1) A heartfelt "till we meet again" to Duane Anders, Lead Pastor of Stillwater UMC in Dayton. Duane is off to pastor the Cathedral of the Rockies at First UMC in Boise, Idaho. Duane's leaving will create a huge hole in the conference. His is a voice for missional Christian faith and practice. Stillwater UMC, now a four campus church, has grown dramatically under his leadership as it's extended its reach into the community. Our loss is Boise's gain. Blessings upon the Anders as they make the big move to the Rockies. Hope the Cathedral of the Rockies is ready for some tie dye. Bake a potato for me buddy. God speed.
2) We have two Haiti mission experiences coming up in the next couple of months. A construction team is headed to Borde' February 17-25 to make repairs on the building where our long-time partner, Victory Christian Church, meets. The foundation and walls of the church were never built properly so a substructure of columns and beams fashioned out of concrete and steel will bear the load of the roof. This will make the building safe in the event people take shelter there in the event of a storm, and should also strengthen the structure considerably in the event of an earthquake.
March 3-10, our first medical team in Haiti in three years will be working jointly with the Methodist Church of Haiti and The Haiti Mission (a United Methodist medical mission based out of Charlotte, North Carolina) to do clinic work based out of Tovar (a village 45 minutes south of Cap Haitien). The primary task at hand will see patients at the Tovar clinic, as well as a couple of others, operated year-round by a Haitian staff led by Dr. Macklin Eugene. Community UMC's history of medical mission work has largely in the past been working in conjunction with a small mission organization to do day clinics at churches in various communities in the north country. While this was good work, there was a certain level of frustration with working with a mission that didn't have an ongoing medical staff or focus. We're excited to be working with The Haiti Mission, led by Dr. Raymond Ford, a dynamic retired pediatrician living in Charlottesville, Virginia.
If you are interested in either trip (particularly if you have a medical background) we could still use you. Feel free to contact us via our website, CommUMC.tv, to receive more information.
3) January 28 and February 25, we'll do two installments of what last year we called "The Big Drop". Last year we prepared to serve 1200 families in need by doing a distribution of boxes of food at the West Ohio Food Bank building on Kibby Street. The location proved to be less than ideal as traffic was backed up on Kibby Street all the way back to Main Street (about two miles). This year we'll do our January drop at Northland Plaza and the February drop at the former Wal Mart location on Cable Road.
The Big Drop was born out of the understanding that while people tend to be particularly generous during the holiday season, the level of donations for all local non-profits drops off precipitously in January and February - or as we like to call it, "the dead of winter" - when the need tends to be the highest. By distributing food late in the month, the goal is to help eliminate hunger in Northwest Ohio by providing a family a weeks worth of food at the time of the month and time of the year its needed most. We're looking for those willing to serve. Use the link above to sign up on line.
4) On a personal note, the stomach flu is going through the Bucher house, so you'd be well served to avoid it in the near future. Consider this a friendly warning or, for those with little common sense, a dare.
5) I'm excited about the pending launch of a new "Lay Pastor" ministry here at Community UMC. Already eleven people, led by our soon-to-be "Lead Lay Pastor", Dr. David Imler, have committed to do our inaugural ten week training and be commissioned as our first Lay Pastors on Easter Sunday. Over the last five years we have learned how vital it has been to have lay people visiting our shut-ins (via our SUM Doves ministry) and those in the hospital (via our Lay Chaplaincy ministry). Lay Pastors will help us augment currently functioning lay ministries, while also helping to expand pastoral care and connection to those who are new to our congregation, those who might need some sort of aid, or to make contact with those who have drifted out to the margins. Classes don't begin until the end of the month, so if you are interested, please contact us via our website.
6) For the first time since our local ecumenical group - Church People for Change and Reconciliation - disbanded, area churches are now making plans to create a uniform effort to help those in our community who are in need. Allen County Christian Assistance (or whatever it will be called) will involve area churches utilizing the resources provided by the Salvation Army to provide aid to those calling us looking for assistance toward rent, utility bills, food, and other needs. Because the Salvation Army has connections with all the area agencies, staff to do screening, a on going data base of those who have received aid previously, and a deep commitment to fulfilling the work of the Gospel, they are a perfect funnel for the numerous requests we receive throughout the year.
There are number of benefits to distributing aid in this manner. Due to HIPPA laws it's become increasingly difficult to work with area agencies to do screening of applicants. We simply too don't have the time to track down in our office the veracity of every request. We also share numerous stories of the same people simply calling multiple churches on a regular basis to ask for support. Often this has resulted in someone else, who isn't "working the system", requesting aid after funds have been exhausted.
By utilizing the Salvation Army's social service office, we can work together to do screening, while maximizing our resources. There's also a possibility volunteers can help in the social service office to offset whatever rise in volume they might see from church referrals. I have high hopes.
7) My prediction for tonight's BCS Championship? It'll eventually end, and so too will this miserable college football season. Come quickly Urban, and that right soon.
8) Ten things is a lot of things to think. Right now I'm thinking about lunch.
9) For those who have followed this blog off and on (which describes too how often it get written), a couple of updates on a couple of the people who are often my focus. Brother Esq is now living with his family in Findlay, Ohio. He works here in Lima out of the office of "Balyeat, Daley, Leahy, and Miller" and also has an office in Toledo. He's mostly doing moving violation work, OVI's (nobody better in the area at this), and bankruptcies. You can find him at this fine looking web site which was designed by my lovely wife. He's still a rabid Buckeye fan and you can find him on any given day eating with me at his favorite hangout, Lulu's Diner.
10) The Great One (my grandmother, who got her moniker because she is our kids' great-grandmother... hence The Great One) fell in December on her 85th birthday and broke her hip. After surgery and a stay in a local hospital, she's been in the rehab unit of a local nursing home here in Lima. The Great One is struggling with her rehab, somewhat frustrated with her diminishing memory (she's always been sharp as a tack, so this has been the hardest adjustment of all, I think), and is feel down. She gave up using the internet because she struggled to remember how to operate the computer. She would frequently give me a hard time about my lack of posts. It saddens me to think she's not there reading what I've written, formulating comments and suggestions to be emailed back to her grandson (the good looking one). Please just remember to ask the Lord to send an extra measure of grace and peace to "The Great One" in your prayers. I'd appreciate it.