On October 13th, we celebrated United Methodist Women Sunday at Church of the Pines. Members of UMW led the worship service. Sue Loeffler, member of Church of the Pines and UMW member, gave the message entitled Showing God's Love in a Practical Way. We want to share a portion of her message and ask you to comment on ways that you are showing God's love in practical ways.
Sue Loeffler began by saying "Some of you that have encountered me over the past week have heard me whining about agreeing to do this presentation....Well, shame on me! When I finally sat down to prepare and pull my thoughts together, I realized that, gosh, I have had some special experiences in 'hands-on' mission work, and in opportunities to learn and to grow, and this is something that I should be sharing with others.
So, I say to my community of United Methodist Women, I am honored to represent you today and to talk about a part of our organizational purpose - to expand the concepts of mission. Mission - a noun - an organized effort to spread one's faith or to carry out humanitarian work. Missionary - one that is called by God, one that is sent into an area to promote their faith or perform ministries of services and education. These are traditional definitions.
Well, I would guess that many of you are like me in that I have not felt called by God to be a missionary in the traditional sense. I have an awareness of various missions, locally, within our state, our country and globally. I have pulled out my checkbook and made monetary donations. I have shopped for and donated items in response to specific needs. And I am grateful for and donated items in response to specific needs. And I am grateful that I have been able to make these contributions. I know that they were needed and put to good use.
While I have done these "good deeds", there was always a persistent and nagging sense that something was missing. Like, maybe I am supposed to be doing something more. But what? I don't really have any special skills or talents or knowledge, but I do have time. I do have the ability to learn. I am not afraid to try new things. I can use my hands to do things. I do have a constant desire to grow spiritually. And I do believe in the Vision of United Methodist Women which is to turn faith, hope and love into action on behalf of those in need.
Action - another noun - the process of doing something. Well, Volunteerng is an action; donating and energy for the benefit of other people and causes. I came to realize that I actually was being called...to do service through volunteerism. For the past 7 years, I have been donating some of my time and energy to a place that calls its volunteers "missionaries." I would like to tell you about Midwest Distribution Center, a place where I have found that I can be part of turning faith, hope and love into action on behalf of those in need.
Midwest Mission Distribution Center is a disaster relief facility which serves the Midwest. It is located 4 miles south of Springfield, Illinois on an 8 acre campus, in the middle of cornfields, but with great access to I-55. It is a ministry that is related to the North Central Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church (which we in Wisconsin are part of) and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference. It is one of ten cooperating depots in the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) Supply Network. Midwest Mission is a non-profit organization and receives 100% of its funding from private donors. The United Methodist Church and UMCOR do not provide any financial support.
Since opening for ministry in 2000, Midwest Mission has been showing God' Love in practical ways through the distribution of education, health, micro-business, and disaster relief supplies meeting basic human needs around the world and around the corner. Their mission statement is to transform the resources of God's people into humanitarian relief.
Ok, those are the fancy words, but really...what is Midwest Mission? It is a center that receives donated supplies, materials and equipment. It prepares them, stores them and then ships them. Midwest Mission takes the donations and put them into a format that will be useful, purposeful and practical. Some of these supplies are assembled into kits, bins or buckets. Church of the Pines has donated over 100 flood buckets last year and we have also donated school bag kits and layette kit items that we delivered to Ingathering and those donations went on to Midwest Mission. Items such a bicycles and sewing machines are repaired or refurbished. School desks are made from donated wood. Medical supplies are collected. There are work areas for specific activities (the bike shop, the sewing machine shop, the desk shop). There is a large workroom for kit assembly and sewing.
Once the items are prepared and are in a state ready for shipping, they are placed in inventory. There are two large warehouses where the "ready to go" inventory is shelved.
Midwest Mission distributes its kits, resources and supplies only upon receipt of a request. Supplies are given free of charge, regardless of race, gender or religion. UMCOR supplies (now limited to the flood bucket, school kit, and hygiene kit) are shipped following the specific request and directions of UMCOR.
MIDWEST MISSION SHOWS GOD'S LOVE IN PRACTICAL WAYS!
Next November, United Methodist Women will be going to Midwest Mission to work for three days. This opportunity is open to our entire church family."
Sue Loeffler has certainly found a way to turn her faith, hope, and love into action on behalf of those in need.
We invite you to share here how you have SHOWN GOD'S LOVE IN PRACTICAL WAYS.
"Morning worship with a half hour of singing, including a conga line (apparently a tradition for the last day) and a final message from our bishop. On to learning sessions."
- Sue Loeffler
First – Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there and to all the men who are helping to raise the children in our church in a positive way.
My hope was to post this last night, however Saturday was quite a day at Annual Conference and I did not get back to the hotel till after 10:00 pm. It was an intense day of electing delegates to General Conference next May, action items about apportionments and much, much more.
We managed to elect all the required delegates for General Conference required for both the Laity and Clergy yesterday. In my opinion all the delegates are excellent representatives of Wisconsin and will work for change in our denomination at the General Conference. This is extremely important in light of some other events of yesterday, which I will share shortly.
As a conference we renewed our connections and covenants with several Health and Welfare ministries across the state. An example is Christian Community Homes in Hudson and Osceola WI. This ministry provides high quality skilled nursing, assisted living, and independent living for seniors in the far western part of the state. I have served on the board for CCH and have always been impressed with their commitment to provide dignity and care to everyone.
I know everyone is excited to hear from Jonah, but even with a couple reminders I have not received anything from him yet. However, in his defense, he has been very busy at conference. Last night he and the other youth delegates spoke at youth panel about generation Z and the Church. It was very well done. He even spoke on the floor of the plenary session in favor of an action item rejecting the results of the 2019 General Conference – the action item passed, by the way.
Something else happened yesterday that I struggle to share. Despite the repeated statements by the Bishop and others the Annual Conference was a safe place where all people were loved, it was revealed that it was not. LBGTQI+ people and people of color at the conference, who have had their voices officially and unofficially silenced in the UMC and the Wisconsin Conference made their voices heard yesterday when they revealed that they had been the victims of homophobic and racial slurs and language at the conference.
In fact, two of my openly gay pastor friends were confronted and cornered against a wall and were told to leave the conference by another clergy member of the conference. These revelations sparked an impassioned hour of voices from the conference floor crying out for justice, crying out for us to be the body of Christ. My heart was broken by these stories, but was also set on fire by the presence of the Holy Spirit. Finally, with the voices of the oppressed and marginalized crying out, Bishop Jung and other Conference staff said this harm to LBGTQI+ people and people of color must stop and not be a part of our conference anymore.
We have another full day of business to come – I am excited to see what God has in store.
"I brought the Ingathering donations that were collected and the kits that were put together by United Methodist Women of Church of the Pines at their last General Meeting. The donations included 30 women’s and kid’s kits, 44 infant onesies, and 8 infant sleepers. As you can see the kits have been placed in the truck and will now be transported for use by people in need. Thanks, UMCOP members, for supporting this important project."
- Sue Loeffler
The first day of Annual Conference is over and the second is about to begin. Yesterday we spent time in worship and began the business of the Conference. There was long debate over a proposed change to the Conference policy about paying apportionments. The proposal is to allow each local congregation to designate their apportionments to either the Annual Conference or to the General Church. We will continue to work on this proposal today. We will also begin the day today with a time for vital conversation about the General Conference decision.
One key highlight from clergy session Friday night was Pastor Gary Cole’s retirement. It was a joy to honor his ministry and to celebrate his retirement.
- Pastor Mark
"In a wonderful display of hospitality, the mayor of Green Bay, Eric Genrich, greeted and welcomed us to Green Bay. It truly made me, and all of us, feel welcome and valued. It was an example of the power of hospitality, and how much our greeting of guest means to the guests."
- Pastor Mark
Here is the Live Stream of the Annual Conference. Click below.