generations we’d be advised to fit in. Now the more you stand out, the more celebrated you’ll be.” - Youth to Nathan Heller, The New Yorker magazine.


The largest American generation since the baby boomers will soon be driving cars. By what name will they be known? Many tags have been bandied about, among them: Gen Z, iGen, Posts, Homeland Generation, ReGen, Plurals and a host of other ho-hum suggestions. So, we end up with a generation that appears to want to break away from millennial but, as yet, can’t be addressed stereotypically with a name.

MTV, the cable and satellite network, along with other commercial enterprises, has been studying this new generation for the past few years. MTV probably made the most progress in discovering an identifying moniker. In March of 2015, MTV generated 544 potential names. The list was presented to over 1,000 students fourteen years of age, or thereabouts. The name most chosen was “the Founders.” Who knows if the name will find general acceptance.

Clearly, a new segment of youth does not want the umbrella of millennials to be extended to cover them. They see the moniker, “millennials,” for those 18-35 years old as too broad. Those around the ages of 18-22 have come to feel like tagalongs, feel estranged from millennials, and would rather be part of a newer generation beginning at age 14.

MTV president Sean Adkins says the name acknowledges that, while millennials have disrupted society, it’s this new generation’s job to rebuild it. “They have this self-awareness that systems have been broken [and they] don’t want to be the generation that says we’ll break it even more.”

The consensus seems to be that millennials have dismantled this culture and the “Founders” feel themselves to have inherited a blank slate on which to write the rubrics of a new culture.

Stay tuned for more on this subject in the next issue.

JW

From where I sit: These are the times that try our souls

By Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, Director of Connectional Ministries

Thomas Paine, one of the early fathers of our country, wrote a series of pamphlets that are entitled The American Crisis. One of the most famous quotes from that series is, “These are the times that try our (men’s) souls.”

Those words by Paine have been rattling around in my mind ever since General Conference 2016. Indeed, most United Methodists — no matter which side of the same gender debate one finds oneself — find these times extremely trying. With the exception of General Conference of 1844 and the issue of slavery, I don’t think there has been a time more trying to our souls.

I have been struggling to make sense of all that is going on. My soul, like many, is deeply troubled for the division that is in our beloved United Methodist Church.

I am no great theologian. I’m simply a Christian and a pastor who is struggling, trying to make sense of living these days faithfully.

But in my struggle, I know and believe with all my heart a few things. It is these things that I cling to in the uncertainty of what tomorrow brings.

I share them with you simply as one believer to another.

This is God’s church — not mine. Before you and I were formed, before our foreparents were formed, our predecessor denominations were created by God. That means that this church isn’t yours and it isn’t mine — it is God’s. God will do with our church what God will.

 I must put away my sense of ownership of this denomination and the outcome of our struggle. It is not mine to hold on to with every ounce of my being. I must open myself up to the in-flowing of the Holy Spirit to hear and feel God’s Spirit. I must be attuned to the voice of God who speaks in the midst of chaos, of uncertainty, and, yes, even in the midst of division.

Now is the time for earnest prayer. My prayers have changed over the last few months. My prayers are now not my will for the solution and our future, but what is God’s will for the future. I have tried to stop telling God what I think about the future and simply go to God’s throne of grace to hear the voice of God. I must continually pray that my thoughts get out of the way and allow God’s thoughts to flood my soul. It’s hard, but I keep praying the prayer of Jesus in the Garden, “not my will but your will.”

We must get beyond “which side are you on” and wrap ourselves and our behavior in Colossians 3:12-17. We must move beyond gathering those around us who believe just like we do to “clothing ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” We must “forgive each other and we must clothe ourselves with love.” And we must “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.”

Until the Commission and the Judicial Council make recommendations and decisions, we must decide, are we going to spend all of our time mobilizing “our side” (whichever side that is) and spending all of our time talking and debating the same gender issue or are we going to make disciples for the transformation of the world?

If we spend all of our time making plans for “what if,” and if we spend all of our time deciding what will we do “if,” I think we will miss God-given opportunities to make disciples for the transformation of our community and our world. In remembering the parable of the talents, I pray that even in these next few months God won’t find me wasting my time with the what if’s. There are hungry people to feed, there are souls that need loving, and there are people in our communities that desperately need to know the love of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ. How many souls will not hear and know God’s love if I and our church spend all of our time and energy talking about the future instead of going out and telling the good news of Jesus Christ?

As difficult as it is, I must trust that God is with me and with the United Methodist Church, and we must move into the future with hope and assurance that God will be with each of us and all of us no matter the outcome.

There is a chorus that is found in The Hymnal, which is the Evangelical United Brethren Hymnal of 1957. I go back and read that chorus often. I have to believe and trust in its words so that as we face the future, we face it unafraid.

I (we) will not be afraid. I (we) will not be afraid.
I (we) will look upward, and travel onward, 
And not be afraid.

He says He will be with me (us). He says He will be with me (us).
He goes before me (us) and is beside me (us), 
So I’m (we’re) not afraid.

His arms are underneath me (us). His arms are underneath me (us).
His hand upholds me (Us), His love enfolds me (us), 
So I’m (we’re) not afraid.

He will give grace and glory. He will give grace and glory. 
His cross before me (us), His banner o’er me (us), 
So I’m (we’re) not afraid.


Commentary

By Morgan Robinette, Young People's Ministry Council

In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul urges his young friend to “never let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for other believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, your faith, and your purity.” Like Timothy, the 36 youth delegates who attended Annual Conference in June took those words to heart. They were from all corners of the Susquehanna Conference, but a strong sense of unity settled over the group. The attitudes and actions of the youth exemplified the truth that, far from being the church of the future, they are a vital part of the church today.

A main goal shared by the youth at Conference was to benefit the Youth Service Fund. A lofty goal was set for Conference, a goal of $7,500. Each delegate took up the challenge with enthusiasm, and several fundraisers were hosted throughout the week. The YSF table, as always, sold T-shirts and name tags, and also hosted a basket auction. The popcorn stand in the back of Hitchcock Auditorium drew a line during afternoon sessions when the smell of fresh popcorn led to an outbreak of the munchies among the congregation. Table bussing, an annual favorite, commenced on both Thursday and Friday. This ever-successful fundraiser proved especially lucrative this year, earning the YSF fund over $2,000 during Friday lunch alone! The youth’s efforts, the generosity of the Conference members, and God’s goodness earned a final total of $7,300, just under the original goal, but still the most successful total ever reached.

While fundraisers and sessions comprised a large part of Conference, it was not all work and no play for the youth. Friendships formed immediately upon arrival, and the recreation room in Mountainview did not go unused. Devotions every morning and evening enabled the teens to strengthen relationships with God as well as one another. Though each delegate was their own person, with unique talents, interests, and opinions, the youth found unity in their love of Christ. When they took the stage Friday afternoon for their presentation, they challenged the congregation to follow five simple words, a truth they displayed themselves: Be like Jesus, love first.

The youth who attended Conference are living up to that command. The question is, are you?

An Olympian in our midst


Morgan Craft, a member of Point Bethel UMC in Hughesville, Pa., Williamsport District, was a member of the 2016 U.S. Olympic team as a skeet shooter. She placed fifth in the Women’s skeet semi-final.

By Sandii Peiffer, LINK staff

Morgan Craft began shooting rifles in 4-H at the age of seven, under the instruction of her father and grandparents. In high school, Craft honed her skills behind a shotgun, and her first international skeet shooting competition was at the age of 14. After competing at an international level through high school and college, this year she achieved her lifelong dream to become a member of the U.S. Olympic Team, competing in Women’s Skeet in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, this summer.

Craft is also member of Point Bethel UMC in Hughesville, Pa., Williamsport District.

“The faith I have in my relationship with God keeps me resilient in everything I do,” said Craft. “I trust in Him and in myself that I have done everything during training that I possibly could to be the best athlete I can be, and that is why I have the confidence to go compete on the world stage.”

In 2015 USA Shooting named her Athlete of the Year when she became the 2015 World Champion, after medaling twice in prior back-to-back World Cup events. In 2016 Craft was the gold medal winner in the World Cup held in Cyprus, cementing her place in the 2016 Olympic team.

On December 8, 2015, the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed a Resolution designating December 11, 2015, as “Morgan Craft Day” in Pennsylvania; “recognizing Morgan Craft for her national and international championships in the sport of Women’s Skeet; congratulating her for earning a spot on the United States Olympic team for the XXXI Olympiad to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the summer of 2016; and wishing her continued success.” (House Resolution 596)

“My church has always supported me in everything I’ve done, whether that be going to school in another state or traveling around the world and earning my way onto the Olympic Team,” said Craft. “They support me 110 percent. The Sunday before I left for Rio they brought me to the front of the church and the whole congregation gathered around, held hands, and we all prayed for my safety and guidance.”

After placing fifth in the Women’s Skeet semi-finals at the Olympics in Rio, Craft posted on her Facebook Athlete page, “I can confidently say I gave it my all and never gave up! I need to trust in God and trust that everything happens for a reason! I’m blessed to even be given this opportunity to represent the greatest country on Earth at the Rio Olympics.”

Craft graduated from “shotgun powerhouse” Lindenwood University in 2015 majoring in Exercise Science. She hopes to become a physicians assistant in cardiology.