Dear Resurrection Family,
This last Sunday, Ona Belle Stephens brought LaVon and me a homemade lemon meringue pie. Ona Belle makes the best lemon meringue pie I’ve ever eaten. Why did she do this? It was an act of kindness, even before she heard last week’s sermon! It was an act of generosity. I’ve known Ona Belle for a long time – she and her husband Bill spent a lifetime in the ministry. They have walked with God so long that kindness and generosity have become second nature to them.
This weekend we continue in our series of sermons on The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life. These practices, exercises or disciplines shape our faith, connect us with God, lead us to fulfill God’s mission for our lives, help us to bless others and give our lives meaning and joy. As we pursue these practices across the course of our lives, they become second nature to us.
This weekend we’ll look at the practice of generosity, both the quality of character and the act of giving to others. We’ll learn why giving actually blesses us (it really is more blessed to give than to receive) and how generosity has been proven to lead to greater joy and improved quality of life. We’ll think about how giving and kindness are intertwined, as well as how they differ. And we’ll consider examples of what it might look like to become people for whom generosity is our way of life. Invite a friend and be in worship for this fourth weekend of Lent!
When I was a kid, I remember the excitement of the book fair at school. It was the day when you could bring money and purchase a book or two to take home. The Scholastic Book Fair is still a big deal in schools, but many of the children at our partner schools cannot afford to buy books. That’s where you come in.
Resurrection has a Bookmobile that offers free books for children in our partner elementary schools, giving away over 60,000 books last year, blessing 30,000 children at 60 locations.
This weekend at Resurrection Leawood and online, you get to experience the joy of a Scholastic Book Fair. You’ll pick out and purchase books that will be donated to the Book Mobile to be given to low-income children right here in Kansas City. How cool is that?
If you are at one of our other locations or will be out of town this weekend, you can help by clicking here to purchase books online. Books range in price from $3.99 to $9.99.
We’d like to know how many season ticket holders we have here at Resurrection. The Chiefs organization has approached us about an idea that could be pretty exciting, but we’d first like to get a sense of how many season ticket holders are a part of the church. Click here to let us know if you are a season ticket holder and how many seats you have. Please leave your email and I’ll fill you in on the idea to see what you think.
Our first forum will be this Sunday night, March 31, at 6:30 pm in the Leawood Foundry. If you’ve been seized with Resurrection’s vision of providing a quality pre-K education for every four-year-old near our partner schools, I’d like you to join me for this forum Sunday night. We’ll hear from experts who will help us understand what will be required to fulfill this vision over the next decade.
There will be an opportunity to sign up to get involved as we get the ball rolling on this “moonshot” vision. Register here.
I can’t believe that Easter is just three weeks away! With the flood of visitors on Easter, and the additional services, it’s all hands on deck. We’re looking for people who can serve (think of your five fingers on your left hand, per last weekend’s sermon!) ushers, greeters, nursery workers and parking lot attendants - to help extend a warm Resurrection welcome to our guests on Easter Weekend.
To help us in our planning, please click here and scroll down the page to see the ways you can serve and sign up to assist on Easter weekend.
Join Church of the Resurrection’s Grandparenting Ministry from 1-3 pm on Sunday April 7 at College Lanes for an afternoon of bowling with your grandkids. $12 includes lane time and shoe rental. You’ll be grouped with grandkids of similar ages and led through fun, disciple-based moments of sharing as you bowl.
LaVon and I will be there bowling with Stella. No matter which campus you consider home, please know that you are invited to join us. Scholarships are available by emailing Angie.McCarty@cor.org. Click here to register for this great afternoon of fun with your grandchildren, and a chance to get to know other grandparents at Resurrection.
Once every ten years the people of Oberammergau, Germany, put on their world-famous Passion Play. Next summer, as the play is once again being presented, the first time in ten years, Resurrection Leawood’s Director of Traditional Music, Kevin Bogan, and Pastor Steve Langhofer, will be leading a group tour to the Passion Play, and while in Europe, a tour of some of Europe’s capitals.
If you are interested in this trip, Kevin will host an informational meeting on Wednesday, April 3 at 6 pm. Register here to attend the information session. The ten-day trip departs Kansas City on July 28, 2020 and you’ll visit Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Innsbruck and Prague in addition to the Passion Play.
The people of Oberammergau began putting on the passion play in 1634 after the people of the village vowed they would perform the Passion Play every ten years if their town was spared from the Black Plague. True to their word, they’ve been doing it ever since. Check out the informational meeting if you are interested in being a part of this amazing experience.
I wrote much of this enote while on a plane last night, returning from Dallas. Yesterday I was teaching at my alma mater, Southern Methodist University, but on Wednesday night I participated in the first of two small gatherings of some of the key leaders in the United Methodist Church to discuss the future of the denomination. I thought you might find it helpful to understand a bit more of what is happening in the denomination that has led to the current state of conflict.
If you think of a classic bell curve, this gives you a sense of the United Methodist Church’s spread across the theological spectrum, and how we interpret scripture regarding same-sex marriage. 20% of our churches tend to be very conservative, 65% tend to be in the broad center and 15% tend to be very progressive. 21,000 of our 32,000 churches in the US are in the broad center of the bell curve.
There have been four words/categories that have been used to describe where United Methodists stand on same-sex marriage in the church:
So, if you’re not totally confused yet, imagine the bell curve again. On one end of the bell curve are the traditionalist-incompatibilists – marriage is between a man and a woman and they cannot be in a denomination where any United Methodist anywhere is allowed to hold same-sex weddings). On the other end of the bell curve are progressive-incompatibilists – those supporting same-sex marriage but who cannot be in a denomination where every pastor and every church is not required to officiate same-sex weddings.
Most traditionalists and progressives believe there is room for Christians to disagree in how they read and interpret scripture regarding same-sex marriage. These are compatibilists. Traditionalist-compatibilists are willing to allow for same-sex marriage in other churches, provided they are not required to officiate. Progressive-compatibilists are willing to allow traditionalists to not marry same-sex couples, provided they are allowed to do so. Again, on our bell curve, most UM congregations and pastors are compatibilists.
Yesterday, before teaching a class of laity at the Perkins Laity School of Theology at SMU, I surveyed the class registrants to see where they were on this question. Keep in mind these are mostly committed United Methodist lay people, not from California or New York, which we might expect to be more progressives. These were lay people from Dallas and the surrounding areas. Here were their results:
So, 84% of those laity in my class in Dallas were compatibilists. 81% were progressive. These numbers vary by group we survey, but in every survey we’ve done the vast majority of United Methodists are compatibilists. Now look at the traditional-incompatibilists in the chart. At General Conference, they, with the help of votes from Africa and the former Soviet areas of Europe and Russia, voted for a traditionalists-incompatibilists plan that the United Methodist bishops had rejected.
The meeting I was at on Wednesday night, and will be at again this coming Thursday in Atlanta, are with 60 respected and influential leaders in the UMC (30 in Dallas and 30 in Atlanta), all compatibilists, who are seeking to discern where the United Methodist Church goes from here. Those at the meeting – leading bishops from across the US, denominational leaders, leading pastors and laity – all share the conviction that this shift to incompatibilism doesn’t represent the vast majority of United Methodists in the US, that it brought greater harm to our LGBTQ members and their families and that it has hurt our witness and work. We began laying out possible strategies at the first meeting. Next week’s meeting in Atlanta will build upon this first meeting in Dallas.
On May 20-22, we anticipate hosting a gathering of 500 leaders from every annual conference across the United States, with representatives from outside the US as well, here at Resurrection.
I’ll know more after next week’s meeting. I just wanted to give you a brief update and to give you a sense of why there is a great deal of angst in the UMC right now. You likely aren’t hearing about it, but across the country there is a great deal of conversation among United Methodists about this. You are seen as a leading congregation and I want you to be informed. What does all this mean for Resurrection? That we will continue to be the church we have been, and we’ll play a part in shaping what’s next.
I have more meetings today and a sermon to finish! I am grateful for you, Church of the Resurrection, and proud to be your pastor. Don’t miss this weekend in worship!
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