From Pastor Karen
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We have been reminded that we have come from dust, and someday, to dust we will return. We have been reminded that we are forgiven, and perhaps, even, that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ. We have been invited to check ourselves and our orientation of heart, soul, mind, and strength toward the one who has been called the Prince of Peace, Almighty God, Emmanuel, God with Us. All of this is as we have entered the season of Lent, the liturgical season of 40 days not counting Sundays. Lent – from the Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, which means “spring.” The season is a preparation for celebrating Easter. Palm Sunday is April 5. Maundy Thursday, which will feature a service of dramatic readings, is April 9. Good Friday is April 10. Easter is April 12.
In this Lenten season, I invite you to join with me in reading daily scripture and reflection on Hospitality, Hope and Healing, which I constructed while in seminary, and have slightly revised for 2020. My professional history is the Hospitality industry—I even have a BS/BA in it! But as I journeyed in my faith, and into scripture, I realized what a limited view my education had provided, and how what is now an essential element of my understanding was not included: the immense, boundary-less hospitality of God. Printed copies are available in the Narthex or you can download a copy here.
“The God of the Christian Scriptures is a God of hospitality, a God who extends hospitality to all people and who requires that God’s people embody hospitality to others. God’s hospitality to us is the basis of our hospitality to one another. God’s relationship to people is fundamentally an act of hospitality to strangers, as God makes space for ‘the other,’ for people, by inviting humanity into direct relationship. This experience of God’s hospitality is at the very heart of the church’s identity. We are God’s guests and friends. It is because of God’s extension of hospitality and friendship to us that the church can offer hospitality to one another and to those seemingly outside the reach of our faith communities. Just as God extends welcome and hospitality toward God’s people, so also God’s people extend hospitality to one another, and as we imitate God, we offer hospitality—particularly to ‘the other,’ the one who is not like us, the one outside. This does not mean that there are not challenges, limitations, and boundaries to our showing hospitality. There most certainly are. But it does mean that hospitality to strangers is an inextricable component of the identity of church and its vocation” (Saved by Hospitality and Faith, by Joshua W. Jipp, p. 2)
“The roots of the word hospitality originally meant both host and guest, and is derived from hosti, which means enemy (think hostile!) and poi, which means people. Whether you were a guest among strangers or were welcoming a stranger as a guest in your space, hospitality came to mean engaging strangers with goodwill, overcoming the estrangement, the distance, the unknown with a receiving, open spirit. Christian hospitality reveals a genuine love for others, an outward focus, a reaching out to those not yet known, a grace that motivates people to openness and adaptability, a willingness to change behaviors to accommodate the needs and receive the talents of newcomers. It describes the active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ. Hospitality brings the heart of God into view through us” (Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, by Robert Schnase, p.18).
We will continue working on building up our hospitality consciousness and easy accessibility for all persons in our worship services, our building, and in all of our ministries and activities.
I want to thank everyone who made time to participate in our recent study, “Faithful and Inclusive: The Bible, Human Sexuality, and United Methodist Church.” We had over 65 people attend all six sessions, a number that far exceeded my hopes and expectations. As we began not of one mind, but one people in Christ’s body at 301 Wooster Street, so we ended the same, hopefully having gained new understanding, whatever that meant for each individual. I am grateful for the graciousness of all who undertook a sensitive topic about some of God’s beloved children. As Pastor Cheryl and I gain new information regarding the May General Conference, we will continue to communicate with you. And if you want to talk further about these matters, please contact one of us. (firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
On March 11, Mark Duckworth and I will go to Dayton for a daylong series of presentations called Multiply West Ohio. Each speaker will share creative new methods being used around the annual conference to multiply disciples and vitalize congregations. We have room for one more person to accompany us. Please let me know if you are interested.
Pastor Cheryl Arnold was honored by Marietta College Board of Trustees with their Outstanding Education Volunteer Award, given to a community member who has made a significant contribution to education in the Mid-Ohio Valley community. The award was presented on February 13 at Marietta College’s Founder’s Day celebration. Make sure to congratulate her when you see her, and to thank the many folks who serve in our vital after-school ministry.
Thank you for your faithfulness and generosity as we closed out 2019 with a slight surplus, which was unexpected at the beginning of the year. Church Council will gather on March 12 to approve a working unified budget for 2020. It is only because of your generosity that Christ UMC is able to make a difference in Marietta.
Join our church-wide Lenten Devotional practice. Together we are contemplating the spiritual discipline of hospitality for the 40 days of Lent. Each daily devotional contains a small Scripture reading with thoughts and questions to ponder.
Printed copies are available in the church Narthex. You can download a copy by clicking here or on the picture to the right. If you would like a printed copy mailed to you, contact the church office.
Pastor Karen says, “In being received by God we are healed, given hope, and able to receive others. Let’s join together in 40 days of prayers and reflection.”
Lenten Prayer Workshop
Lent is the 40 day season when Christians are called to deepen their spiritual practices in preparation for Easter. One of those spiritual practices is prayer.
Join us during the Lenten season for a weekly workshop designed to enhance your prayer life. Whether you’re beginning a new devotional practice or jumpstarting your mature and ongoing prayer practice, this workshop is for you.
Retired pastor Candy Green leads the workshop with experiential activities such as centering and meditation, prayer models from scripture and church tradition, guided imagery prayers, group reflection, and discussion. All materials will be provided.
This 6-week workshop will be offered three times each week:
- Sundays, 9:15 a.m., beginning March 1
- Mondays, 6:30 p.m., beginning March 2
- Thursdays, 12:00 noon (lunches welcome), beginning March 5
To register for our Lenten Prayer Workshop, click here and indicate which day of the week you’ll be attending.
From Pastor Cheryl
The Christian season of Lent is a time for reflection and self-denial as we prepare for Easter. For many, these 40 days are a time of giving up (fasting from) a specific food or habit, remembering Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. Sometimes such a fast has been spiritually meaning for me; other times, it simply feels like one more rule to follow. While you may or may not choose to give something up, I’ve found that taking something on can be just as challenging, and even more meaningful.
Maybe you’d like to begin doing devotions or praying regularly—this can be a great time to start! Need more ideas? List 40 people in your life and pray for them, or write them an encouraging note, one a day. Or choose 40 Psalms, or 40 Bible stories, and read/meditate on them, one a day. Or do 40 acts of kindness, one a day. The possibilities are endless. Whatever you decide, my prayer is that we will all use this season to be intentional about growing in our faith.
Here’s some happenings in some of our lay ministries…
Our After School ministry was recently recognized by Marietta College for its impact on our community. In our 19 years, we’ve enrolled 194 distinct children, from 143 distinct families, and we’ve used 118 volunteers. Thanks to everyone who has ever been a part of this ministry—we’ve been blessed to be a blessing!
Children’s Church is a great way to get to know our kids. This special service takes place downstairs from approximately 11:00 AM until the close of late worship. If you have been trained in Safe Sanctuary, consider volunteering one Sunday to lead/assist in this ministry so that our regular leaders can spend another Sunday in sanctuary worship.
Harvest of Hope, a community-wide food reclamation ministry, was birthed here at Christ UMC by Karen Kumpf and a group of dedicated leaders—and can always use people willing to serve. HOH is probably my favorite example of what can happen when people follow the dreams that God has given them.
What dreams has God laid on your heart? How are you wanting to serve God and others? Let us know and we’ll try to help.
Pastor Cheryl Arnold
Local Food Insecurity
Due to the relocation of the Marietta Area Food Pantry, those without transportation have lost a vital food source. We see this reality daily as folks turn to the in-town churches for help.
One goal Christ Church has is to finance and support the GoPack program. Working in each of the Marietta elementary schools, GoPack volunteers pack nutritious, easy-open, easily prepared food packages for at-need children to take home with them each weekend.
Our second goal is to install our community’s first Blessing Box, a micro food pantry. Blessing Boxes are filled with nonperishable food items, personal hygiene items and even pet supplies. These boxes are open for anyone in the community to stock for anyone in need. Our hope is that one Blessing Box would lead to many more popping up around Marietta.
If you would like to enrich your Lenten observance by making a difference in our community, mark your donations “Lent” and give in any offering or by clicking here. All donations will be divided between the two programs above.
Missions & Outreach Report
Thank you to all who helped with our recent hygiene kit project for the Marietta Area Food Pantry! 100 kits were assembled by our youth and Missions & Outreach Committee. These kits were then distributed at the pantry to those in need of these crucial supplies. Our kits are greatly appreciated according to pantry volunteers. Later in 2020 we will repeat this project, so stay tuned.
Currently we are collecting leggings, sweat or sport pants, and underwear for Tabby’s Clothes Closet, serving the children of Marietta City Schools. See the graphic below for specific sizes. Please note that items must be new that we are only collecting these specific items. Bring your donations to the clothes hamper in the Narthex. Due date is Sunday, March 15.
Missions & Outreach Chair
From Our Minister of Health
About nine years ago I read a fascinating article in a southern magazine about a group that was repurposing flower arrangements from weddings, banquets and funerals to benefit hospice clients and their families. Because of my passion for arranging flowers since my teen years belonging to a Niagara Falls garden club, I decided I would attempt a similar approach for our local hospice. Hospice provides so much psychosocial care and support for clients in the final journey of life that also extends to family members going through this difficult time. Because I believe so strongly in the hospice philosophy, I felt small flower arrangements given to clients and their family members was a way to support the organization. With their enthusiastic approval and the support of this church family, since 2012 we have provided over 900 flower arrangements! You as a congregation have supplied the coffee mugs that hold the arrangements, and altar flowers. McClure-Schafer-Lankford Funeral Home has provided the vast majority of the flowers. Denny and Sheila Lankford explain to their clients in a very sensitive way our church’s flowers ministry which saves so many arrangements from being discarded.
As you donate mugs, they are stored in shelving in our garage. Usually the mug supplies are sufficient but 2019 was a busy year so I’m asking once again for mugs. My only request is that they don’t have any inappropriate sayings on them. The mugs can be dropped off either in the church office or during my office hours on Tuesdays in Room 104 from 12-2. Anyone interested in helping with the flower ministry, please see me!
I also wanted to share a community need that we have become aware of in part due to the move of the Community Food Pantry to its new and larger location on Rt. 821 in the Broughton Complex. Our pastoral staff has seen a rise in requests for food from people who are either homeless or transients. When the food pantry was still located downtown in the First Congregational church, the central location made it easy access for this group of folks in need of assistance. At the pantry we kept special sturdy cloth bags filled with enough food to last the client a couple of days – food that did not require refrigeration or preparation. We are now keeping similar bags in the church office that Pastors Karen and Cheryl and Beth Ann can give out as the need arises. In the last two months we have already given out seven of these “Blessing Bags”. If you are interested in sharing God’s love in this way, you can drop off granola type bars or pop tarts at the church office to help with this ministry.
Soup & the Dominican Republic
Our recent soup luncheon in support of Embrey Roberts, Lauren Eakle and their Marietta College service trip to the Dominican Republic was a great success!! $1,829 was collected. Thank you to all who attended and donated.
Special gratitude goes to all those who planned, prepped, cooked, baked and served during this meal. These folks include many from our reception committee, meal crews, the Philathea Sunday School Class, and particularly the leadership of Laura Warren.