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March 10, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 10, 2019 I hope you were able to join us at our Ash Wednesday service on March 6. It was a great service in which we all had the opportunity to worship God and prepare our hearts for the penitential season of Lent by receiving ashes on our foreheads in the shape of a cross. This ritual was introduced by Pope Gregory I, who was Bishop of Rome from 590-604 A.D. It was enacted as a universal practice in all of western Christendom by the Synod of Benevento in 1091 A.D. As I said on Wednesday night, Ash Wednesday is not for the faint of heart. The season of Lent is a time for serious self-examination and soul-searching, for both individuals and our church, about our sins and our temporal existence on this earth. As we engage in this season of Lent, we must remember that it is a season we pass through. It is not a season in which we take up residence. It is a season we pass through in order to be properly prepared for the season of Easter and the Resurrection. The rejoicing of Easter and the Resurrection is all the greater because we have seen our mortality and recognized and repented of our sins during Lent. So please take full advantage of Lent, but do stop and set up camp in it. For God and the church never meant for us to permanently take up residence, thinking only of our mortality and sin. Lent reveals the “bad news,” but the “Good News” is because of Jesus and his death on the cross, we get to pass through Lent and move on to Easter. Glory be to God. Amen.

March 24, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 24, 2019 Let me share another thought from our Lenten Devotional “40 Days with Jesus: Celebrating His Presence” by Sarah Young. She wrote this devotional as if Jesus is speaking to you personally. “SEEK MY FACE, and you will find all that you have longed for. The deepest yearnings of your heart are for intimacy with Me. I know, because I designed you to desire Me. Do not feel guilty about taking time to be still in My presence. You are simply responding to the tugs of divinity within you. I made you in My image, and I hid heaven in your heart. Your yearning for Me is a form of homesickness: longing for your true home in heaven. Do not be afraid to be different from other people. The path I have called you to travel is exquisitely right for you. The more closely you follow My leading, the more fully I can develop your gifts. To follow Me wholeheartedly, you must relinquish your desire to please other people. However, your closeness to Me will bless others by enabling you to shine brightly in this dark world. As the deer pants for the streams of water; so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2. Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5. For Reflection: Philippians 2:15”

March 17, 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 17, 2019 A Thought from our Lenten Devotional “40 Days with Jesus: Celebrating His Presence” by Sarah Young. The author wrote this devotional as if Jesus was speaking to you personally. “Thankfulness opens the door to My presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have place a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective. Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely form your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances. See how many times you can thank me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4 Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5:18”

March 3. 2019

Pastor Steve’s Blog March 3, 2019 The moment has now come and gone for the special called session of the General Conference. Thank you for your heartfelt prayers for the delegates from around the world. Their task was not an easy one. There were three plans offered at General Conference to address how the church wanted to proceed in regard to human sexuality. The three plans were The Traditional Plan, the One Church Plan and Connectional Conference Plan. In the end after much debate and discussion, The Traditional Plan was passed by the General Conference. The Traditional Plan maintains the current language in the Book of Discipline with some changes. Our District Superintendent, the Rev. Dr. Jay Therrell, has outlined the changes: SO THE PARTS THAT PASSED AND WERE CONSTITUTIONAL TO THE BOOK OF DISCIPLINE AS FAR AS WE KNOW: • The definition of self-avowed practicing homosexual now includes people living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union, or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual. (Petition 1) • Bishops are prohibited from consecrating bishops who are self-avowed homosexuals even if they have been elected. • Bishops are prohibited from commissioning or ordaining those on the deacon or elder track if the Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) has determined the individual is a self-avowed practicing homosexual. (Petition 5) • BOOM members must certify to the bishop that they will uphold the Discipline in its entirety (Petition 6) • The minimum penalty if someone is convicted of conducting ceremonies or same-sex weddings is one year suspension without pay (first offense), and termination (second offense) (Petition 11) • The DCOM and BOOM shall not approve or recommend persons who do not meet the qualifications after full examination and the bishop shall rule any unqualified candidate so recommended out of order (Petition 12) • Bishops can only dismiss a complaint if it has no basis in law and the reason for dismissal is shared with complainant (Petition 13) • Just Resolutions must state all identified harms and how they will be addressed to the complainant. (Petition 14) • Every effort should be made for Just Resolution to be agreed upon by the complainant (Petition 15) • Church can appeal based on egregious errors of law (Petition 16)