Dear Cedar Grove UMC family,
Paul Leeland is the newly-assigned bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference, having moved to the Charlotte area just this month after serving 8 years as bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Bishop Leeland and I have a long shared history together, dating to his days as a pastor of a local congregation.
Dr. Leeland was pastor of a church in my hometown of Kinston in the early 1990s, and I was a lay member of a neighboring congregation. When he became superintendent of the Goldsboro District, I was his district lay leader. In 1993, he and I served together on a steering committee to form the Association of Congregations, a collaboration of faith communities from all denominations brought together to help bridge the racial, ethnic, socio-economic and religious divides affecting Lenoir County at the time. I am pleased to report that the AOC is still vital and operative nearly 25 years later. As you can tell, I hold Bishop Leeland in great regard.
I know that you have been following the news reports of the violence and unrest that has erupted in Charlotte these past days. In the wake of these events, Bishop Leeland wrote an open letter to the churches in the Western North Carolina Conference that has been widely published by the power of social media. I wanted to share portions of Bishop Leeland’s letter with you because it is one of the best pastoral commentaries I’ve seen in response to recent episodes of violence in Charlotte and elsewhere in our nation:
In an atmosphere of fear and anger we seem to be drifting into a disrespect and defiance of others which only contributes to an escalation of violence as witnessed last night when a peaceful protest turned violent. As social media shares videos of these events we quickly draw conclusions and make statements that are not necessarily helpful in resolving these frightful occurrences….
In the midst of this increasing violence my thoughts are focused on the families who are grieving and impacted by these events; may they find mercy and understanding. There will be many calls for prayer, which I know are already being lifted, and our prayers should lead to action. It is my prayer we might behave in such a way as to embrace Jesus’ teaching, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” To be a peacemaker at this moment will require deliberate and measured steps of building trust within each community…
Pray for the peace of our community and for those who work to protect public safety. I would also invite our congregations to consider how we might be engaged in conversation with our community leaders to encourage, support, and build trust as we become partners and peacemakers.
The prophet Hosea (10:12) called upon the faithful people of God to live in a different way by saying, “Sow righteousness (justice), reap the fruit of unfailing love, and to prepare new ground; for it is time to seek the Lord.” This is such a time. May we lead our communities to live in this “different way.”
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Paul L. Leeland
Resident Bishop, Charlotte Area
The United Methodist Church
Amen and Amen.
On Sunday, we will have the opportunity to meet our new student intern from Duke Divinity School, Nate Suire, and his wife Hannah. Nate is in his third year at Duke and will graduate in May. He and Hannah have been married for a little more than 3 months. Nate grew up in the Chicago suburb of Elgin, Ill. and is an Anglican. Prior to coming to Duke, he earned a bachelor of arts degree in Philosophical Theology and Biblical Studies from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. We are so excited to have Nate serving in our midst during this academic year! Please plan to come and help welcome Nate and Hannah on Sunday!
In worship on Sunday, we will conclude our sermon series Having Authentic Relationships. Having looked at relationships with friends, family and coworkers the past three weeks, this Sunday we will turn to the relationship that is the most central for many of us – our relationship with our spouse. The church is called the “bride of Christ,” giving us an example to emulate in marriage. But whether you’re married, single, divorced or widowed, Christ’s agape love for His “bride” – the church – shows the enduring love we all should show in our lives. Please plan to join us for worship at 10:30 a.m. Sunday as we examine “The Love That Endures” – and bring a friend with you!
Prior to worship, we will have our adult Sunday School class at 9:30 a.m. as we continue our study of Acts. Please join us!
We’re continuing to collect school supplies for our collection for the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes which we will be preparing later this year. We are continuing to move toward our goal of 150 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. Your donations will bless children both in our area and throughout the world!
Speaking of Operation Christmas Child, we will be able to take 10 volunteers to serve at the processing center in Charlotte from 1-5 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2. We are currently on the wait list for Saturday, Dec. 3. If you are able to go on that Friday, please let me know in the coming weeks. And, even though we are on the wait list for Saturday, let me know if you’re interested in going that day. I will let you know if we are moved from the wait list to the active list, but we probably won’t know for sure until the week or even days prior to that weekend.
The food pantry at OCIM is critically low. The summer months are always months of great need because families with children on free or reduced lunch at school do not always have access to those resources when school is not in session. Please continue to bring your canned goods and other nonperishable items each week and drop them in our collection baskets in the narthex. Your gifts are taken to the OCIM food pantry in Hillsborough, where they will be distributed to families throughout northern Orange County. Thank you for touching the lives of others through this outreach program of our church!
“Just sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale – a tale of a fateful trip…” Next Sunday (Oct. 2) we will begin a new sermon series, The Gospel from Gilligan’s Island. In this series of sermons, we will look for life lessons both from the characters of the 1960s TV show that still remains wildly popular in syndication and from three very different sea voyages in the Bible – those of Noah, Jonah and Peter. In this series, we will meet “The Captain and the Crew,” learn what is necessary in “Surviving the Stormy Blasts,” and discover “The Importance of Shipmates.” Please plan to join us for what I believe will be very entertaining and inspirational sermons – and bring a friend (or friends) with you!
Please be in prayer and preparation for our Charge Conference, which will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13 at Orange UMC in Chapel Hill. To prepare for Charge Conference,:
- The Lay Leadership Committee will meet immediately after church on Sunday, Oct. 16.
- The Staff-Parish Relations Committee will meet after church on Sunday, Oct. 23.
- The Administrative Council will meet at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16 and again after church on Sunday, Nov. 6.
- A Finance Committee meeting will be scheduled for late October, and that date will be announced when it is set.
Let’s begin praying for the proceedings of Charge Conference and the work leading up to it.
We post announcements of our upcoming sermon series and activities, along with the GPS and other items, on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Cedar-Grove-UMC/161622617284308. Please go to this page and “Like” us so that you can keep up with the latest announcements. Then, when you do see a new posting to the Facebook page, share it on your timeline. This is an easy, non-confrontational way of inviting and sharing the opportunities for worship and fellowship at CGUMC with all your Facebook friends!
In addition to Facebook, you can also follow the many happenings and ministries of CGUMC online in the following ways:
- News of upcoming events, the current GPS (Guide to Prayer and Study) and other announcements can be found at www.cedargroveumc.net under the “News” link.
- Catch up with all the events at Anathoth Community Garden at www.anathothgarden.org.
- To reach the office staff by email: for the church,
; or for Pastor Karl,
I look forward to seeing each of you at worship on Sunday!