June 5-8, 2016, Lakeside, Ohio
by Bob Wilson
Greetings, Brothers and Sisters, once again I had the privilege to be your delegate to The West Ohio Annual Conference at Lakeside, Ohio. This year completes our theme: Taken, Blessed, Broken, Given, with a special focus on “being given.”
Linda and I arrived at Lakeside and went at once to register and receive our I.D. badges. Since we had brought 11 flood buckets with us that the Mission Team had put together, we asked where we could take them. Fortunately for us the U-Haul truck that we were told to take them to was only 10 feet from where we parked. “God is good!” We then were able to drive to our B & B and unpack.
The Laity session started at 5:30. The speaker was David Watson. The theme of his message was “Working It Out.” He has a child with “special needs.” I’m a guy who is working it out. Who are you? Christ in the incarnation took on “human weakness.” We should do the same because 1 in 5 lives with a disability. After the message we elected a new conference lay leader.
At 7:30 the West Ohio Annual Conference officially started. Bishop Palmer made the announcement as a procession started down the main aisle of Hoover Auditorium. The procession was a “New Orleans” style dirge with people walking and carrying umbrellas and a jazz band playing “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.” The main part of the session consisted of communion and “The Roll Call of the Victorious” which had the names of clergy and spouses who had passed the previous year. As each name was read, a bell sounded and a candle was lit. Two of the names I recognized were Rev. Dennis Heffner and Lavonne Gearhart. Bishop Palmer gave a message called “Be Strong!” One of the next songs we sang was “When We All Get to Heaven.” Imagine 2,500 people singing and praising God together. As the session was closing, the procession walked back up the main aisle with the band playing and people singing “O When the Saints Go Marching In.” What a blessing!
Monday’s worship started at 10:30 with a hymn sing. The speaker was Dr. Gregory Jones from Duke University. The theme of his message was “Forgiveness and Reconciliation.” He talked about a woman in Africa named Maggie who had survived a raid by rebel soldiers. She started a series of clinics where children could go who had been in situations like hers. When Dr. Jones finally met her, he was humbled to be in the presence of a woman who was responsible for raising over 10,000 children and educating over 30,000. One of the things she said was, “God’s love made me an inventor.” One of the scriptures that was included in his message was Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” He used this verse to describe what Maggie has done over the years. We then had a lunch break.
At 1:30 general session began. Many reports were issued and approved.
Recommendation #1 – The Mission and Ministry Funding Plan was discussed and approved by voting from the delegates. A report on Imagine No Malaria was given by Dave Boling. Over 3 million dollars was collected by West Ohio last year and over 6 million by UMC in the U.S. Before our fund drive, 1 child would die every 30 seconds from malaria. This year,1 child every 2 minutes would die. 350,000 lives have been saved so far and 2.3 million nets have been given protecting 7 million lives in the Sub-Sahara. Bishop Ntambo of the North Katanga District, Democratic Rep. Congo was there giving a personal report of the effectiveness of the Imagine No Malaria Campaign. We voted on Recommendation #2 – The Commission on Equitable Compensation which passed. We adjourned for dinner.
At 7:30 we met again in general session. A report on General Conference which meets every 4 years was given. Many resolutions were made and adopted. Other controversial issues were not. A committee made up of Bishops will study human sexuality issues. Also a report was given which showed how involved West Ohio was in many different ways. A theme of what went on at General Conference could be described as “Hear the call and lean into hope.” Bishop Palmer then gave an Episcopal Address which described “the elephant in the room.” One of his quotes was “I’m looking for a church whose love cannot be restrained” describing what Joseph felt when his brothers appeared before him in Egypt. We closed our session for the evening with the hymn, “Lord Plant My Feet On Higher Ground.”
Tuesday’s session started with a worship service at 9:00. The topic was New Church Starts. An offering was taken for this project with many churches contributing and many more making pledges for the coming year. New Zion gave $200 for this offering. Pastors from 5 of the new church starts this past year gave reports on what these new churches were doing and what areas and people they were reaching. I was skeptical at first because there are over 200 churches in central Ohio and over 1,000 in West Ohio. But after hearing these pastors speak, I feel this is a very worthwhile cause. Later in the morning, we heard a report on Recommendation #3 – Board of Pension and Health Benefits. 543 churches paid 100% of their apportionments. What a blessing that New Zion was one of them. A vote was taken and it was passed. In the UMC it has been 60 years since women have been able to be ordained. All the women pastors in the auditorium were asked to stand. They received a round of applause. We adjourned for lunch.
After lunch, we had a VBS presentation with children who were staying at Lakeside during conference. Later on we celebrated retiring pastors and others. Bishop Palmer gave an Episcopal Address. The Missional Report of The West Ohio Conference shows that the financial condition of the conference is good. The session was adjourned for the afternoon because later on that evening the ordination service and celebration would begin.
Wednesday’s session started with singing. “This is Amazing Grace”, “Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”, and “Cornerstone.” The message was given by Bishop Peggy Johnson. The theme of the message was about disabilities. She knew about this personally because at a young age she got a sickness that forced the doctors to remove one of her eyes. When she decided to go into the ministry, the first church she was sent to was a deaf church. It presented her with many challenges, but also made her aware and sensitive to their needs. One of her statements was “healing comes in many ways. We can heal by accessibility. Be open in your attitude and your heart.” Bishop Palmer and Bishop Ntambo of the North Kananga Conference UMC gave a report on Africa University. This year 850 men and women graduated from that university. Since it was founded, over 8,000 have graduated. In connectional giving, The West Ohio Conference gave $75,744 to Africa U. Recommendation #4 – Resolutions for the sale of Camp Asbury was debated and then went to a vote. The recommendation was passed. Recommendation #5 – Requesting a Study Regarding the Benefits & Costs of the MCCI (Missional Church Consultation Initiative) was debated and then went to a vote. The recommendation was passed. We then adjourned for lunch.
The afternoon session started with a report of the offering that was taken Tuesday for the “New Church Starts.” $74,000 was received and pledged in the coming year. A missional report was given and an attendance report taken for the week showed that 956 clergy, 892 laity, 190 spouses, and 240 visitors for a total of 2,278. Bishop Palmer gave some final remarks and then we all sang, “Standing on the Promises.” His closing benediction was:
Let us go now from this place, taken…blessed…broken…to be given. And may the blessings of almighty God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer be Upon you and remain with you always! Amen!
As I left the auditorium I felt like maybe heaven will be like this. We will worship and do God’s work shoulder to shoulder giving God all the glory.
by Pastor Rick Stuhmer
Summer is officially here as is the heat and humidity. Soon we will be celebrating our nation’s birthday with fireworks and picnics. In the calendar of the Christian year, we are in a long season of what is called ordinary time. There are no major Christian holidays to celebrate or to prepare for. It is the time in the valley compared to the mountain top experiences of Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. The color for the season is green which signifies growth. Usually, we are refreshed and revitalized by our mountain top experiences. They inspire us. They gives us a quick burst of awe which empowers us for the moment and may linger for a while, only to fade as we go back down the mountain and into the ordinary time.
But if we look at our lives, they aren’t sustained on the mountain tops. It happens in the valleys of life where we spend most of our time. It is there in the ordinary that we face temptation, that we taste the bitterness of our tears, that we struggle through trials, that we bear the burdens of life. It is there in the ordinary that we grow in our faith. It may be on the mountain top that we begin our journey with Jesus or we are called to go deeper in our relationship with Him, but it is in the valley that our relationship with Him is fleshed out.
Paul puts it this way in Romans 5, “Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love” (Romans 5:1-5 NLT).
It is in this ordinary time, in the midst of all the trials and tribulations that we face in our lives, whether small or humongous, where God is working on us. God is growing us. Whether it is cancer, an incurable disease, a traumatic health event, job loss, the death of a loved one, a marriage break up, or some other problem, they can strengthen our confident hope of salvation. It is this hope that will get us through.
Lying paralyzed from the neck down from Guillain Barre Syndrome, I was on a ventilator to help me breathe and had developed MRSA pneumonia. Somehow, while sedated and with plastic mitts on my hands, I pulled the ventilator tube and my oxygen level was at 97%. As the sedation wore off, I wanted to get back to my calling not realizing my inability to walk and that I had no motor skills. However, the struggle to learn to walk again at 52 years old developed endurance of spirit in me as I completely trusted God. That endurance produced character that strengthened my hope in God and His salvation. That hope has never let me down. I am constantly amazed at God’s faithfulness which makes having faith in Him so easy.
As we live in the ordinary and the difficulties of life, let us allow God to work in us the work that He wants to do. Let us not allow all our problems drag us down and make us bitter, but let us allow them be used to grow our character and strengthen our hope. This hope will not lead to disappointment. It will see us through all eternity.
Grace and peace,
by Rhonda Miller
Sunday, July 17 to Friday, July 29
Would you like to have a “family-friendly” camping experience this summer? Did you know that our church, New Zion, owns a cabin on the campgrounds at Stoutsville Camp close to Circleville? That’s right! The cabin is open to anyone from New Zion who wants to come and stay. Why not plan to bring your family down to camp and spend a day, a night, or even a week during Stoutsville Camp Meeting the last two weeks of July. There is NO CHARGE to come to the camp for your family, and we have a wonderful, cozy cabin on the grounds! OH, and did I mention, you don’t even have to pay for meals! All food for our cabin is donated.
This year camp officially begins Sunday evening, July 17th, and runs through Friday, July 29, 2016. Our church’s cabin will be open beginning Sunday afternoon, July 17th. We will have a light Sunday supper, served at 5 p.m. and dessert following the evening evangelistic service that starts at 6 p.m. on Sundays.
If you are not familiar with Stoutsville Camp, it is a non-denominational family church camp. There is a children’s Vacation Bible School from 10:30-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m. There are youth activities four times a day (10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and Ring Circle at 10 p.m.) (Youth must be going into the 7th grade to stay without parents. Children younger can stay with a parent). Afternoons hold recreational activities and tournaments like volleyball, soccer, basketball, and softball. There are also youth fun days, a youth band, a youth talent show, and special speakers.
Adults also have activities together like Bible studies, videos, and guest speakers. Each evening at 7 p.m. there is an evangelistic service, which all age groups attend, where guest evangelists come in from all over the country to speak.
Stoutsville Camp is a chance to join with other Christians in worshiping, playing and forming new friendships. Camp becomes a wonderful experience as we play, eat, socialize and worship together.
We are hoping that you can set aside a day, night, or week to come down and spend time at the camp. Additionally, if you can sign up to help keep the New Zion cabin open, please give Rhonda Miller a call (740-862-4921). In order to keep the cabin open, we need people willing to help prepare meals and oversee the routine at our cabin (including monitoring any youth who might be staying). We would love to have the cabin open all two weeks. If you have any questions about Stoutsville camp, please feel free to speak with any of our long-time Stoutsville campers such as Bob & Linda Wilson, Jared Bowers, Linda & Lauren Crouse, and Brenda Hanna.
Please begin praying for the camp, the workers, the youth, the evangelists, and everyone attending camp. Be sure to visit the camp website for pictures from last year’s camp. Go to www.stoutsvillecamp.com. The campgrounds are located in Stoutsville, Ohio at 11515 Main Street.
Vacation Bible School for 2016 has come to an end. Thank you so much for all the prayer, donations, and volunteer hours so many shared in this great event! The children did not want to go home!! By the end of the week, all children 2nd grade and older had accepted Jesus into their hearts!
by Margo Bader
June 24-25 | Friday/Saturday | 9-3 p.m.
Hansberger Street, Baltimore
Bring donations Thursday evening starting at 5:30 p.m. Call Geb or Margo Bader if you have any questions, 740.862.4775. This is in conjunction with the Baltimore Community Yard Sale.
by Margo Bader
Mark your calendar and save a date:
May 31 – June 4 (Tuesday-Saturday) | 9 – 6 p.m.
As part of the Mission Outreach and the traveling Mission Team, we will be doing a local mission outreach project at New Zion and in Baltimore this year. All members, friends and neighbors are welcome to participate. (Worker’s children ages 6 and up are welcome to attend. They love to help & we’ll have a craft in the afternoon.)
If you have always wanted to go away on a mission trip, but were unable to leave home or could not make a full week commitment, please join us this week for our “at home” mission trip. Come one day or more or come all week. Many employers give a paid day off for community service.
Our two main goals are to paint the basement and build new playground equipment. A perfect outreach for the upcoming Bible School. No task is too small. Jobs are available according to your abilities.
Our day will begin at 9 a.m. with morning devotions. We will then break up into needed work areas. Lunch and supper will be served each day. We will end the day at 4 p.m. with devotions and then supper.
Before, during, and since the United Methodist General Conference that was held in Portland, Oregon from May 10-20, 2016, there have been many articles in the Columbus Dispatch, on social media, and on the internet about the United Methodist Church and her direction. As you read these different articles written from varying perspectives, many of you have expressed your concerns, both in person and through email. I understand your frustrations and concerns and I have my own. For those of us who followed it closely, it was an emotional roller coaster as the events of this General Conference unfolded.
From the beginning, it was expected that the debate over human sexuality was going to be the focus of the conference which would foster further discussions about the structure of the United Methodist Church in the future. The human sexuality issue has been at the center of debate for the last 44 years. Instead of acting on the issues of human sexuality, the General Conference narrowly adopted a non-binding, non-unanimous plan for a way forward from the Council of Bishops. Since Bishops only can preach or preside at General Conference, the Council of Bishops responded to the request of the General Conference for leadership in this area.
The full text of the Bishop’s Statement is posted on our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NewZionUMC. I encourage you to read it. According to Bishop Scott J. Jones of the Great Plains conference, there are “social media statements which are based on misunderstandings of this document. The following key points will help you understand what it does or does not say:
- We are committed to the unity of the United Methodist Church and will seek to strengthen it.
- We will lead the church in every part of the world in times of worship, study, discernment, confession and prayer for God’s guidance.
- We are called to work and pray for more Christ-like unity with each other rather than separation from one another.
- We have heard that some believe there is “contradictory, unnecessarily hurtful, and inadequate language concerning human sexuality in the Book of Discipline.” However, no agreement about the truth or falsity of this claim has been reached either by the Council of Bishops or by the General Conference.
- The Council of Bishops will form a Commission to study all paragraphs in our Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. The subject has been referred to the Commission, and it will be named sometime between now and November 2.
- The Council of Bishops may choose to call a special session of the General Conference before 2020 to deal with recommendations of the Commission. No decision has been made about whether this is a wise use of the Church’s money and time.
- The Council of Bishops will have conversation about how the church can best live in grace with one another, including discussion about ways to avoid further complaints, trials and harm.
- The Bishops will uphold the discipline of the Church while these conversations continue.
- All provisions of the Book of Discipline, 2012 on matters of human sexuality will remain in force until a General Conference changes them” (Jones, Scott J. Letter to the Great Plains Conference. May 2016).
Hopefully this clarifies and helps answer questions about the action or lack of action on issues of human sexuality at General Conference 2016.
However, this repeated focus on the issue of human sexuality at our General Conferences over the last 44 years saddens me. It seems that human sexuality is what the church is all about. When I take my dog on his walk, I want him to go to the bathroom, but, inevitably, he gets sidetracked by some special scent in the grass which keeps him from taking care of business. We, as the church, have been distracted from the greater work God has called us to do—making disciples of Jesus Christ. When our focus becomes Christ and lifting Him up and making disciples of Jesus Christ, then, perhaps, we truly will achieve that unity that Jesus Christ prayed for us to have. “You have nothing to do but save souls . . .”
Continue to pray for our Bishops as they form the Commission. Pray for the United Methodist Church, New Zion Church, and the Church worldwide.
Praying with you,
Our United Methodist Women met on May 12th in the Sunrise Room and enjoyed delicious refreshments prepared by Hostess Dolores Stuhmer.
President Brenda Hanna led the business meeting and began by thanking all those who helped in any way with the March Soup & Sandwich lunch. All donations went to Linda Crouse who will be going to China again this summer. As of May 16th, Linda has all the money she needs for this mission trip.
The men received $150 in donations collected at the Easter breakfast. We appreciate the men taking on this privilege that they do so well.
Thank you notes were read received from Foundation Dinners and McCurdy Schools. (Are you remembering to bring your Campbell Soup labels to church that will go to these schools so they can get another much needed van?)
We had no treasurer’s report since Treasurer Ann Arebalo was attending her granddaughter’s graduation that was out of state.
The secretary’s report was given and approved.
Our UMW Mission Sunday will be on July 31st. Plans will be completed for that at our June meeting.
We discussed the possibility of inviting another UMW group to be our guests at our next Women & Girls Banquet and maybe including our District officers.
We voted to give $100 to go to the Annual Conference that is held in June. Each church is asked to give an offering to go towards the Miracle offering.
Rhonda Miller gave an update on the reading program and led us in our prayer concerns which were many. She gave us our new list of women in the congregation for us to remember in prayer until our next meeting when we’ll be given a new list. Are you remembering that all of our women are lifted up in prayer?
Our next meeting will be on June 9th in the usual place. Terryann McCoy will be our hostess so we can look forward to enjoying her refreshments to begin our time together. We’d love to see you there!
This morning I’m gazing out the southern window at the patch of weeds in the yard that is supposed to be a garden. It’s the middle of May and all of a sudden something inside me says, “What are you waiting for?” I think to myself, “It’s too wet to do anything right now. I should wait a little longer just to make sure that the cold weather is over.”
These thoughts have happened to me every year for the last 40 some years. You see, I have a lot things deep inside me that were probably passed on from my parents. One of those was the joy of growing things.
When I was growing up in the 50’s, my parents had what they called a “truck patch.” In this patch they grew corn, tomatoes, peas, beans, and other vegetables. Mom and Dad planted it, but it was up to the rest of us to keep it free from weeds. I remember the times when I was to hoe so many rows, and then I was free for the rest of the day. If the summer days were hot, Steve and I would work up a sweat in the patch, and then we would both run for the nearby creek and jump in and cool off. Our clothes would stay on the bank.
I lived in Columbus for a while, but I always knew that when I had some property I would have a garden. It’s a lot of hard work, but I’ve learned that something amazing happens once a seed is planted or a small flower is potted. In my way of thinking, God is once again talking to me through the planting and sowing process and then the harvest.
I found this article the other day, and I thought I would share it with you. It’s Romans 8:28-39 for the gardener:
You are God’s garden. God found a rocky piece of land and claimed you as His own. He cleared the rocks from you. He tilled your soul, bringing up riches from the depths of you and distributing throughout your entire being nutrients He had placed there. He irrigated you to bring you life-giving moisture in the desert land that surrounded you. After turning you from a worthless dry, rocky plot into a fertile field, do you really believe that God would just go away and let the wind blow spores and seeds from every weed to settle into you? On the contrary! He planted the best seeds in you. He watched your growth and pulled weeds that would try to choke out the life He had planted. His care covered you as a late frost of spring tried to destroy the struggling seedlings. His rain nourished and cooled you during the trials of a hot summer. He drove away insects and scavengers that would devour your fruit before it fully developed. In the end, nothing will keep you from yielding a plentiful harvest!
The weather for the rest of this week looks great for starting our garden. Stay tuned for further details.
Next men’s breakfast:
Saturday | June 18th | 8 a.m.
Ma Maw’s Diner | Baltimore
by Ruth Ann Ford, news reporter
As usual, our UMW women enjoy giving the men and boys a night to enjoy great food and good entertainment. We appreciated Ann Arebalo and Joanne Miller heading this up. Thirty-six were served by nine helpers. Each table was decorated with puzzles that could be put together before and after their meal. Hand clappers were also on the tables. The women received a very noisy appreciation for their efforts with the men and boys using the hand clappers.
Rhonda Miller prepared an entertaining program based on game shows like Family Feud. The results created much laughter, so maybe for an hour or two the bad news of the day was forgotten. Thanks to all who helped make this evening a success.
Our next meeting will be on May 12th at 7:30 in the Sunrise room. We welcome any and all women in our church family to join us to learn more about missions and the role that women play in spreading God’s work here and around the world. (We always enjoy delicious refreshments to get our evening off to a good start.)