An Important Message from Bishop Tracy S. Malone to EOC Clergy & Laity
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I have become aware that many pastors and laity of our United Methodist congregations here in the East Ohio Conference are being harmed by the local chapter of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA). As your bishop, I want you to know that I am grieved by the harm that you have been caused.
The WCA is attempting to divide The United Methodist Church. Its latest attempt is a letter that the WCA of this East Ohio region sent to many of our United Methodist congregations. The letter – making erroneous claims about The United Methodist Church – was specifically addressed to local church admin. chairs and lay leaders inviting them to attend a meeting to discuss disaffiliation … to discuss leaving The United Methodist Church. It is inappropriate for anyone associated with the WCA to send any information to a congregation without prior knowledge or permission from the church pastor.
The solicitation emails and the active recruitment by the WCA is disrespectful and unethical … it lacks integrity, respect, and regard for the pastors of our churches, the members of our churches, and the ministry of your local church.
Beloved, it is important now, more than ever, especially in this season in the life of our United Methodist Church that we each commit ourselves to embodying John Wesley’s rule of life … do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
The United Methodist Church has been instrumental in the shaping and forming of your personal faith and has helped to resource and support your church’s mission and witness in the world. The United Methodist Church will continue to be your partner in ministry as we proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ and be a public witness to God’s love, grace and hope in the world. The United Methodist Church will continue to be a church that is grace filled and that celebrates the beautiful diversity that makes us who we are … a Church where everyone has a place and knows that they are deeply loved and that they belong.
Council of Bishops
A Call to Prayer and Action in Response to Gun Violence
We are called as United Methodist Bishops to respond to the devastation and disruption due to gun violence. Communities around the world are traumatized, we are facing a global and national health crisis, and children, families, and communities are left with emotional scars that beg for angels of mercy and the healing balm of Gilead.
The Bible declares in Exodus 20:13 “Thou shall not kill” – yet gun violence continues to escalate. In 2021 and 2022, 43 million more guns were sold in the United States, in addition to the 400 million guns already owned. As of June 2022, the United States has experienced over 300 mass shootings in this year alone. Gun violence is more than a U.S. problem. Across the globe, 44% of all homicides involve guns. According to Amnesty International, 2,000 people are injured every day by gun shots and more than 500 of them die. The Church is called to be an instrument of God’s grace. As people of prayer, we followers of Jesus are called to be “counter-cultural change makers.” To that end, we must reject the idolatry of guns and the distorted attachment to our right to own guns without safeguards for the communities of the world.
This is a call to prayer, beginning this September, for all who follow Jesus, the Prince of Peace. This is a call to action for all to weep with those who weep and demand, insist on, and push for positive change from our elected officials. As United Methodists we have made our claim for a more excellent way to live and bring change. “As followers of Jesus, called to live into the reality of God’s dream of shalom as described by Micah, we must address the epidemic of gun violence so ‘that he may teach us his ways and the way we may walk in God’s paths.’ Therefore, we call upon United Methodists to prayerfully address gun violence in their local context.” (Book of Resolution #3428 2016)
BSA & The UMC
Current Boy Scout Charters & Facility Use Agreements Continue Until December 31
Please review these updates from Updates from the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and The United Methodist Church (UMC):
- All current charters and facility use agreements that are in use now are to continue until BSA completes the new agreement with the church. Dec. 31, 2022.
- Churches may use the facility use agreement as a stand-alone document if the church is allowing BSA to use the facilities. The BSA insurance provisions will be included when the facilities use agreement is being used.
- If a church is using the new agreement, it is the standard agreement for all UM congregations and is not to be modified. If there are questions about modification, they should be sent to Steven Scheid at GCUMM.
- There is an interim agreement to extend the protections to the church while the transitions are finished. BSA and the General Commission on United Methodist Men (GCUMM) have executed it to protect your church.
Church Websites 411
The Communications pages of the Conference website have been updated to include new information about creating church websites and keeping them current. Remember that people will visit your church website before they visit your church. You want to highlight the ministries and the weekly worship services of your church in a clear, concise, and consistent way. Visit the Church Websites 411 page for:
- information that should be included on every church website and every church office voicemail message,
- guidance about the types of photos that should be posted on the site,
- links to website resources, and
- a link to information about available UMC-themed WordPress website templates for those churches that do not yet have a site or are looking to redesign their current site.
Social Media 411
This new resource page has been added to the Communications pages of the Conference website. Visit the Social Media 411 page to learn:
- best practices for creating social media posts that do no harm and that do good,
- best practices for posting to Facebook, and guidance for how many times per day that you should post to your ministry page on that platform,
- best practices for posting to Instagram, and guidance for how many times per day that you should post to your ministry page on that platform,
- best practices for posting to Twitter, and guidance for how many times per day that you should post to your ministry page on that platform, and
- best practices for posting to TikTok and Snapchat.
Advent Webinar with Adam Hamilton and Susan Robb – September 15
Advent is a time of waiting, preparation, and celebration. At 2:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, September 15 Amplify Media will host a webinar with Adam Hamilton and Susan Robb offering insight on these two new Advent resources:
- Prepare the Way for the Lord: Advent and the Message of John the Baptist by Adam Hamilton explores the Advent themes of John’s life and ministry, and how John calls all followers of Jesus to prepare our hearts for his coming.
- The Angels of Christmas: Hearing God’s Voice in Advent by Susan Robb explores the four angelic visits surrounding the birth of Jesus with Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, and the shepherds.
AC 2022 Offering of $12,713 Will Support Local, National & International Ministries
Thank you to all the pastors, laity, congregations, and faith communities who contributed to the Annual Conference 2022 offering, which collected $12,713! The offering has been evenly distributed to support these three ministries selected by the AC Program Committee:
- EOC Fund 1301 supporting United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) in sowing seeds of hope and empowering communities during times of disaster and suffering.
- The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland, a Health & Well-Being organization of the East Ohio Conference, in providing community enhancement, home maintenance, and targeted programming to refugees, the elderly, disabled persons, and people without shelter, food, and clothing.
- The Bishop’s Discretionary Fund used by Bishop Tracy S. Malone in supporting ministry needs that impact countless lives each year.
Portico Online Learning Platform
The Connectional Ministries team is pleased to offer East Ohio Conference clergy and laity the opportunity to learn and grow by engaging in online courses offered via the Portico platform, named for a place where people gathered to learn in ancient times.
You can create a free Portico login to access online courses created by the East Ohio Conference Connectional Ministries office team, as well as content created by other UMC conferences. The online format allows learners to take courses when their schedule permits and to move at their own pace. Those learners can then meet in-person to study a topic more deeply and to nurture relationships.
Lay Servant Ministries Scheduling Fall Training Opportunities
John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Movement, used lay persons to preach, conduct worship, lead studies, and visit the sick and imprisoned. Today, those involved in Lay Ministry are charged to witness, lead, and have their service inspire others to a deeper commitment to Christ and more effective discipleship. Take a moment now to learn more about Lay Servant Ministries and consider participating in one of the Basic and Advanced Lay Servant trainings offered in September, October, and November.
For questions about ministries of the Connectional Ministries office, please e-mail the Rev. Ed Fashbaugh, executive director of Connectional Ministries, or visit the Connectional Ministries pages of the Conference website.
Bridges Out of Poverty Cohort Starts September 14
Beginning Wednesday, September 14 (11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) and continuing twice a month on Wednesdays until March 2023, the Missions & Community Engagement team of the Connectional Ministries office will host a Bridges Out of Poverty virtual cohort. The cohort will be an in-depth book study of Bridges Out of Poverty Strategies for Professionals and Communities, 5th Edition.
Bridges Out of Poverty champions alliances of support and helps individuals and communities that are ready to break free of poverty. Rather than create reliance, Bridges communities create new understanding, skills, resources, and motivation. Participants will meet via Zoom to read, discuss, and investigate opportunities for Bridges implementation within their communities. The cohort size will be capped at 20 people, so we ask that only one participant per church/agency/mission site register. The cohort is free, but participants are required to purchase the Bridges books.
Learn About EarthKeepers Creation Care – September 21
Rev. Bob and Anita Dygert-Gearhart from Spokane, WA will present their UMC EarthKeeper project Wake Up World, A Comprehensive Introduction to the Climate Crisis for Faith Communities at 7:00 p.m. on September 21 at Church of the Saviour UMC. The presenters will show participants how to facilitate their course of study for individuals, Bible studies, and Sunday schools. Attend the event in-person at the church (2537 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights 44118) or join on Zoom. To request the Zoom link, e-mail Kevin Schaner, EOC secretary of Global Ministries.
Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland Fundraiser – September 23
Christian Comedian Dorie McLemore will headline a fundraiser for the Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, September 23. Cost is $20/ticket.
The Nehemiah Mission of Cleveland (EOC Advance Fund 9136) relies heavily on the generosity of donors to fund its programs. The Mission currently needs donations of: diapers & wipes; Chrome books & smart phones reset to factory setting; car seats & booster seats; $10 Giant Eagle gift cards; new bed pillows; sanitary feminine pads; new socks in sizes youth medium to large; and shoes in older youth sizes 5-7. To schedule a drop off, please e-mail the Nehemiah Mission or call the office at (440) 552-5093.
UMCOR Cleaning Kit Drive – October 24-30
You can help United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) replenish its supply of cleaning kits, 3,00 of which were distributed to the regions of Kentucky impacted by deadly flooding. Information about how to assemble a cleaning kit and the locations of drop-off sites established in the East Ohio Conference are posted below and on the Missions Training and Events page of the Conference website. The collected cleaning kits will be delivered to the Eastbrook Mission Barn in PA, the closest UMCOR distribution center. The district that donates the most cleaning kits or items will receive a $500 UMVIM scholarship for someone who wants to be a part of a disaster team deployment.
UMCOR Cleaning Kit Drive – November 28-December 4
The Conference will also host an UMCOR cleaning kits and Christmas collection for Midwest Mission Distribution Center (MMDC) November 28-December 4. MMDC is requesting UMCOR cleaning kits and hygiene kits, baby diapers, simple musical instruments, and sports balls. Drop off sites are still yet to be determined but don’t wait, start working with your congregations and community partners now to be the hands and feet of Jesus and meet this need!
For questions about Missions & Community Engagement ministries and opportunities, please e-mail the Rev. Kathy Dickriede, Connectional Ministries office Missions & Community Engagement director, or visit the Missions & Community Engagement pages of the Conference website.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Resource
To help clergy and laity lean more about and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday, October 10, the Multicultural Ministries team in the Connectional Ministries office has created the resource: All in God’s Image: A Study in the History of Indigenous Peoples Unit 1: What Is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?
The downloadable resource has activity ideas designed help you, your family, and/or your church/organization learn more about who Indigenous Peoples are; how Indigenous Peoples’ Day is celebrated around the world; and how the East Ohio Conference has begun to recognize the history and contributions of Native Americans. Using the resource creates opportunities for learning and growing with people closest to you, as well as with people across the East Ohio Conference.
Perspectives: Black Theologian Day – October 8
Reaching Across the Racial Divide is the theme for Perspectives: Black Theologian Day 2022 to be held at Strongsville UMC from 9:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 8.
Cousins Betty Kilby Baldwin and Phoebe Kilby will share their experiences of discovering they are connected through slavery and then embarking on a path toward reconciliation and reparation. Their presentation will draw on lessons from their 2021 book, Cousins: Connected through slavery, A Black woman and a White woman discover their past – and each other. The cousins are living out a dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that the children of former slaves and the children of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table in fellowship.
Perspectives: Black Theologian Day 2022 participants will learn ways to reach across the racial divide and work toward racial reconciliation in their personal lives, in their churches, and throughout their communities.
For questions about Multicultural Ministries opportunities, please e-mail Will Fenton-Jones, Connectional Ministries office Multicultural Ministries director, or visit the Multicultural Ministries pages of the Conference website.
Young People’s Ministries
Helping Young People Hear God at Church
If you are a leader of young people, you will want to register for this insightful online course offered by BeADisciple.com. The course will teach participants how to create a church environment that actively talks about and encourages a sense of calling in young people. By the end of this course, you’ll know specific practices that encourage others to expect and be excited about God’s call, how to encourage a move from passive to active faith in your congregation, and how to make it clear to both young people and adults that God is speaking to them.
For questions about Young People’s Ministries opportunities, please e-mail Kaye Wolfinger, Connectional Ministries office Young People’s Ministries director, or visit the Young People’s Ministries pages of the Conference website.
Camps & Retreat Ministries
Bishop Tracy S. Malone to Preach at Camp Wanake 75th Anniversary – September 10
You are Invited to Camp Wanake Saturday, September 10 to celebrate 75 years of ministry at the camp. This celebration is free for the whole family. Bishop Malone will bring a message during the anniversary celebration at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Events that day begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 10:00 p.m. with a campfire. Come for part or all of the day – or make plans to stay for the entire weekend, Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11.
From fellowship around tables in the dining hall, to laughter and splashing at the pool, and songs of praise that echo through Vesper Hill at twilight, God’s love has been made real to campers and staff at Wanake for 75 years. We look forward to celebrating with you all that Camp Wanake has meant, the ministry that continues today, and the ways that we can share God’s love in the future. Revisit the places around camp that are special to you, reconnect with friends, roast a marshmallow, paddle on Lake Arnold, and do the pattycake polka at the barn riot. If you have questions about the celebration and/or want to RSVP for the day or the weekend, e-mail Camp Wanake or call the office at (330) 756-2333.
For questions about Camps & Retreat Ministries opportunities, please e-mail the Rev. Gary Jones, Connectional Ministries office Camps & Retreat Ministries director, or visit the Camps & Retreat Ministries pages of the Conference website.
QuickBooks is Again Available for Your Credit Union Accounts
We are aware that some of members of the Christian Family Credit Union have had issues accessing their accounts via the QuickBooks download. That issue has now been resolved, so members should be able to download their transaction register via QuickBooks online or desktop version. If you have any questions about this, please contact your local Christian Family Credit Union office. Thank you for your patience as we worked out this issue!
The Media Center highlights these new resources:
- So Long, Normal: Living and Loving the Free Fall of Faith looks at the obstacles of attachment to comfort and leads the way to learning how to trust our unknown future to a faithful God. Deep dive into biblical stories of people who wavered between God and earthly comfort. This study is for anyone who finds themselves paralyzed by fear in the inevitable changes of life.
- Out of the Cave: How Elijah Embraced God’s Hope When Darkness Was All He Could See shares that even when we’re walking closely with God, we can still stumble and get lost in the wilderness of tangled emotions, loneliness, and depression. Explore the story of the prophet Elijah to reveal how everyone is susceptible to feelings of depression. But Elijah’s story reveals that we don’t have to stay there! We serve a God who meets us in the darkness.
- How (Not) to Save the World: The Truth About Revealing God’s Love to the People Right Next to You crushes the lies that hold us back from sharing the most important story in the world. Discover what God’s Word actually says about revealing His love to the people right next to us, and how we are already equipped to reach those who don’t know how much God loves them (yet).
Message in the Movies
Thirteen Lives is a very good film that features a no-nonsense script by William Nicolson, evocative cinematography by Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, and the sure hand of director Ron Howard who supervised this project with all of the skill that was evident in 1995’s Apollo 13 and none of the missteps of Hillbilly Elegy.
Filmed in Thailand with dozens of Thai actors (and subtitled dialogue), Thirteen Lives highlights the race against time by British cave divers Rick Stanton (Mortenson) and John Volanthen (Farrell) to rescue a boys’ soccer team before imminent monsoon storms cut off the passageway entirely.
Celebrations of Life
Please pray for the families of:
- Elnora K. Wells, surviving spouse of the Rev. Robert N. Wells, died July 28.
- Charles Ferrell, retired Elder, died August 11.
To submit the obituary of an EOC clergy, clergy spouse, or surviving spouse, family should contact Melissa McGee, executive secretary to the Bishop, by phone at (330) 499-3972 ext. 112 or via e-mail.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO) – The Desert Southwest Conference of The UMC
- Organist – Lakeside UMC
- Church Pianist – Trinity UMC in Mt. Gilead
- Church Administrator – Bay UMC in Bay Village
- Pianist – Fields UMC in North Ridgeville
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