Covid-19 Update

PLEASE CONTINUE GIVING! You can give online at our website www.ChristUMC.com, mail in your pledge to the church office, use PayPal at PayPal.me/ChristUMC, or pay through your bank (one time or recurring payment to the church). If you need help with these, please contact the church office. Our ministries remain important and vital in this community and around the world.

Our mailing address is :
Christ United Methodist Church
3625 West 138th Street
Cleveland, Ohio 44111

Until it is safe for us to worship in community on Sunday mornings, please connect to join us online via :

LIVESTREAMING worship at 10:30AM
• www.ChristUMC.com
 www.Youtube.com/ChristChurch75
• www.Facebook.com/ChristUMC1938
• Zoom: 1.929.436.2866; Meeting ID 364 764 870; Password 1381938

Or, listen to our new dial-in ministry at 216-400-5600 to hear the service, sermon or special message each week.

Click here to read more information about the Covid-19 virus and the Methodist Church’s response from Bishop Tracey Malone: www.eocumc.com/coronavirus/index.html

December 2019

This is not an easy or fun article for me to write. I’d love to talk to you about the wonder of the Incarnation, the message of Advent, the beautiful concerts we have been enjoying, our many outreach activities.

But the truth is, things are about to change. And I want you all to know what is at stake.

January 1, 2020 On January 1, 2020, the changes to the Book of Discipline made at the 2019 Special General Conference are going to take effect. You can find these changes at https://www.umofficialresources.com/updates/15/book-of-discipline-addendumand-errata-may-17-20191

Most of these changes have to do with adding punitive measures to the charge of being found a “self-avowed practicing homosexual” and/or clergy performing same gender weddings. In specific, a footnote has been added to paragraph 304.3 which reads:

1.“Self-avowed practicing homosexual” is understood to mean that a person openly acknowledges to a bishop, district superintendent, district committee of ordained ministry, Board of Ordained Ministry, or clergy session that the person is a practicing homosexual; or is living in a same-sex marriage, domestic partnership or civil union, or is a person who publicly states she or he is a practicing homosexual.

As before, LGBTQ folks are prohibited from entering the ordination process or serving as ordained elders and deacons in the church. However, language has now been added which states that bishops are prohibited from ordaining self-avowed practicing homosexuals even if they have been recommended by the Board of Ministry and approved by the clergy session of general conference. In the past, a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy has often been used when a person suspected of being LGBT has come forth for ordination. This will no longer be a possibility. If a clergy performs a same gender wedding or blessing of a same gender marriage, the punishment is now more severe than for breaking any other rule set forth in the Discipline. The first offense requires that the clergy be placed on leave without pay for one year. Subsequent offenses call for immediate removal of ordination credentials.

So what does this mean for Christ UMC? Why should we be concerned? It is quite feasible that a long-time member of the church, or a child or grandchild of a member, would wish to have a same-gender marriage performed at CUMC by me or even a former pastor of the church. With this ruling, if I perform this ceremony, I will be removed, and no longer able to pastor. To me, to have to refuse to perform a same gender ceremony for a congregant or the child or grandchild of a congregant, or one of our neighbors in West Park is a violation of my call to serve this congregation and this community and our commitment to welcome and hospitality.

Is this the church that we want? Do we want to close our doors to those who wish to celebrate their covenant with one another before God? It is also feasible that a member of this church would sense a call to ordained ministry. It has happened before – ask Ruby Cunningham! We have always encouraged and delighted in those who are called by God to serve the church. However, we would now have to ascertain whether a candidate is LGBTQ before we could recommend them for ministry.

Back when I was in high school in the early 1980s, I felt a call to ministry. I told the intern at my church, who was a student at a seminary not affiliated with the UMC. He told me that I could serve God in other ways, but not as a pastor. I believe he said this because I am a woman. It took me 14 more years to finally have the courage to answer my call, in a denomination that has ordained women since 1956. Is this the kind of church we want? Do we have the right to tell people that God’s call on their life is not legitimate because of their identity?

These are the things we need to decide as we move forward. We have options. This congregation can decide to accept the Traditional Plan and the measures outlined above. Or, we can make a statement about our resistance to the Traditional Plan, and put that statement on our website and Facebook page and make it clear to our neighborhood that our doors are open to all.

Or, the congregation can decide to do nothing right now, but as early as May of 2020, we may be required to take a vote on what “version” of the UMC we wish to be part of (see my article next month for more information).

Friends, this church is God’s church. You are God’s people. These are decisions we need to make, together.

In my next article, next month, I will tell you about the petitions coming to General Conference 2020, and how they might affect this church. What we need to understand is that each of us as individuals is going to need to decide where we stand. And this congregation is going to need to decide where it stands. We can no longer be “in the middle”.

I do not like having to bring up these contentious topics, but I do want you to be aware, and of course to always remember to

Fear Not
Dianne

November 2019

In the past two months, I have been able to travel to Kansas City, Missouri and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on two trips – both related to my vocation as a pastor, but each very different in its focus.

Pastor
Dianne Tobey Covault

In September, I joined with 35 other folks from the East Ohio Conference, many of them clergy, to attend the Leadership Institute at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. COR is the largest church in the denomination with approximately 20,000 members. Their lead pastor, the Rev. Adam Hamilton, is the author of many books and studies, including FAITHFUL: CHRISTMAS THROUGH THE EYES OF JOSEPH, which will be our Advent study this year. The Leadership Institute is an annual conference for church leaders held at COR.

This year, given the current crisis over human sexuality in the United Methodist Church, the conference was limited to 2400 United Methodists, with a maximum of two from any congregation. The conference, entitled “Bright Hope for Tomorrow: The Future of the United Methodist Church”, centered on the history and the future of the church. We heard talks about the history of racial relations, of the status and role of women in the church. We watched videos showing parents of children who had died by suicide due to their understanding of the church’s stance on LGBTQIA persons. We discussed the proposals coming to General Conference 2020, and then we met in annual conference groups to talk about what to do next.

I left the conference heartened by what I heard. I am encouraged by the number of folks in our conference who are as opposed to the Traditional Plan, which places severe punishments on LGBT+ clergy and those who perform LGBT+ weddings. It was a difficult week, as I saw many examples of the harm that the church has done to minorities and to women. But I also saw a church that is committed to moving forward into the future, a future where all means all.

In mid-October, I spent a week in Pittsburgh at the St. Paul of the Cross Retreat Center with my Order of St. Luke family. To many of us, the retreat center, and this annual gathering, are home. We planned and discussed the work of the Order, including worship books, psalmody, three periodicals, liturgical practice, and sacramental living. We worshipped together, in six services, or “offices” a day, from Morning Prayer to Compline (night prayer), and shared in the Eucharist (holy communion) each day. On this retreat, our focus was on the practice of iconography. Two artists joined us to explain their craft, and then we spent ½ day writing our own icon. We also took an afternoon trip to the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, where we met with a rabbi and then spent time at the Tree of Life synagogue where 11 persons were killed on October 27, 2018, during Shabbat services. We prayed portions of the Transitus prayer (for those who have died) and sang Dona Nobis Pacem in a beautiful round as we stood in front of the building. Two weeks, both “religious” in nature, but very different in content and style. Two weeks, helping me to remember why I do the work I do, and encouraging me on my journey.

Two weeks, and I am excited to share with you all I have learned in the months ahead, as we journey together and remember to Fear Not Pastor Dianne

October 2019

By now, I know many of you know a lot about me, about where I grew up, my family, and even my dog. You listen to my stories every week. But I’d like to hear more of yours. As we endeavor as a congregation to become more outward focused on our neighborhood, I’d like to know – did you live in this area growing up? What was it like and how has it changed?

What, or who, brought you to Christ United Methodist Church? Was it your parents? A friend? A neighbor? When people ask you about this church, what do you tell them? What would bring you in these doors now?

We all have a story, and our story is part of God’s story because we are all children of God. Stories are meant to be shared. So please, share yours! Come to one of our lunches at Rubin’s, drop by during my office hours, or if you are a writer, write yours down!

And don’t worry, I won’t use it in a sermon without your permission!

Fear Not, Dianne

September 2019

Have you noticed that community outreach is becoming a “big thing” at Christ UMC? Just some of the ways we are reaching out include –

  • Community meals – beginning again September 28!
  • Community garden – Roy Buser spearheaded a very successful growing season AND made some new friends among our neighbors.
  • VBS – thanks to our crack Education team, we had a very successful VBS in July.
  • Craft Tables at Jefferson Park during summer concerts for children.
    AND here are some exciting things to come!
  • Worship with West Park UCC – On Sunday, October 6, the congregation from West Park UCC will be joining us in worship as we celebrate World Communion Sunday!
  • Worship AT West Park UCC – On Sunday, October 13, we will be worshiping with West Park in their sanctuary on Rocky River Drive!
  • Meet the Pastor for Lunch – Dianne will be at Rubin’s on Wednesdays. September 4 and 18, October 9, October 30, and November 20 at noon this fall – come meet her for lunch and conversation!
  • Christmas Party for Kids coming up December 14.
  • Advent Study will be HERE on Mondays, December 2, 9, 16 and 23 with West Park UCC.
  • Members of the Community Outreach team are exploring partnering with other churches, with the Bellaire Puritas Development Corporation, and local schools to reach out to folks in the area.
  • What other ideas do you have?

It is great to see our congregation reaching out with the love of Christ to our neighbors! Let’s keep it up!

Fear Not, Dianne