From Pastor Jeff
From Pastor Jeff
Dear Members and Friends of West Austintown UMC,
Every year in June, the East Ohio Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church meets for 4 days at the Lakeside Chautauqua near Marblehead, Ohio for what is called Annual Conference. Now, instead of rambling off on a tangent about the Church and Annual Conference, I just want to share with you a couple of things that took place during our time of “Holy Conferencing”.
Annual Conference is a time of worship, of work as we set budgets, elect representatives for both General and Jurisdictional Conferences (both will take place in 2020), and to discern how we as a conference want to move forward into the next year. Annual Conference is a time of connection, where we not only get to see old friends and make new friends, but also get to hear what is going on at the various churches around our Conference. One of the essential questions at the heart of Annual Conference time is pondering, how we are living into our mission statement of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”?
At the very heart of our mission statement is a Trinitarian understanding of what needs to take place in our lives, our church, and our world.
During the Commissioning and Ordination Service at Annual Conference, Bishop Greg Palmer from West Ohio Annual Conference preached on “Increasing our Fruitfulness”. Bishop Palmer began by referencing a quote from the movie Boyz n the Hood—“You’re Cute, but not special”. In that, our era faces challenges and dilemmas both culturally and in the church. We have always wrestled with questions, especially what is the essential truth that we need in order to live the lives has God intended us to live. What do we need to know in this age to be all God intended us to be. As we read 2 Peter 1:3, friends, we have all we need. “His (Jesus’) divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” As the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 1:9) We have everything we need to do all we need to do for the Glory of God. However, friends, most of the time we don’t do what we need to do. When we see a brother or sister on the street asking for money, do we lock the doors? Or do we roll down the window and offer them some money? When you see a mother carrying her infant child in a car seat walking towards a door, do you open the door? Or do you watch as she struggles to open the door? When you overhear a neighbor in the beauty shop talking about her son who struggles with drugs and depression, do you offer help? Or do you judge them in their time of greatest need?
Friends, we have all we need to be the church, to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ, to live out fully the mission statement of making and maturing disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world. But, we have these things that come up called—excuses. “Nah, I can't go to Bible Study, because Jeopardy is on.” “Ya, know if only the church would _____ (fill in the blank). Friends, we have all we need to be the church, and we even have the excuses too.
Friends, let us not allow the excuses to get in the way of showing the Love of Christ to all people, even ‘those’ people you don’t like.
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.