FIRST UNITED METHODIST CHURCH OF NAPA (707) 253-1411
www.napaumc.org August 1, 2014
Redesigning Our Church
Creating Spaces for Connection and Community
As I begin my fourth year with you, a New Conversation which has been contained to the Board of Trustees is about to occur. In fact, many churches are engaging in these new conversations. When I first entered the ministry world, most churches were arguing over music preferences, dress code, and rebellious youth-group behaviors. Today the majority of faith communities have grown to understand stylistic preferences in worship. We seldom attach spiritual significance to wardrobe, and we count ourselves blessed if and when teens find their way through our church doors at all. The landscape of ministry has changed, for sure.
We never help ourselves when we welcome people into rooms with massive, unrelated items stuffed in every corner and hallway, bare-legged folding tables sporting out-of-date brochures, bulletin boards featuring photos of people most have never seen, and random food-collection baskets sitting on a too-small table fronted by a poorly hand-scrawled sign. It all starts to feel like a Sunday school version of Hoarders.
Over this past year, we’ve made progress to assure that some of our spaces are clean, accommodating, and free of that “church garage sale” style, smell, and atmosphere. We’ve probably carried as many as a half-dozen truckloads to the dump of unused furniture and supplies that have been in storage since the 1960’s and 70’s. Though friendly greeters and clean pews are important, there are many details of guest experience that we’ve not yet considered: new guest and single-parent parking, strategically posted signage, and a clearly marked entrance are all extremely important to new seekers.
Inside the building, details such as a comfortable temperature setting, accessible water and refreshments, engaging children’s spaces, and clearly identified directions will create the kind of experience most likely to keep guests returning. Of course, the ability to share a spirit of Christ-like
love is the most profound welcoming tool we possess.
So as we are led by our Board of Trustees in engaging in this new conversation leading us to redesign our church to create spaces for connection and community, I would like to share a few words that may help us keep our minds and hearts open:
Care more than others think wise,
Risk more than others think safe,
Dream more than others think practical, and
Expect more than others think possible.
In a slightly stylized version of the opening verses of Genesis, church pastor Andy Stanley translates: In the beginning, the earth was like an unpainted, poorly lit room with all the furniture in boxes in the hallway waiting to be assembled and properly arranged. So God started rearranging the furniture. Colin Powell reminds us that A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work. Princeton Seminary professor Leonard Sweet contends of the church that The fact that we’re bastions of boredom rather than bursting with creativity and the release of the arts is such an embarrassment. We should be the place that is known for creativity as we have a direct connection to the Creator.
Excerpts from A FaithLink Publication by Jeanne Torrence Finley, a clergy member of the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church, July 27, 2014
This series of articles is brought to you by your Ministries with the Poor Team and will continue each month as the following topics are considered:
August Grapevine: John Wesley’s General Rules
September Grapevine: Acts of Kindness in Times of Tragedy
October Grapevine: Collective Efforts for the Common Good
November Grapevine: Works of Mercy, Works of Justice
December Grapevine: Core Bible Passages
January Grapevine: Random Acts of Kindness
February Grapevine: Love in Action
March Grapevine: United Methodist Perspective
John Wesley’s General Rules
“Doing good” was one of three General Rules for living the Christian life that John Wesley gave the societies and classes of early Methodism. The other two were “doing no harm” and “attending upon all the ordinances of God” (basic practices or disciplines of the faith). His examples of doing good included feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting and helping those who were sick or in prison, and educating people about the Christian faith. (The General Rules are printed in each edition of The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.)
Doing good was a rule that Wesley and early Methodists followed in numerous ways. For example, Wesley visited prisoners and expected members of Methodist societies to do the same. However, he did not stop with providing pastoral and charitable help. He protested abusive prison conditions. As Christopher Momany writes of Wesley’s General Rules, “Denouncing the infliction of harm without working positive good was unconscionable, but benevolent gestures, apart from condemnation of evil, were equally reprehensible.”
Wesley was particularly concerned with doing good for the poor. His ministry with the poor included providing food, clothing, and housing; visiting them (at home and in prison); providing health-care education and delivery; and providing books. However, his ministry went further than providing direct services. He raised questions about the systemic economic factors that fostered and sustained poverty.
Wesley asked why thousands of people in England were starving. As he reflected on poverty, he came to the conclusion that the inflated price of food was, in part, caused by the distillery industry. Bread was expensive because wheat was expensive, and the price of wheat had been driven up by the fact that almost half of the wheat was used in distilleries. For Wesley, the solution was government intervention as the way to lower prices; and consequently, he advocated for the prohibition of distilling hard liquor.
In these examples of doing good, Wesley’s motivation was love of neighbor, a love that was in response to the experience of God’s grace. In a sermon on Acts 4:31-36, Wesley noted that the apostles shared resources because they had experienced God’s love and were empowered to love one another in word and deed.
If you consider engaging in ministries as a way of “doing good,” we invite you to consider participating in any one of a number of service opportunities:
Ministry with the Poor by serving with Napa Circles led by Doug Cleveland;
Feeding the Hungry by serving at The Table on the 4th Tuesday of the month led by Eva Joell;
Clothing the Naked by serving at the Mini Thrift Shop on Tuesdays led by Martine Patrick;
Visiting the Sick by serving with the Congregational Care Ministry led by Helen Reddick; or
Educating people about Christian Faith by serving as a teacher, counselor or helper with:
Grape Express children’s ministries led by Vicki Poli;
Cross Way or Grace Point youth ministries led by Marissa Conway; or
Anxiety and Faith
Excerpts from A FaithLink Publication by Jill M. Johnson, freelance writer and director
Inviting Ministries at Bethany United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, June 29, 2014
This series of articles is brought to you by your Congregational Care Ministry Team: Barbara Barrett, Jan Geren, Dianne Mahler, Lee Neish, Helen Reddick, and Kathryn Tolman. Please call any member of the team for further conversation or consultation concerning Anxiety and Faith. This series will continue each month as the following topics are considered:
August Grapevine: Anxiety and Its Relatives
September Grapevine: High Anxiety in Modern Times
October Grapevine: Managing Anxiety in Others
November Grapevine: Trust in the Face of Uncertainty
December Grapevine: Core Bible Passages
January Grapevine: Anxiety Disorders
February Grapevine: Tips for Handling Anxiety
March Grapevine: United Methodist Perspective
Anxiety and Its Relatives
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:25-34 clearly states we should not worry about our lives, our food, our bodies, our clothes, our tomorrows—yet we still do. And no matter how many times we meditate on Paul’s exhortation in Philippians 4:6 that says, “Don’t be anxious about anything,” we still are.
The words worry, anxiety, fear, and stress are the emotional lexicon of our modern age. We use them with great frequency and often without intentionality. Do you really “fear” that your favorite restaurant might close, or are you merely slightly concerned? Are you truly “anxious” for your grandchildren to come this weekend, or are you “eager” to see them? Do you unconsciously compete with friends and family over who is the most “stressed-out”? Author Brene Brown claims, “We wear our busyness like a badge of honor,” using our stress and schedules to “numb ourselves against vulnerability” in hopes that “the truth of our lives won’t catch up with us.” Just daily life and activities can make us anxious, especially when we live an unexamined life.
What is anxiety, and how does it differ from worry, stress, and fear? Worry and anxiety are closely related, but while worry usually stays in our minds, anxiety can seep into our bodies, causing negative health side effects such as depression, raised hart rate, high blood pressure, or troubled breathing. According to the National Institutes of Health, anxiety is “a feeling of fear, unease, and worry,” and the source of the symptoms is not always known. Stress, however, is a response to identifiable daily pressures (deadlines, workloads, conflict, and so forth) and, in small doses, can help us get things done through the release of adrenaline. Anxiety is considered a legitimate mental disorder; stress is not.
Fear also differs from anxiety in that it, too, has a known root. Imagine you are taking a leisurely walk and suddenly see a rattlesnake at your feet. Your heart rate shoots up, and you begin to sweat as your body prepares for a fight-or-flight response. This is fear. A week later you are on the same trail. Even though there is no snake, you are still worried you will encounter one. This is anxiety. Joseph LeDoux, a professor of neural science and psychology at New York University, states, “Scientists generally define fear as a negative emotional state triggered by the presence of a stimulus (the snake) that has the potential to cause harm, and anxiety as a negative emotional state in which the threat is not present but anticipated.
…While anxiety is defined by uncertainty, human anxiety is greatly amplified by our ability to imagine the future, and our place in it, even a future that is physically impossible.” LeDoux argues that we can use imagination in creative ways to envision how to make our lives better, or we can use imagination for less productive activities such as worrying about outcomes.
If you consider anxiety to be a frequent challenge to your personal life, the Congregational Care Ministry Team invites you to consider participating in any one of a number of weekly offerings:
Prayer Group in the Parlor Room every Monday afternoon at 1:30 led by Aletha Silcox;
Silent Meditation Group in the sanctuary every Monday afternoon at 5:30 led by Peter Scaturro;
Guided Labyrinth Walk in the outdoor Labyrinth every Friday afternoon at 5:30 led by Burke Owens; or
Each One Bring One!
“Give me 100 people who fear only the brokenness of this world and who desire only the love of God, and we will change everything…..” John Wesley
God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near in this way of life, marking by baptism in the three-fold name: Creator, Word, Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:18-19 (The Message)
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We are entering a powerful new time as a Christian community! As our culture struggles through economic and moral difficulties, the faith we have in God through Jesus Christ stands clearly above the storm.
For us the issues are clear. We are called to a community of love and grace. We are pulled into a ministry of justice and compassion. We are privileged to be part of a community where everyone gets to be accepted exactly as they are.
And we are, as the Gospel of Matthew says, “commissioned” to go near and far to invite people into this “way of life.”
It’s about this “Great Commission” that I write today. I wish to invite, to challenge, to call you to make a commitment to bring one person to Christ in the coming year. One. Just one.
That’s the call. That’s the covenant into which I invite you. Bring one person into Christian community at Napa First United Methodist Church in the next twelve months.
Our hope is that we will get one thousand people in The Bridges District to make this covenant. Imagine. One thousand new folks with hearts on fire!
And the best part is that we’ve already received 22 people into membership at Napa First since January 1st! This is up from a total of 5 new members during the entire previous year!!
Thanking you for your deep faith and your commitment to building God’s community in this place, I am
Yours in Christ,
District Superintendent Schuyler Rhodes
P.S. – A word from Methodism’s founder:
GRAPE Express New Adventure
From your Fun and Fellowship Committee
Sunday, August 3rd is the day all you pancake lovers have been waiting for! It's our annual Pancake Breakfast in the Kagawa Room. There will be pancakes, fruit, coffee, juice, and even Gluten Free pancakes upon request!
FUN & FELLOWSHIP PRESENTS:
SUNDAY the 3rd of AUGUST 2014
8:30 AM in the Kagawa Room
Pancakes, fruit, coffee, juice,
and gluten-free pancakes on request.
$5.00 each or $15.00 per family. Proceeds help to fund the church picnic.
***Every Monday - Silent Meditation at 5:30 p.m.
in our Sanctuary
SUNDAY the 24th of August 2014
1:00 PM – Kennedy Park
Mulberry II Section
Fun & Fellowship will provide hot dogs, hamburgers, all the fixings, utensils and
plates -- and water.
Please bring a side-dish or dessert to share.
It would be a good idea to bring a comfy
camp chair too.
There will be games.
SPEAKING OF GOD
A few weeks ago the congregation chose six words we felt were worthy of exploration and to be later published in a daily devotions guide. We have a couple dozen writers already committed but we can use more: six words x seven days a week makes forty-two entries.
The words are: atonement, faith, grace, hope, mercy, and wisdom. We are interested in hearing from as many of the congregation as possible with personal responses regarding what the word means to you and how your understanding affects how you live your life. If this is something you’d like to participate in, please contact Pat Hitchcock and Michael Herzog to select a word -- or if a particular word is already fully subscribed -- to be assigned one. (Pat and Michael will be traveling on vacation at various times so play it safe and direct your enquiries to both.)
There is a 250 word maximum, and scriptural support can be part of what you have to say. We will reference any scripture you choose but will not print it as part of your reflection (except brief quotes). Electronic submission is not required, but will certainly make the task of compiling the booklet easier.
Pat and Michael are happy to offer editing assistance as requested or appropriate. It is our intention to catch misspellings and grammatical errors, but not to alter what you have to say. The goal of the project is to share multiple views of Christian concepts that may sometimes get in the way of our living or sharing our faith with others, and be a starting place for conversation with the people of this congregation with whom we share the Christian journey.
In order to produce a devotions guide for distribution in September, we would appreciate your submissions by 13 August.
Exploring Membership Dinner
August 3, 5-7 pm
Parsonage, 3321 Sunview Court
Are you thinking about becoming a member of First United Methodist? Do you have questions or concerns? Would you just like to get to know our Pastor and others who are or are interested in becoming members? Are you up for a congenial light supper with friends?
Join us for our Exploring Membership Dinner!!!! We are creating a warm, loving, spiritual community and we want you to join us on this journey! We can guarantee fun, interesting conversation, tasty light supper and responses to your questions.
If this date doesn't suit, the next one will be the first Sunday in October, October 5.
Come and join us for the August Unit Meeting & Buffet!!
August 21st - 6 p.m. - Fellowship Hall
Program: "Sharing Your Faith by Sharing Your Story"
In preparation, please think of a person who has been a
Mentor to you in your lifetime. Bring a picture of that person
and share with us! We will make a "Living Timeline" of the
people who have had an influence on us. See the examples below.
A UTube video one woman made to honor her Mentor, her mother.
August UMW meetings
17th - 8:30 a.m. Sarah Crosby Circle (change of time - before church)
in the Deborah Room - Come and join us!!
21st - 6:00 p.m. August Unit Meeting - Fellowship Hall
Installation of Officers
Program: "Sharing Your Faith by Sharing Your Story"
"Bring a photograph of one of your Mentors in life"
Speaker: Aletha Silcox, Joan Feury, & Patty Renfrow
Sunday Worship Service: 9:30 am—Sanctuary
Fusion Contemporary Worship Service: 11:00 am—Asbury Room
Monday Silent Meditation Group—5:30 pm—Sanctuary
Friday Labyrinth Meditation Walk—5:30 pm
Adult Bible Study Group—10:45 am—Parlor
GRAPE Express—3 years through 5th grade—9:50-Visual Vineyards
Youth Group—Every Sunday—Jr. Hi—4:30-6:00—Hi School—5:30-7:00*
*During the summer months there are no regular meetings
Visit us on Facebook—Napa First United Methodist Church
Pastor: Rev. Lee Neish
Lay Leaders: Barbara Thompson & Mark Andersen
Lay Speaker: Michael Herzog
Office Manager: Dianne Mahler
Director of Music: Jan Lanterman
Organist: Harold Julander
Director of Cathedral Choir: Jan Lanterman
Director of Bonner Bells: Diane Levorsen
First United Methodist Church ~625 Randolph St.~ Napa 94559~ (707)253-1411
You are welcome to visit us on Facebook: Napa First United Methodist Church