Media Links


Visit our Facebook site!

 

 

Mailing List

Upcoming events

Donate Online

Poll

What do you think about our new 10:30AM start time?:

Dianne_Covault's blog

December 2017

Advent and Waiting

It’s Advent. It’s not Christmas yet! I find myself telling myself, my children, and maybe even some of you that this season (as I struggle not to sing Christmas carols during worship) I shall spend time in quiet anticipation instead of joyous celebration.

Why take time for Advent? We all know Christmas comes earlier and earlier to our consumer culture each year; as soon as the Halloween decorations are down, the Christmas decorations go up. Christmas carols have been playing in stores and on the radio since November 1st. Why not just jump in? Why not sing “Silent Night” along with the crowds over and over again?

For me, there are several reasons to observe Advent and to wait for Christmas…

1. Advent reminds me to take time to wait upon the Lord. So much of my life is spent rushing from one thing to the next, that when I have to wait I usually get frustrated and impatient. But there have been times that my life that have been about waiting – waiting for my boyfriend to return from long trips to faraway places like South Africa, Australia and Argentina, waiting to learn whether I was pregnant each time, waiting to find out whether our baby would be a boy or a girl, and endless hours of waiting on bedrest to be sure that baby would not come too soon – waiting to wait! I am sure there are many times in your life you have had to wait as well. Advent gives us a chance to learn how to wait prayerfully and expectantly with God.

2. Advent helps me recognize how special Christmas really is when it comes. Reading the Biblical passages about the expectation of a Savior and learning how all of creation was longing for Jesus, helps me to see what an amazing event the Incarnation, God in the flesh, really was and is for us, even today. When I sing songs like “O Come O Come Emmanuel” instead of “Joy to the World” in the weeks before Christmas, I get a sense of what it really means to have God come to earth to be with us.

3. Advent slows me down. Doing a special devotion with my children when we light the Advent candles each night, setting up our decorations after Thanksgiving instead of before, watching and waiting, help to keep me in a reflective mood instead of a frenzied one.

I have to admit, I don’t usually wait all the way until December 24th before I start playing my favorite carols around the house, but I do always play Handel’s Messiah the way through before I start to listen to Bing Crosby and Dean Martin on my stereo. And I try to wait, and to wonder.
How about you? Let’s take time to watch and to wait together this Advent, and then, on December 24th, come to church twice – at our normal 10:30 am time and then again at 7 pm to celebrate Jesus’ birth – Emmanuel, God-with us. Thanks be to God!

See you in church!
Fear Not

November 2017

Becoming More!

I just got home from a great meeting with our Stewardship and Finance chairs. Yes, you saw those words in the same sentence – meeting, Stewardship, Finance, and great!

Now, before you start to wonder, I am not someone who enjoys working with money. I don’t like balancing budgets, or figuring out whether there is enough money for me to go somewhere I really want to go. I don’t like when my kids ask for something I’m not sure I can afford.

And most of all, I don’t like to ask other people for money. I was raised to earn my own money, which I started doing as soon as I was able. A month after I turned 16 I had a full time summer job, and I worked during the school year as well. When I started working as an engineer, it was good to finally make enough money that we could travel and buy a reliable car. It took me a while to realize that all of what I had, all of what I “earned” wasn’t really mine but God’s, that the reason I was able to make a living wasn’t due to my own ingenuity, but God’s grace.

And then I started seminary. I didn’t work full time outside of the home for the next 19 years, actually until this July 1. Fortunately, my ex-husband’s job paid our expenses, even if we didn’t have any extra.

And now, I am learning again how to live on my own salary. I am grateful to have a job I love.  But that job is paid for almost entirely due to the generosity of others. And that feels pretty odd.

One of the things I decided when I started working again after having children is that I was going to set aside a tithe before I did anything else. Since I wasn’t making any money before, I figured I wouldn’t miss 10% of what I hadn’t had. 

And I am fortunate. I don’t really have to worry about day to day expenses. I can buy groceries, and pay my bills. I know that is not true for everyone, and I am grateful. 

At our stewardship meeting, we talked about what it means to put God first – to put our tithe to the church at the top of our household budget, instead of the bottom. We talked about how it sometimes meant doing without “luxuries” which we might not consider luxuries.

But most of all we talked about what could happen if all of us gave back to this church that has given us so much, gave back to God what really wasn’t ours to begin with. 

Let me be the first to tell you, giving feels good. It feels good for me to know the money I give helps programming at the church, helps keep the lights on, and helps people in need not just in our community but around the world. 

What would it mean if we could become even more than we are now? If this church, which has stood steadfast on this corner for 80 years, could open its doors even wider to the community? Could offer the love and mercy of Jesus to more people? 

I invite you to pray and dream envision along with me – What would it mean to become MORE? Let’s find out, together! 

 

Fear Not,
Dianne

 

November 2017

Becoming More!

I just got home from a great meeting with our Stewardship and Finance chairs. Yes, you saw those words in the same sentence – meeting, Stewardship, Finance, and great! Now, before you start to wonder, I am not someone who enjoys working with money. I don’t like balancing budgets, or figuring out whether there is enough money for me to go somewhere I really want to go. I don’t like when my kids ask for something I’m not sure I can afford.

And most of all, I don’t like to ask other people for money. I was raised to earn my own money, which I started doing as soon as I was able. A month after I turned 16 I had a full time summer job, and I worked during the school year as well. When I started working as an engineer, it was good to finally make enough money that we could travel and buy a reliable car. It took me a while to realize that all of what I had, all of what I “earned” wasn’t really mine but God’s, that the reason I was able to make a living wasn’t due to my own ingenuity, but God’s grace.

And then I started seminary. I didn’t work full time outside of the home for the next 19 years, actually until this July 1. Fortunately, my ex-husband’s job paid our expenses, even if we didn’t have any extra. 

And now, I am learning again how to live on my own salary. I am grateful to have a job I love.  But that job is paid for almost entirely due to the generosity of others. And that feels pretty odd. 

One of the things I decided when I started working again after having children is that I was going to set aside a tithe before I did anything else. Since I wasn’t making any money before, I figured I wouldn’t miss 10% of what I hadn’t had. 

And I am fortunate. I don’t really have to worry about day to day expenses. I can buy groceries, and pay my bills. I know that is not true for everyone, and I am grateful. 

At our stewardship meeting, we talked about what it means to put God first – to put our tithe to the church at the top of our household budget, instead of the bottom. We talked about how it sometimes meant doing without “luxuries” which we might not consider luxuries.

But most of all we talked about what could happen if all of us gave back to this church that has given us so much, gave back to God what really wasn’t ours to begin with. 

Let me be the first to tell you, giving feels good. It feels good for me to know the money I give helps programming at the church, helps keep the lights on, and helps people in need not just in our community but around the world. 

What would it mean if we could become even more than we are now? If this church, which has stood steadfast on this corner for 80 years, could open its doors even wider to the community? Could offer the love and mercy of Jesus to more people? 

I invite you to pray and dream envision along with me – What would it mean to become MORE? Let’s find out, together!

 

Fear Not,
Dianne

 

OCTOBER 2017

Pastor’s News for October 2017

On Saturday September 16, as I mentioned in my sermon on September 10, I attended a conversation about A Way Forward for the United Methodist Church. I’d like to keep you up to date on what is happening in the larger church, so here is some information that might be helpful.

First – some background. The United Methodist Church is governed in a similar way to the United States – we have an executive branch (The Council of Bishops), a judicial branch (the Judicial Council, made up of lay and clergy) and a “house of representatives” (The General Conference, which is an approximately 1000-member body made up of equal members of lay and clergy from every conference of the church around the world). The General Conference, which is held every four years, is the only body that has the ability to change the rules of the church, which are contained in The Book of Discipline. Every paragraph of that book is up for review whenever Conference meets.

 

What is A Way Forward?

At the 2016 General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Council of Bishops proposed a commission be developed to “do a complete examination and possible revision of all of the paragraphs of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church.” As many of you know, the United Methodist Church has been divided around issues of human sexuality for many years. Currently, while the church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth, and all are eligible for membership, “self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church.” Further, “ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.” These or similar prohibitions were first added to the Discipline in 1972.

The United Methodist Church is one of only a few Protestant denominations that still prohibits ordination of LGBTQI individuals and does not allow for same sex weddings. At the last General Conference in 2012, the language in the Discipline was maintained by a majority of only 54% of the delegates. Clearly, the church is divided. In 2016, the conference decided not to vote but instead to empower the commission. The results of the commission’s work will be presented at a special General Conference slated for 2019.

At the conversation on September 16, I gathered with our Bishop and approximately 100 other East Ohio United Methodists. We worshipped together and listened to a presentation by the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Bowles, a professor of ethics from the Northern Illinois Conference. And then we gathered in small groups to discuss the following questions:

 

1. In our diverse and global existence, what is the shared mission of the

Church?

2. Is there a proactive way for us to live together in our differences that

doesn’t presume we will resolve our differences? What would it be?

3. What might be a form of unity that would empower us living

together?

4. What is our witness and what can be our witness to the world in

relation to our differences?

 

As you can see, these questions do not directly address issues around human sexuality but rather how we can stay united as a church.

I was glad to be a part of this pilot conversation, although a bit frustrated that in my small group the hour long conversation did not seem to be enough for us to really understand one another and our diverse viewpoints. To allow each of us time to answer the four questions thoughtfully, there was not much room for dialogue.

The East Ohio Conference plans to repeat this event over the next few months at locations around Ohio, at the following dates and locations:

Oct. 23, 2017, 6-9 pm - Mentor UMC

Nov. 14, 2017, 6-9 pm - Western Reserve UMC

Feb. 3, 2018, 10 am-1 pm - Thoburn UMC

Feb. 4, 2018, 2-5 pm - Willard First UMC

Feb. 5, 2018, 6-9 pm - Lakewood UMC

Mar. 3, 2018, 9 am-12 pm - Church of the Lakes UMC

 

All conversations are open to both lay and clergy members of the Conference. If you are a part of the church, you are invited. Preregistration is required – you can sign up on the conference website, www.eocumc.com

If you’d like to have further discussion on this issue, please feel free to call me and make an appointment, or send me an email. I have great hopes for the future of the United Methodist Church, rich in its diversity. I am glad we understand the importance of our unity and also hope we remember the sacred worth of all of those involved in the conversation.

 

Fear Not

Pastor Dianne

 

September 2017

Here We Go!

Well, we’ve had a couple of months now to get to know one another. I have learned a bit about navigating the West Side (thankfully I don’t have to take the 130th St. route!) We changed our worship time to allow us to worship fully together – and I really appreciate not having to rush from one church to another (well, at least not quite as much!) I’ve officiated at a wedding and two funerals, allowing me to celebrate life with many of you.

But I have to admit it still is all new to me. I haven’t been able to see as many of you as I would like. I haven’t been able to visit shut ins or sometimes even make hospital visits when I have been out of town. Meeting Pat’s bulletin deadlines sometimes keeps me up late at night, after I do all the kid taxi stuff and the animal care stuff that my home requires. Juggling is hard!

But it’s no more than most of you do every week. I am so grateful to see how volunteers step up to help out, whether with sound and AV on Sunday morning, making marvelous meals, teaching Sunday school, taking care of bills, making sure the building is running smoothly, cleaning out rooms and taking care of kids, and on, and on, and on.

Being the church means more than just showing up on Sunday morning – although if you do that, that’s great! Being the church means answering our membership vows to serve through our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness. How are you fulfilling your membership vows, the covenant you have made with God?

There is always more to be done. But if our response to God comes out of obligation, I think we’re missing the point. God loves us. God’s love overflows into us – and our response to God is to serve with love.

I don’t want any of you to feel as though coming to church, or doing things for the church, is a burden or a task to be dreaded. Sometimes it may be hard work. Sometimes it may not be how you would choose to spend that time. But know that your efforts are noticed, and appreciated. The church would not be the church without you, and I, as your pastor, have already in these two short months, noticed how much you do, and I am grateful.

So let’s go! Let’s jump into fall with the energy of kids jumping into a pile of leaves! God made us to be creatures of joy,

And remember,

Fear Not!

Dianne

August 2017

What’s Your Story?

Behold, I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, you are mine (Isaiah 43:1)

This is one of my favorite passages of scripture. God has called us by name, claimed us as God’s own, and has redeemed us, saved us, for new life!

I am so excited to begin my ministry among you at Christ and Simpson UMCs! Although my “official” start date is July 1, I have had the opportunity to meet some of you already, and to tour the beautiful buildings you inhabit. I am working on my first worship services for July 2, and am so looking forward to sharing worship with you!

Transitions are hard! I am sure you know this, but transitions can also be exciting and fun. One of my favorite things to do is to hear people’s stories, and church’s stories. In our first weeks together, I will be doing as much as I can to get to know you better – what is your vision for the church? How has God worked in your life thus far? What do you expect God to do in the future? What excites you about being a part of Christ Church?

The Hebrew Scripture lessons for the months of July and August focus on the stories of the Hebrew people in Genesis, and specifically on Joseph and Jacob, of Rachel and Leah and Miriam. How do their stories parallel your story? How can we learn about who God is through these faithful, flawed, passionate people?

I invite you to stop by my office at Christ on Mondays, Tuesdays or Wednesdays, or at Simpson on Thursdays. Give me a call or text to let me know you’re coming – I also want to learn the stories of your neighborhoods, so I might be out and about.

If you can’t come by, or even if you can, do me a favor and leave me an index card with answers to these questions (my own answers are below), with your name, or text to me at 216-509-4229 with a picture! Names are hard for me, so please be patient – God has called you by name, and I want to as well.

1. What’s your favorite passage of Scripture?

2. Who is in your family?

3. What do you like to do for fun?

4. What’s your favorite thing about church?

5. What’s the last good fiction book you read? (bonus – last great movie you saw?)

6. What’s your favorite hymn/worship song?

My answers:

1. Isaiah 40:30-31 (but Isaiah 43:1-7 and 1 John 4:7-21 are also right up there, actually there are too many more!)

2. I have three children – Louis (18) who will be attending the Cleveland Institute of Art, Glennis (16 on July 21) who is a rising junior at Heights High, and Estelle (13) who will be in the 8th grade at Roxboro Middle School in Cleveland Heights. I also have three cats (Lucky, Tumnus and Ezri) and two dogs (Dunstan and Fenway). Fenway is training as a service dog so you will see him around!

3. I love spending time with my kids and being outside – hiking, running, walking, playing sports. I’m a Red Sox fan and an Indians fan. I love to read!

4. I love pretty much everything about church and have since I was a little kid growing up in a small town outside Boston. But the best part is being with a community who loves God and loves others.

5. I really enjoyed A Man Called Ove. We just watched Wonder Woman, and that was fun!

6. Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing has the best line of any hymn, in my opinion. I also really like Every Praise, and Gather Us In, and, well, there are too many of these too!

I’m looking forward to being in ministry with you! I’ll sign as I always do, with a message God gives to God’s people over and over again:

Fear Not!

Dianne