From Pastor Jeff
From Pastor Jeff
March Newsletter Article
Church Family and Friends,
As many of us are aware, this past week concluded the special General Conference of the United Methodist Church on human sexuality. You can read more about the details on umc.org or eocumc.org, but know that the delegation adopted a Traditional plan that retained current restrictions against same-sex marriage in the church, and the ordination of self-avowed, practicing, homosexuals. It also adds tighter accountability and discipline regarding violations of these restrictions.
Next week, there will be two “near-by” information sessions to discuss what took place at the special session of General Conference. Saturday, March 9 at North Canton Faith UMC at 2 pm, and Sunday, March 10 at Strongsville UMC at 4 pm. As always my hope and prayer is to be as transparent as possible with you and to keep you informed as best as I can. Even though there were some pretty prominent divisions at General Conference, may we always be unified by the Love and Grace of Jesus Christ. In his sermon, “Catholic Spirit,” John Wesley was discussing differing opinions for life and worship said:
“Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion? Without all doubt, we may. Herein all the children of God may unite, notwithstanding these similar differences.”
May we hold fast to the unity we have through the Holy Spirit, and may we hold fast to the love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness we receive from Jesus Christ!
As you may know, in a couple of days we will come together to acknowledge our own mortality as we take part in our Community Ash Wednesday service at Smith Corners UMC. The season of Lent is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. It is a time of self-examination and reflection. This Lent we will be focusing on “Living Our Baptismal Calling”. This sermon series will help us to acknowledge the unity we have in, with, and through our Baptism in Christ Jesus. Each week, the Scripture we focus on will correspond to a section of our baptismal vows as United Methodists. As we gather together to worship, each week will be an occasion to celebrate and contemplate what it means to live out one or more of our baptismal vows.
Friends, I encourage you to be in prayer for the Church, both the church universal, and the United Methodist Church. I encourage you to be in prayer for those you may disagree with, and pray you may be united with them through the power of the Holy Spirit. I encourage you to prayerfully enter this season of Lent in repentance, fasting, and preparing for the coming of Easter. And I encourage you to always keep the main thing, the main—Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself!
In the Love of Christ!
an open invitation for all
an open invitation for all
First United Methodist Church hosts free monthly community dinners open to the public.
These events focus on reaching out to our local area, sharing the grace of God and building a more united church family.
Our first Community Dinner of the season starts on September 27 from 5-7pm.
West Austintown First United Methodist Church offers a group bible study open to the community called Supper, Study & Service in which participants gather to share a meal and explore a book that helps us reflect on our role as Christians in our community.
This study culminates in a Service project in which the group gives back to the local community by way of creating Blessing Bags from donated items, making a meal, and serving it to those in need.
We have partnered with Our Community Kitchen to serve these meals to the less fortunate.
During 2017 Summer, West Austintown First United Methodist Church offered Supper & Study for a second time. The book covered was A Grace-full Life by Wes Olds & Jorge Acevedo which seeks to answer the questions: "In what ways is God an ever-present God?," "Why does God want to have a personal relationship with me?," "How can I fully experience and respond to God's grace?," "How can I die well '"surrounded by God's grace?"'.
Our group connected with Our Community Kitchen to serve a meal and deliver Blessing Bags.
If you would like to attend our next Supper, Study, & Service group, it will begin September 12th. You can find more information for these meetings and others on our church calendar.
During the 2017 Lenten season, West Austintown First United Methodist Church offered a Supper & Study in which members gathered together, reading and discussing Tom Berlin's book Restored which helps us to see our mess through the eyes of Christ to find redemption and restoration. This Supper & Study group finalized their study with a Community Outreach program. They connected with Our Community Kitchen in downtown Youngstown & were invited to serve soup & give Blessing Bags to our unhoused brothers & sisters. Our next Supper & Study will begin mid-July.