The Charge Conference Agenda for November 22nd, 2020

Gethsemane United Methodist Church

Charge Conference

November 22nd, 2020

Rev. David G. Hodd, Licensed Local Pastor

Conducted by Rev. Susan Nienaber

Opening Prayer & Welcome (Rev. Susan Nienaber)

  • Take attendance

Introducing the Agenda (Pastor David Hodd)

A Look Back at 2020 (Jim Sullwold, Finance Chair)

  • Presenting the 2021 Budget (Jim Sullwold, Finance Chair)
    • A time for questions/clarification
  • Vote to approve the 2020 Budget

How We Have Served in 2020 (Pastor David Hodd)

  • Food Shelf (Ron Koon)
  • Foster One/Outdoor Concert
  • Baking Cookies for hospital (coming Dec. 2020)

Church Planting Update (Pastor David Hodd)

  • What Is Our Community Saying?
  • What Is Pastor David Up to?

Prayer & Sending (Pastor David Hodd)

  • Vote to adjourn

Cookies for Caretakers

Calling All Bakers!

Hello friends!

It is a tumultuous time indeed. And due to the COVID-19 pandemic we will not be having our annual cookie walk. But if the thought of not being able to bake dozens and dozens of cookies makes you sad, don’t worry! My friend Margaret is a nurse at the University of Minnesota Medical Center. She shared with my group of friends how difficult this pandemic is right now for her and her colleagues. When I reached out to her supervisor Caprice to ask her if we can help, she said:

“It is so wonderful to think and actually act on recognizing the nurses and how they are choosing courage instead of comfort to care for COVID-19 patients. I have been so impressed with how these professionals are handling the call to action. I am not saying there is not fear, anger, depression/sadness, but they are coming to work and caring for patient not only physically but emotionally. They are also caring for each other and the trials they are each facing.”

– Caprice

Friends, these individuals are facing the reality of death in a way that many of us never will. And it isn’t often that call to action involves baked sweets, but we have an opportunity to help encourage those that are living out Christ’s message of healing through cookies, fudge, and thank you notes. My goal is to get over 1,000 cookies baked for the 500+ employees of UMMC. If we work together, I know we can make that happen. To make sure we do this safely, Caprice said these guidelines will help us make sure we don’t spread our germs into the hospital:

  • Bag 2-3 cookies together in a baggy – a snack sized baggy would be perfect!
  • Bag each cookie type with a list of ingredients – this will help keep things organized as well as make sure people with allergies don’t have a bad reaction. There only needs to be one list of ingredients per cookie type.
  • Wear a mask and gloves when bagging cookies – the oven would prevent any germs from making it into the cookies during baking, but after they come out the oven a mask and gloves would be an appreciated precaution.

If you need any supplies, baggies, or ideas for a thank you note; please reach out! Francine and I are willing to help you meet these guidelines! Just call us, send us a message, a smoke signal–whatever works! We will be collecting cookies at the church on December 14th and December 15th. I will be delivering them to the hospital on Wednesday, December 16th with enough to last two days. Thank you for taking the time to care for those in need around you, together we will make a huge difference this Advent season!

Pastor David Hodd

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COVID-19 Update – November 4th, 2020

Grace and peace friends,

     I hope this week finds you well in the midst of upheaval. I wanted to take a moment to share our updated COVID-19 plan and what you can expect from Gethsemane UMC this winter. We had a good summer with outdoor worship, movie night, and a great concert! It was life-giving to see so many of you gathering safely, which was easy when we could be outside. But looking toward this long winter gathering safely will not be as easy. So here is where we are at in Minnesota with the data from the Minnesota Department of Health:

This is the worst the pandemic has been so far in Minnesota. Community spread: 8.1% of people tested are testing positive this week (6% last week). Red Lake is up to 15%, other areas up to 10%. Most people don’t know where they got COVID, meaning community spread is rampant. 8 of every 100 people have COVID; it has spiked to 10-15% in some counties.

From: Margie Higgins, MDH

This data tells us that the main factor spreading the virus is the community. We have an opportunity to continue stopping the spread by being smart and safe with how we do or do not gather. Last week, Bishop Ough dialed back the Minnesota Annual Conference’s phase to orange. Which means that:

– In-person religious events are limited to 10 people indoors.
– Groups should meet virtually, if possible.
– High-risk individuals (those over age 60 and/or with underlying health conditions) should continue to stay home and be given options to participate in the life of the church through virtual means.
– Francine, Jake, and I are encouraged to work from home as much as possible to limit the possibility of community spread.

“Doing no harm, acting for the common good, and protecting the most vulnerable among us is how we love our neighbor. What this means: I’m asking you to limit your in-person gatherings to 10 people or fewer while wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Group gatherings have been the most significant source of the spread of COVID-19 in recent weeks. We have the power to help change the trajectory of this pandemic.

Yes, the orange phase is more restrictive than what the governor’s office currently allows. I understand the challenge this places on our churches, but given all the data before us, I believe this is the most prudent course of action. At a very minimum, I request you adhere to the governor’s guidelines and closely watch the data in your community. If your school district is not holding in-person classes, then the church probably should not be having in-person worship either (this link always has the latest county-by-county 14-day case numbers, along with associated recommendations for school districts; it’s a good tool for us to use to help guide our decision-making). We trust you to make decisions, in consultation with local officials, that will protect the vulnerable, our neighbors, and each other and still provide meaningful spiritual leadership to your community. Thank you for the creative, adaptive spirit you bring to our common work of healing a broken world in these critical days.

Remember, the church is not closed! We will continue to be creative in how we minister in these unprecedented times, and together we can make it through this pandemic. Our actions now will save lives. And isn’t that the business we are ultimately in? Salvation—life for all people!”

From: Bishop Bruce Ough

I am always trying to find creative, safe ways for all of us to remain connected as the body of Christ:
This month I am doing a series of testimonies with some of our members asking them what they are thankful for at this moment in time! You can check those out on Sundays at our Facebook page or in this newsletter.

– Every day at 2p I offer a Psalm up as a prayer on our Facebook page.
– We are also Praying Together every Wednesday at 2p, so if you have any prayer requests we will lift those up on Wednesdays. You can contact Francine to get a text reminder for all of us to pray together!
– For advent, I am in quarantine so that I can have several small, intimate Advent services. I am hoping to have one family or family groups/pods RSVP and meet me at the GUMC sanctuary where we will celebrate the four weeks of advent in one worship service.
– And beginning in January, I am hoping to have a short, bi-weekly prayer service in our sanctuary every Sunday for those of us who want to attend something on Sundays. More information and how to RSVP will be available as we approach the New Year.
– Our accompanist Jake was hired as a full-time 5th grade teacher in October, his weekly playing is on hiatus as he gets his feet on the ground navigating hybrid/distancing learning.
– I am also open to any ideas or suggestions you have! We are all trying to navigate through this pandemic together, so if you have an idea of a safe way to gather, I am open to it!

I know that people are fatigued. I know that people are grieving the loss of our normal routines. I am with you all in that grief. But, I consider your health, my health, and our neighbor’s health to be more valuable and sacred than our ability to be in our sanctuary together. We cannot quantify how many lives we may have saved by not meeting since March, we just need to have faith that God is working through us in our attempt to follow the Wesleyan imperative of “Do No Harm.” Please, keep our church, our country, and our entire world’s health in your prayers as we continue to look for safe ways forward. And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or concerns; I am always willing to chat.

Pastor David Hodd

And Who Is My Neighbor?

October 29th, 2020

Content Warning: This post talks about politics. If you don’t think Christianity and politics should mix, I invite you to look at our current politicians and how they weaponize religion to gain and maintain both power and wealth. I am not advocating one side over the other, just illuminating the polarizing facets of our current political climate and how Jesus calls us to a higher way of thinking, acting, and loving. That being said, go vote.

Grace and peace friends,

1,000 years ago the Christian church was essentially an imperial, monolithic entity. In the beginning, it had gone through trials, persecutions, and struggles once the apostles left Jerusalem and began to spread the word of God to Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Then, in the year 313, the emperor of the Roman Empire Constantine met with another emperor of the Roman Empire named Licinius and created the Edict of Milan, which stopped the persecution of Christians. This was sparked by a revelations that God would help Constantine conquer his enemies and unify the Roman Empire. Constantine’s soldiers painted symbols that represented Christ on their shields as they went to battle creating the Byzantine Empire. The city of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) became the center of a kingdom, and a relationship began between this capital and the previous capital of Rome.

Fast forward several centuries and these two centers, Rome and Constantinople, became further and further apart in what they believed was the “church.” This tension came to a boil in the year 1054; when the patriarchs of Constantinople and Rome excommunicated one another, forbidding the followers of their side to participate in the eucharist with people of the other side. There is a deep sin that needs to be addressed when people who call themselves Christians refuse to be in Communion with one another.

I say all of this, because one thing always stuck with me from my church history courses—these two traditions of Christianity spoke different languages. In the Eastern Orthodox church they spoke and read Greek, which was the original language of the New Testament letters. And in the Catholic West, they spoke Latin. Their theologians, their political leaders, and their emperors were all steeped in the culture and traditions of their language. And the generations of speaking, reinforcing, and interpreting Scripture one way had put them in a place where if anyone interpreted Scripture differently, they were the enemy. Wars were fought over these theological differences. Men, women, and children have died because of trinitarian theology. I can’t imagine Christ finding joy in the spilled blood of bad theology. But this is what happens when the church is synonymous with the greed of political power. Neighbors are turned against one another. Neighbors begin to speak a different language. Neighbors begin to dig in their heels and reject each other. Neighbors spill blood in the name of a Christ who said, “Love the Lord your God with all of you heart, with all of your soul, with all of your strength, and with all of your mind. The second is this, love your neighbor as yourself.”

I went through all of that church history because it is important to understand where we stand. How we got here. Where we are located in this trajectory of the Christian church. How, in our current United States politics, we began to speak two languages. The languages Rome and Constantinople can be seen in how Republicans and Democrats speak to one another. We live in different countries; one where we can achieve dreams and goals with enough hard work and one where people are born and die in poverty without a chance to live the life every person deserves. I am writing this as a call to remember that we are all neighbors. And that Christ calls us to love.

“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:25-37)

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most influential stories of my life. Within it lies the essence of what I believe about Christianity, about grace, about salvation, about the Christ in me and the Christ in you, and the way I am meant to move within this world full of things that cause me fear. A more modern reading might change some of the words. Instead of a man traveling, we could substitute a white supremacist. Instead of a Levite, we could put a pro-life candidate. Instead of priest, we could put a non-binary Unitarian Universalist pastor who believes in preserving life “from the womb to the tomb.” Or we could put in an atheist, or a farmer, or an essential worker, or someone on welfare and food stamps. The point is, it could be any one of us who walks by, who decides not to see someone as a neighbor because of the baggage that comes with loving outside of your comfort zone. Instead of the Samaritan, we could use an antifa socialist. And that person taking on the health and wellbeing of their ideological polar opposite. Someone whose existence is antithetical to their own. That is the love that Christ calls us to emulate for our neighbors. Loving outside of our comfort zone is hard. Loving outside of our comfort zone comes with risks. In order to love others, we need to give up some of the power that we hold. We need to let go of the tribes that hold our identity. We need to learn a new language.

246 years ago, John Wesley said, “I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them: 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy: 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and: 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.” John Wesley lived as the American Revolution was beginning and happening. He lived when the enslavement of an entire continent was taking place. He lived in the open wounds of the world that are still bleeding today. We stand centuries later interpreting the scars, mixing the blood from these wounds with the blood of Christ. Finding salvation in politics. Finding salvation in candidates. Finding salvation in separation. Our spirits are sharp, ready to pierce each other’s hearts and add to the bloodshed. I am not asking you vote one way or the other. I am asking you to love. I am asking you to learn the language of the person you hate. I am asking you to go and do likewise. Let your definition of neighbor be: yes. Let everything and everyone be your neighbor. Hold their health, wealth, wellbeing, stability, housing, joy, depression, freedom, and right to live a life filled with love as your own. If we hold that understanding of Christianity, it does not matter what language we speak, because it will always be interpreted as the language of love.

Pastor David Hodd

Online Worship – September 13th, 2020

July 16th, 2020

Gethsemane UMC Online Worship – September 13th, 2020

Check out our online worship for Sunday, September 13th!

Turning the Pot by Pastor David Hodd

Opening Hymn – I Want to Walk as a Child of Light (UMH 206)
Praise Hymn – It Is Well with My Soul (UMH 377)
Scripture – Mark 8:14-21
Sermon – Turn the Pot by Pastor David Hodd
Closing Hymn – We Will Glorify the King of Kings (TFWS 2087)