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Nestor Nazario's blog

Be Transformed

John Motley, Dee Dee Rencehausen, Ruby Cunningham and I attended the fortieth annual session of the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church at Lakeside, Ohio last week.  We were blessed with wonderful weather (in the 70’s), a minimum showing of Canadian soldiers (bugs), and great speakers.  The theme for this session was “Be Transform - Transform Our Hearts, Transform Our Minds, Transform Our Doors.”  Let me share with you some thoughts and challenges brought to us by some of the speakers that week.

Bishop John Hopkins challenged the delegates from our churches to re-think church - to seek to engage our community outside the traditional ways.  He mentioned that if the church does not adapt to the changing world, the world will pass it by.  And he offered three ways to rethink church:  1. we need to be more reflective than reactive – paying more attention to what God is doing, 2. be more concerned with who is around the church than who is in it, and 3. encourage the creation of new worship services to meet the spiritual needs of people.

Rev. Orlando Chaffee, our new District Superintendent, was the speaker at the Religion and Race dinner.  Utilizing the biblical passage of the Good Samaritan, he talked about the need to build bridges out of our fences.  He described some of the fences we have created that hinder us from entering meaningful relationships with others - fences that exclude rather than include.  And that if we are to be a transformed church, we need to tear down those fences to build bridges instead.

Renewing Our Spiritual Journey

The adventures and fun of summer are about over.  People have been or are returning from their vacations and students are returning to school.  Where did summer go?  For many, it has been archived en family photo albums as treasured memories.  Time certainly does go by flying. 

Well, just because the summer is about over, doesn’t mean that there is not much to look forward to.  Many church activities and programs for children, youth and adults are about to resume in September and in the coming months.

Our marvelous choir is about to restart their choir rehearsals to provide inspiring music and songs for the glory of God and the edification of our congregation.  We have purchased a drum set to augment our already talented group of musicians and instruments, and hope to incorporate more contemporary praise songs to our worship service.

Sunday School will also restart next month including a longer confirmation class for our new group of confirmands.  In both of my Wednesdays Pastor’s Bible Studies we will be watching and discussing 30 minute lectures on the Old Testament given by professor, author and lecturer Amy-Jill Levine, who is professor at Vanderbilt University Divinity School.

On Saturday, August 29th we will be having a planning session at our church from 9:00 am until noon to discuss our current and future goals and activities for our church.  We will be sharing some insights we received from a Rethink Church training offered for West and East Ohio Annual Conferences that John, George, Sandy, Joan and I attended last week.  Everyone is invited to attend. 

The Journey through Lent to Easter

            By now we are about halfway through the observance of Lent.  Easter this year falls on Sunday, April 12, 2009.
 
            Lent as you know, is that season in the Christian calendar of forty days (plus six Sundays) of preparation for the celebration of Easter.  Christians in the past, and many today, have used and are using this period of Lent to prepare candidates for baptism that were and are going to be baptized on Easter Sunday.  What was an observance and practice for those who were going to be baptized became an observance and practice for all Christians.
 
            During Lent, Christians have been reflecting on temptation, sin, repentance, God’s grace, God’s will and the cost of following it or not.  We have heard how Jesus was triumphant over the temptations he confronted while fasting for 40 days and nights in the wilderness, in contrast to the people of Israel who where unfaithful to God as they were tempted in the desert while wandering there for forty years.  Jesus was triumphant and was able to teach and live the kingdom of God by example, while the Israelites failed and none of those who were wandering in the desert (with the exception of two) were allowed to enter the Promised Land.
 

Rethinking Church


 

On February 7, 2009, I attended our North Coast District Leadership Academy held at Lakewood United Methodist Church. Bishop Sally Dick was the keynote speaker for the event and spoke of the need to rethink the church since we are living in a world and society where everything else is undergoing changes at a rapid pace.