Loving Wholly

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It’s a part of our church’s vision statement – where we say our ministry points us – to love wholly.  Sometimes I get stuck on this.  Are we loving the whole of another person?  Or are we to love with our whole-selves?   Humans are multifaceted; and together as families, communities, a nation, and a world we are certainly complex.  So either way, just these two words are quite a mission for our ministry. One way to think about the parts of a person and a community made of up of people is body (physical), mind (mental), heart (emotional) and soul …

The Future of the UMC

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

For decades the people who make up the United Methodist Church have not agreed on how to include people who identify as gay, transgendered, bi-sexual or queer, in the church. (And there are other things we don’t agree on, but the conversation is focused on this.)  It is a difference of perspective, especially around scriptural interpretation and theology.  Many people want the church discipline to stay as it is.  Other would like for us to be open to marrying same-gender loving couples and ordaining LGBTQ people.  And still others would like for the consequences of these steps and our language …

The Power We Are Given

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

This summer, I have preached on the first few chapters of Mark’s Gospel.  We’ll continue this into the fall.  One of the recurring themes I’ve seen in these stories is the power of Jesus to heal, to forgive, to include and listen to outsiders, to speak a fresh new word of God’s love into harsh circumstances.  I’ve also noticed how this power is available to us – in fact I’ve mentioned that a few times in my sermons.  And that is something I believe whole-heartily.  We are not just to be observers or receivers of God’s powerful love, but agents …

Our New Pastor

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

Once again, our church is receiving a gift of extra staff from the North Alabama Annual Conference.  For the next year, we will share an associate pastor with East Lake UMC.  The Rev. Melissa Self Patrick joins us beginning this month.  At Woodlawn, Melissa will have responsibilities in worship leadership, small group development, congregational care and community engagement. Melissa is second-career clergy, with a background in social-justice and non-profit work in Birmingham.  For the past three years, she was the pastor at Lester’s Chapel UMC.  Melissa is originally from Decatur and grew up at Central UMC.  She and her husband …

See Yourself As Church

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

As usual, worship attendance has dropped since Easter.  It does in many churches.  A few weeks ago, I sat in the chair behind the pulpit on a Sunday and grimaced at the empty spots in the pews.  In my head I wondered how these few people could afford to keep this church going, both financially and physically.  Monday morning I was still feeling droopy about it, when Jan reminded me, we at Woodlawn UMC are better at being church than our worship attendance sometimes reflects. I needed this reminder – because all the other markers tell a story of an …

What’s In A Name?

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

This year, as last, we are partnering with the NAMES Project to display the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  The NAMES Project is the caretaker of the quilt; and their mission is to keep alive the stories of all those who have died from the HIV-AIDS epidemic.  The quilt, too large to be displayed in one piece now, consists of blocks with 8 panels.  Each panel is a remembrance of someone who died from AIDS.  The panels are designed and decorated by family and friends and each is as unique as the person it gives witness to.  Having the name of the …

Speaking of Freedom

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

Easter is a day of freedom.  As Jesus Christ was not bound by death after his crucifixion, he promises new life for us after our deaths.  As Jesus Christ is resurrected from the grave, he promises new life after there has been sin, healing, brokenness of our bodies, spirits and relationships. There is another day of freedom, celebrated mostly by African-Americans.  It is June 19th, called Juneteenth, and it observes the day the news of emancipation reached Texas, the farthest part of the South.  On June 19, 1865, the message reached Galveston, TX by Union soldiers, although the Emancipation Proclamation …

Making the Rough Places Plane

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

The Trustees are working toward having the parking lots fixed.  The lot connected to the alley will be completely repaved, while the one adjacent to the church building will most likely have repairs and sealing done.  In hearing how the pavers do their work, I learned there is a lot to be done before new asphalt can be laid.  If you’ve driven in that lot, you know it’s a rough piece of land. Holes have to be plugged, roots and a stump have to be dug out and cracks have to be filled.  Cleaning comes next to remove all the …

Connecting Gifts to Needs

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

Last month I wrote about a new effort for our congregation to discover, develop and deploy our spiritual gifts.  Our tool for this is a Spiritual Needs Assessment.  Directions for how to complete this are below.  If you haven’t already done this, I urge you to by the end of the month.  There are 20 spiritual gifts we are looking at, with definitions, coming from the New Testament.  We want to know everyone’s gifts so we can organize our church and ministries using them, instead of focusing on things in which we don’t have as much passion or interest. Another …

More Gift Unwrapping

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Most likely you’ve unwrapped a gift or two in the past couple of weeks.  You’ve probably thrown away the wrapping paper by now, thanked the gift-giver and maybe put the present to good use.  Even though the Christmas season is over on January 6th (Epiphany – the day we celebrate the wise men visiting Jesus with gifts) we will continue to focus on gifts at WUMC.  This month we will begin a sermon series on our God-given gifts;  plus we will use an online tool to help us unwrap and discover our spiritual gifts.  This gift inventory will be offered …