Enjoining all workers (active and retired) to pls attend this momentous gathering on October.

The Davao Episcopal Area will hold a historic area-wide church workers convocation on October 28-30, 2014 at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center in Kidapawan City. This is the first time that the church workers from the five annual conferences - MinPAC, EMPAC, NWMPAC, VPAC and BPPAC - will gather in one place. Speakers and lecturers include former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno, Rev. Malcom Tan of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore, Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area and Bishop Pedro Torio of the Baguio Episcopal Area. For details please contact the DEA Bishop's Office, tel. no. (064)572-7331.

The Davao Episcopal Area will hold a historic area-wide church workers convocation on October 28-30, 2014 at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center in Kidapawan City. This is the first time that the church workers from the five annual conferences – MinPAC, EMPAC, NWMPAC, VPAC and BPPAC – will gather in one place. Speakers and lecturers include former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno, Rev. Malcom Tan of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore, Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area and Bishop Pedro Torio of the Baguio Episcopal Area. For details please contact the DEA Bishop’s Office, tel. no. (064)572-7331.

Theme:    Equipping and Empowering through Vital Congregations!
Date: Oct. 28-30, 2014
Venue: Spottswood Methodist Center, Kidapawan City, Philippines.
Registration: Php. 100/delegate
Oct. 27, Monday
02:00-05:30 pm Arrival and registration,
06:00-07:00 pm Supper
07:30-09:00 pm- Welcome, Orientation, House rules and Setting
Oct. 28, Tuesday
Officer of the Day- Rev. Reynaldo Sombilon
06:00-07:00 am Breakfast
07:30-08:30 am Opening Worship (Speaker- Bishop Rodolfo Juan)
08:30-10:00 am  The National Situation (Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Retired)
                                         Moderator: Rev. Federico Noble)
10:00-10:30 am Break
10:30=-12:00 NN  “Muslim Christian Relation and Ministry: A Wesleyan Approach-Part I
                  Speaker-   Rev. Malcom Tan -from Singapore/ Moderator:  Rev. Roland Annaguey
12:00-01:00 pm  Lunch break
02:03:30 pm “Vital Congregations: A Call to Action”
     Speaker: Bishop Pedro Torio/ Moderator- Rev. Roberto ladia
03:30-05:00 pm  Meetings of Annual Conferences / Preparations for evening program
06:-07:00 pm- Supper
07:30 pm  Acquaintance, AC Presentations, Socializations and fellowship
Oct. 29, Wednesday
Officer of the Day: Rev. irenia Respuesto
06:00-07:00am- Breakfast
07:30-08:30 am Morning Devotion by Rev. Igmedio Equilla, Jr.
08:30-10:00 am  “Muslim Christian Relation and Ministry: A Wesleyan Approach-Part II
                                      Speaker-   Rev. Malcom Tan -from Singapore
10:00-10:30 am Break
10:30-12:00 am   Clergy Retirement Pension  Program
                                   by: Judge Benjamin Turgano & Ms.Liz Mariano
12:00-01:00 nn  Lunch Brweak
02:00-05:00 pm- Sportsfest (Rev.  Willy Vargas & Rev. Recto Baguio)
06:00-07:00 PM- Supper
07:30pm  RENEW, RESTORE, REVIVE by Rev. David Sablan, jr.
Oct. 30, Thursday
Officer of the Day- Rev. Tito Linang
06:00-07:00  am – Breakfast
07:30-08:30 am Bible Study by Bishop Leo Soriano/ Moderator- Rev. Ace Painit
08:30-10:00 am “Violence against Women and Children” by Dr. Tita V. Francisco
                                    Moderator: Rev. Janeth L. Rufino
10:00-10:30 an – Break
10:30-12:00 nn   “DEA Quadrennial  Program” by Bishop  Ciriaco Q. Francisco
12:00-01:00 pm  Lunch
02:00-03:30 o pm  GAD By Ms. Framer Mella/Moderator- Ms. Aurora Sambrano
03:00-05:00 pm  Awards and Recognition
06:00-07:00 pm Supper
07:30 pm  CLOSING WORSHIP – Bishop Ciriaco Q. Francisco
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A Preacher’s Guide: 10 Things Every New Believer Should Know

A Preacher's Guide: 10 Things Every New Believer Should Know
If you are off by a few degrees at the start and you travel the path for a while, you will be off by miles later. I know that from experience.

Recently, a 20-something friend became a Christian, and he asked me, “What are the top 10 things for a new Christian to learn within the first year?” (Apparently, he is a David Letterman fan.)

This is a wise question, because if you are off by a few degrees at the start and you travel that path for a while, you will be off by miles later. I know that from experience. I have been a Christian for over 25 years, and God has had to redirect me on multiple things because of what I mistakenly believed early on about being a Christian. And it is better to learn sooner than later.

So here are the 10 things (not necessarily in any particular order) that I thought my new Christian friend should sink down deep into his heart, head and hands as he travels his first year with Jesus:

1. The one thing that the Bible emphasizes more than us loving God and people is that God loves us. He loves us first and most. God isn’t in heaven plucking a daisy saying “I love you” when you obey and “I love you not” when you sin. He cannot not love you (Rom. 5:8 and 1 Jn. 4:16).

2. Your motivation for and the purpose of learning, serving, worshipping, giving, reaching, reading, praying, etc. is to grow relationally more in love with God and people (Mt. 22:36-40).

3. You not only are saved by grace, but you grow by it, too. A common trap for new and growing Christians is trying to clean up their lives without God’s help. This is a false equation: The less you sin = the less you need God’s grace. You can’t sin less and love more without the strength of God’s grace.

4. Don’t trample all over the Great Commandment (love God, love people) trying to obey the Great Commission (go and make disciples). New and enthusiastic Christians often do this. Instead, lead people to Jesus by loving people to Jesus (1 Cor. 13:1-3). If they ask you why live the way you do, humbly and simply share with them why you put your hope in Jesus.

5. Love your neighbors—your literal neighbors—the ones you have, not the ones you wish you had. Do this because you are a Christian, not just because you want them to be Christians.

6. Focus on Jesus, His cross, His resurrection and His kingdom. When you confessed Jesus as the living Lord and Messiah, you never said—and will never say—anything more meaningful. Jesus is God with skin. No other “religious leader” (Moses, Buddha, Muhammad) is His equal. They were mere men; Jesus is God who became a man. He is the center and circumference—the hub and rim of all of life and creation. All of the world’s greatest gifts—love, life, truth, grace, etc.—have a name. Jesus.

7. God cares about your whole life, not just your “spiritual life.” It is a mistake to think that God is only concerned about a section of your life called “your soul” or “your spirit.” God cares about and is to be Lord of all of your life—personal, emotional, social, familial, financial, physical, vocational, sexual, intellectual, and so on.

8. Love other Christians who go to different churches (or no church at all) and who aren’t like you. Unfortunately, many Christians and churches view their “brand” of Christianity as the only true or most true type of Christianity. They may not think they are the only Christians, but they do think they are the best or most right ones. This is a prideful and sinful attitude that grieves Jesus and dismembers His body. Strive for unity in the body of Christ by praying humbly and thankfully for other Christians.

9. Pray with your Bible open. There are many different spiritual exercises (fasting, solitude, serving, etc.), but the two most important ones are communicating and communing with God through prayer and listening to and learning about God through the Scriptures. Prayerfully read about Jesus (in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Prayerfully read about the beginning of the church in a book called Acts. Prayerfully read some letters written by Christians for Christians—some good ones to start with are James, Philippians and Ephesians.

10. Find a Christian mentor. You will need help and encouragement in this journey with Jesus. Ask an older Christian (of the same gender as you) to mentor you. Look for someone who displays the attitudes and actions that were described above. Be a blessing to them in return.

Christianity is not a list but a life; it’s not a chart but a charter. But new Christians will learn new things. Some of those things will be true but not important. Some things will be off by degrees that can lead them astray. Other things will be just plain wrong. Help new Christians learn to follow Jesus by being their best at what matters most to Him.  

Brian Mavis Brian Mavis leads Community Transformation at LifeBridge Christian Church, and he helps other churches in their missional efforts in his role as the Executive Director of the Externally Focused Network ( Brian also leads a new website designed to challenge young Christian risk-takers ( Brian was the first G.M. of from 2000-2005. He has written curriculum for campaigns including Bono’s “One Sabbath Campaign”, Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”; World Vision’s “Faith in Action” and “The Hole in Our Gospel.” God’s specific call on his life is to strengthen other Christian leaders.
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Lessons I Learned From My Mentor

11 Preaching and Pastoring Lessons I Learned From My Mentor
Sometimes leadership lessons are caught as much as they are taught.

As my mentor, Dr. Greg Mathis has modeled skills and competency in pastoring and preaching. Preacher Greg has prepared every one of his associate staff members to lead, preach and pastor the congregation. In fact, his view is that his associates help him pastor.

He offered these two non-negotiable expectations to us as associate pastors. First, you must be prepared to preach weekly and deliver a word from God to your congregation. Second, you must minister to people in times of crisis.

Preacher Greg is not minimizing pastoral ministry merely to preaching and crisis ministry. But he was reminding us that pastoral ministry cannot be effective without preaching the Word faithfully and being available in crisis situations. You can either destroy or build your leadership credibility by your readiness to preach and minister in crisis situations or by your failure in these areas.

Following are 11 of the preaching and pastoring lessons I’ve learned from my mentor.

1. “Study in the morning.” Preacher Greg models and encourages consistent study habits. He’s often in his study before 6 a.m. and averages 20-25 hours in sermon preparation weekly. He’s been able to preach with consistent passion and effectiveness for more than 30 years at Mud Creek because he’s faithful in his study.

2. Work through preaching series in a number of ways. He’s advocated using preaching through books of the Bible, doctrines important to the Christian faith, and biblical characters. This model seeks to preach the “whole counsel” of Scripture while changing up the manner of dealing with biblical themes.

3. Know your best style of preaching. Something unique to Preacher Greg that I’ve learned about communicating is his particular style of preaching. I would categorize him a narrative/expository preacher. He preaches through texts, but does so broadly and with a particular storytelling approach.

4. “You should be able to preach a sermon in 30 minutes.” We have multiple Sunday morning services that require Preacher Greg to preach within a 30-minute timeframe. But his point is well-made. Sermons should not ramble on and on. They should be clear, to the point and finish with specificity.

5. “Make you laugh to make you listen.” This is one of my favorite Preacher Greg quotes. He often shares a story or even a joke, following it with “I make you laugh to make you listen,” then connects the laughter to the biblical point or concept he was making. He uses humor to help his hearers resonate with biblical truth or soften the blow of an in-your-face point.

6. Plan your preaching in advance. Preacher Greg studies, prepares and writes his sermons about six weeks in advance. This practice helps him avoid the last minute panics about not having a sermon. While his approach may not fit everyone’s study rhythm, being prepared in advance is certainly preferable to writing Sunday’s sermon on Saturday night.

7. “When someone calls you at 3 a.m., they’re not calling to just share information with you.” Related to pastoring, Preacher Greg says the pastor must be available in genuine emergency situations. I’ve watched him ask an associate pastor to preach so he can minister to a wife and three girls whose husband/father just committed suicide. He’s available in emergencies.

8. Be consistent in your care for the congregation. Not only has Preacher Greg led our staff and deacons to be consistent in ministering to the pastoral care and counseling needs of our congregation, but he (even in a church of 4,000 members) calls every family who has experienced a death even if he’s not the minister covering the funeral.

9. Be accessible to people. Preacher Greg has an open door policy with children. They can walk into his study any time. He wants to always be approachable to children so that when they begin having questions about salvation, they will feel comfortable talking to him. This is a truly wise and profitable lesson I’ve seen bear fruit in the children of our church. Also, he makes time to meet/counsel those in our congregation. He doesn’t delegate all of those tasks. He believes it important to remain in touch with people.

10. Be patient and willing to deal with “EGR” people. For us, “EGR” stands for Extra Grace Required. Every church has them. Every pastor will face them. His admonition is patience and accommodation. While we must not cow to the intimidators and control-minded people, we should generally express patience and accommodation even to those who might be difficult.

11. As a pastor, love and care for people. We all know this truth biblically, but I’ll tell you from my experience that watching someone faithfully love, shepherd and minister to his congregation (even the difficult people) is a privilege that I relish.

I’ve offered these lessons from leadership, preaching and pastoring because the wisdom from my mentor has greatly benefited me in these areas. Furthermore, with as much as I’ve learned from my mentor, I have personally committed to mentoring others and pouring into them what I’ve been privileged to receive.  

Chris Hefner Chris serves as minister of missions and evangelism at Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Chris has a Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and also teaches at Fruitland Bible College. He is a regular contributor to Thom Rainer’s PastorsToday blog (, He and his wife, Jean, have two sons, Will and Nathan. Get in touch with Dr. Hefner on Twitter: @ChrisHefner.

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A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism

We receive our identity from others, from the expectations of friends and colleagues, from the labels society puts upon us, and from the influence of family.

To become Christian is to receive a new identity. You no longer allow others to tell you who you are. Christ now claims you and instructs you. A Christian is one who has “put on Christ.”

Baptism celebrates becoming that new person. That is why the church’s ritual begins with putting off the old, renouncing sin and the evil powers of the world, and pledging our loyalty to Christ.

God Initiates the Covenant

We also believe that in baptism God initiates a covenant with us, announced with the words, “The Holy Spirit works within you, that being born through water and the Spirit, you may be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.” This is followed by the sign-act of laying hands on the head, or the signing of the cross on the forehead with oil. The word covenant is a biblical word describing God’s initiative in choosing Israel to be a people with a special mission in the world, and Israel’s response in a life of faithfulness. The baptismal covenant calls us to a similar vocation.

God Has Chosen Us

Christians have also understood the baptismal covenant in light of Jesus’ baptism. At Jesus’ baptism, God said: “This is my son.” While Jesus’ relation to God as Son is unique, for Christians baptism means that God has also chosen us as daughters and sons, and knows us intimately as a parent.

So the most important things about us, our true identity, is that we are now sons and daughters of God. That is why the introduction to the United Methodist Baptismal Covenant states, “We are incorporated into God’s mighty acts of salvation and given new birth through water and the Spirit.”

The introduction also says, “Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are initiated into Christ’s holy church.”

Baptism Is the Door

From the beginning, baptism has been the door through which one enters the church. It was inconceivable to many that one could respond to God’s grace by reciting the renunciations, affirming one’s faith in Christ and loyalty to the Kingdom, without joining the fellowship of those who are committed to mature in that faith. As the “Body of Christ” in the world, baptism commissions us to use our gifts to strengthen the church and to transform the world.

Why Baptize Babies?

From the earliest times, children and infants were baptized and included in the church. As scriptural authority for this ancient tradition, some scholars cite Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me…for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs” (Mark 10:14). However, a more consistent argument is that baptism, as a means of grace, signifies God’s initiative in the process of salvation. John Wesley preached “prevenient grace,” the grace that works in our lives before we are aware of it, bringing us to faith. The baptism of children and their inclusion in the church before they can respond with their own confirmation of faith is a vivid and compelling witness to prevenient grace.

Baptism Is Forever

Because baptism is a sacrament of God’s grace and a covenant that God has initiated, it should not be repeated. However, God’s continuing and patient forgiveness, God’s prevenient grace, will prompt us to renew the commitment first made at our baptism. At such a time, instead of rebaptism, The United Methodist Church offers the ritual for the reaffirmation of baptismal vows, which implies that, while God remains faithful to God’s half of the covenant, we are not always faithful to our promises. Our half of the covenant is to confess Christ as our Savior, trust in his grace, serve him as Lord in the church, and carry out his mission against evil, injustice, and oppression.

Baptism Is the Beginning, Not the End

You have heard people say, “I was baptized Methodist,” or “I was baptized Presbyterian,” which could mean that in baptism they got their identity papers and that was the end of it. But baptism is not the end. It is the beginning of a lifelong journey of faith. It makes no difference whether you were baptized as an adult or as a child; we all start on that journey at baptism. For the child, the journey begins in the nurturing community of the church, where he or she learns what it means that God loves you. At the appropriate time, the child will make his or her first confession of faith in the ritual the church traditionally calls confirmation. Most often, this is at adolescence or at the time when the person begins to take responsibility for his or her own decisions.

If you experienced God’s grace and were baptized as an adult or received baptism as a child and desire to reaffirm your baptismal vows, baptism still marks the beginning of a journey in the nurturing fellowship of the caring, learning, worshipping, serving congregation.

What Is a Sacrament?

The word sacrament is the Latin translation of the Greek word mysterion. From the early days of the church, baptism was associated with the mystery that surrounds God’s action in our lives. That means that at best our words can only circumscribe what happens, but not define it. We cannot rationally explain why God would love us “while we were yet sinners” and give his only begotten Son that we should not perish but have eternal life. That is the most sacred and unfathomable mystery of all. We can experience God’s grace at any time and in any place, but in the sacrament of baptism we routinely experience that amazing grace.

From A United Methodist Understanding of Baptism by Mark C. Trotter. Copyright © 2001 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

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Refresh the Offering: Ten Tips

1. Go Back to Basics.

What is an offering? It is a response to the word of God, made in cash or check. That may sound disrespectful to both God and cash but cash is not much different than bringing first fruits into today’s world. It may look more beautiful to bring a homegrown tomato or pumpkin but currency is currency. The offering is a material response to a spiritual experience.

2. Attend to the Liturgy.

Use sentences that become so familiar to people that it prompts their response at a deep and psychic level. Many congregations still sing the Doxology as the plates are brought forward. Some drop the money quietly in a bag and bring empty plates forward as symbols. Still others collect prayer requests and visitor/commitment cards along with the money. Whatever you do, make it a pattern. A liturgical moment has a beginning and middle and an end. Pay attention to the story you are leading.

3. Ask Boldly.

Get over whoever told you “I just can’t ask people for money.” Why not? You are offering them an enormous opportunity to give. Consider touching a nerve by saying, “Too often, people’s gifts are refused on the job, at home, in school. Here we do not refuse your gifts. Here we welcome your gifts. We take whatever you have and put it with what others have and become the living, breathing body of Jesus, here, now. Thank you for giving back as you have received.” Or “Blessed are those who can give.” Or “Be glad that you have something to offer.” Or “It costs X dollars per week to run the ministries of this church. Thanks to all who sang and who freshened the rest room for our use. Please be generous in your contribution.” The invitation has to be in your voice, directed to your people. Be very careful not to just throw something off or to use an obscure biblical passage. Don’t say something people don’t get. Be sure to put your money in after you say the invite. You are also welcome to contribute!

4. Train those Doing the Collecting

Make sure the “ushers” (or whatever you call them in your tradition) are well trained and neither miss anybody or offend somebody by showing up at the pew before she has opened her purse. Ushers can also have smiles on their faces—the offering doesn’t have to be so somber. Rotate out the people who collect the offering. Don’t act like this is unimportant or that only men or bankers can do it. People love to participate as leaders in worship. Offer them the offertory. By the way, the worship leader doesn’t need to do this training. If you have somebody who thinks they “own” the offering, have them become the lead trainer and teacher.

5. Conclude with Pizzazz.

Maybe the doxology works for you. Maybe the rising of the people with the organ and the plates coming forward to the table/altar still works for your congregation. Some people find that a little TOO dramatic with too much emphasis on the money. Sometimes it really helps to tell people they can bring their offering up themselves, when they are ready, during a song or series of songs. Again, you need to do what makes sense for you. But make sure the offering is prayed for. Make sure the prayer is prepared and has a familiar ring for your people. And say it, don’t read it. Bless the ushers for receiving the gifts in God’s name.

6. Think Practically about Money.

In practical terms, how do you collect the money? Envelopes used to work and now they simply don’t. They are great for the church treasurer because he or she can keep good records, but it is very unlikely that you can train people to use envelopes today. Their lives are too episodic. They don’t pay their car or electric bill by check so it is unlikely they will pay you that way. Many people don’t even carry cash anymore, so consider making automatic payments possible via your website. ATM-style giving kiosks can be used for on-site electronic giving. (Both of these options can be limited to debit accounts, so as to not encourage use of credit cards.) Or, you could have an actual ATM to facilitate cash giving. And what of annual pledge drives? Be honest about people’s hesitancy to commit by saying, “We LOVE IT when people promise a pledge for the year but we understand uncertainty discourages people from making such a promise. We hope you will find the courage to make such a promise and to contribute regularly. No one is prevented from participation if they can’t pay. But you will get more out of your experience here if you put more into it – and that means money and participation.”

7. Thank People for Giving.

Do twice as much thanking as you do asking. That means in the sermon, in the benediction, in the bulletin, in the church newsletters, by the ushers as they receive the gifts.

8. Link Stewardship and Discipleship

Consider a benediction that has a stewardship emphasis. “Thank you God for all the people who took the time to show up today. They had many places and people competing for their time and money. Send us out to be your hands and feet and wallets as we do your work in the world. Amen.”

9. De-mystify Money

Money is too often a taboo topic. Teach people as regularly as you can that money is just energy, that it is just currency, that it is not “naughty” to discuss. Energy and currency are extraordinarily positive forces in our lives. Defuse the power around money and you will find the offering having more meaning. Is the offering a “tip” or a “tax” or a “gift?” Help people understand that it is a gift in response to a gift, that we have not a contract with God but a covenant. Emphasize the freedom in doing what is “only right.”

10. Be Self-Aware

Lead worship with the deep awareness that the bread on your own table comes from these people’s pockets and pocketbooks. Respect their gifts. If the generosity goes out of your heart during the offertory, take a vacation. Come back, with generosity in your heart.

About the Author

Donna Schaper

Donna Schaper is Senior Minister of the Judson Memorial Church in New York City.
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Are we really doing family ministries?

I overheard this conversation recently at a United Methodist church. Should we have a baby shower for the child of one of the active and long term members of the church, who was expecting? No, she is not married was one answer. Another was why wouldn’t we? Well she doesn’t come to church very often was a response. But her parents do. And so the conversation went back and forth over whether to have a baby shower. Whether we want to admit it or not the world and culture around us continues to change just as the “concept of family” continues to evolve.

Many folks seem to have a lack of history when they think about family today. Some of us in the Christian tradition have tried to make the concept of a “nuclear” family the only concept of family that matters. In the early days of the American Republic many children were raised by relatives, since it was not culturally appropriate in those days to bring children from a past marriage into a new family. So if the wife died during childbirth for example, and the husband wanted to remarry, his children were often shuffled off to a relative (or someone else who needed child labor) who was willing or financially able to raise them.

According to a new book Attract Families to Your Church, 35 percent of children in America live in single-parent families. In 2009, 21.8 million children under the age of twenty-one were being raised by a single parent. In 2010, 2.7 million grandparents served as primary caregivers to one or more grandchild living in their household. There may soon be more step families than traditional families. So what is a church to do?

Perhaps we should remember that we are the people of the United Methodist Church who say we have Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors; thus we should invite all to know God’s grace. In other words, if someone in your church is having a baby, no matter what the circumstances, celebrate it with them and go ahead and have a baby shower! In fact if you reach out to those who do not fit the traditional nuclear family label you may find them in church with you and a sanctuary filled with children.

About the Author

Ed Trimmer

Rev. Dr. Ed Trimmer is married to Angy who serves a rural small membership church, and between them they have eight read more…
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Old just ain’t what it used to be

The word old used to carry a mantel of respect. An old person was one who had achieved something, arrived, had matured. Grandfathers and grandmothers were the revered ones for having lived through entire generations of events, decisions, heartbreaks, and victories. Experiences were accumulated to be miraculously transformed into armor plate, impervious to the vagaries of youth which can be whisked away in an instant. As an ancient one you could bespeak of all that you’ve seen, the heroes you’ve met, the travel that had broadened your horizons.

The irony of old and this view of old is that it is, well, old. It appears we don’t go there any more.

To be old these days is like being a rock on the side of the stream–because the rock lies to one side and is, for all intents and purposes, immobile. It holds little meaning for those in the swift flowing stream going by. Hardly worth a glance if you are caught up in the rush called “the real world” and whisked off down-stream. You are being ignored and the ignored are the isolated. The isolated are the lonely. The lonely suffer.

You are an old duffer. A senior. A “pardner.” An old man or old lady. You have become old-fashioned. Gramps! Granny! You are only an insignificant part of the old guard. You are not only an old goat, alas, you are probably no longer randy.

Being old just ain’t what it used to be.

Call to action!

So! Seniors. How are we to treat such villainy? Have we really closed shop? Are we to be tossed to the shore like so much flotsam? Shall we roll over with these kicks adding additional agony to the scars of advanced years? Or, are we going to hold our canes high and shout “No more!” Old ain’t that bad! Let us take our stand against this infamy!

Be proud.

Don’t give in to public opinion. You deserve those wrinkles. You got them the hard way–by living through the sad times, the hard times, and, yes, the fun times and the rewarding times.

Seek the benefits.

You don’t have to stand in line on a Saturday morning to wait for anything. You can do that on Tuesday. And, while the working crowd is nicely tucked away in the workplace, you can go to the barber or hairdresser without having to fight the crowds.

Don’t get stuck in time.

Being a senior is not limited to cheaper movie tickets. Humans of all ages are not made up of just what we used to be. We are not locked in the good old days, nor condemned to bemoan ages long gone. Life is not all about youth. Life is not only about the future. Life, thank you very much, is richer than that. Right here. Right now. No matter how old you are.

Get with it.

Okay. You don’t like computers. I get it. But you need to dip your hand in. So what you’ve been tossed to the riverbank. That doesn’t mean you can’t fish! Toss a line back in; see what you catch. You don’t have to be the world’s foremost computer expert but a very large world of keeping in touch will open up for you by learning how to: email, use Skype, and browse the internet. You can do every one of these on a tablet or computer.

How is retirement going for you?

Do you have any suggestions for folks who are struggling with personal issues around aging? Until next time…

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Rehearsing Before You Preach

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, told preachers who had trouble pronouncing certain words to listen to those who pronounced them correctly, then read those words aloud repeatedly until they rolled off the tongue. Our starting points might be more sophisticated (for example, the podcast of a good speaker), but the technique still works. Wesley told those with weak voices to read aloud from a book for thirty minutes a day, building volume by increments, and being careful not to strain. The voice uses muscles that must be built up gradually to the work of preaching. Reading aloud can help also with voice variation and emphasis. It is a way of learning to give the drama intrinsic to certain scripture texts their due.

And then there is the use of a full-length mirror! Wesley the preacher was relentless in his attack on the human pride from which we must be saved and sanctified, but Wesley the teacher of preachers also knew that speakers must become comfortable with their speaking image, just as they must make peace with their speaking voice. Repeating the advice of the Greek orator Demosthenes, Wesley recommends time in front of “a large looking glass.” Most of the work is remedial: “learn to avoid every disagreeable or unhandsome gesture.” Look for and correct defects of posture, such as slouching or holding one’s head too high or low. Note and change the nervous “babbling of hands” or standing fixed and immovable like the trunk of a tree.

But Wesley goes beyond remedial work to recommend posing before a mirror to search for and practice effective gestures as any serious actor might. The pose that corresponds to a moment of personal testimony in the sermon, for example, is the right hand “applied gently to the breast.” The contemporary speaker who stands before a mirror must search for and rehearse the gestures that will bring across the message to persons in this time and place, for example, submission indicated by open hands with palms upward or the “yes!” of the raised right fist.

In the twentieth century, the school of acting known as method acting called into question this practice of rehearsing purposeful gestures and instead directed actors to go into the core of their beings to find the authentic emotions and actions that would arise as they engage their scripts. The seeing that goes on in method acting occurs in the imagination, not in front of a mirror. By the logic of method acting, preachers would engage the sermon manuscript deeply during the time of preparation, and authentic expressions and gestures would follow automatically when they preached.

Perhaps the truth is somewhere between Wesley’s use of a mirror and method acting’s reliance on psychological motivation. Preachers need to find an inner resonance with their message, but preachers also need a certain conscious cultivation of body language for its potential to amplify the message, a discipline learned in front of a mirror or with the aid of a videotape, or, once more, with the help of a friendly observer. Rehearsal for preaching involves both disciplines.

Rehearsing to speak in front of others may resurrect memories of failure, echoes of harsh criticism, and issues of shame and self-worth. How dare you address your peers as one with authority? How can you possibly stand up to the scrutiny of forty adults and teenagers? Rehearsal is a time to stare down the demons of doubt by wrapping yourself in the armor of a call from God, who decided that you, even you with your less-than-splendid natural endowments and accrued credentials, are good enough material to serve as one of God’s own messengers.

About the Author

Lewis Parks

Lewis Parks is Associate Dean for Church Leadership Development and Director of the D.Min. Program at Wesley read more…
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GBHEM and GBOD renew and expand e-readers for theological education agreement


By Marcie Smeck

NASHVILLE, Tn: A pilot project to provide e-readers loaded with theological texts has proven so successful that GBHEM General Secretary Kim Cape and GBOD General Secretary Tim Bias renewed their joint agreement, continuing this interagency collaboration until December 2016. The renewed agreement extends the “E-Reader Project” and includes a partnership with the African Association of United Methodist-related Theological Institutions (AAUMTI) and its sixteen United Methodist theology schools in Africa. The new agreement also includes four theology schools in the Philippines.

The pilot project at Gbarnga School of Theology (GST) in Liberia tested simple and effective ways to help theology schools in remote, low-power areas have access to current textbooks and reference books necessary for a solid theological education in the Wesleyan tradition. In the evaluation of the 18-month pilot project (January 2013-June 2014), GST faculty reported that the use of the e-reader had raised the level of classroom discussion because students now have had the opportunity to read assignments before class. Faculty had previously written notes on the chalkboard for students to copy or depended on lectures as the main source of content for students.

“The successful and positive results of the e-reader pilot project in Liberia last year encouraged us to step forward together with GBHEM to create even more access to theological resources by expanding the project to other United Methodist theological schools in Africa and Asia. Both agencies are called to develop leaders who make disciples of Jesus Christ and to equip and educate the saints for the transformation of the world,” said Bias. “Together we develop and equip leaders to build up the church for the work of God’s transforming the world. We are excited to see how using digital devices and content can be a part of equipping our brothers and sisters across the world for the work of ministry,” he continued.

The e-reader team is refining English content and developing French and Portuguese content. In the next year the team will be meeting with the leadership of the 22 theological schools, providing their first e-readers and planning for the implementation on each campus in 2015 and 2016.

“This is a wonderful partnership with GBOD. It is a perfect complement to our ongoing work—promoting theological education in fast growing central conferences, expanding access to theological resources and enhancing the teaching/learning environment at each institution, no matter how remote they are,” Cape said.

The team settled on a “library model” for the work with AAUMTI schools in Africa. Going forward, the students will be able to freely use school-owned e-readers (checked out from the school library) and may be able to receive their own e-reader when they graduate.

Funding for the “E-Reader Project” comes from annual conferences, local churches, individual donors, universities and a student fee each semester, which helps offset the price of the e-reader and its content. To learn more or donate online, visit

Smeck is interim director, Office of Communications General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

Press Releases

Press Releases

The United Methodist Reporter receives press releases on a regular basis from UM related agencies announcing events and other programs. We are providing them unedited as a service to UMR readers.

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enjoining all workers (active and retired) to pls attend this momentous gathering on October.

The Davao Episcopal Area will hold a historic area-wide church workers convocation on October 28-30, 2014 at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center in Kidapawan City. This is the first time that the church workers from the five annual conferences - MinPAC, EMPAC, NWMPAC, VPAC and BPPAC - will gather in one place. Speakers and lecturers include former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno, Rev. Malcom Tan of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore, Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area and Bishop Pedro Torio of the Baguio Episcopal Area. For details please contact the DEA Bishop's Office, tel. no. (064)572-7331.

The Davao Episcopal Area will hold a historic area-wide church workers convocation on October 28-30, 2014 at Spottswood Methodist Mission Center in Kidapawan City. This is the first time that the church workers from the five annual conferences – MinPAC, EMPAC, NWMPAC, VPAC and BPPAC – will gather in one place. Speakers and lecturers include former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Reynato S. Puno, Rev. Malcom Tan of Barker Road Methodist Church in Singapore, Bishop Rodolfo A. Juan of the Manila Episcopal Area and Bishop Pedro Torio of the Baguio Episcopal Area. For details please contact the DEA Bishop’s Office, tel. no. (064)572-7331.

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