Packed Pools and Empty Pews: How to Avoid the Summer Slump

7/26/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   Each summer, pastors face the specter of barren pews and empty coffers as their congregants’ ease into the slower pace of the season. New Director of Congregational Excellence the Rev. Robert Besser, comes to the rescue with his top five tips to beat the Summer slump.   1. Get the Kids Involved Keep families engaged with special kid-focused worship events such as end of the week VBS celebrations or a Youth Sunday. Besser says it is also a great idea to take advantage of the ...

Theology, Community, and Worship: Texas Youth Academy Comes to Wiley College

7/26/2018
Each year, the Texas Youth Academy, welcomes teens interested in deepening their faith to participate in a two-week theology camp. This year TYA was held on the campus of Wiley College for the first time.   Texas Youth Academy, in partnership with the Texas Annual Conference and the Lilly High School Theology Institute, offers participants the opportunity to participate in daily Bible study and various styles of worship. Artsville is another vital part of their camp experience. The program by ...

Hurricane Preparedness Resource Fair at Trinity UMC in Houston

7/25/2018
Trinity United Methodist Church is hosting a hurricane preparedness resource fair Friday, August 10, 2018 from 10:00 am - 12 noon   This resource fair will provide neighborhoods the opportunity to discuss flooding, flood management and emergency preparedness, along with clarifications of the upcoming flood bond election. We’d like to hear from you and discuss how we can work together to improve our neighborhoods. Please RSVP at mayra.hypolite@houstontx.gov or Dianne Iglehart at Trinity UMC 2600...

Lay Ministry Training at Houston Methodist Hospital

7/25/2018
The Department of Spiritual Care and Education at Houston Methodist Hospital will offer a five session training course for new lay ministers in October 2018. Lay Ministers are gifted men and women from many different faith communities in the metropolitan area who commit to serve a minimum of one day a week for 2-4hrs on a consistent basis.   If you are interested in volunteering alongside a professional chaplain to address the spiritual needs of our patients, primarily through empathic ...

Clear Lake UMC Member's Carpentry Skills Help Rebuild

7/18/2018
John Lem was on vacation in Colorado when Harvey struck. He and his wife, Sandra, decided to wait out the storm. Their house in Clear Lake did not flood, but Lem knew that the greater Houston area was in deep water.   Experience with past floods in the city gave him an idea of what to expect. As soon as they got back to Houston, he went to work, helping people repair their homes. “Until you see it firsthand, it’s difficult to understand the magnitude,” he said. “I just had a calling. I had to do...

Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones: Conversations on The Way Forward

7/17/2018
Bishop Scott Jones invites both clergy and laity to join the conversation on The Way Forward in “Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones,” August 11-23, 2018.   “Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones” will take place in all nine districts between August 11-23, 2018. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with the Bishop to hear more about what attendees should expect from the sessions.   Q: Bishop Jones, you are travelling to all nine districts to host “Table Talks.” Why is the conversation on ...

Anybody Out There? Get Them Out of the Pews and Into Ministry

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   Volunteers are the lifeblood of the local church and according to studies conducted by the American Psychological Association, volunteering is good for the mental and physical health of individuals as well.   Even so, pastors regularly struggle to mobilize a strong volunteer force beyond the “faithful few.” One couple from First Palestine UMC, Danny and Dorenda Smith, are among those dedicated servants who show up week in and week out with a heart to serve.   “They are ...

Camp Mending Hearts: A Place for Grieving Kids

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   In 2015, Christ UMC College Station established Mending Hearts Grief Center, an off-site grief ministry. Over time, the ministry has blossomed into a multi-faceted service. Today, Mending Hearts Grief Center ministers to grieving men, women, and children from three different Texas counties. The center offers a wide range of grief ministries including divorce care, a children’s bereavement program, and Compassionate Friends, a ministry for parents who have suffered the loss of...

Speaking Out for Vulnerable Immigrant Kids: Write to Reunite

7/12/2018
In the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy concerning the prosecution of illegal border crossings, the Texas UMC Bishops launched the Write to Reunite campaign. This letter writing initiative advocates for the reunification of migrant children and their parents. The Bishops cite their grave concerns for the trauma the children are suffering calling the separations a “humanitarian and moral crisis.”   “As United Methodists, this is historic time for us to come together ...

Ten Months After Harvey the “Faithful Ten” Get the Job Done

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg The Magnitude of Harvey The statistics surrounding the damage left behind by Hurricane Harvey are almost impossible to comprehend. Within a two-day period, the city of Houston received a staggering 31.2 inches of rain. According to the National Hurricane Center, Harvey is the second most costly storm in history.   But perhaps the most tangible expression of Harvey’s magnitude is found in the tireless dedication of a group of ten retirees from Clear Lake UMC who are still ...

Why Camp?

7/12/2018
  By: Rev. Jeff Gage   I often talk to other pastors about going to camp and being a counselor. A CABIN COUNSELOR. Not the preacher for the week. Everybody wants that job. Not the musician. You are not that cool anymore. A counselor!   I am usually turned down with standard responses. “I’m too busy.” “I don’t want to go.” “My kids don’t go to Lakeview. They go to ______.” (Insert camp name. Could be Christian. Could be a sports camp. You name it.)   In response to these, I offer these thoughts....

Young, Gifted and Diverse: Summer Interns Make a Splash

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   The College Pastoral Internship Program (CPIP), established in 2007, assists young United Methodists in discerning God’s call to ministry and Christian service. According to the Rev. Elizabeth Duffin, Associate Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence, the program has been a vital tool in the recruitment of young, gifted, diverse clergy. Of the 81 interns who have taken part in the program since its founding, 14 are currently serving as either commissioned or ordained ...

Texas Bishops Release Video Promoting the Write To Reunite Letter Writing Campaign

7/2/2018
The United Methodist Bishops of Texas are actively continuing their collective call for compassion and care for and the reuniting of immigrant children and their parents via a brief, easy-to-share video that introduces and promotes the #WriteToReunite letter writing campaign.   On June 20, the five episcopal leaders of the United Methodist conferences in Texas – Bishop Earl Bledsoe (Northwest Texas), Bishop Scott Jones (Texas), Bishop Mike Lowry (Central Texas), Bishop Mike McKee (North Texas)...

“We Love All of God’s Children”… According to John Wesley

6/28/2018
By: Sherri Gragg - En Español   John “Jackie” Wesley was born on June 17, 1703. Although Samuel and Susanna Wesley were blessed with 19 children within a 20-year period, only 10 of those children survived infancy. Jackie was the seventh of those who lived. One night when Jackie was 5-years-old, the family home caught fire. Samuel rushed his pregnant wife and children out of the home, but as the flames shot upward into the night sky, he realized young Jackie was still upstairs asleep in his bed....

Grant Applications Due Sept. 1 for Local Church Racial/Ethnic Ministries

6/28/2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. Discipleship Ministries – Applications for grants up to $10,000 to help local United Methodist churches build ministries that strengthen and support racial and ethnic church concerns are due on Sept. 1.   Racial Ethnic Local Church Concerns (RELCC) grants from Discipleship Ministries will be available for each year of the current quadrennium. The purpose of the RELCC grants is to provide funding to strengthen the ethnic local church through leadership training, small groups, ...

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