Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Help flood recovery efforts in the Susquehanna Conference


“Within 10-15 minutes, the water level rose from 4 inches to 4 feet,” said Pastor Matt Verstraeten as he watched floodwaters rise in the basement of Benton UMC in Lewisburg District in August.

After assessing the damage, church members quickly went to work. And not just in the church, but the whole town.

“For as many people as we had working at the church ... we had that many people, if not more, going door-to-door, house-to-house, seeing what they could do, seeing what the needs were. We had people making food, people delivering flood buckets.”

You can watch a video about flood recovery efforts in Benton on YouTube at tinyurl.com/yd99kmld. A full article will be featured in the November LINK.

A number of churches in the Susquehanna Conference have been affected by the recent flooding. Please give generously to Susquehanna Flood Relief. Make checks payable to Susquehanna Conference (note Flood Relief #8055 in memo) and mail to 303 Mulberry Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050. Or consider donating UMCOR Cleaning Kits to Mission Central. See missioncentral.org/current-needs/

Unity: Tuning into Jesus’ Pitch


Following is part two of an edited transcript of Bishop Jeremiah J. Park’s Opening Celebration address at the 2018 Susquehanna Annual Conference, held May 31 through June 2 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Scripture references:
John 17:20-26; Colossians 1:15-20; Philippians 2:5-11

How do we tune ourselves to the tuning fork of Christ? How do we measure ourselves to the standard of Jesus Christ?

Let me suggest a couple of pitches from Jesus ...

The pitch of His attitude 

In the Colossians passage “The Supremacy of Christ” Paul makes it very clear that Jesus Christ is the ultimate in power, glory, authority, and significance in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, before creation and after creation. Indeed, this passage puts Jesus Christ in the highest place above all whatsoever. Jesus Christ is supreme.

At the same time, Paul includes in this passage the lowest place that Jesus was in: “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20)
In Jesus Christ, the highest is connected to the lowest.

A similar passage is found in Philippians 2. It also tells us the supremacy of Christ: “God exalted him in the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

But the same passage starts with these words: “Have the same mind or attitude that was in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5) Then the passage continues, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and become obedient to death—even death on the cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8) Then it says, “Therefore, God exalted him in the highest place.” (Philippians 2:9a) Both passages are essentially saying the same things: this supreme Christ is also the One who became nothing for the redemption of the world.

The Philippians passage gives us the most convincing clue to what’s in Jesus’ mind: humility. That’s the most compelling pitch for us to hear to tune our attitude with the tuning fork of Christ. The theological framework that the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops shared includes a section titled “A convicted humility.” Let me quote a few lines from it. “We pray the exaggeration of our differences will not divide us. We also recognize and affirm that as United Methodists we hold in common many more fundamental theological commitments, commitments which bind us together despite our real differences. These also have implications for how we understand and express our disagreements, and for what we do about them. Therefore, we seek to advocate a stance we have called convicted humility. This is an attitude which combines honesty about the differing convictions which divide us with humility about the way in which each of our views may stand in need of corrections. It also involves humble repentance for all the ways in which we have spoken and acted as those seeking to win a fight rather than those called to discern the shape of faithfulness together….”

I so deeply appreciate John Wesley’s attitude when it comes to difficult and divisive subjects. He would say, “This is what I believe. But I may be wrong. It will be fully known when we all get to heaven.” That’s the attitude in tune with Jesus’ pitch of humility. Let’s listen to the tuning fork of Christ. Do we hear Jesus’ pitch of humility?

The pitch of Jesus’ heart 

One of the uplifting moments that the world watched recently was the wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It was celebrated as the wedding of the year. The news media showed many fairy tale story-like elements of the wedding. It also reported some ground-breaking moments in the royal wedding tradition that is hundreds of years old. Among them was the preaching of Bishop Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. It was a delightful delivery of a sermon for the occasion from the African-American tradition. The message was altogether profound, compelling, and transformative.

Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., he said, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world….” And he invited the audience to imagine a world where love is the way. “Imagine this tired old world when love is the way — unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive…. When love is the way, there’s plenty good room for all of God’s children. Because when love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all and we are brothers and sisters, children of God. My brothers and sisters, that’s a new heaven, a new earth, a new world, a new human family,” he said. Indeed, he preached that there’s wonder working power in love. As I read his sermon in the New York Times and saw the words, “power of love” repeated again and again, I found myself singing, “There is power, power, wonder working power in the blood of the lamb. There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb.” 

If we look into His heart, what do we see? Love! There’s nothing else but love in His heart. Overflowing love. Do we hear Jesus’ pitch of love?

I would like you to hear the soul provoking point that Bishop Curry made. He spoke about the insight of French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a priest, scientist, scholar, and mystic. He said that fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. And he then went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.”

God’s people, the world has already discovered fire the second time. It’s the love of God in Jesus Christ! Proven on the cross, the love of God flows from Jesus’ heart. It’s the wonder-working power for redemption, salvation, and the transformation of the world. The pitches from Jesus’ mind and heart are crystal clear: Humility and Love.

***

Watch for the next installment of Bishop Park’s Opening Celebration address in the November issue of Susquehanna LINK. You can view the 2018 Susquehanna Annual Conference Opening Celebration service, including Bishop Park’s address, at tinyurl.com/susumcAC2018video.


Aligned to Grow, Equip, Connect

“The mission of Susquehanna Conference is to:
grow spiritual transformational leaders,
equip vital congregations and create new places for new people, 
and connect with each other and the world
so that alive in Christ together, the Susquehanna Conference will 
embody the beloved community of disciple making congregations.”
(Mission and Vision of the Susquehanna Conference)

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Susquehanna Conference,

 Grace to you in the name of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, Healer of our brokenness, and Hope of the world!

It is with joy and excitement that I share with you that the Rev. Kevin Witt, presently Director of Camp/Retreat and Discipleship Ministries for the Susquehanna Conference, will assume the position of Director of Growing Spiritual Transformational Leaders. In this new position, Kevin will not only continue to work with his current responsibilities but will also expand his ministry to establishing new avenues for the growth of clergy and laity as spiritual transformational leaders. This position will become effective September 1, 2018.

The creation of this new position brings to fruition the alignment of our conference mission and vision that both the Cabinet, through the Leadership Report, and I spoke about at this past Annual Conference. Kevin will work collaboratively with Kay Kotan, Director of Equipping Vital Congregations and Jason Mackey, Director of Connecting Ministries. This position has been created by using existing conference funds and does not add any additional costs to the Conference Plan for Funding Ministry.

Rev. Witt is well equipped to lead this area of our mission and vision. For more than 20 years, he has been on staff with Discipleship Ministries (formerly General Board of Discipleship) as the Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries. Kevin’s ministry includes consultation, training, networking, and strengthening the missional effectiveness of staff, volunteers, and boards who led camping and retreat ministries throughout the United Methodist Church. Along with the other Discipleship Ministries staff, Kevin has been developing resources for leadership development and ways to encourage and equip spiritual transformational leaders.

Kevin is a graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College and earned a Master of Divinity Degree from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. He coauthored The Retreat Leader’s Manual with Nancy Ferguson and also developed Twists of Faith: Ministry with Youth at the Turning Points of Their Lives with Marcey Balcomb and Practicing Spiritual Leadership: Devotional Series.

Rev. Witt will be a member of the Extended Cabinet. The Extended Cabinet includes the Seven District Superintendents, Directors of the three Offices of Growing, Equipping and Connecting, Conference Treasurer/Comptroller, Conference Lay Leader, and Assistants to the Bishop. The Extended Cabinet works together with me to ensure that goals and objectives of the conference are fulfilled according to our mission and vision. I know that you will continue to lift the Cabinet in prayer as well as our entire Annual Conference as we move forward together in making disciples for the transformation of the world.

Your prayers and support for Kevin would be greatly appreciated. Truly God has gifted this Annual Conference with amazing leaders for such a time as this. I’m so grateful to be a part of this team and our beloved Susquehanna Annual Conference.

With You in Christ’s Ministry,
Bishop Jeremiah J. Park

Connecting Ministries

By Rev. Jason Mackey, Director of Connecting Ministries

Every summer, my family and I travel to Carolina Beach, NC, for vacation. We meet my wife’s family and rent a condo right on the beachfront and one of the early highlights of the trip is getting to visit a local church. Like most families, when we’re at home we go to the same church week in and week out…it’s a preacher thing, but at the beach, we don’t have any commitments, so we’re free to roam. Through the years, I’ve learned that North Carolina has a passionate church-planting culture.

One of the first churches we visited met in a middle school auditorium. They had a great band, breakout spaces for Sunday school classes and children’s church, and they had committed volunteers—people who showed up at 6 AM to start setting up for worship. Of course, they had to be committed because this was make-or-break. The area school district wrote a three-year contract with church plants. They could use the space for a low rent, but the church had to show signs they were growing, they had to create a missional impact on the community, and they had to move out by the end of year three. Today, that first church we visited has purchased an old strip mall and they are thriving. They have a vital Sunday ministry, but they also have a child care program and community counseling service through the week. How would your church be different if you had to move out of your building three years from now?

This year, as I was getting dinner on the boardwalk our first night at the beach, I saw a banner advertising, “Church at the Boardwalk.” A local church in town was doing outreach at the beach! Thirty minutes. Worship outside. Go in your swimsuit. I knew this would be an instant hit with my family. So we went.


That morning was rainy and dreary. I knew walking down to the beach that there was a good chance this thing would be canceled and sure enough, it was, but Becky showed up anyway. She was in charge that morning and she explained that with the rain and electronics, they had to call it earlier that morning, but that hadn’t stopped 25 of us from showing up. One boisterous fellow in our group talked her into leading us anyway. No song sheets, no musicians, no prep, nothing formal, just simple prayer, a quick scripture reading, and her thoughts in reflection. All told we were there about 15 minutes and it was the best worship I’ve had in a long time. My boys (7 and 12) loved it! It was Christian community—people coming together in the name of Jesus to celebrate what He’s done for us, share our needs with one another, and encourage each other on to greater acts of service. Isn’t that the whole point?

I was truly humbled and grateful to have seen such a visionary example of the potential for church. Here was a lay person…she had no formal education, no modern church flare, and yet her passion for Jesus shined through. I’m not sure what the future will hold for that church, but I’m confident they could leave their building and be just fine.


What about us? What would it look like if we left our buildings and did church at the park? Or church on the campus quad? Or church at the gym? Or church at the diner? Would we become a healthier connection better connected to our communities?

Growing Spiritual Transformational Leaders - When Leaders Experience Fear, Anger, Frustration

By Kevin Witt, Director of Growing Spiritual Transformational Leaders

Fear that often emerges as anger or frustration presents a genuine challenge for many of us as leaders. We may be on the receiving end or we may be the ones unleashing energy which will inevitably create a rippling impact upon loved ones, communities, and the wider world. I am sure that I am not the only leader who looks back with regret when I responded poorly in moments of anxiety, stress and irritation. My carelessness or failure to fully grasp and take responsibility for what was going on within me hurt people. How can we acknowledge and value what is felt in a healthy way? How too can we extend grace to others who project anger and fear onto to us in damaging ways out of their own brokenness? This raises an intriguing aspect of what it means to be Spiritual Transformational Leaders.

Father Richard Rohr offers some sage advice. “If you don’t transform your suffering, you will transmit it.” Again - “If you don’t transform your suffering, you will transmit it.” What is your suffering? What triggers anxiety, frustration or angst for you or the community you lead? How can the response to these strong emotions lessen suffering rather than spread suffering – be a source of healing and justice rather than a mirror of harm or self-rejection?

Fear is a signal not a solution. Anger can be an important voice of recognition calling for change but a dismal remedy. It is important to realize that both fear and anger involve experiencing or re-experiencing suffering at some level every time they are deeply expressed. This means that there is a very real danger that when we cast our fears and anger onto others unchecked and with the wrong spirit, it can cause them harm. Fear and anger can debilitate. If we take on fear and anger and it begins to characterize our daily way of being and interacting in the world, we severely diminish our effectiveness as leaders called to grow and embody love and hope in the world.

What, then, are Christian practices of Spiritual Transformational Leadership? There are many, but let’s look at two of the most relevant to situations where fear and anger take center stage.

1. Practicing Sacred Space 

This is the intentional, recurring practice of pausing to listen to the voice of God’s love. It might be as brief as a few moments or as long as an extended season of reflection. It establish sacred space between what happens and our response. What does love call forth in this situation, this moment, this time? How do I embody that love when it is difficult? Prayerful pausing prevents us from immediate reactions that might pass on the energy coming at us or arising within us, which when poured outward could damage others or ourselves. It is time spent with the Spirit - the source of the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit nourishes those healing from suffering (including ourselves) restoring them to wholeness and vitality in life. The practice of pausing for Sacred Space is equally applicable and vital with our family as well as the wider world.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” — Galatians 5:22-24 The Message

2. Practicing Compassion

Henri Nouwen encourages spiritual leaders to consider what it means to be “wounded healers” taking our lead from Christ who transformed woundedness into compassion for the world. These Nouwen quotes begin to reveal in part what he means by the practice of compassion. Compassion frees us from using fear and anger as weapons of coercion, and to apply them instead as catalysts for grace and wholeness.
“In our own woundedness, we can become sources of life for others.” 
“In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.” 
“Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to the place they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it. As busy, active, relevant spiritual leaders, we want to earn our bread by making a real contribution. This means first and foremost doing something to show that our presence makes a difference. And so we ignore our greatest gift, which is our ability to enter into solidarity with those who suffer.” 
“Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.” 

Equipping Vital Congregations - What Does it Mean to be the Church?


By Kay Kotan, Director of Equipping Vital Congregations

A recent Barna Study produced some heart-breaking information. “Fifty-one percent of churchgoers don’t know of the Great Commission.”
(tinyurl.com/ya7dz7cg) In other words, more than half of churchgoers were not aware of the purpose for which the church exists. Churchgoers did not report knowing the church exists for the purposes of making (new) disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This surprising study not only causes reason for pause and reflection, but, it also explains why so many churches are not aligned, intentional, nor living out the purpose of making disciples in their churches.

Given the study results and the number of declining churches across the country, I thought it might be helpful to provide a top ten list to help us recognize if we are truly “being the church.” So, in the spirit of Jeff Foxworthy, here is your “You Might Not Be the Church if…”
… your church has no first-time guests and/or returning guests.
… your church has no new professions of faith.
… your church has more focus on the facility than the mission of making disciples.
… your church has no intentional faith development process.
… your church’s financial capacity is limited to building and salary. expenses leaving nothing for ministry.
… your church is relying heavily on endowments.
… your church has a lack of competent, compelling, and contextual worship (regardless of style).
… your church has too few people to serve on required committees.
… your church is lacking community impact (becoming invisible in the community).
… your church lacks flexibility in shifting the vision to reach the neighborhood (contextual relevance).
… your church lacks alignment of all the church does with the mission (purpose) and vision (God’s preferred future for how your church uniquely makes disciples).

Recently, I discovered that 467 of our churches in the Susquehanna Conference had NO professions of faith in the past appointment year. Another 66 churches had only one profession of faith. In other words, approximately two-thirds of our churches had either zero or only one profession of faith. So, the very reason our church was planted (many times with great sacrifice and hard work) by our ancestors (to share the Good News with our neighbors) is not being accomplished by approximately two-thirds of our churches today.

For those of you who know me or have heard me speak, you know I am pretty upbeat and generally approach everything from a positive perspective. I share this information with you not from a cup two-thirds empty, but from a cup two-thirds full. Friends, we have work to do! There is so much potential! The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. There are more unchurched people than ever before in recent decades.

Church is not about you and me. The church is to be the vehicle for which people come to know Christ. Church is not the building. The mission is sacred not the facility! The church is the people – both those who are already gathered AND those yet to be gathered. For this season, the Bride of Christ is under our care.

We are called to be faithful to her in purpose. I am prayerfully challenging ALL of us to once again claim our purpose and go to work to make it happen as we have vowed to do through our UMC membership vow to “witness.” Let’s rally together, get back to our purpose, re-tool as needed, stop doing what isn’t effective, start doing what is fruitful towards our mission fulfillment, and make the church once again “the church” as it was intended.

www.equippingvitalcongregations.org

Young People's Ministry

GYPC’18 Equipped me for GC’20

By Alexander Clark, First UMC, Mechanicsburg

While attending the Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC) 2018, held July 18-22 in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a voting member of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Delegation, I was able to experience and learn a lot. Most of what I learned came by interacting with the diverse people that make up the body of the United Methodist Church, people from Germany, to Russia, to Sierra Leone, as well as the many countries in between and around the globe.

NEJ delegation to the Global Young People's Convention
I learned that patience can be hard and run thin easily. Especially when answering and listening to the many questions, often repeated ones, that are asked over the course of hours amending and voting on several pieces of legislation. However, out of those hours, I gained a better understanding of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I realized that most of the voting delegates didn’t disagree with the concept of what we were trying to create in our various statements and legislation. Instead, people were merely concerned about specific wording and phrasing of sentences. Taking a step back, I was able to breathe in, and remind myself every member of the GYPC attending was there to fulfill the same goal as me, to be “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”. For me that was my goal, to hold fast to no matter what our issue or conversation, I was helping to make disciples at the end of the day.

As the final day of legislation voting ended at GYPC’18, I remember having a distinct feeling of incompletion with the work that we had passed on to General Conference 2020. I felt that there was more that I could do to follow up and support our statements and legislation. When talking with our adult mentors I was struck with the understanding that the “more” was to follow the work of GYPC’18 to GC’20. That attending the largest governing body as a young adult, I could give first-hand testimony to the pieces we submitted and be a part of the process as it grows.

Something that has also grown and started tugging on my heart upon attending GYPC was that I had more to do as a young adult in the growth of our church. I want to attend General Conference 2020 because being a part of the process that establishes what the church does now, effects my peers and myself the rest of our lives. We simply just need to say we as a younger generation are interested in helping grow and create disciples of Jesus Christ. By attending General Conference 2020 as a voting delegate, I hope to open the door wider and set an example for youth and young adults, that anyone of any age can contribute to the growth of the UMC. When you look at the makeup of the General Conference in years past you will find a slim number of young adults attending. While that is fine, the support for younger generations to take up leadership roles would be a magnificent example of empowering youth to transform the world.

* * * * *

Foundations Youth Leader Training 

By Audrey Wilder, Director of Young People's Ministry

Over the weekend of August 17, at Mt. Asbury Camp and Retreat Center, 27 youth workers from all seven districts gathered to grow their spiritual leadership skills for ministry with young people. Sixteen of the 48 hours spent together was in intensive learning with “big deal leaders in youth ministry,” as one attendee observed. The group brought with it a variety of experience: three attendees having just finished college and embarking on their first year on church staff, seasoned part and full-time staff members, and first and longtime volunteers. One of the trainers observed, “I love the collegiality of your group. I think it’s awesome that I can’t tell who in this room are best friends.” Possibly the most valuable part of the weekend was the collaboration and investment in the community of youth workers from across the Conference. 


Relationship development was crucial for the retention of the “firehose” of information that was sprayed at attendees. The trainers were apologetic that they were squeezing a 4-day course (at Perkins in Dallas) into 2 days with us. Sessions ranged from the parallels between the history of youth ministry and ice cream in the US, discipleship development and its connection to coffee, and curriculum selection and its similarity to eggs (there’s no doubt when you get a bad one.) It was a traditional UM gathering with great food from the Mt. Asbury kitchen and food analogies to keep us rooted in the training! The attendees also received templates and training on developing discipleship plans, curriculum plans, and both trip and program budgeting tools. 

Trainers encouraged the participants to go home and wrestle with the material that they had been given and find those two or three things that would provide them leverage for growing disciples in their own community. Everyone left having met someone new, learning something new, and confirmed in the truth that ministry with youth can be challenging, but when you are surrounded by the community of faith, nothing is overwhelming. 

* * * * *


Young People’s Ministry is working on creative options for helping young people and their youth groups to make it to 
Youth 2019, July 10-14, 2019. 
Watch for updates in the coming months. 
For more information about the event, 
visit www.Youth2019.com. 


* * * * *

Nearby Youth Events

St. Paul’s UMC, Red Lion, PA 
Family Impact Conference 
September 22, 2018

Greater New Jersey Conference
IGNITE Conference
September 28-30, 2018
Wildwood, NJ 

Peninsula-Delaware Conference
Youth Rally 2019
January 4-6, 2019
Ocean City, MD

Western Pennsylvania Conference
SPARK
January 11-13, 2019
Sheraton at Station Square, 
Pittsburgh, PA 

* * * * *

YSF Applications

The Young People’s Ministry Council will continue to accept Youth Service Fund Applications until October 31, 2018. Applications can be found on the Young People’s Ministry website at www.igniteyoungpeople.org

GYPC’18 Equipped me for GC’20

GYPC’18 Equipped me for GC’20

By Alexander Clark, First UMC, Mechanicsburg

While attending the Global Young People’s Convocation (GYPC) 2018, held July 18-22 in Johannesburg, South Africa, as a voting member of the Northeastern Jurisdiction Delegation, I was able to experience and learn a lot. Most of what I learned came by interacting with the diverse people that make up the body of the United Methodist Church, people from Germany, to Russia, to Sierra Leone, as well as the many countries in between and around the globe.

NEJ delegation to the Global Young People's Convocation
I learned that patience can be hard and run thin easily. Especially when answering and listening to the many questions, often repeated ones, that are asked over the course of hours amending and voting on several pieces of legislation. However, out of those hours, I gained a better understanding of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I realized that most of the voting delegates didn’t disagree with the concept of what we were trying to create in our various statements and legislation. Instead, people were merely concerned about specific wording and phrasing of sentences. Taking a step back, I was able to breathe in, and remind myself every member of the GYPC attending was there to fulfill the same goal as me, to be “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”. For me that was my goal, to hold fast to no matter what our issue or conversation, I was helping to make disciples at the end of the day.


As the final day of legislation voting ended at GYPC’18, I remember having a distinct feeling of incompletion with the work that we had passed on to General Conference 2020. I felt that there was more that I could do to follow up and support our statements and legislation. When talking with our adult mentors I was struck with the understanding that the “more” was to follow the work of GYPC’18 to GC’20. That attending the largest governing body as a young adult, I could give first-hand testimony to the pieces we submitted and be a part of the process as it grows.

Something that has also grown and started tugging on my heart upon attending GYPC was that I had more to do as a young adult in the growth of our church. I want to attend General Conference 2020 because being a part of the process that establishes what the church does now, effects my peers and myself the rest of our lives. We simply just need to say we as a younger generation are interested in helping grow and create disciples of Jesus Christ. By attending General Conference 2020 as a voting delegate, I hope to open the door wider and set an example for youth and young adults, that anyone of any age can contribute to the growth of the UMC. When you look at the makeup of the General Conference in years past you will find a slim number of young adults attending. While that is fine, the support for younger generations to take up leadership roles would be a magnificent example of empowering youth to transform the world.

NEJ delegation to GYPC 2018

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.

Deaconess Fawn Saylor McCallister

Fawn was consecrated and commissioned as a Deaconess at the UMW Assembly 2018 in May.

My involvement in The United Methodist Women began in 2010, when I thought I was attending a Bible Study at my church, Cross Roads UMC in Felton, but it turned out to be a UMW meeting, to which the ladies encouraged me to stay. A decision that truly changed my life.

In 2014 I attended a United Methodist Women special event on the subject of disability inclusion in the church, that was presented by Deaconess Barbara Skarbowski of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

When Barbara started speaking, she did a short presentation on the office of Deaconess and Home Missioner. I had known for some time that I wanted and needed to do something more, something different, in addition to what my UMW unit was doing. When I heard Barbara talk about what a Deaconess is, what they are called to do, I truly sat up straight and listened.

A moment later is when I felt God’s voice, felt His breath on my neck with the words, “This is what you are meant to do.” It was at that moment that I cried but didn’t know why. After that I can’t tell you what she said about disabilities inclusion or much else, I just remember feeling moved like I had never felt before. After she finished talking, I couldn’t get to her fast enough. She saw me and said, “You will be one of us. You were called weren’t you?”

Deaconesses and Home Missioners are laywomen and laymen who are called by God to be in a lifetime relationship in The United Methodist Church for engagement with a full-time vocation in ministries of love, justice, and service. Together we form a covenant community that is rooted in Scripture, informed by history, driven by mission, ecumenical in scope, and global in outreach.
(www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/dhm)

With determination, I’ll do my work as a Deaconess with the Cross Roads Ministerium, Mission Central, and Mason Dixon Community Services. I would also like to get more involved with our connection to Fresh Expressions. I went to the seminar a few years ago and it inspired me. I can see myself on the rail trail meeting up with folks and getting to know them and then asking, “How well is it with your soul?” I would also be willing to reach people within the conference who don’t know us and see how we could help each other.

In 2019, I will be the York District President, and Mission u Dean, and am currently on the Conference UMW Legacy Fund team. I’ve attended multiple Leadership Development Days, UMW Assemblies, Mission u’s, and have spoken at quite a few churches in the York District about UMW, and their programs.

You could say United Methodist Women gave me my voice.

Continue Your Mission


More than 15,000 hot meals are delivered to more than 100 people annually, thanks to the Meals on Wheels program run by RiverWoods Senior Living Community. Cindy Walker, coordinator of the program, says the heart and soul of Meals on Wheels are the volunteers who package and deliver the meals. They feel their work is a labor of love because they know the important service they are providing to the community.

“There are currently 65 volunteers and they are the most wonderful group of people. They are very easy to supervise because they want to be here,” Cindy commented. Most volunteers are retired community members, including some RiverWoods residents. In addition, social service agencies such as SUNCOM and Shared Support bring individuals to RiverWoods for an activity and then help deliver meals.

Currently, there are seven meal delivery routes and approximately 75 meals are delivered daily Monday through Friday. Cindy explained, “We are providing nutritious food to folks that need it. For instance, we had a referral from a daughter who was concerned that her mother was eating oatmeal three times a day. Good nutrition helps prevent poor health, so when we provide well-balanced meals, we are being proactive.”

The second vital aspect of the program is socialization. “Our volunteers might be the only person our clients see, so that’s important. If a client doesn’t come to the door and we are expecting them to, we call an emergency contact,” she explained. “So it’s also a safety check.”

Patty Schmieder has been a MOW volunteer for six years. “I enjoy talking to the clients and know many of them really look forward to company and conversation,” she stated.

The annual budget for the Meals on Wheels program is $75,000, and donations and grants are vital to keep it running. The food is purchased and prepared by the dietary department at RiverWoods. Geisinger Health System pays for the meal and River Valley Senior Providers Group covers the cost of the bags used to carry them. Clients choose from two different daily options and meals are adapted for special dietary needs. Each meal costs $3.95, with financial assistance offered to those who need it. No one is ever turned away for inability to pay, and Cindy works with low-income individuals on a case by case basis.

Cindy added, “We all know that eating healthy food is important, and when you live alone, you may not cook very well for yourself. We provide clients with a hot meal and it’s much better than a pre-packaged frozen dinner.”

Cindy Walker is a shining example of being called to serve, and Albright is proud that she is part of our family. Albright invites you to continue your mission by joining us at one of our six locations. Visit www.albrightcare.org for information on senior living, day programs, giving or volunteering.