Messenger - March 2020
Life Under the Big Tent
The United Methodist Church is like a big tent, or so it has been said. There is space for people of all backgrounds and diverse ways of living out their faith. We are guided, in part, by a book of Social Principles. Still, within any United Methodist gathering, we can easily find people who agree with some of those principles but not all. Because of our differences, we are indeed people of a vast tent.
One of the statements in the Social Principles adopted some forty-plus years ago, is at the heart of a long-standing debate within the United Methodist Church. We are at a place that asks whether our church holds to this statement or not. Also, there are requests for clarity about related matters; those that deal with marriage and ordination of people who are LGBTQ.
Over the past couple of months, a team of people, all members of this congregation, have been leading gatherings. The Reconciling Team has offered opportunities to listen and learn. They are now asking our congregation to speak. Mainly, they want to get a sense of the places where we agree and disagree. They want to see the “heart” of Webster Hills United Methodist Church before making decisions about the future of their work. It is this team’s desire that our church embrace a way of being that is not only welcoming but one that is fully inclusive.
The same set of Social Principles also affirms that all persons are “individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.” Webster Hills UMC fully embraces this statement. We believe all people are children of God, loved unconditionally, and offered God’s unending grace. We do not prevent anyone from taking part in the life of our congregation. There are no limits on who can be a member, a leader, or part of our staff. We offer the sacraments of baptism and communion to all.
Last February, when the specially called General Conference in St. Louis came to an end, many people in our church expressed surprise, hurt, and frustration with the outcome. In simple terms, our denomination voted to continue practices that limit the marriages pastors may choose to officiate and who will receive support in answering a call to ordained ministry. There was a call for our congregation to be able to proclaim whether or not we affirmed those decisions and whether or not we were ready to move beyond living as a “welcoming” congregation and into living as an “affirming,” “reconciling,” or “fully inclusive” congregation.
On Sunday, March 29, everyone who is part of Webster Hills UMC is encouraged to take part in a “All Church Discernment.” We will not receive a vote. There will be no statement to be considered for endorsement. Instead, each of us will have the opportunity to anonymously respond to the question, “Where is your heart?”
We are seeking as much clarity as is possible on these questions:
• Do you want to be part of a congregation that is fully inclusive?
• Do you want to be part of a congregation that embraces the current language of our Book of Discipline and our Social Principles?
• Do you lean toward one of the options above but can be at home in a congregation that follows one or the other?
We will start the day with a combined worship service at 9:30 am and then move into some activities that will provide space for us to continue to listen, learn, and love one another. You can find more details about the day later in this edition of the Messenger.
I encourage you to mark your calendars now for this date. Anyone who considers Webster Hills their faith home and makes regular worship and other participation a part of their lives may participate fully in this day. I hope you will make attendance on this day a priority. We are going to pitch a big, big tent and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us.
1 Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, 2017-2020, p 28
2 The United Methodist Book of Discipline, ¶ 341.6: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches
3 The United Methodist Book of Discipline, ¶ 304.3: The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church
4 Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, 2017-2020, p 28
What’s the Deal With Lent?
“It is what it is.”
Do you love that phrase? Hate it? Use it? Never say it? It’s a phrase that is over-used. It’s intended to declare that something or some situation cannot be easily defined. There’s no perfect way to describe it or to place it in a category. It is what it is. What more can we say?
Maybe that is Lent. Lent is not easy to describe.
Lent is a season that was created by the church to help people prepare for Easter. We start Lent on Ash Wednesday. Tradition teaches us that by having our foreheads marked by ashes, we are facing up to our mortality and our sin. We do this because the Bible refers to dressing in sackcloth and sitting in ashes as a way to confess sin and seek forgiveness from God and one’s faith community.
Lent continues from Ash Wednesday through six weeks, ending on Easter. It’s often considered a season that lasts forty days because Sundays are considered “little Easters” and, therefore, not a part of the season of preparation.
We can choose to prepare for Easter by taking part in a practice that may have us ‘giving something up” or “taking something on.” We would do this to align ourselves with Jesus as he journeyed toward the cross. In a small way, we share in Christ’s sacrifice or service. We might choose to let go of a habit, stay away from a particular food, or fast on a regular cycle during Lent. We could also decide to take on the practice of giving more, starting a new prayer or Bible reading routine. The hope is that whatever we do, it is something that draws us closer to God.
That may sound like a complete description and leave you wondering how Lent could be hard to define. It’s because of the mystery. Something is humbling and holy about being marked with ashes. It reminds you in a visual, physical way that you are “created from dust and to dust, you shall return.” It is a moment that has the power to bring you genuine awareness of God’s presence and activity in your life.
The practices of giving up or taking on can serve as regular reminders throughout the season the gift of Jesus is to us, the things he taught us, and the sacrifices made on our behalf.
Lent is what it is. Also, to bring up another over-used phrase, Lent is what we make it. It can be nothing more than a weekly note in our church bulletin. What it offers, though, is an opportunity to explore our faith a little more deeply and open our hearts to God in new ways.
I pray for all of us a holy Lent. May we each be surprised by the presence and prodding of the Holy Spirit. It is what it is, and it can be so much more.
Messenger - February 2020
Some time ago, I listened as the pastor of a new church started to explain how his team invited people to attend worship. “We go to the local park and start a kickball game. We wait until the end of the game and then, we spring it on them! Not only are we a lot of fun, but we are a church, and they should join us on Sunday mornings.”
I didn’t care for the approach. I’m not sure if it was helpful to the church or to the people that just wanted to play kickball. But it seemed sneaky. I get it, though. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of inviting someone to church. We think we need some kind of gimmick or a brilliant opening line. That’s simply not the case.
You can invite by letting people know you are part of a faith community that is helpful and encouraging. When you share a story of something that happened in church or that you heard during worship or small group, you not only signal that you are part of this congregation, but that you find your experience at Webster Hills UMC to be meaningful. Think about the role Webster Hills plays in your life, and share that story wherever possible.
If you haven’t already done so like us on Facebook and follow Webster Hills UMC on Instagram and Twitter. Check-in whenever you are here. Share, comment, and like our social media posts and use them to encourage others to take a look at our life together.
We have some opportunities in life ahead of us. You can easily invite people to join our food-packing event on Sunday, February 23, at 2 pm. We start a new worship series on February 2 that I believe will be helpful to many as we navigate the upcoming political season and more. Details on the next page.
Of course, if you want to host a kickball game just for fun, we are all for it! Instead, we can express that we are a church that is focused on connecting with God, growing in faith, serving others, and we know how to have fun!
The journey toward Easter begins as the season of Lent opens on February 26. Look for details about worship and “Ashes to Go.” Our Youth Ministry will host a Fat Tuesday Pancake Supper the evening before. Get more information on page 7 of The Messenger.
Peace, Pastor Linda
I enjoy connecting through social media, but I want you to decide if that’s a connection you would like to make. If so, follow the links to my pages.
Messenger - January 2020
2019 Year In Review
It’s a common exercise this time of year. We look back at the year that has just closed and imagine what the year ahead may be like. Here’s a quick look at just some of the highlights of 2019.
JANUARY: Missions and Service
We filled the funnel with protein, vegetables and seasonings and prepared kits serving 26,832 meals.
We sent a team to Puerto Rico where they spent a week in Vieques, Puerto Rico, lending a hand with hurricane recovery and learning the stories of survival, recovery and moving ahead without fear.
FEBRUARY: Winter and Worship
One memorable Sunday as the winds blew and the roads iced we came together for an intimate moment of baptism.
MARCH: Pancakes and Ashes
We prepared for Lent with a pancake feast hosted by our youth on Fat Tuesday.
We entered Lent by receiving ashes; Ashes to Go in the morning and worship in the evening.
APRIL: All About Easter!
“Donkey” rides for the kids on Palm Sunday (and, sure, those were donkeys and definitely not ponies).
We welcomed Resurrection Sunday with a grand worship celebration.
More food! Another food-packing event brought the grand total number of meals prepared to over 77,000 since 2018!
MAY: Community Convos
We gathered for conversation, cafe-style to imagine our future.
The United Methodist Women brought together their annual rummage sale raised dollars for mission.
Vacation Bible School rocked the church during our first-ever evening VBS experience.
JULY: More Missions
The Youth Mission Team returned to West Virginia for a week of serving, learning, connecting and growing.
We collected backpacks, food for the Blessing Box and helped those affected by flooding with flood buckets!
AUGUST: Lazy Summer Days? Nope!
Worship Arts Ministry sprang into action after a summer break.
We moved ahead with re-styling children’s ministry areas, wrapping up the project in September, all thanks to a generous designated gift.
SEPTEMBER: Community Celebrations!
A Community Block Party opened the month.
The Home Sweet Home Furniture Build sharpened our construction skills.
OCTOBER: Hmmm, what did we do in October?
Pumpkins! So many pumpkins!
We sold pumpkins, hosted community events, made friends and shared BBQ
We remembered that the Pumpkin Patch is more than pumpkins.
In November, we gave thanks and shared a meal at the Thank-Full-Ness Dinner.
New spaces for the choir, bells and youth ministry opened (again, largely due to generous gifts).
DECEMBER: A Glorious Season!
Advent Worship-Full of Waiting.
Christmas Eve-Worship spaces filled with familiar friends, new friends and family.
Messenger - December 2019
It’s not unusual this time of year for people to say, with sympathy, “This is your busy season, isn’t it? The knowing look, the empathetic nod, always catch me off-guard. Yes, this is a hectic time in the life of the church. Rather than dread it, I look forward to the season of Advent and to Christmas Eve. If all goes as planned, I’ll go home after the last service on December 24, tired, and very happy.
It’s a fantastic experience to serve in a church during the holidays. Yes, there is a long list of things to do. The focus, however, isn’t on the tasks. It is on the story into which we are again invited to enter. While there is much to accomplish between now and December 24, I can assure you that I approach it with joy. I’m particularly energized this time of year, and I look forward to taking part in all the ways we will remember and celebrate the story of Jesus’ birth once again.
Our sanctuary will be beautifully prepared for the season. Our worship arts ministry is offering gifts of music that will guide our journey into an ages-old story that is fresh every year. Throughout December, we will sing favorite carols, light candles, and immerse ourselves in ancient words that speak boldly into current days.
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday mornings at 9 a.m. in the chapel and at 10:30 a.m. in the sanctuary. We’ve talked quite a bit recently about the strength that comes from being part of a community. To those of you who have recently begun attending Webster Hills, welcome! I’m enjoying meeting you and finding time to get acquainted. If we haven’t scheduled time for coffee, let’s do so soon.
Community is especially strong when it is open and growing. This is the perfect time of year to invite someone you know to attend worship with you. Our theme in December will be “Invitation to a Miracle.” Share the postcard invitation that you received in worship recently or pick one up the next time you are on our campus.
On another note, thank you for the Estimate of Giving/Pledge cards that have been returned so far. I’m encouraged by the number of you who have chosen to give more in 2020. Your gifts support the ministries of Webster Hills in extraordinary ways. I am grateful for your generosity. If you haven’t returned your card yet, you can mail it, place it in the offering plate or complete online at
This is such a meaningful time of year. My prayer is that you will find joy and comfort in the days ahead. Read on for details about worship, concerts, cookie sales, and more!
Messenger - November 2019
I was feeling a little frazzled the other day and found myself wondering if I could or even “should” treat myself to something that would pick up my spirits. I imagined a facial or a pedicure. Every day I am given messages that tell me one more yoga class or a spa day are just what I need to make all my stress and problems disappear.
Those messages are lies. Of course, lighting a candle or dozens of other acts of self-care can relieve some tension and provide a lift. But self-care is more significant than relishing a package of rich chocolate. Taking care of ourselves means making choices so that we can build lives from which we don’t regularly feel the need to escape.
We are moving into two fabulous seasons of the year. November gives us a chance to welcome fall weather and be grateful. December is about preparing for the celebration of Christmas. You know what also comes with these seasons? More stress.
• Is our house pretty enough?
• Are our decorations trendy enough?
• Is the holiday meal traditional/tasty/extravagant enough?
• Is our Elf on the Shelf routine creative enough?
• Is our bank account big enough to cover the extra expenses?
This November, I’m inviting you to take part in worship, learning, and reflection that can help you approach this time of year with a new perspective. Our worship series is titled “A Wonder-Full Life.” We’re going to explore our relationship with money and all that comes with that relationship. We’ll offer ways to live more consciously, compassionately, and faithfully. We’ll offer some suggestions that will help you take an honest look at what exhausts you and provide some meaningful ways to practice self-care that will make a difference that lasts.
“A Wonder-Full Life” will be the focus for worship and beyond. I also want to invite you to watch your mail for information on how to help us build and sustain a wonder-full life at Webster Hills UMC. Mark your calendars for our “Thank-full-ness Dinner” on Sunday, November, 17 at 5pm. We’re planning a festive celebration of the ministries of Webster Hills UMC. Together we are doing good work and building on foundations of faith and practices that will support and grow meaningful ministries in the years ahead.
If you’ve been away from life at Webster Hills UMC, now is the perfect time to return. It’s also a great time to invite someone to meet you for worship at 9 or 10:30am. My prayer for all of us is that we can find ways to build up our faith and make choices that will result in Wonder-Full lives within our homes, our church community and beyond.
A Note From Linda
Messenger - October 2019
A Note From Linda
Okay friends, take a deep breath. We are warming up for our all-hands-on-deck fall event. Yes, by the time you read this, the Pumpkin Patch will be open! Pumpkin Patch helps us double down in ministry. It raises funds for ministry. It provides a way for us to connect with the community around us and invite people to try out life at Webster Hills UMC.
Before we get completely immersed in all things pumpkin, I want to take a moment and celebrate some of the other good things that are happening at Webster Hills UMC.
Our Sunday morning preschool roster is growing by leaps and bounds. We have 31 little ones listed in that group of children. Do you remember five years ago when the church made a commitment to reach out to families with young children?
We’re giving our children’s space a new look. Opening space that is more inviting and engaging adds to the messages we are sharing with our children. We are also building out a resource wall that will help strengthen the connection between church and home.
Our Youth Ministry and Chancel Choir have come together to look at our use of space in creative ways. The choir is now rehearsing in the sanctuary and will move their libraries, handbells and other resources to the rooms close to our chapel. The youth group will then take over the former choir room and make it their own. They’ve been without a space set aside for their life at Webster Hills for a few years. If you would like to donate to enhance these efforts, contact Andy Waggoner (email@example.com) or Leslie Chalupny (firstname.lastname@example.org).
We just hosted a block party that provided a wonderful time of gathering together, playing games, and working side-by-side on a service project. Our mission, service and justice teams are developing projects that you have said are important to you. We are finishing up a year-long plan for mission and service based on responses to the EXPLO survey this summer. Our worship attendance remains strong, steadily showing increases over recent years.
There is, of course, more to celebrate and you can catch up on other news about our ministries in this edition of The Messenger. We have an incredible level of capacity at Webster Hills. Thank you for all the ways you have helped ministries come to life. Sharing your resources; financially and through the gifts of time, talent, creativity and leadership is making a difference at Webster Hills UMC and in the lives of those both within and beyond our walls.
Now, go sell some pumpkins and make plans to meet family, neighbors and soon-to-be friends at the patch. It’s going to be awesome!
- Pastor Linda
Messenger - September 2019
A Note From Linda
Spiritually Centered…Fully Engaged
I’ve been wrestling with words over the past several months. Many of you have asked me to be more specific in my vision for Webster Hills UMC. I’ve struggled with this request partly because my answer doesn’t seem to be the kind of thing that fits easily on a bumper sticker or a t-shirt. I want us to be better. We have all the pieces in place to be a church that is thriving. We are, as one person said, a house with really good bones. We don’t need to recreate the framework; we just need to bring some new life to the interior.
As part of some work with another group, some words were shared that have helped define my desire for Webster Hills UMC. “To be a spiritually-centered and fully engaged Christian community where people are loved and lives are changed.” I think this vision is in keeping with what you expressed during our community conversations this past spring. I think it aligns with our mission statement, “Follow Jesus. Change the World.” And I think it honors our values to be a church that is Connecting with God, Growing in Faith and Serving (down the hall, around the corner and across the globe.)
I want, and believe that you share this desire, to be people who live with Christ at our center and to have meaningful relationships with God. I believe that being fully engaged means that we bring our whole selves to this work and that we realize that there is always room for growth as individuals and as a community of faith. And above all, I believe that a church should be a place of welcome and love and that because of Christ and the Church, lives are changed.
Throughout the season that is ahead I am committed to helping our church focus on its foundation and framework. I have heard you say that you want to raise the level of excellence at Webster Hills and I am counting on your commitment to making that happen. The best practices for each ministry area will be shared so that we can all take part in helping our congregation thrive.
As we tend to some of the basic elements of our life together, we will not forget that our work as a church is always about reaching those who do not have or who long for a different way of knowing God through Jesus Christ. All of what we do will happen with a desire to share God’s love with others.
I’ll share more about our plans throughout the month ahead and encourage you to attend worship to learn more. We are marking a new season of ministry on September 8. I hope you will join in worship and classes that morning and the community block party that afternoon. I also hope that you will let that day be one in which you make a new or renewed commitment to the ministries of Webster Hills UMC. Our framework is solid. Our foundation is strong. We are well-equipped to be a church that can Follow Jesus. Change the World.
Messenger - August 2019
A Note From Linda
Messenger - July 2019
A Note From Linda
I’ve spent the last few weeks soaking up all the notes we took during our two workshops in May. We poured our prayers, hearts and hopes onto sheets of newsprint and rolls of brown paper. We had a lot to say about what we believe God wants our church to look like in the years ahead. What emerged as a common theme was to have or be more:
Open & accepting In touch with our Discipleship Pathway
Generous in service
Focused on next generations
Generous in giving
Outreaching through Pumpkin Patch
Willing to take risks
Ready to create a sense of belonging & purpose
Prayerful Connection between talents, gifts, needs
Rich & moving experiences
Engaged across generations
I think it’s clear through our conversations that we are a church with a desire to be more in touch with the work of connecting, growing and serving. Those words have defined our purpose for the past few years, but it seems we are ready to be more in touch with the ways of making those values the foundation of ministry at Webster Hills.
We talked openly about all that may be working against us and named these realities:
The size and age of our campus
Fear of change
Grief over things past
We named these needs:
A focused service project
More leadership development
Greater spiritual strength
Clarity on our Discipleship Pathway
A willingness to try new things
Readiness to “fail fast” and move on
More engagement across all ministries
The shared conversations were encouraging and energizing. They also left us with the question, “What next?” I’ll be working with our ministry teams and our Leadership Board and our staff to create an environment that will make it easier for us to connect, grow and serve and to be mindful of how we do so in relationship with God, one another and the world. You are invited to be part of this work.
Our most immediate steps will include the following:
An organized and visible Mission, Service & Justice Team
A visible Discipleship Pathway
A commitment to ensuring that every event includes a “next step”
An over-arching communication plan
A confident and supported children’s ministry team
A congregation-wide prayer focus
Opportunities for engagement in every ministry
A plan for leadership development
To make these steps we will embrace a commitment to:
To ask, “What is God’s desired outcome for worship and ministry?”
Create new things
To rebuild and redefine our ministries
Be willing to set aside some traditions and programs
Develop a solid financial and generosity strategy
Develop a campus priority list that supports maintenance and mission
Admittedly, there is a lot to be done. I will be seeking help in establishing our first steps and putting in place the means to make all of this happen. I’ll continue to share our progress through E-notes, The Messenger and as always, I’m available to meet up with you to share news and hear from you. Read on in this edition of The Messenger for more details on steps you can take to help your church in its journey into the future.
Webster Hills, we have done some great work together. Now it’s on to the next steps. Thank you for taking part in the May workshops and for completing your EXPLO! workbook.
We are now compiling the information from the workbooks in ways that will help guide our congregation in the months and years ahead. If you have not yet turned in a workbook, you are encouraged to do so. Pick one up at a Connection Desk on Sunday morning or ask us to drop one in the mail. (email@example.com)
Our very next step is to use what you have shared to prepare ministry plans for the remainder of this year and through May of 2020. Our Finance and Facilities Teams have also been working on developing information to share with you in the very near future.
One exciting aspect about this point in our life together is that we mirror a key theme of our faith story. We are living “in the moment” while preparing for what is not yet here.
While there is always more planning and visioning to be done, we are continuing to pour into the ministry of our congregation. Leslie Chalupny and I are working with parents and other volunteers to strengthen our children and youth ministries and prepare this generation for a season of connecting, growing and serving. Andy Waggoner joins our staff as Director of Worship Arts on Sunday, August 11 and tells me he is “on fire” with ideas and possibilities for our worship together.
We will launch a new season of ministry and life together on Sunday, September 8. You’ll find us starting with basics—all that happens on Sundays—and building from there. Look for some details about a kick-off event coming soon.
Standing in that space of what is here and what is yet to come can be uncomfortable. I have learned through many years of experience that the time in that gap can be time that leads to new and wonderful possibilities. What I’ve found most helpful is to always be mindful of the promises I have made. When I work to fulfill those promises I find it easier to continue looking beyond the current moment and to consider what God may want for the future.
I hope you will join me in remembering the promises made at our baptisms and those of the children and adults that we baptize and bring into membership. We promise to show up. We promise to share our time and other resources to make ministry happen. We promise to nurture one another in faith through worship, prayer, learning together, serving alongside one another and inviting new people to join in a journey of faith. Friends, no matter what is happening in and around our church, when we commit to holding to these promises, we will be strong. We will grow in faith and we will find ways to serve that will make a difference.
Your Role in Planning Our Future
Your Role in Planning for our Future
As I shared elsewhere in this edition of The Messenger, you have an important role to play in shaping the future of Webster Hills UMC. In order to move forward, it’s important for us to have a clear understanding of where we are today.
Based on your responses, we’ve made the decision to set aside the EXPLO workshop that was scheduled for this month. Instead, we are asking you to take about an hour or so to complete a workbook. Yes, a workbook. We won’t be able to put this one online for a variety of reasons.
The document will take you through a process of evaluating your spiritual gifts, your preferences for worship, your own spiritual practices and the shared work of the church. It will be available by Sunday, June 30 and we’ll ask you to return it no later than July 21.
We know we are asking for a lot of information, but please know that your participation will help us all make better decisions for the future of Webster Hills UMC. The more completed workbooks we receive, the more clearly we will be able to create a picture of who we are today and find the path toward becoming the church we believe God is wanting us to become.
Messenger - June 2019
Thank you to all who were able to take part in the leadership and community workshops last month. We had high levels of participation in both events and I’m grateful for the ways you prayed and prepared for our time together.
I’m at work, along with others, processing what was shared, identifying themes and looking for those gems of wisdom and inspiration that will help guide us into the next season of ministry at Webster Hills. If you would like to receive the digested versions of our time together, please let me know.
The “cafe” style of meeting together on May 18 worked extremely well. We gathered around tables of four and discussed the questions at hand. We moved to different tables for each of the questions which gave us all chance to hear a variety of voices, share the wisdom that was generated during each discussion and maintain a high level of energy and engagement throughout the morning. It was fun to witness and exciting to hear so many people sharing their passion and commitment to this community.
I’ll have more to share about our preparations for the future on Tuesday, June 11 in the Christian Life Center from 6-7pm. Please take note of the information about the plans for this evening elsewhere in this edition of The Messenger.
I am looking forward to the future that our congregation is shaping for itself. I encourage you to continue to pray for your church as our work unfolds. There is much about our denomination that has yet to be worked out. Still, I fully believe in the strength of Webster Hills United Methodist Church today and in the future. I do not take the promises we make at baptism lightly. Likewise, I do not take lightly the promises we make at Confirmation or when we receive a new member.
We promise to remain. We promise to help one another grow in faith. We promise to encourage and hold one another accountable. We promise to confront evil, injustice and oppression. We promise to seek God. In all of this, we promise to do so together, in community, supporting each other and looking outward to a world that struggles to provide safety, peace and care for all.
The details of how we will do this are simply details. At our heart is our promise to be the kind of church community that seeks God, longs to grow in faith and desires to serve God and people. Or, as one table said last month, “To love God, love people and do stuff.”
May it be so.
Peace, Pastor Linda
Messenger - May 2019
Dear Webster Hills Friends,
We have some questions before us. Some big questions. No, wait, let me rephrase. We have some wildly big, gigantic, super-colossal questions before us. Your church family needs your help wrestling with these questions and working through some possible answers. Trust me; most of the answers will not be simple and easy. I think it’s also safe to say that the answers, if they are to become reality, will ask a commitment from you. Because that may seem intimidating, consider that the answers also hold the potential to make a significant difference within our congregation and beyond.
If you participate regularly in the life of Webster Hills UMC, then I not only invite, but implore you to attend a morning workshop on May 18 in the Christian Life Center. Preparation for this workshop is simple. Pray and let your prayers be guided by these questions:
•Holy One, what do you want Webster Hills UMC to look like five years from now?
•Holy One, how will we know that we have done what you have asked?
The emphasis of this workshop will be to consider how we can best define and fulfill God’s call on our congregation. We will start promptly at 9:00 am and end at 12:30. Because of the nature of this workshop, if you are able to attend, it is essential that you participate for the entire event. You can help us plan by letting us know by May 13 if you will attend and if you need to take advantage of child care. Please RSVP to Amanda Hancock at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Messenger - April 2019
Easter is Sunday, April 21. We will have worship in our sanctuary at 9 AM and 10:30 AM. Easter is many things. Worship is planned to be a big, beautiful reminder of the power of God over evil and death. Easter will be a morning to be immersed in God’s Word through music, message and simply the experience of being together with family, friends and neighbors.
Easter is also an excellent time to invite someone to worship with you. I hope you are already beginning to think about the people you know who do not have a faith home and are making plans to extend an invitation. I also hope you are open to those moments when you can invite someone you don’t know, be it your barista, check-out clerk, or the person sitting next to you at morning coffee.
Too often we hesitate to extend an invitation, thinking that the person we’ve met already has a church or will somehow be put off. Every year at this time, I’ll hear a story of how an invitation changed a life, offered a word of hope, reminded someone that a faith community can be a place where their presence matters.
We are putting together some materials to make it easier for you to invite. I hope you will not only receive them but find ways to put them to use and to be surprised by the outcome. It’s also a good time to practice invitation. Summer is right around the corner, a time when new friends are moving into our neighborhoods and looking for ways to connect with a faith home.
Speaking of Easter, it’s also a great day to serve. Many of you make plans to serve during one service and attend the other worship service. That’s a great plan! We will need people who will commit to making Easter an uplifting experience for others by playing a role in hospitality, childcare, worship leadership and more. We welcome those of you who do not regularly serve. There are plenty of ways to help and people who will help you throughout the morning. Contact Leslie Chalupny to let her know when you can be available, email@example.com, or sign up online here!
Messenger - March 2019
Ashes and Breath
What do we know about the month of March?
• Named for the Roman god of war
• Beware the Ides of March
• March Madness
• National Pi Day (3.14)
• First day of Spring
March holds the potential to move us from the dreariness of winter into the splendor of spring with lightning speed. Or it may not. It’s unpredictable. Like life. For us, March begins with Lent. Lent is a time that asks us to be more aware of something we know, but work hard at denying. We will all die. Lent also reminds us that death is not that end.
In his memoir, “When Breath Becomes Life”, Dr.Paul Kalanithi wrote, “The fact of death is unsettling. Yet there is no other way to live.” The book is a powerful glimpse into a dying man’s reflections on life, death and finding meaning in all of it.
The season of Lent offers us a grand invitation to acknowledge what will come for all of us and still embrace life. In other words, I think Lent, beginning as it does with ashes, is a delightful invitation to a season of reflection, prayer, and action. I think it’s a time when we can fill our lungs with the fullness of life. I invite you to take a deep breath as we begin Lent. Your church is offering you a number of ways to engage with the season, either on your own or with a group.
I encourage you to let this be a season that begins with ashes and becomes breath. Christian faith is a life-giving faith. Breathe deeply and take in all that it has to offer and all that you can offer in return.
Messenger - February 2019
The daily meditations provided by Richard Rohr have been getting my attention lately. Maybe it’s because the current theme is “Following Jesus.” The vision for our church is to be a community that will “Follow Jesus. Change the World.” I often find myself wondering what we might want to do differently in order to live out that vision. Many of the reflections have included a reminder that if we don’t really know Jesus, it’s difficult to follow him.
From the days immediately after the death and resurrection of Jesus through the fifth century, Christianity was understood to be about a way of life. It was less about what you believed and more about how you lived because of your belief. Someone has said that the purpose of reading the Bible is not to know more, but to become more.
At Webster Hills UMC we have been turning our attention to the stories of the life of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. My hope is that we will read, reflect and study together. In other words, that as a community we will know more. My larger hope is that as we journey together we will also become more.
Worship over the weeks ahead will have at its center an invitation to better know and understand Jesus so that we might be a community of people who are on the journey of becoming more like Jesus. What we learn will be important. What we do because of what we learn will be even more important.
Our vision is one of action; to “follow” and to “change.” As you read through this edition of The Messenger, you will find opportunities to both learn and live in ways that can shape you and our faith community. Be sure to check them out and take advantage of what we have in place for you.
On page 2 you will find some information about healing services that will be offered this month and next. Healing is a practice that was nearly lost to the mainline church. It began to reemerge during the 1970’s and is still often misunderstood. If you are experiencing any sort of physical, emotional or spiritual distress, these services will offer a pathway to find comfort and wholeness.
Ready, Set, Wait!
Messenger - January 2019
Ready, Set, Wait!
“I”m fixin’ to get ready” It was a phrase I learned while living in Arkansas. My friends to the south would often say it just before they got ready to go to the store or start a project. “Fixin’ to get ready” is the step right before “getting ready.”
We don’t think of Jesus as spending much time getting ready to get ready. We often see him as someone who burst on the scene of his public ministry ready to shake things up and make things happen. Starting December 30 in worship we are going to look at four episodes in Jesus’ life that show us how we might approach starting something in our own lives.
We can learn a lot from Jesus. His story offers us lessons that are spiritual, personal, emotional, political and practical. I hope you will join in this series that will help us consider the stages of change and the value of knowing in which stage we find ourselves. Whether it’s time to kick a habit, find a new career path, work on our relationships or start something that could very well change the world, we will consider how Jesus prepared and was prepared for his work among us.
“Getting Ready to Get Ready” will be fun, practical, and possibly life-changing. It will be full of resources and it will help us as we get ready to get ready for life’s next chapter. The series will run from December 30-January 20 on Sunday mornings at 9 and 10:30.
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. - 2 Corinthians 3:12
What are your prayers, hopes, and dreams for Webster Hills United Methodist Church? When you look boldly into the future of our faith community, what do you see?
Welcome to Bold -part two or BOLD². We are offering a series of conversations to gather your ideas for ways to build up our church. We want to begin to imagine ministries that will help us become a magnetic community where lives are changed and people are loved.
These conversations will be offered at a wide variety of days, times and places. So that we are able to hear from everyone who attends, each gathering will have no more than twelve in attendance.
What happens next? Much of that answer will depend on what you bring to the conversations. We expect to discover some common threads of ideas for mission and ministry in the years ahead and will begin working on ways to make ideas come to life in 2019 and beyond.
For now, three gatherings have been scheduled and others are being planned.
• Tuesday, January 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. at the home of Rob and Kristin Lamprecht
• Thursday, January 25 from 10-11:30 a.m at McArthur’s Bakery in Kirkwood
• Thursday, January 25 from 1-2:30 p.m. in the Christian Life Center Library
Make your reservation with Amanda Hancock by phone or email (314-961-3164, firstname.lastname@example.org). Or contact her if you would like to host a conversation at your home, at church or off-site.
Praying Our Way Forward
People representing the United Methodist Church from across the globe are about to gather in St. Louis for a specially called session of our General Conference. They will be taking up the question of how we as United Methodists who hold a wide range of beliefs around issues related to sexual identity can move into the future. Primarily, the members of the General Conference will be considering various ways our denomination can be structured.
The work they are doing is important and complex. It is impossible to predict what votes will be taken and how any potential decisions will fully impact our United Methodist connection or any individual congregation.
Join Pastor Linda for lunch on Sunday, February 3 at 11:45 in the Christian Life Center. There will be some time to briefly review the proposals that will come before the General Conference session. She will offer some background on the structure of our denomination and how we go about making decisions such as these. There will also be some discussion about how we as a congregation can process what happens in ways that are inclusive and respectful.
A salad and sandwich bar will be served and donations to cover the cost of the meal will be accepted. Please make your reservations for the meal and child care by January 27 to Leslie Chalupny at email@example.com.
In the meantime, visit our Missouri Conference web page to learn more and join in prayer for the people who will be asked to make some important choices on behalf of our denomination. https://www.moumethodist.org/prayingourwayforward