Oregon-Idaho Association of Confessing United Methodists Sept/Oct
Inside this Newsletter
The Oregon-Idaho Association of Confessing United Methodists extends an invitation to the clergy and laity of the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference of the UMC to become members of the association. For a brochure which describes the purposes of the OIACUM or for other additional information contact: the Rev. Cynthia Greene, 1736 SE 106th, Portland, Oregon 97216. If you wish to become a member, please fill out the back page of this newsletter and send it , along with your financial membership report to: Cherry Park UMC, 1736 SE 106th, Portland, Oregon 97216
(checks should be made out to: Cherry Park UMC and noted that this is for the OIACUM on the bottom of your check. Thank you. This is only temporary as at the Oct.11 meeting we will elect officers and establish our own
account. Our thanks to Cherry Park for graciously handling our finances till then).
September 16-17 in Bend, Oregon our Bishop Ed Paup has called a Special Clergy Session. One of the discussion topics is to be "Covenant". From our district meetings regarding this session it appears we are to discuss: "What does it mean to be in 'covenant' one with another?" An excellent question and one over which all baptized Christians should be in prayer.
Since this appears to be a focus of our Bishop and one which does indeed impact us all (clergy and laity alike) we are attempting to present some "Food for Thought" on the topic.
It is true that all clergy, by virtue of their Ordination Vows (see The Book of Worship pp.674-676 and The Book of Discipline Para.304ff) are in a kind of "covenant" with God and one with another. But it is also true that all baptized Christians are in "covenant" with God and one with another . When we were baptized we entered into a "covenant" agreement. If you have not looked at the Baptismal Covenant for awhile , please do so. Whether we were baptized under the older hymnals or the new one, we entered into "covenant".
What does "covenant" mean? Covenant : a mutual agreement between two or more persons to do or refrain from doing certain acts; sometimes the undertaking of one of the parties (Webster's Dictionary). In the Bible God is regarded as the witness of this pact (Gen. 31:50; I Sam. 20:8).
Biblically, a covenant is a divine agreement between God and humankind. God is the initiator of covenant promises.God is the only One in a position to establish a covnenant with us. We can make promises, or vows, to God, but God alone has the authority and prerogative to make covenants with us. There are about three hundred references to covenants in the Old Testament . Jesus referred to only one covenant in the Gospels: a new covenant described in Luke 22.
In the Old Testament there are three different types of covenant: 1) a two-sided covenant between human parties, both of which voluntarily accept the terms of the agreement (I Sam.18:3,4; Mal.2:14; Obad.7); 2) a one-sided disposition imposed by a superior party (Ezek.17:13,14).In this God "commands" a covenant which humans, the servants, are to obey (Josh. 23:16). 3) God's self-imposed obligation, for the reconciliation of sinners to God's Self (Deut. 7:6-8; Ps. 89:3-4;Jer.31:31-34; Heb.7:22).
All of these covenants fall into one of two types. One is conditional - in otherwords, if you do one thing, this is what I will do. Conditional covenants hinge upon the behavior of humankind and very specifically, our willingness to obey God. The other type of covenant is an unconditional covenant. An unconditional covenant does not depend upon humankind's response. God has said what God is going to do, and it shall be done, regardless of the obedience of human beings.
Questions for consideration: Our Baptismal Covenant is which type of covenant? Is this an either/or choice or a "Wesleyan" both/and? Does Baptism inform us as to our identity ? Does it "in- form" us( i.e. form us from within by the power of the Holy Spirit) as well ? And what does it mean to live in relation with one another within this covenant? To be called the Body of Christ means what to us? Can a Body survive when its parts are working against one another rather than working together ? These have ecumenical as well as traditional (denominational) implications, do they not?
This Oct 11 at Cherry Park UMC we of the OIACUM hope to open up this discussion in the afternoon session of the Fall Conference. If this is among the concerns of your heart, please join us.
The Oregon-Idaho Association of Confessing United Methodists is meeting at Cherry Park UMC (1736 SE 106th Portland, Oregon - off I-205 at the Division/Powell turn off to SE Market, up Market, just above the Adventist Medical Center ) Sat. Oct. 11 from 9am - 5pm.
The tentative schedule for the conference is:
8:30am Voluntary Prayer Time and Registration
9:00am Welcome and Morning Worship
9:30am Keynote address by: the Rev. Les Longden, National member of the Confessing Movements Theological Commission:
"What is the Confessing Movement?"
10:40am Questions and Answer period with the Rev. Longden
11:45am Lunch Break
1:30pm Workshop: Covenant and Accountability
3:15 Support and Network; Election of Officers
4:00pm Closing Worship: Wesleyan Covenant Service and Holy Communion
Call Cherry park UMC (503) 253-2386 to RSVP. Thank you.
(From: John Wesley's Theology: a collection from his works. Robert W. Burtner and Robert E. Chiles, eds. Abingdon Press.)
"The Christian rule of right and wrong is the Word of God , the writings of the Old and New Testament;...This is a lantern unto a Christian's feet , and a light in all his paths. This alone he receives as his rule of right or wrong, of whatever is really good or evil...this being the whole outward rule whereby his conscience is to be directed in all things." (from: "The Witness of Our Own Spirit")
"All Scripture is inspired of God- ... it is so profitable for doctrine, for instruction of the ignorant, for the reproof or conviction of them that are in error or sin; for the correction or amendment of whatever is amiss, and for instructing or training up the children of God in all righteousness." (from: Notes: II Tim. 3:16).
"Daddy?" , my five year old Gabrielle whispered from the upper bunk.
"Yes, honey?", I said, as I leaned over and she gave me a big hug and whispered, "I love you."
"When you and Mommy go to bed, and it is getting dark out, would you turn on the bathroom light?" , she asked in her sweet whispering voice.
"Sure. It's a promise.", I vowed, receiving another huge hug and another "I love you." And when it got dark, I did.
We like light. But light is not just a physical thing, a created thing, the first word of God's creative fiat, but a spiritual reality as well. We need light to see physically and spiritually. This is why the life of Jesus came to bring IS "the light of all people" (John 1:4).
Indeed, light is not just something God brought, in Jesus, but "God", John writes, "is light and in him there is no darkness as all" (I John 1:5) . In heaven there will be no need for a lamp for God is the light and Jesus, the lamp.
God is light; not a created light, but uncreated, penetrating light, which leaves no evidence of a shadow; light which exposes what is hidden in the darkness (John 3: 19-21).
To have relationship with God is to be in the presence of and to be penetrated by such light. There can be no hiding there. A God-relationship, then, must affect our living. Our lives canot claim a relationship with God (see I John 1: 6,8,10), and then live against the very mandates of God's life in us.
So how do we walk in this light and not the darkness? God says we do it by choosing obedience to God's command - to love one another (I John 2:3 and 3:11). But what does that mean?
Light expressed through God's kind of love, is a sacrificial life. As Jesus defined agape love by dying, so weare to die to self and our selfish desires. As Jesus' death redeemed us - was life-giving - so our loving must give life (God's life) to others. We love in order to redeem , to "turn on the lights" in the lives of others, and embrace them with the transforming, reconciling love of God.
To the degree our loving is not redemptive, to that degree, we are not walking in the light and are not truly loving as God intends. God is light, we are called to be light. So, turn on the lights, step out of the darkness and live lives which truly redeem. It is time.
Based upon reports from various annual conference , here are some of the highlights of happenings around the UM Connection:
* Alabama-W. Florida became the first annual conference to adopt a Confessing Statement and become a Confessing Annual Conference;
* The North-Central New York Annual Conference adopted a resolution defining its ministry to and with gays and lesbians in line with the Discipline, choosing not to identify the conference as either "Reconciling" or "Transforming";
* The New England Association of Confessing United Methodists and the Wisconsin Association of Confessing United Methodists as well as our own OIACUM have been formed and are growing daily.
God is at work. Laity and clergy are organizing at the grass roots level to help all UM churches accountable to our doctrines and hold to integrity in our ministries. Please keep praying that the renewing, reforming work of the Holy Spirit will go forward successfully within our tradition.
A number of pastors and lay leaders within the national UMC , as well as the informal leadership of the OIACUM invite us all to join in three days of prayer and fasting December 1, 2, 3, 1997, calling upon God for a discerning of God's will for us, an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and a revival of the people of God in the United Methodist Church.
If you are interested in joining in this time of prayer for our church, please contact the Rev. C. Greene (503) 253- 2386 for devotional information and guidelines for fasting. We will be making a 72 hour Prayer Vigil listing. Each participant will be asked when he/she can put aside an hour for prayer.
There is a great blessing in making a long term commitment to grow with others in the things of God. A year and half ago five Marquam UMC members made that commitment in the area of prayer. As we met together ( at first every other week and later weekly) for study on prayer, sharing, and corporate prayer , we have been enlightened and challenged to greater depths of prayer. Last April we reflected and shared with each other and the congregation the most significant effect upon our lives that this focus on prayer has had.
1. In dealing with crisis when I am faithful in prayer and scripture God works things out. Crisis helps draw me closer to God. When I look to the future there is no need to fear; even if bad comes my way God will use that situation to draw me closer to Him.
2. I have realized that we do not have to face the challenge of this world alone. God will walk with us. It is not that this is just something I know in my heard but rather it is becoming a living reality for me.
3. I have an active and real relationship with God. It is highly personal with interaction between God and me. It is up to me whether or not I have open communication with God. This has changed prayer from being a burden to being a joy. There is great joy in praying and it is permeating my life.
4. In prayer God is helping me to understand the purpose of my life and to set priorities. I see more of what God is doing in the world and am living more in line with that. I am becoming more content and according to my wife am more pleasant to be around.
5. I have calmed down a lot. I am naturally inclined to get upset in my dealing with other people. In the same kind of situations I am now different. I have a greater peace.
In June and early July the Marquam congregation had an unusual series of serious health problems. We pulled together to meet those challenges through prayer. One by one we saw God at work meeting each challenge. For example, a woman in her 40's was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. There were lots of tumors and two doctors said it was cancerous. When they went in to do surgery there were tumors but no cancer. With all the problems it would have been easy to become discouraged. Instead with each victory God has increased our resolve to pray and encourage others to pray. We are excited because there is so much more to learn. We want to learn to not only react to problems with prayer but also to go on the offensive to establish the Kingdom of God here at Marquam.
Beyond Playing Church (by: Michael Slaughter)
The book is based upon the Rev. Mike Slaughter's ministry model used at Ginghamsburg UMC near Dayton, Ohio. This reviewer and her husband had the privilege to meet with and discuss the theology and practical ramifications of the model with Rev. Slaughter back in 1996.
Ginghamsburg UMC has grown from 90 members to 1,400 with an average attendance of 3,000 (yes, I said 3,000). In 1995 we attended one of 5 Christmas Eve services. Amazing involvement from laity. We were impressed.
The book, Beyond Playing Church, lays out the basic fundamentals which are truly Biblical and Wesleyan. There are basically 6 principals :
Lordship Principle (i.e. Jesus Christ is the object of our faith and Lord of our lives);
Biblical principle (Scripture is authoritative);
Liturgical Principle ( worship must be relevant);
Priesthood of all Believers principle( which gets into all believers having gifts for ministry and each using those gifts);
Covenant principle (we are in covenant one with another - Body of Christ);
Restoring integrity to membership and empowering the Body of Christ to be the BODY of Christ is the main message and that requires returning to the basics of our faith. The Rev. Slaughter has developed (and this reviewer has used since 1996 ) a kind of Confirmation/ Members course based on the principles he writes about in the book entitled "Vital Christianity". It is a 12 week course.
It is so wonderfully refreshing to read and have access to such a powerful God breathed renewal materials. A highly recommended resource.