The polls will close on November 3. If you have not already voted, I encourage you to do so.
Voting is not only a right but a civic responsibility. Resolution 5012 of The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church 2016 states, “While declaring our ultimate allegiance is to God, Scripture recognizes that faithfulness to God requires political engagement by the people of God.” Voting can be an act of discipleship. Voting for policies and individuals that embody our shared values of beloved community, peace and justice is one way we give witness to our faith and engage our faith in the world to bring about God’s kingdom on earth as it in in heaven.
No matter the outcome of the election, let us remember that as disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to be front line workers in these unparalleled and uncertain times. We are called to continue to proclaim and to work for peace, justice and the welfare for all of God’s beloved children.
Council of Bishops
Bishops Issue Statement on Faith & Democracy
United Methodist bishops based in the United States issued a statement on Faith and Democracy, calling on the people of The United Methodist Church to support voter registration and encourage people to vote in the November 3 elections. The statement noted that the U.S. is undergoing a national crisis precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and racism, and the economic consequences of both.
“In these crises we are reminded that our religious faith and our nation’s principles support elections that faithfully reflect the will of the American people. Our faith in God who created all people in the divine image, and our hope that our nation can live into the aspirations of our founding ideals, lead us to pledge ourselves to the fullest expansion of this right to vote,” the statement said.
Teach • Reach • Bless
Saturation Sunday is November 15
In January we began the public phase of the East Ohio Conference Teach • Reach • Bless campaign to raise and collect $1.5 million to build and furnish a new dorm for female students on the campus of Africa University. The dorm will enable more female students to live on campus, meaning they will not need to find off-campus housing and commute to class – situations that make them vulnerable to untenable situations.
On Saturation Sunday, November 15 pastors, congregations and faith communities of the East Ohio Conference are asked to share the story of Africa University and the positive impact the Teach • Reach • Bless campaign will have on the lives of female AU students. If your church cannot observe Saturation Sunday on November 15, church leadership is encouraged to designate a future Sunday on which to observe this special service. Worship resources for Saturation Sunday have been created by East Ohio Conference clergy and lay leadership and by the Africa University Development office. Please note that you do not need internet access in your church sanctuary to utilize the resources.
2021 HealthFlex Benefits Enrollment Ends Nov. 12
Enrollment for 2021 HealthFlex benefits began October 28 and ends Thurs., Nov. 12. Enrollment resources can be found on the personal HealthFlex WebMD pages of participants and on the Health Benefits page of the Conference website. HealthFlex is more than a health insurance plan. It’s a comprehensive approach to healthier living – an integrated, wellness-driven health program offered through The United Methodist Church general agency Wespath Benefits & Investments.
Pastors appointed at 75% time or more are eligible for HealthFlex benefits, as are lay employees of local churches and district offices who work at least 30 hours per week. If you have questions about enrollment, please call (330) 499-3972 and dial ext. 103 for Betsy Stewart or ext. 151 for Robin Whitacre. You may also e-mail Betsy or e-mail Robin.
Finance & Benefits
Nov. 16 Deadline for Filing BSA Proof of Claim
Many of our East Ohio Conference churches are currently serving, or previously have served, as a chartering organization for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), which involves signing an agreement with the BSA that codifies an association between the local church and the local troop. Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for bankruptcy in February, an act that disrupts many of the promises BSA made as part of that chartering agreement. It is imperative that the church act immediately to maintain balance in this agreement before the courts resolve the bankruptcy. The bankruptcy filing comes at a time when hundreds of individuals have filed sex-abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America. BSA has set-up a victim compensation fund with the participation of its insurance carrier.
It makes sense for churches that serve or served as chartering organizations for the BSA to file a Proof of Claim form to secure protection for the church and provide access to compensation funds for any possible victims. Proof of Claim forms must be filed no later than November 16.
Advent Resource Added to Stand Against Racism Page
The General Commission on Religion & Race has created a new small group study entitled Seeking Jesus, The Advent of Justice and Peace. Beginning with Sunday, Nov. 29, and continuing through Sunday, Dec. 27, you will find everything you need to celebrate the Advent season in a deep, meaningful, and inclusive way – from lectionary texts to sermons, to suggested hymns and songs, to children’s messages and hands-on, age-appropriate activities, and more.
Young People’s Ministries
Youth Leaders Network Recharge
This month and next join via Zoom with others who work with teens and/or young adults to share ideas, fellowship, and pray and support one another in ministering to and with young Christians in our Conference.
- Nov. 3 & 17 and Dec. 1 & 15 all at 7:00 p.m.
- Nov. 5 & 19 and Dec. 3 & 17 all at noon.
You are also encouraged to follow practicallyhonest4u on Instragram or Facebook for Young People’s Ministries updates. E-mail Kaye Wolfinger, director of Young People’s Ministries, with any questions.
This Christmas Support Midwest Mission Distribution Center
East Ohio Conference Missions seeks to support ministries with which we can develop relationships and partnerships that are healthy and that seek justice for the recipients of their work. That is why we encourage all EOC congregations and faith communities to collect items for Midwest Mission Distribution Center (MMDC), a distribution center for United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Donated items can be dropped off November 29 – December 6 at collection sites that have been established in each East Ohio Conference district and financial donations may be made to Fund 9944.
Canton Calvary Mission Looking for Volunteers
Canton Calvary Mission is a Health & Welfare agency of the East Ohio Conference. The mission is asking for volunteers to assist with much-needed cleaning, repairs and organization of its facility space as leadership prepares to serve a community in need next year by offering its food pantry and twice-a-week hot meals ministries, its backpacks-for-kids program, and much more.
Volunteers are needed for:
- Pantry set-up – Tuesdays from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
- Pantry distribution – Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Hot meal setup – Tuesdays from 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
- Hot meal distribution – Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Work groups are also needed during November and December to clean-out rooms in the building, interior paining, and organizing areas so that the Mission will be ready to serve in 2021. Wear a mask and invite family, friends, church groups, and co-workers to lend a hand to help the Mission help others.
Canton Calvary Mission would also benefit from donations of contractor bags, paint and supplies, gloves, mops, and paper towels. Financial donations to EOC Fund 9151, also appreciated.
If you have questions, please call the Canton Calvary Mission at (330) 454-8610 or e-mail the office.
Mahoning Valley District
Ministry in the Midst of COVID
For over a year, the people of Ohltown UMC in Mineral Ridge have been reaching out to those in its community as part of the church’s No Strings Attached ministry. Congregation members hide gift cards or money inside grocery stores, gas stations, at the gym and in Walmart and Starbucks locations. Left with each gift is a note stating, “No strings attached just a little something to show God loves you.”
Recently the congregation purchased 50 $10.00 gift cards for the Pilot station and passed them out to the patrons. As people distributed them, they shared that God has blessed them abundantly and they would like to share that blessing with others. Pastor Teresa Smolka shares that recipients smiled and were very grateful for the church’s generosity.
“As we struggle to remain safe and isolated it can sometimes be easy to forget to reach out to others,” she said noting that the church has previously hosted a drive-thru harvest-fest for children and delivered much-needed blankets for the children’s hospital and hospice patients.
Veterans Day Office Hours
The North Canton office of the Christian Family Credit Union in the Conference Area Center will be open normal business hours on Veterans Day Wednesday, November 11. The Cincinnati and Indiana offices will be closed that day. Remember that members can always view share account balances, pay bills, and transfer funds anytime through our website or by using our mobile app.
Home Equity Loans
Christian Family Credit Union’s home equity line of credit (HELOC) affords members the ability to leverage the equity in their homes to fund a variety of needs, such as home repairs, debt consolidation, adoptions, and more. Apply online or contact one of our offices for more information.
The Media Center is featuring the following Advent resources:
- The Journey; Walking the Road to Bethlehem retraces the actual path of Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
- The Christmas Experience is for all of us that find ourselves feeling like it is always winter and never Christmas, we find out that we can always trust God’s timing.
- God Came Near; Insights on the Season of Advent reveals profound spiritual truths through vivid recreations of the first Christmas—and engaging stories about Simeon, Saint Nicholas, a shoebox, and more.
- Down to Earth: The Hopes & Fears of All the Years Are Met in Thee Tonight prepares us for God coming down as a helpless infant, and for Jesus the son of God intentionally positioning himself as a mere servant, identifying with the lowest of lows.
Message in the Movies
My Octopus Teacher
If you are feeling tired of being housebound during this prolonged period of voluntary isolation, let me recommend My Octopus Teacher, a straightforward movie that tells the simple story of Craig Foster, a nature photographer, who separates himself from his family (during a rough patch in his life) to get his head together.
Foster retreats to a beloved spot in his past – the Atlantic Ocean on the southern tip of South Africa – and begins snorkeling in the icy water. One day he observes a strange occurrence: a group of shells moving together. Slowly he notices that the creature hiding behind the camouflage is a small female octopus. Intrigued, he returns the next day to the same spot and watches the creature again. Over time, the octopus becomes more comfortable with him and allows him to get closer. Eventually Foster develops a friendship with the octopus and a relationship that will last for almost a year.
Please pray for the families of:
- Jeanne Garth, surviving spouse of the Rev. Lynn Garth, died October 11.
- Brian C. Briggs, retired Elder, died October 8.
View obituaries To submit the obituary of an EOC clergy, clergy spouse, or surviving spouse, family should contact Melissa McGee, executive secretary to the bishop’s office, by phone at (330) 499-3972 ext. 112 or via e-mail.
- Organist/Piano Accompanist – Wedgewood UMC in Akron
- Audio/Visual Director – Willoughby UMC
- Director of Christian Education – Willoughby UMC
- Building Supervisor – Thoburn UMC in St. Clairsville
- Church Caretaker – Hudson UMC
- Allen Spinet Organ available for free
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