Unchurched


A little known history fact is that I believed that The Flash was real.  I was always skeptical of Santa

Image but I was convinced that The Flash was the secret to kids all over the world receiving gifts in just one night. I really believed that Santa was just the front man to this multinational conspiracy to keep the identity of The Flash a secret. When my parents told me that Santa wasn’t real I was ok because I still believed in The Flash. I had been to church every year and heard the Christmas story.  I even was in a couple of Christmas plays.  As I turned 10 the reality of Jesus, Santa and the Flash became crystal clear and my world didn’t fall apart.

Another little known history fact is that until last year I had no credible proof that the legends, legacy or institution of Santa had any basis in reality.  I was privileged to visit the Cathedral of St. Nicholas and hear for the first time the story of Bishop Nicholas (http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/who-is-st-nicholas/)  Although not the image of fables, and commercial Christmas portrayals there was a bishop who cared for the poor and the children with compassion as an expression of God’s love.

I say this because these realities have informed my life and none of them have shaken my faith in Jesus. Parents who are disciples of Jesus Christ have been debating if they should introduce Santa, when they should tell their children that the only story is the story at the manger.  There is some truth to the legends of real person who loved the poor and children because of his love of God.  He cared for the poor and defenseless because of his beliefs.  He sold all that he had and took gifts to the impoverished of his time. This is the man that the legend of St. Nick aka Santa Claus is based on.  Some man getting in a sleigh with Reindeer pulling around the world in 24 hours is false.  Parents spend too much and work real hard to make and spend money to bring their children and loved ones happiness.  I believe that the greatest gifts of the Christmas season are not purchased in stores but nurtured in the relationships of family, friends and loved ones. There are days when I still believe The Flash conspiracy is real. (Yes I will ask Olivia Pope to investigate)

This doesn’t replace, diminish or alter the impact of greatest event in human history,  the miracle of Jesus being born of a virgin as a part of God’s grand plan to save humanity.

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:15-20

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

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“An 11-Step Religious Guide To Sabotaging Your Life:
By Jim Palmer

http://jimpalmerblog.com/

1. Begin with the premise that there is something hopelessly and incurably wrong with you.
2. Believe that your humanity is an affront to God, and an obstacle to overcome and an evil to repress or eradicate.
3. Pin your hopes on the afterlife, and don’t get  too attached to the here life.
4. Mistrust what you most deeply think and feel.
5. Give others the power and authority to determine what your beliefs, values, opinions, goals, desires and views are.
6. Fear, reject, condemn and close yourself off from anything that doesn’t fit with what you got in #5.
7. Focus on behavior modification, checklists, do’s and don’ts, appearances, obedience, and keeping the rules when it comes to living your life.
8. Make everything black and white.
9. Make sure everything and everyone in life is assigned a label or put into a box.
10. Label science and psychology as “secular,” “carnal,” or “worldly,” and stay away from it.
11. Consider talk of love, unity, harmony, peace, beauty and oneness as foolish or dangerous.”

– Jim Palmer

For immediate release August 14, 2013

Media contact: Donna Dodson  (410) 945-8397
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FORMAN JOINS INFINITE GRACE FELLOWSHIP LEADERSHIP TEAM

Dr.  Scheherazade W. Forman has joined the leadership team of Infinite Grace Fellowship of the Baltimore-Washington Conference. Dr. Scheherazade W. Forman will begin her ministry with Infinite Grace on July 1. The church is located at 5130 Greenwich in Baltimore, on the city’s historic “40 West” corridor.

Dr. Forman, a native of Newark, NJ, was formerly co-pastor of Grace Renewed Community Church, in Baltimore, where the mission was to restore men to their families and unite the family around Christ.

During her time in ministry, Scheherazade has served in the children and youth ministries, music ministry, women’s ministry, marriage ministry and pastoral counseling.

“In 1 Peter 5:10 God promises He will strengthen and settle us. God has given me a passion for the family. My devotion to God and commitment to relationships drives me to foster restoration of families.”

Forman is married to Rev. Anthony L. Forman and they have seven children and six grandchildren. Her educational background includes a bachelor and master degree from the University of Maryland, University College and a doctorate from Morgan State University with training at the International Harvest Bible Training Center.

The Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church is comprised of 694 congregations with nearly 200,000 members. It is the home of Methodism in America, with the founding of the denomination at Lovely Lane Chapel in 1784.

 

Image“My greatest hope as a campus pastor of  Infinite Grace Fellowship is to, “authentically” minister to those Believers and Non-Believers who have been “Beat up and set aside” by the World. My deepest concern is inspire Youth and Young Adults to draw closer to Christ, majorly focusing on Young Men.  My prayer is that by the Grace and Sovereignty of God, their eyes open wide enough for them to see and receive God’s Majesty and they will feel led to leave the World, and cling to God.”

~Isaiah Redd, Sr. ~

Campus Pastor, Infinite Grace Fellowship

BY KATE THOMAS

Sundays have typically been the day of rest. Truthfully, most Christians today no longer take the day to give back to God. It’s about time we reclaimed this sacred day, not just for God, but in the spirit of Jesus’ teachings – to love unconditionally and spend time with those who are impoverished.  

Sunday is the perfect day to do a churchwide mission day at least once or twice a year for a few reasons:

1. People who attend church are already available.
2. It sets the tone for “church” to take place outside the church walls.
3. It provides connectedness with the entire church community in a way that could never be as widespread as Sunday morning.

How do we make this transition, you ask? It’s really quite simple once you realize your church probably already has the infrastructure to pull off a mission Sunday. You can harness some of the already existing groups (UMM, UMW, youth, Sunday School, small groups, mission team, church council, etc.) to each find a local mission project that church members can attend. Make sure to be specific about how many people you think might participate in each project, timing, directions, and choosing a team leader. Or this might be a time for anyone passionate about mission to shine. Either way, it’s helpful to have a team of people, each coordinating the details for the different projects.

Some other things to keep in mind:

1. Have a signup sheet for each project; two or three Sundays prior will help you predict your numbers.
2. Make sure to accommodate additional church members who will show up without signing up. Have projects that can take additional people or come up with additional projects that can have unlimited numbers.
3. Have a variety of projects for different ages, physical capabilities and interests.
4. Consider a gathering time before going out to serve. This could include a few upbeat songs and a prayer as well as a time for offering. The “sermon” will be your service to God.
5. Following the mission activities, it could be a great time for a church potluck, with some sharing time about the projects.
6. Set up for easy traffic flow at church. Make sure to have a meeting space for each of the projects before touching base for instructions and to carpool, and make sure to have details for those who haven’t signed up. This could be a bunch of tables in the fellowship hall with signs and descriptions as well as a handout at the door with all the projects. The short worship time before serving could take place in the same space.
7. Consider how your church can uniquely serve and Change the World in a meaningful way. Make this project your own.

Kate Thomas is senior productions coordinator for ACDI-VOCA and former graphic designer for the Baltimore Washington Conference

Saturday August 27th the Western Region of the Baltimore Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church held their Call to Action training session in three locations.  Here are the power points that we used.

Lay Leadership Presentation

Worship Presentation

Call to Action Overview

Small Groups Presentation

"If your church is not innovating, it is dying."

“Innovation is changing organizational systems to provide service or produce your product more effectively, efficiently or more profitably. When the organization is crystal clear about the new results that are expected, innovation thrives and eventually becomes a part of the DNA of the organization. The organization that constantly improves stretches, takes risks, and finds new ways of delivering excellence welcomes the changes that are involved with innovation.”

This was a journal entry during the time that I was in a class on creativity and organizational development.  I look at many of the mainline churches in America and realize that the concept of constant innovation is not embedded in their DNA.  Many of these congregations are declining and struggling to reach new people, grow disciples and maintain the active fellowship. They run programs and hold events but never address the systems in the church that produced the challenges that they are currently facing.

Designing intentional systems of faith sharing, stewardship, discipleship, and worship design are essential for a church to be relevant and vital in the 21st century.  Churches that are more concerned with having church in a way that appeases the wants and desires of church members rather than intentionally designing systems to reach the prodigal sons and daughters are voting to close their doors.

There are more prodigals outside the church than disciples who are in our churches.

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