A number of years ago, I heard the Rev. Robert Schuller, then pastor of the huge Crystal Cathedral in Orange, California, say the following:
Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.
It sure caught my imagination. I thought of the assurance, trust, life-giving, thriving, God-inspired potential in that seed. I knew I could count on apples coming from an apple seed even if I have no part or idea how that happens nor even if I’ll ever see the fruit.
That led me to think about “faith” and Hebrews 11:1: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen.” When you visit my home, you will see a wall full of apple pictures, wreaths, sayings and seeds. It reminds me of the creative, unseen power of God to make countless “apples” from the “seeds” of our faith in Jesus. I hope you will never doubt that God is at work through each of us as individuals and all of us as Community UMC. And, oh, what a dream for the future we might hope for in the seeds we are planting today.
This is the first installment of what I hope will be a monthly apple seed pondering in the Community Connection about ministry and mission that is taking place and that may not be seen. At heart, it is a way to honor the movement of the Spirit in and among us, which most of us see as completed worship services, programs, classes, studies, and ministries. Many people are engaged in serving with the pastor and staff so that all of these happen, and there is a place for everyone. For all that you read and for all who serve, praise God!
Our Trustees managed a burst pipe in the Multi-Ministries building at the beginning of the month and, with herculean efforts, returned this space to use quickly and safely. This demanded a lot of their time and being present through the cleanup and claims process with our insurance carrier.
Planners meet weekly with the pastor to craft liturgy and content to support the weekly scripture topic pastor selects for his message from among the lectionary readings. The lectionary is a 3-year rotation of weekly scriptures through the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, with John interspersed, a Psalm, an Old Testament reading and a New Testament reading. It ensures that most of the Bible is proclaimed and heard every three years. Many churches and denominations use this resource for planning. If you would like to read the lessons in advance of or after the service, a free list of weekly readings can be found here.
Enhancements for worship have been researched and potential solutions for additional sanctuary lighting, better audio-visual images and desired projector and screen equipment, especially for bright daylight, are being explored in several committees.
The Boy Scouts are meeting again in our facility after a long absence. The United Methodist Church has asked all its churches to take a “No Charter” position with Scouting, due to the scandals and bankruptcy of the Boy Scouts of America, after litigation for sexual abuses over many years. Our chartered groups had no issues of this kind, but were caught up in the decisions. The Prince of Peace Church In Crofton has agreed to charter the Troop but has no space for their meetings and activities. So again, our Trustees worked tirelessly to arrange a Facility Agreement that is acceptable to our Conference and The United Methodist Church and still allows Scouting outreach to continue in our church and community.
In anticipation of our 50th Anniversary in November, new directional signage is being pursued to help guests, returning friends, and potential new members to feel welcome and find their way around from the parking lot to locations throughout our campus. We are hoping to make the 50th a full weekend, so hold the dates 11/3-5 and stay tuned.
The Good Book Club read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s book, “Strength to Love,” this month. Following from the discussion, several follow-up ideas were talked about, including developing a local list of civil rights pilgrimage sites, as well as pursuing more information on the Baltimore-Washington Conference civil rights pilgrimage with the Rev. Dr. Anthony Hunt.
The selection process for an accompanist is well underway, with multiple interviews and auditions now completed. This was a team effort spearheaded by SPRC, and broadened to include music specialists. Recruiting for the full-time position of Director for Children, Youth and Families is also being actively pursued. Finding just the right person to support our families with children is one of the highest priorities at this time.
Emphasis on missional giving through weekly side offering opportunities continues. For February, the Lighthouse Shelter for the homeless in Annapolis will receive our gifts, where funds are used for meals. Oh, and if you haven’t heard, Backpack Meals asked for a donation from Wegman’s and was overwhelmingly blessed with 900 jars of peanut butter and another 899 (oops!) jars of jelly! When you shop there, stop by the manager’s office and say, “thank you.”
The Stewardship part of the Finance team is talking about how being stewards (managers) of God’s kingdom resources, includes the tithes, gifts and offerings we return to God for the mission and ministries through CUMC, but is far more. It involves our whole selves and the ways we live our faith wherever we are. It includes our gratitude, prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness to God – individually, and as our whole church.
Starting the year with prayer is the emphasis at Messy Church on January 29, for all ages. Cheryl Cook will provide a little guidance around the activity during the fellowship breakfast after our worship service. Messy Church is on any 5th Sunday of the year, and this year there are five: January, April, July, October, and December. Come and see faith, fun, fellowship, and fostering community in action. Collaborations with the Children’s Team, Children’s Church and the Vitality Team are trying to model the hospitality of Jesus and his invitation to all, especially children. We are all aware of the many ways the world tries to divide us. We want to remember that “in Christ” we are family, brothers and sisters, and so strive to be known by our love.
God loves you and so do I!
Barb Julian, Lay Leader