Tag Archives: UMCOR

Connecting Through Generations

Today as we continued our sermon series, “Connect: Building Our Life Together.” Not only did we celebrate Grandparents Day, we took a special offering for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) for the victims of Hurricane Dorian. This sermon series uses building blocks to represent the different colors and ways we connect to each other and to God.

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While I acknowledge Grandparents Day is not a liturgical holiday, we chose to focus on this important relationship and ask grandparents to invite grandchildren and grandchildren to invite grandparents to church. Following the Downtown Alive service, there was lunch of pizza and salad and everyone was invited to come down and to play and to do activities together.

There was a photo booth, board games, cards to write and send to far away grandchildren or grandparents. We gave cards with suggestions on grandparenting and then these yellow cards for grandparents to ask questions of their grandchildren and the green cards that had questions for grandchildren to ask grandparents. Our grandchildren will be sent a set of the green cards so we can talk in different ways.

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My associate Rebecca Goltry Mohr did such a good job creating this very meaningful event. In worship, I spoke of the church being intentionally intergenerational. Our community is not made based on genetics or nationality or ethniticity or age or background. We are created into community or family because of God’s grace and love.

I am grateful to be a grandmother, but I am also grateful to be in community with people of all ages. You can find the whole worship service or just the sermon here.

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Draw the Circle Wide: Ripples of New Beginnings

We have had a very full day at church! This weekend it started with a “bit” of water in our basement under the sanctuary. We had already planned a church wide Sunday school and mission lunch in Meredith Hall (underneath the sanctuary.) Fortunately it was found yesterday or cleanup and a fixing of the pumps could happen before today.

Today’s scripture is a difficult one because in the 21st century it is hard to figure out how best to deal with “demon possession.” The scientific and medical understanding today is far beyond what was understood 2000 years ago. Yet, I tend to be intrigued by how God in Jesus can be encountered in this stories which were recorded so long ago. The story of “Legion” paired with the scripture reading from Galatians is a powerful reminder that Christ draws a wide circle and a greater circle then we can imagine.

The General Board of Global Ministry (GBGM) along with the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) called for today to be a day of solidarity for suffering children. You can find their full statement here. We included the prayer woven into the pastoral prayer this morning.

Today’s service included two beautiful musical numbers on call and a wonderful children’s time by Pastor Rebecca. You can find the whole service or just the sermon here.

I am continually challenged in my own life in how I can Draw the Circle Wide and be part of God’s reign in Christ.

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God on the Move: Down the Road

It was a very chilly morning, but a wonderful day to gather on the fourth Sunday in Lent. This Sunday we took one of the six special offerings in the United Methodist Church, and my favorite our offering for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Not one dime from United Methodist apportionments or mission and ministry shares support this amazing ministry. Since 1940 UMCOR has been at work in disasters all over the world. This offering underwrites the administrative costs so that 100% of every gift to disaster relief goes to that disaster.

Following the 11:00 service many of our members helped put together over 100 flood buckets.

Donations came in from our congregation adn others. They will be delivered tomorrow to Omaha, Nebraska where they will go help those who are cleaning up from the terrible flooding through out the state.

God is on the move, through the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, through First United Methodist Church, and through you and me. You can find this week’s worship service here.

 

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Extravagant Generosity: Seeking God for Our Future

Yesterday’s service took place on a beautiful fall day. One thing that is certain is that it is a very busy week at First UMC. We took a special offering for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) hurricane relief. One hundred percent of the offering will go to help with the recovery effort from Hurricanes Florence and Michael. We had a mission lunch to help with the expenses of hosting our first week with Family Promise, a non-profit that works with homeless families.

Our sermon series, “Extravagant Generosity” continues. This week we brought back cards that looks at what we would like for our church for the next year. I know I want more engagement in our downtown neighborhood and more reaching out in the downtown area. You can find the whole worship service here.

I am excited about Wacky Wednesday and Trunk or Treat this week. Last year we had over 400 people! With the added Trunks, I think it will be a fun event. On Saturday is the 25th annual Chicken Noodle Dinner and Quilt Auction. The women who quilt create the most beautiful works of art. It helps fund our Religious Nurture Center(which is a ministry with developmentally disabled adults) and our Downtown Alive television ministry. I am so grateful to be a part of this church. I look forward what the future brings!

 

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Oklahoma Disaster Relief, Day Three

Today was our final day and we wanted to get as much done as possible. So after breakfast once again at Tiffany’s Restaurant we got to the work site an hour earlier than yesterday. We had already packed up everything at the Noble United Methodist Church with a plan to return and shower and then load up.

It was hot, but fortunately we had a wonderful breeze coming in and good fans. We were back at insulation and sheet rock. My job would be finishing mudding one room and do as much taping and mudding in the small bathroom and the room Rusty, Andrew and Dave were finishing up.

Rusty, Dave and Andrew went immediately to work on the room that had been started yesterday. They had to finish insulating the ceiling and then sheet rock the ceiling and the rest of the walls.

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And occasionally they had to use their heads!

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Rusty kept plugging away in tight places!

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Pat began working cleaning up some of the debris! Vacuuming and sweeping.

And me? Well, I am your “mudder”

Around 10:30 Hal came in and said to me, the heat index will hit 110, we are done at noon. I am getting those kids off the roof and you are done as well. So we worked at finishing what we could. All the sheet rock got in (except for the lower pieces in the small bathroom which was still drying. Here is the final piece going in

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I finished the ceiling off the garage, taped some and then mudded in the bathroom, mudded what I could reach where the guys were working. We were finished with what we could do by 11:30. Here is what we finished:

Tired and hot we were toast! We said good bye to Hal, and he invited us back. While there may not be a lot of these projects left, wildfires have hit western Oklahoma and there may be work there. Of course, there may be plenty to do in Eureka as well.

The AmeriCorps workers were there an hour before we were. They have been roofing in Noble for several days and have a lost a day due to rain. Their plan is to finish the roof before they have to leave on July 4. They were good about taking breaks down off the roof and drinking plenty of water. This young man had dumped a load of material that had come down form the roof and took a quick break in the wheel barrel. It was much cooler in the shade!!!

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The roof has been covered with FEMA blue tarps for a very long time. Remember that this is work still being done comes from the storms of 2015. Once they are done, another crew in coming in this weekend to finish up what we did not AND to sheet rock inside the house all the ceilings that have been water damaged. I still can not get my mind around being in a home for three years and because of lack of resources, waiting and waiting for help in recovery from devastating storms. One of the many reasons I support United Methodist Committee on Relief is because they remain after others leave. As Hal’s shirt points out:

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We obviously are not staying until it is “complete” but what a blessing to be part of the recovery and the movement toward completion. This is my second time working with the UM Disaster Response from Oklahoma. I think EVERY annual conference should come and learn from them. Their web site is filled with projects all the the volunteers and supervisors are caring, helpful and make people like me who are not all THAT handy feel like we have something to offer. Their system works and what a gift it would be to the United Methodist Church everywhere if they could learn from these people. A big shout out and thanks to Hal Wright, I would work with him any day of the week, all week long.

I won’t bore you with pictures from our lunch although I will say Kendall’s was excellent! A short three hour drive back to Wichita and we are now all at home. I can not say enough about Dave Glover’s leadership. He made the trip flow smoothly and he always reminded us “patience and flexibility!!!” I am grateful to have spent time with Rusty and Pat Allensworth. As always, I am in awe of Andrew Stover and not just because I am married to him. I am amazed by his knowledge, his ability to problem solve and work with what is at hand and build and repair and fix and measure and cut and work hand in hand with others.

What a blessing it is to be part of such a great team. Tonight, I am sore, tired and happy. God is at work in the world in marvelous and wonderful ways.

 

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Oklahoma Disaster Relief, Day Two

Day two began with breakfast at Tiffany’s…..Literally!

 

The breakfast was fresh and tasty (I had an avocado, bacon and jack cheese omelet). From there we were back to the work site to continue the projects we had started. The AmeriCorps were already on the roof working hard.

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We went right to work on the projects we had left unfinished yesterday. Sheet rocking the main room off the garage and began the demolition in the laundry room.

 

There was also a small bathroom that needed insulation and sheet rock.

Then it was time for lunch! Hal Wright invited us to come to his home and eat lunch outside. It was a lovely break.

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BACK TO WORK!!! More sheet rock. Pat and Rusty worked hard and finished sheet rocking the laundry room.

Andrew and Dave began to sheet rock the small bathroom when there was an “oops.” There was a small water leak around the old water heater. Andrew and Dave were carrying sheetrock when Andrew stepping back knocked the pipe loose. And water went every where, including all over him!

Once the water was cleaned up, they finished sheet rocking what they could until the rest of the floor dried up.

I did some work vacuuming up lots of water, helped with some clean up until Hal got me taping and mudding the sheet rock on the ceiling. Pat began taping and mudding the laundry room.

I was pretty well covered in mud. According to Hal it is just “like one of those mud baths!!!” Not sure that is true as I am VERY sore from climbing up and down the ladder and the drywall bench.

We were so grateful to the Oklahoma UMC Volunteer in Mission Disaster Relief for providing us for a shower trailer. The showers were hot and perfect!

So we showered, relaxed, went out to eat and came back to play one game of Farkle. Rusty won!!! While playing our phones notified us of the tornado in Eureka, Kansas. The e-mail has already gone out for those who are ERT trained to be prepared to go help with clean-up. My prayers are being raised for those in the path of all those storms, and for those already deployed to Eureka.

We know from our work here in Oklahoma that there are opportunities to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. It is a privilege and honor and to be here, to work until we are bone tired and to know that God is here in the midst of the recovery.

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Helping people devastated by Hurricanes

A couple of weeks ago, Hurricane Harvey did horrific damage to Houston and other communities in Texas and Louisiana. Hurricane Irma has already done catastrophic damage in the Caribbean, the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, and currently Cuba with Florida in it’s path by tomorrow (Sunday, September 10.) The United Methodist Committee on Relief had already issued a call for “flood/cleaning” buckets prior to Irma for those affected by Harvey.

In response to that call, Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr, the bishop of the Great Plains conference issued a challenge for 5000 buckets to be brought to the conference to be sent out later next week. First United Methodist Church has created a Flood Bucket Assembly Event for tomorrow, Sunday, September 10 from 2:00-5:00 p.m. This event is a practical hands on way to respond to the great needs currently in Texas and Louisiana. This event will be only the first of several we intend to host. The Bishop’s challenge of 5000 is only a “drop” in the bucket of needs that will be arising over the next few weeks and months.

I encourage people to send money, particularly to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, as this independent ministry of the church has received an A+ rating from Charity Watch and a four start rating from Charity Navigator. There will be time for teams to go down and help in the future, but right now, money and flood/cleaning buckets are the first things we can do other than pray for those who are in the midst responding to all the people affected.

If you would like to know exactly how to create a bucket, this video that Annette Schmidt and I created shows how to fit everything in the bucket. There are been questions asked as to why certain items are not included and as to why only certain sizes are needed, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is very specific because this is what works and what fits into a five gallons bucket with a lid.

UMCOR and the Great Plains Conference will not accept partial flood/cleaning buckets, but we will. Tomorrow you are invited to come and help fill as many buckets as possible. If we run out of buckets, we will put things in trash bags to place in the buckets once we receive them (our plan is to finish completing buckets before Tuesday that are not completed tomorrow.) People are invited to bring individual items off the list, to bring full or partial buckets or money to buy items to complete the buckets. We have already received funds and used them for this event. In October there will be another event to fill more buckets.

Here is a complete list of what is needed for each bucket. I hope and pray that you can help us with this important ministry.

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