Pastor's BlogPastor's Blog
by Rev. Kevin Miller

     Feel free to read and comment as I share my thoughts on a variety of topics that I hope you find interesting or uplifting.  

Posted by Kevin Miller on OA8er @ 8:54

The Beginning of the End of the Beginning                                                 

Rev. Kevin Miller                                                                                                                  Posted Feb. 25, 2020

You may be familiar with these bulletin bloopers:

Our church will host an evening of fine dining, superb entertainment, and gracious hostility.

Applications are now being accepted for 2-year old nursery workers.

and the classic:  First UNTIED Methodist Church…which more accurately reflects the current state of the United Methodist Church.

On January 3, the news reported the Council of Bishops’ endorsement of a proposal to the General Conference: “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.”

“The Protocol,” as it has become known, was written and unanimously approved by a group of 16 people called together by Bishop John Yambasu of Sierra Leone.   This group began meeting last fall and included reform coalition leaders, centrists, representatives from the Central Conference, and progressives, as well as a nationally known mediator, Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the 911 victims’ compensation fund.

This proposal, which will be presented to General Conference in May:

  • calls for the separation of the current structure of the UMC (it will be untied).
  • keeps the United Methodist Church intact, basically aligning with progressives.
  • provides methods for Annual Conferences and local churches who do not wish to remain in the United Methodist Church a way to leave, while also lifting the historic Trust Clause (which stipulates that local church property belongs to the annual Conference) thus making a way for local churches to keep their property AND exit the UMC.
  • recommends that the UMC in the U.S. become a Regional Conference allowing American Methodists freedom to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ members (for ordination and marriage), while allowing Central Conferences (the international areas of the UMC) to maintain the current language in the Book of Discipline, which was approved by General Conference vote in February, 2019.

It’s important to understand that this is one of several PROPOSALS being brought before the General Conference.  This proposal could change dramatically before, and/or at, General Conference.  If you would like to learn more about all the proposals, a summary chart may be helpful for you.  Click here to view a comparison of the proposals.  Printed copies are also available in our newsstand.

However, what makes the Protocol unique is the support and endorsements it has received from the leaders on all sides of this issue since its release.  It is the first suggested plan to have buy-in from the majority of key parties as well as being endorsed by the Council of Bishops.  Over the last few weeks, the protocol has gained traction and endorsements from many groups.

So, what does this all mean? 

For the UMC in America moving forward, IF this Protocol is passed, the UMC will offer the way for LGBTQ members to be ordained as clergy, and have weddings in our churches.  It also means a continuation as a global church that shares the same mission: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

So…what does this mean for US in Valparaiso?   Initially, nothing!  

We need to wait to see what comes out of Minneapolis in May.  We will need to respond based on what is decided in May, as well as, what comes out of our Indiana Annual Conference in June.

In the meantime, as your pastor, here what I’m asking us to do:

  1. Be prayerfully patient as events unfold.
  2. Know that ANY changes and/or decisions that need to be made as a congregation will be deliberately made with opportunities for the whole congregation to be included by way of a Church Conference.
  3. Join me on Sunday, April 5 at 2:00 pm in the sanctuary for a Town Hall meeting on what could come out of General Conference as we move forward together.
  4. Our resident Bishop, Julius Trimble, will be presiding over five “State of the Church” discussions around the state beginning on March 21.  The closest meeting to us will be held at Christ UMC in Lafayette on Sunday, April 26 at 3:00 p.m. (EST).  Check the conference website (www.inumc.org) for the full schedule.
  5. I said this last year, so as a reminder: Do NOT expect secular media outlets to report on this accurately and without bias.  Use www.umnews.org a trusted source.

Kate said...

Posted on OP3er @ 14:37 -
Jesus prayed for unity among his believers in John 17: 20-21. The enemy has come to steal, kill, and destroy.

If I were the enemy, I would want the Church to be fractured and splintered into tiny little parts all over the world instead of one unified body of Christ. I would want the Church to be distracted from its main objective and riddled with in-fighting and division.

Almighty God, open our eyes to the lies and schemes of the enemy, that we would not be fooled. May we stay deeply rooted in you and in your word and not be overcome by our earthly circumstances.

Joan McPherson said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:52 -
Thank you for the updates and reminder!

Sue Clemens said...

Posted on OP8er @ 19:23 -
Thank you for keeping us updated!

Karyn said...

Posted on OP1er @ 12:43 -
Thank you for putting this together for us in an understandable way.

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OP1er @ 13:13

Rediscover Sunday                                   Rev. Kevin Miller                                       Posted Jan. 22, 2020

You may recall the three Town Hall meetings held between November 10, 2018, and March 2, 2019.

  There were a lot of ideas shared, but one of the themes that emerged from these discussions was a desire for more opportunities for spiritual growth.  What was clear was a longing for discipleship teaching and engagement that will bring people of all ages into a more intimate relationship with Jesus.

This generated discussions about our Sunday morning worship schedule that, for many years has focused more on the act of worship.  Questions were asked about why we do what we do, and if what we do reflects our church’s core values of worship, service, growth, and invitation.

And so the question was asked: What would it look like on Sunday morning to reflect these ideas and core values.  Hence, the idea of restructuring our Sunday morning schedule was hatched and explored.  Here were some key talking points and discoveries:

  • Our current structure with three worship services on Sunday morning, along with many activities, programs and group meetings during the week, makes it difficult to provide for child-care.  Parents of young children specifically expressed a desire for learning, but busy work and family schedules make it increasingly more difficult to commit to an evening or week-night class.
  • The idea was explored to schedule classes when child-care is already in place. In this case, Sunday morning.  This will facilitate engagement of entire families.  We currently provide classes for youth during the 9:15 worship hour.  However, in most cases, this means families are not sharing a common worship experience, thus limiting growth.
  • Sundays are the primary times when we – the church – gather, worship, connect and communicate.  Families could worship together and whole-family participation could more readily be facilitated since childcare is already in place on Sunday mornings. 
  • During the Town Hall meetings, many expressed a “disconnect” with others in the church body.  Providing space between services for common learning and fellowship helps address this.   
  • A worship-learning-worship schedule format more accurately touches on all four of our core values: worship, growth, service, and invitation.

After several months of discussion and prayer, Pastor Kevin and the Worship Staff is offering the following schedule beginning March 1, 2020:

 9:00 a.m. – Classic Worship (hymns, liturgy, & choir)

10:15 a.m. – Connect (fellowship time and classes for all ages)

11:11 a.m. – Current (casual; led by Praise Team)

This schedule offers variety in worship styles, and flexibility for all the moving pieces of the choirs and praise team to be ready for their worship times, as well as time for people of all ages to connect, learn and grow in their relationship with Jesus, and with one another.

Kathy Sepiol said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:52 -
I’m excited for the opportunity to learn more through classes. The time is perfect! Thank you!

Kevin T Miller said...

Posted on OA9er @ 8:59 -
Jan, the 9:00 service will be 60-65 minutes; 11:11 will be about 50 minutes.

Jodie said...

Posted on OP2er @ 13:58 -
The new schedule with the adult learning opportunities is very exciting to me

jan lindsey said...

Posted on OP12er @ 11:06 -
how long will the services be?

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OP12er @ 12:53

2020 Vision: What’s Coming up…and Why?

In the life of every church, there will be seasons of change.  In churches in which nothing changes, they typically become stagnant, and eventually are forced to make changes that have a negative impact. 

On July 9, 2017, my very first sermon here was titled, “It’s (always) Day 1.”  It was based in part on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ mantra, “It’s always day 1.”  The culture this creates is that the future is exciting; innovation is expected, and the past will not hold us back.  This also means that we lead with change rather than wait for change to lead us.

2017 was a year of significant change around this church: new music leadership for Sunday mornings, new visitation pastor, new senior pastor and a new youth director.  That’s a lot of change! But, together we made it through. As we look over the horizon of a new year, we can see change coming. 

In particular, we know of at least three significant events during the first half of 2020 that will impact us as a church. Two of these changes are self-imposed.  They are pro-active rather than re-active.  The third event could potentially create reactive change at First UMC, but we simply will not know for many months. 

So what are these changes? 

  • New projectors and screens installed in the sanctuary.
  • A new Sunday morning schedule to begin March 1.
  • United Methodist General Conference in Minneapolis, May 5-15.

I’d like to address the “Why?” of each of these one at a time.  So WHY are new screens being installed in the sanctuary?     First, a brief background:

The increasing role and use of technology in the church over the last 25-years has been obvious.  Over time, it’s been evident that churches who do not use technology effectively are struggling.  A web site, for example, is no longer a unique connection, but considered passé.

At First UMC of Valparaiso, it was decided long ago that the use of technology, projectors and screens – not only on Sunday morning, but throughout the week – are important to the life of this church.    The way people interact, learn, and, yes, worship, has changed.  65-75% of people today learn visually.  Teachers, business people, and pastors today are taught how to communicate utilizing as many senses as possible.

The use of a screen on Sunday morning allows people the flexibility to worship and sing differently.  Most – especially younger – people are comfortable singing from words projected on a screen.  Some people, however, still like having the music in front of them, which is why the hymnals are still available – and will remain for those who wish to use them.

The Trustees of the church – the group entrusted with caring for the building and overseeing upkeep and improvements to the facilities – recently made a difficult, but necessary decision.  It came after many months (actually years) of discussion and discernment.  In January, the one projector and screen, located in the upper southeast corner of the sanctuary, will be replaced with two brand-new laser projectors and two new screens located in the pulpit area on each side of the Cross (above where the choir sits).   

So…why?

Because…the current projector is past its useful life.  It was installed in March, 2008.  It’s simply time. 

Because…the quality of the picture and graphics displayed on the screen suffers with older equipment, thus creating a distraction. 

Because…the current screen, which is high and to one side of the sanctuary creates obstacles to worship, especially if you sit near the screen itself.  Many people comically refer to the location of our screen as “a pain in the neck.”   

Because…during the Town Hall meetings held earlier this year, a constant refrain was a desire to reach younger people and families.  One screen high and off to the side shows a lack of commitment to modern worship and the younger people we want to reach.  Are we willing to do what is needed to help younger people and families feel valued, included and welcome?

Because…during the time of discernment by the Trustees, many heard comments about keeping the focus of worship on the center of the church (the Cross).  Screens located in either corner of the room would actually divert focus and attention away from the Cross.

Because…relocating the screens will help bring clarity and focus to worship.  Aesthetically, moving the screens will direct attention toward the Cross as well as to the speaker and those leading worship, and thus the message.

Because…relocating the screens will enhance engagement during worship.  There is currently disconnection between the people leading worship and those participating when the congregation’s attention is diverted up and away from the stage.  

Because…doing this provides more flexibility, ease and safety in matching colors and images for the liturgical seasons.  Additionally, it provides more flexibility to customize graphics and colors for wedding and funerals.    On a side-note, there is a misconception among some that the banners and paraments were hand-stitched by someone in the church.  In fact, they were purchased from Robert Gaspard Co. of Brookfield, Wisconsin.

Because…the new location of the screens is not unusual based on the wide seating layout of our particular sanctuary.  It should be acknowledged that in our sanctuary, there is no “perfect solution” when it comes to screen placement.  However, the width and relatively shallow depth of the room mean that moving the screens deeper into the room will increase the depth of sight and create much more comfortable viewing angles from just about anywhere in the room.

If you’ve read this far, thank you!  We are blessed by people who care deeply about the future of this church.  This decision was not taken lightly – or quickly!  But neither is this decision a “magic pill” that will attract masses of people.  But it is a reflection of our collective concern and commitment to the next generation.  For those of us who have been around the church for awhile, our focus and concern should be not for us, but for those who are not here…yet. 

Concern for the next generation is not just a good idea, it’s biblical!  Psalm 71:18 implores, Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.   (Psalm 78 and 145 point to the same idea.)  Remember, the message of God’s love in Jesus Christ has not changed.  But the methods have.

May this be our focus and prayer moving forward.

Pastor Kevin

J. Winkoff said...

Posted on OP9er @ 20:13 -
I am fine with two screens, one on either side of the cross, not the one that currently is placed off to the right. Personally, I don’t look at them unless there are bullet points as a reference to the sermon, or a meaningful video or pictures that enhance the sermon. When a lay-reader is reading the scripture, I watch the lay-reader....my choice. Others need/prefer the screen (hearing issues/personal preference). Having the screens does not prohibit me from looking at the lay-reader. If it’s helpful to others, I’m fine with it. When we Skype in the preacher I will have issue, but I am thrilled with the direction our church is taking.

Sue Clemens said...

Posted on OP8er @ 19:34 -
Sounds awesome! Thank you for the easily understood description and reasoning. And thank you to all who have spent time discerning and planning! Can't wait.

David said...

Posted on OP9er @ 20:54 -
To add to my previous post on this blog: I would like to add that the congregation has grown in tremendous fashion over the last few years, as per Pastor Kevin this past Sunday service. A big part of that growth is "youth!" (My children included.) I pray that the continued re-branding and restructuring does reverse this trend nor split our diverse congregation. I pray that we remain one and continue to grow our congregation and to continue to make desciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Kate said...

Posted on OA10er @ 9:41 -
I respectfully disagree with the main premises outlined above that (1) churches that don’t use technology are struggling and (2) screens placed in center of sanctuary will bring in younger people and families. Neither are true.

Look at the world and where the church is growing like wildfire— places like Iran and China. What is drawing people? It’s certainly not technology or screens. The church is growing because people are learning and experiencing the Truth. They are encountering the Living God among their neighbors, family members, and friends who are Jesus followers— seeing a difference in the way they live and growing curious about what’s going on in their lives. They are also experiencing an abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit through a variety of miraculous signs.

A church on fire for God will grow exponentially, across all demographics, regardless of its use of technology.

I fear we are spending money foolishly and wastefully, placing distractions front and center, and not truly addressing our deep need for a revival in our individual lives and church that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish.

Toni Schroeder said...

Posted on OP9er @ 20:03 -
Bravo, FUMC! Very well outlined, Pastor Kevin. Many thanks to you, and to all who have spent so much time, consideration, and work in determining this transformation. From Wesley as a circuit rider to now...what an evolution!

Karen said...

Posted on OP8er @ 19:31 -
All good reasons -- you had me after the first 3!! You are good at making the visuals enhance the message, and many people are more visual than auditory learners. -- especially today. I retired from teaching 20 years ago. The methods I used would be hopelessly outdated in a classroom today where students have have been immersed in technology all their lives. I think the same is true for preaching and other professions -- using the "same old, same" , what we considered tried and true, methods doesn't often resonate from generation to generation.

David said...

Posted on OP7er @ 18:27 -
I am somewhat of a traditionalist and believe that there are many ways to worship God Our Father. My fear is that our focus as Christians begins to become distracted by smoke and mirrors. I understand "our" mission to make desciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I understand the importance of attracting younger folks. We have one constant being The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit. With the understanding of the message being that one constant. And most people having an overall understanding of what a Christian is (both believers and non-believers). I break it down to this: We either choose to believe and receive Christ our Lord or we do not. Lights, cameras, mirrors, smoke, whatever it may be, must ADD to the teaching of the Word and NOT take away. I truly believe that the 'Word' speaks for itself. Many Christians and believers before us have found Christ, shared in His word and BELIEVED in HIM with nothing but the word of God. My question is this: Why today does it take technology for us to believe and receive? I pray that the foundation and the message remains constant. I pray that we come to church for God. I pray that the changes that are being made do not distract us, take away, or CHANGE what God's word has been from the start. In Him.

Jacqueline Kuehnle said...

Posted on OP7er @ 18:03 -
It would be so helpful if each blog post was dated.

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OP3er @ 15:46

The morning after…

A few weeks ago, we hosted a “Because People Matter” workshop at the church.  It was led by Mark Waltz.  Mark is from Granger, Indiana but is also an author, trainer, consultant and coach for churches around the world.  We were blessed to hear from him.  About 70 people from our church and community participated.

One of the table discussions focused on the Sunday morning experience for visitors.  The task was to “define the experience we want people to have before they have the experience.”

The compelling question we were asked to explore: What do you want people to say about your church on Monday morning?

After table discussions, we all shared thoughts together.  Here’s what people want visitors to say about their church on Monday morning:

  • They were welcoming!
  • The pastor was available and personable.
  • They were accepting.
  • I had fun!
  • There was excitement!
  • There was a good, relevant message.
  • Someone invited me to sit with them.
  • I want to go back!

So, what would you add to this list?

More importantly, for members of First United Methodist Church, What are you doing to make this list a reality here?

Thoughts?

Pastor Kevin

Pam Westfall said...

Posted on OA9er @ 8:51 -
Kevin,
This blog lays out very sound info on the best laid plans to connect our congregation and offer new opportunities. Change can be challenging for many, but after a bit of time, we all fall into place and the change is viewed as a good step in most cases. I hope we will find this with the upcoming schedule.
I think it has great possibilities for all. Thank you for your vision, and leadership to take this group to new places.

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OA11er @ 11:07

REMEMBERING 9-11                                                                                                                        September 11, 2019

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.                 Ephesians 5:15-16

Let’s be honest.  It’s easier just to go about my day as usual.  To cover the things on my to-do list and not think about what happened 18 years ago today. 

But the reality is, the wounds are still open and raw.  The reality is that we owe it to those who were murdered at the Twin Towers in New York City, at the Pentagon and on Flight 93 that crashed in a Pennsylvania field, as well as their families, friends.  We also remember the 23 New York Police officers who were killed in the attack, as well as the 241 members (so far) of the NYPD who have died of 9-11 related illnesses.  We also remember 343 members of the Fire Department of New York who died in the attack, as well as 202 (so far) FDNY members who have died of 9-11 related illnesses.  

Out of respect to the countless family members and friends…we have an obligation to pause and remember.  And more importantly, never forget!

I well remember exactly where I was when I first heard the news of the attacks on September 11.  But in retrospect, I also think about where I was the Saturday before.  My wife’s parents were returning from a trip and we picked them up at O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  We arrived early and met some friends who live just north of Chicago.  We ate at a restaurant in the terminal and then walked over to the gate to greet my in-laws as they came off their flight.

You can’t do this anymore!  Everything changed after 9-11.  It’s a small thing, really, but it points to the reality of freedoms and innocence that was lost because of what happened. 

For many people who lost loved ones on this day, the memories and impact are very different and very real.  I also remember in the days after, President Bush encouraged Americans to “get back to normal.”   This is very difficult to do when “normal” has changed.

Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, “Be very careful, then, how you live…”  If this day reminds us of anything, it is that we really have little control over what happens in the world. 

Despite all the technological advances, meteorologist’s still cannot fully predict the path of hurricanes and tornados.  Even though we’ve beefed up security, shooting sprees still happen.  In the last 18 years, medical science has made amazing advances, but the mortality rate is still 100 percent.

Remember this day and that our lives together were forever changed.   But, as Paul writes, make the most of every opportunity.  May you “be filled with all the fullness of God,” (Eph. 3:19) and give control of your life to the only One who is really in control.    

kate said...

Posted on OA10er @ 9:16 -
Very powerful Pastor Kevin. Letting God take control can be hard. Thank you for sharing.
Oh, and living 5 miles from the Pentagon and working in Washington, DC that fateful day, I certainly will never forget.

Lowell said...

Posted on OP5er @ 16:29 -
I lost a teacher and acquaintance from the FDNY that day. When he was one of the first confirmed dead, the awful day just got worse. I have studied and been to seminars outlining the time lines and fire department responses to the twin towers and the fire protection of the Pentagon. But there is still one book I have that I cannot bear to open yet. It is just too personal and horrible to comprehend yet.

kate said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:26 -
Very powerful Pastor Kevin. Letting God take control can be hard. Thank you for sharing.
Oh, and living 5 miles from the Pentagon and working in Washington, DC that fateful day, I certainly will never forget.

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OP1er @ 13:52

AN OPEN LETTER TO WHOEVER HAPPENS TO READ THIS…

From: Kevin T. Miller, ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church since 2006, currently serving as Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, Indiana

The United Methodist General Conference held last week in St. Louis has come to a close, and the last few days have gone…well, I hate to say it, but I told you so:

  • Various media outlets have declared that the UMC faces “a likely surge of defections…” and that we are a divided church.
  • Nobody “won”!   This is a direct quote from a clergy friend who attended as an observer: “I am not jumping for joy. I am extremely discouraged by the level of dysfunction found in our top legislative body. We are broken, and this GC did NOT act in a way that contributed to healing any of that dysfunction.”
  • The rhetoric is still occurring with both sides accusing the other side of coercion and bribery for the votes of international delegates who make up roughly 42% of the worldwide church.
  • Pastors and laity are upset and threatening to leave the church because the vote didn’t go their way.
  • But, let’s be honest about it – if the One Church Plan had been adopted, the script would be identical with a different cast.   

If you are not aware, after much debate – which was rarely civil and often embarrassingly contentious – the delegates (representing churches on five continents) voted to adopt the “Traditional Plan” which maintains the language of the UM Discipline that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching” and prohibits self-avowed homosexuals from being ordained as clergy as well as our sanctuaries being used for same-sex weddings.  Clergy are also prohibited from officiating in such ceremonies. 

This section of the Discipline has been debated with passion and conviction at every General Conference since 1972 (the UMC was created in 1968 by a merger of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and the Methodist Church).  But, regardless of where you fall on this particular issue, what has never been debated is what we still hold to be a non-negotiable truth: All persons are of sacred worth, created in the image of God.

If in any way, this decision has hurt you or made you feel that you are “less than” anyone else, know that your value to God through Jesus Christ has no boundaries; know that you truly are a person of sacred worth and you matter to God; you matter to the church, and you matter to me.  No matter what decision is made in any area of General Conference, this will always be non-negotiably true.

One of the challenges that comes with being the Senior Pastor at First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, Indiana is the wide diversity of theology and thought in the pews.  Since the decision, I have had conversations with some who enthusiastically support the vote; with some who strongly disagree with the decision, and with a few who are personally devastated and are rethinking their commitment to this church. 

Interesting factoid: The diversity of this church – more so than any church I’ve been connected with – reflects the diversity of the global United Methodist Church.  And to me, that is a strength.  If General Conference proved anything, it is that there is a wide diversity of deeply held opinions.  We are a small part of a global church, which includes the growing church in Africa, where homosexuality is a crime in 37 countries.  I’m not saying this is right; I’m pointing it out as a reality.  We are part of a world-wide ministry which means we stand with and support churches doing ministry in completely different contexts than our own.

The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, is often (incorrectly) attributed with writing, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things love.”  This thought didn’t originate with Wesley, but it is powerful and applicable for us in the church in 2019.  So what is essential?  I believe four things are absolutely essential in today’s church:

  • Collaboration – now more than ever, we need to work together, if not for the sake of the church, for the sake of Jesus’ message for the world.
  • Peacemaking – and peacekeeping.
  • Unity     (John 17:22)
  • Love     (John 15:14)

This should define us as a people and as a church.  Let us continue to be about the essential work of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

In a spirit of collaboration, peace, unity and love,

Pastor Kevin

Jill Blomberg said...

Posted on OP5er @ 16:55 -
I believe that we are all God's children, and He loves us all. I believe that we each have a time to be born, and a time to die. I believe that we all have a life to live using all the talents God has given us. I also believe that sexual orientation is something you are born with like blue eyes, or short legs, or brown hair. We all have to live with what we've got. Having said all this, I will also say that I support the decision to not perform same sex marriages in the church, or allow ordained ministers to perform them in a church. I believe marriage in a church is a sacrament between a man and a woman, and God. When we allow societal morals and values to change the morals and values of the Bible and the church, we as a people are in serious trouble.

Sue Clemens said...

Posted on OA1er @ 0:05 -
Thank you Pastor Kevin. I appreciated your words - essentials are essential!

Jodie black said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:59 -
I appreciate your comments & the sermons leading to this General Conference. We are all God’s children & loved by his Grace. What a blessing to be part of His family.

Judy Hain said...

Posted on OP6er @ 17:51 -
I found it encouraging to read your comments. Thank you.

Marlene Versteeg said...

Posted on OA6er @ 5:42 -
Very good. I needed to hear this. Thank you for your leadership.

Harriet Fagan said...

Posted on OP6er @ 17:03 -
Very well stated. Thank you, Kevin, for your candidness and leadership.

Lee & Barb Ranger said...

Posted on OP5er @ 16:23 -
Thank you, Kevin. Regardless of the thinking and opinion of the worldwide church, we need to know your view of this important matter. You are our leader and we need to know that you agree that each of us is a child of God, and we are loved, unconditionally.

Brenda virden said...

Posted on OA8er @ 7:45 -
Thank you Pastor, I have needed your thoughts on this.

Joan McPherson said...

Posted on OA12er @ 23:59 -
Thank you!

Susan Larson said...

Posted on OP11er @ 22:35 -
Thank you and always remember don’t let anyone or anything keep you from joy in the Lord.

Margie Miller said...

Posted on OP8er @ 19:15 -
Thank you Pastor Kevin for your words and leadership

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Posted by Kevin Miller on OA11er @ 11:03

“May you live in interesting times.”

Legend has it that this quote was originally a Chinese curse.  One of a trinity of curses; the other two being, “May you come to the attention of those in authority,” and “May the gods give you everything you ask for.”

Well, we find ourselves living in interesting times, and I would propose to you that, in the church, this not a curse but an opportunity.  In the midst of the rhetoric and chaos defining our time, I am finding people who have never sought after God are seeking.  People who have never stepped inside a church are looking for truth and civilized decency, and thus the opportunity.

“Interesting times” are not unique, but when we study history, we find time and time again the church has been a force for God’s truth.  The Dark Ages received its name honestly.

After the Roman Empire fell, chaos ruled.  Factions developed, barbaric war broke out and an entire continent seemed lost.  But one force prevented it: the church.

Instead of conforming to the barbaric culture of the time, marked by destruction and confusion, the medieval church was countercultural.  As the chaos spread, thousands of mission houses opened all over Europe.  They were characterized by discipline, creativity and order lacking in the world around them.

Monks opened schools and shelters for orphans, widows and paupers.  Hospitals and farms were established as well as roads cut and bridges built.  People were drawn not so much by the hospitality and compassion, but by the discipline and dedication of these religious missions.

By holding fast to the basics of a civilized society – faith in Christ, education and civility – the monks and nuns brought light into the darkness of the age, and eventually Europe emerged from the Dark Ages into a renewed time of cultural creativity, education and art.

Today’s “interesting times” are just as dark, and the world seems more sophisticated than when Rome was destroyed.  But today’s barbarians wear pinstripes instead of animal skins, and pretend to entertain while, in reality, enabling divisions, lies and darkness.

Like the mission communities of the Middle Ages, is it time for the church to serve as mission outposts of truth, decency and civilization in the darkening culture of our “interesting times”?

Sherry M said...

Posted on OP4er @ 15:57 -
Yes and an Amen. Gods blessings.

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