Thursday, August 27, 2009

Thursday Notes: Global Health

Thursday, Global Health
Dr. Scott Morris, UM pastor and medical doctor. Church Health Center, Memphis TN. Private, church run health care system.

Third of the New Testament is about healing the sick. Problem today is that hospitals in the healing business are separated from worshipping congregations. What does it mean today to be involved in a healing ministry?
James 5 – Is anyone among you sick? Call the elders and they will anoint you with oil.
Matthew 25 – goats and sheep. When we minister to the sick we are ministering to Jesus. If you want to be a disciple of Christ and you want to find him, you will find him among the sick, the poor, and those in prison. We should be looking in these places if we want to find Jesus.
Wesley understood this. Every Friday he spent time in his dispensary caring for the sick. He saw a static electricity demonstration by Ben Franklin and invented his own device he called “electrifier.” He wrote book “Primitive Physik”, widely used in the mid-19th century in America. People used to go to their pastors for healing. Darwin influenced the separation between faith and healing. Also there was a separation of body and spirit. Medicine dealt with body. Church dealt with spirit. This is a non-Christian idea.

People come to doctors today for reasons they used to go to pastors. Medicine today does not recognize spiritual dimension of life. In medicine, the spirit does not exist. You can’t MRI the spirit.

Our task as disciples is to find a healing mission. We need young doctors who will commit to healing the poor. This is not on the Church’s agenda.

Church needs to care about:
1. End of life. 25% of medicare budget is spent on last 6 months of peoples’ lives.
2. Keeping people healthy. Childhood obesity is major problem. Often the least healthy meal we eat is at church! If we don’t take care of our bodies we are not being faithful disciples of Jesus Christ! UM clergy are 20% heavier than rest of population.
3. Global health. Top three diseases are preventable. Malaria, TB, HIV. Many lives could be saved if Africans had access to condoms. News magazine from Church Health Center in Memphis.

You have to walk the walk. What are you doing to improve your health? Are you eating right, exercising? Wesley believed that riding a horse was the best exercise. Average American gains 3-5 lbs a year. Three things you can do:
1. Figure out your average daily steps. Goal is to increase that number by 2000 steps.
2. Decrease your calorie intake by 100 a day.
3. Eat three servings of dairy a day. Yogurt, milk, cheese.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Notes from Superintendent School: Ministry With the Poor

Wednesday – Ministry with the Poor

Wow! We heard the most amazing, inspiring presentation from Rev. John Edgar and Donita Harris, from Columbus, Ohio. They told their story of a 6 year old Church of All People, and their sister group, Community Development 4 All People.

Ways to be in ministry WITH the poor.
Book by Rudy Rasmus – Touch (good read)
Five C’s
1. Common Sense – be reasonable about your first encounters with poor
2. Commitment – passion to invest your time and energy
3. Collaboration – use community resources to partner
Needs assessment is not the first step. Identify assets. Good question to ask the poor: What are you hoping for? Key asset is to listen to peoples’ dreams.
4. Consistency – take what you need, share what you have. Myth of scarcity. There is a divine economy of abundance.
5. Contributions – cash or in-kind. Everyone has something to contribute.

Free Store was the beginning of what is now a huge community development. Main idea is to be with the poor. God does not call us to fix their problems, but to be with them and to hear their dreams and hopes.

I invite you to check out their web site:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Notes from Superintendent School on Leadership

Some of what I am learning at Lake Junaluska. This is from Gil Rendle on Leadership.

Management seeks to answer the question Are we doing things right?
Leadership seeks to answer the question Are we doing right things?

DS is asked for leadership but rewarded for management.

Convergent situation: question is same for everyone and answer is same for everyone.

Divergent is one which question is same for everyone but answers is divergent.

Cultural shift from convergent time to divergent time.

So many consumer choices that we are trained to deal with our preferences first. Going down cereal aisle with so many choices. Question is what do I need from a box of cereal?

Book of Discipline gives us more management information than we need.

In divergent environment you cannot make a decision that will not make some feel unhappy.

Leadership shift: not providing answers but asking good questions.

Best book: Ron Heifetz “Leadership Without Easy Answers.”

“We listen long enough to figure out what we’re going to say next.” -Covey

Leadership is about helping a community face its problems.

DS role is not to make churches happy with right appointments, but to meet our mission.

Superintendents walk boundary between local church and global church. We have the power of agenda. Schnase’s book is not magic. It gives people ways to have better conversations.

We need better stories.

More important to be appropriate than to be right.

Two settings leaders do their work: reactive space and balcony space.(doing vs learning).
Learn to ask questions about purpose not about problems.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My Call Story

I was a Christian teaching in a public school when I felt God’s urging to go into ordained ministry. I was single and teaching 8th grade science in Atlanta and dearly loved my students. I built a high ropes course and we used it to blast apart cliques. I took them into the north Georgia mountains where they learned how to be real with each other. Those kids were my ministry even while I was heavily involved in my United Methodist Church. There was however this nagging desire to teach the Power behind the science.

On a spring break after teaching five years I drove to Panama City Beach, pitched a tent in the sand, and wrestled with God. At sunrise I was sitting on a picnic table reading the Bible, Matthew 28 to be exact. At some point a decision needed to be made. I could only wrestle and think and pray so long. The sun blazed across the horizon, warming my body while I read those commissioning words of Jesus, “Go into all the world and make disciples…” I focused on one word, “Go.” Just go. It was at that moment that my decision to leave my school and go to seminary was made.

And I never viewed my call into ordained ministry as better than my ministry as a teacher. Both were different callings and one was not more important than another. So I went without doubts, but with a sense of excitement about this new adventure. That road took me north to United Seminary and Sidney, Ohio. It led me to my wonderful wife now of 29 years, four beautiful children, 10 years of ministry in Ohio, and 19 in Alaska. I am so glad that God chose me to walk this amazing journey.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trip to Nome

The heavens opened up for the two days I was in Nome (Aug. 15-16). Blue skies and warm temperatures are rare in that part of the world, especially in mid-August. I was there at the invitation of David and Julie Elmore, co-pastors of Nome Community United Methodist Church. They were great hosts, showing me fish camps, overlooks, historic buildings, and churches. I saw boys swimming in the Bering Sea! I got to sing with the Inupiaq choir in their language. Well, mostly I lip synced.

The Elmore's live in an attached residence to the church which is not always the best arrangement. A perfect example of boundaries blurring happened before Sunday worship when Mukluk, the mission intern's dog, got loose in the building. Suddenly scooping up doggy surprises in the sanctuary became part of David's morning routine! Julie asked if this was going to get into my dibble and I replied, "You betcha!"

Worship was full with about 35 people, 12 being children. The Elmore's have started Tuesday School which is a children's CE experience. They have also started a Monday worship service twice a month. David and Julie also work half time each at the Community Center.

Sunday morning as I walked through the quiet streets I met a little boy, Martin, playing on the church's playground. Martin must be about 6 or 7. I helped untie a knot in his shoe and we talked and played on the monkey bars. I asked him if he ever had been inside the church building and he said no. He wanted to know what we did in there. Martin didn't join us for worship but maybe one day he will.

It is so important that we have a strong presence in Nome to be the hands and feet of Christ to be there for children like Martin. This small church does incredible ministry in a place where the needs are great. This presence could not happen without the generous support from others. If you would like to support the Elmore's in their ministry you can make a donation by going to Julie's salary support number is 3019685. David's is 3019686.
You can see pictures of the trip at

Grace and peace,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Travels in Alaska United Methodist Churches

I have put in some miles on Alaska roads. Unfortunately they were not on my motorcycle. Guess I’m not wild enough to be crazy to ride in the rain. First stop was Wasilla Christ First. It had been about 8 years since I was there and it sure has changed. All kinds of new residential developments are going in around the church. They have remodeled and enlarged the sanctuary and parking lot. Did you know that Pastor Tori writes her own Wednesday family night curriculum?

It was on to Willow where Fran showed me their Food Bank (pantry) where a record 28 people received food during their 4 hours of operation once a week. She and Steve Eldred drove me around the community. I saw some of the tremendous needs which are being addressed by this small and vibrant church. Their new parsonage is about a year from completion and will be quite nice. I met with their SPRC to talk about the appointment of their new pastor next year. I also met with Fran’s board who oversees her church and community ministries. A great visit.

Then it was south to the Kenai and a glorious day in a log home overlooking Cook Inlet in Ninilchik. Great food, fellowship, and sharing with lay and clergy leaders. Leila was able to be there also. Kim and I worshipped at Soldotna, our former church. Richard did a great job leading worship and teaching us to memorize scripture. I left Kim and buzzed to Kenai to catch Pastor Marti’s sermon. It was fun to see some folks I remembered from my Soldotna days. I met with their SPRC to talk about how to deal with their financial crunch. We talked more about new mission possibilities than anything else! Very energizing.

I hope you all will be able to see our connectional ministries and leaders in new and fresh ways as Leila and I share our experiences of being in our churches. This week I’m going to Nome for berry picking and relationship building.