Apple Seed Ponderings – March 2023

Dear Friends,

Holy Week remembrance begins with Palm Sunday shouts as Jesus enters Jerusalem and he is acclaimed and proclaimed as the Messiah, and ends with our Risen Lord. The Passion, the way of suffering and death by crucifixion, must come between these. Will you be there, too?   

This Sunday, “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” will resound on Route 424 as we wave palms and walk at 9 a.m. from Checkers to Community UMC, following a donkey and rider representing Jesus. We remember this same Jesus is fullest revelation of God’s Love. So, we bear witness into the Crofton community with brothers and sisters
in Christ from Wilson and Fowler UMC before worshiping together at 10 a.m. praising, adoring and honoring Jesus, Son of God, King Jesus, the Messiah – and, let us not forget…

In Thursday’s worship at 7 p.m., we will hear the biblical narrative and imagine the Last Supper as the first disciples experienced it. Each time we eat the bread and drink the cup, we remember Jesus’ broken body and shed
blood. He was arrested, judged, beaten, flogged, mocked, spit upon, pierced. In taking communion, we remember the cost of our salvation.

On Good Friday at 7 p.m., we continue our solemn meditation on the cost of such self-giving Love. God sent his only begotten Son into the world, fully man and fully God, on a mission to save us from the power of sin and death, to reconcile us to himself with forgiveness and to set us free in restored, new relationship with him. God’s sinless Son paid humanity’s sin debt, yours and mine. He was crucified and died, nailed to a cross, as a religious blasphemer and political insurrectionist. Abandoned by those closest to him, Jesus lay in a borrowed grave for three days.

BUT next Sunday is Easter. Then, we will hear: “Christ is risen!” And forevermore, our response is: “Christ is risen, indeed!”
God vindicated Jesus and this triumph is our assurance, too. Death does not have the last word! Resurrection celebrations begin with Sunrise worship in the outdoor chapel at 7 a.m. and will crescendo into a full festival
at 9:30 a.m. You will hear that death does not have the last word in sermon, Word, and joyful music, including the Hallelujah Chorus. In worship, we celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection and re-commit to participate in God’s mission
by living in love with God and in relationship with others!  Speaking of neighbors and loving God and participating with him…

The service with Wilson UMC in early March went very well. We were able to appreciate getting to know and grow in friendship and to bless them in their choice to return to the “301” facility.  One of our ushers told me: there were happy
faces and smiles going into worship and coming out, too.  Cupcakes might have helped on the way out! Thanks to the Vitality Team and Candis for helping with gracious hospitality.

CUMC youth donated the proceeds of the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper to disaster relief through the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). With $440.03, they modeled for the church family what generous giving
for love of others looks like. Thank you! Our March side offerings and Special Offering for UMCOR overhead will be added. Thanks to all!

And, donations came in, too. The Bowie Elks Club is supporting the Baby Pantry and Lighthouse Shelter community outreach efforts through CUMC to the tune of $1,000 each. Yay!

SPRC continues the search for the right “fit” for our unique full-time position. Several interviews have been held. We are seeking the person, attitude, theology, education, experience and skills to build, grow and
nurture ministries for children, youth and their families, in partnership. 

Church Council affirmed by consensus that CUMC will remain a United Methodist congregation. After the information in the Town Hall, neither the pastor, myself as lay leader, nor the church council chair received any requests to engage with the disaffiliation process.

Church Council also endorsed Pastor Erik’s renewal leave as presented by Staff-Parish Relations Chair, Dana Buckwalter, and supported by Finance Team. He and Sheila will be away from May 30 to August 1. The SPRC will work with Pastor Erik to ensure that we’ll have a variety of messages and speakers from the pulpit and to ensure support for ongoing ministries and
missions of the church.  Be sure to tell him how much he’ll be missed and that we are glad to pray for his rest,
refreshment and sabbath time.

An initial appeal for reflection on priorities and vision for the future, as well as what learnings we may glean from the past, will
continue in thought, word, and prayer so that we may move together into our 51st year, and beyond, in renewed hope, faith and love that identifies us.

The next fifth Sunday Messy Church is April 30 and will celebrate God’s action through our church ministries and missions, hospitality, food, fellowship, children’s activity requiring a “passport” and balloons! Team leaders who would like make a display to let others know what you do and how they might help, please let Vicki Duane, the office, or me know by Monday, April 10.

The 50th Anniversary weekend is November 3-5, 2023. Email invitations were sent last week. There will be remembrance, food, fun, and activities for all ages. Fundraisers to help offset some of the costs are being planned by Trustees and Good Book Club members. Also, our Trustees are doing a lot of “spiffing” up with painting, windows, outside work, and miscellaneous repairs so we’ll make a good impression. If you can help with small projects, please let Carol Moore or Kim Wilhelm know.

Updated information on Audio/Visual proposals for improved lighting and ways to sharpen visuals in the sanctuary even on bright days was offered to Trustees, Finance, Pastor and Lay Leader. Sharing information and creating opportunity for input on this may be in the Town Hall format, soon-ish.  Initially, the hope was to have these changes ready for the 50th celebration, but this is unlikely with decision process still to include vendor visit(s) and Town Hall(s) plus committees and Council.

After sending requests for proposals, many interviews, and comparing proposals, Trustees have identified ExtremeClean to become our new cleaning contractor. They will bring value and competence to replace the current vendor, whose work has regularly invited complaints. This was a big project, done well.  Thanks to all our Trustees.

The inaugural meeting of the Social Justice Team affirmed that becoming an anti-racist congregation is the biggest issue. They will begin by educating themselves, church and others.  Also, four team members attended the Baltimore-Washington Conference Advocacy days at the State Capitol and got some training and experienced meeting with lawmakers and their representatives. In addition, the Social Justice Team watched the documentary, “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America.” This powerful film was so educational that the team members agreed that it should be offered for showing to the whole church. Details on that are in the works. Their next meeting is April 25 at 7 p.m. at the church.

In the good busyness, may you prioritize prayer and being open to the movement of the Spirit as, together, we begin the walk with Jesus to Jerusalem.   

Barb Julian, Lay Leader