Lynchburg District Theme

Lynchburg District Theme
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Disaster Relief Help

Lynchburg District Challenged to make 1000 Disaster Relief Cleaning Buckets

Like many of you, I was deeply saddened by the storms that struck repeatedly all over the United States. Like many I want to do something… but what?

Can we put together 1000 Disaster Relief Cleaning Buckets between our 91 United Methodist churches and send them to Annual Conference for UMCOR?

We have two dates set up at Sam’s Club where we can ask for donations and supplies from customers coming in the store: May 29 and June 3.

  1. You can go to Sam's Club Sunday or next Friday and buy Cleaning supplies. 
  2. You can join us at Sam’s Club.
  3. You can help us package buckets on June 11 at Timberlake UMC.
  4. Materials stored at Timberlake UMC.
  5. You can give us a donation to help us buy supplies.
UMCOR issues call for disaster relief cleaning buckets

United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has issued a call for more cleaning buckets (formerly known as flood buckets). Those attending Annual Conference are asked to bring cleaning buckets to replenish UMCOR's supply. These buckets will be sent with the regular shipment of disaster relief kits collected at Annual Conference June 15-19 in Roanoke. For information:

Disaster Relief Cleaning Bucket - Value: $ 55.00

·         liquid laundry detergent - two 25 oz. or one 50 oz. bottle

·         liquid household cleaner - 12‐16 oz. liquid cleaner

·         dish soap - 16‐28 oz bottle any brand

·         1 can air freshener - aerosol or pump

·         1 insect repellant spray - 6‐14 oz. aerosol or spray pump

·         1 scrub brush - plastic or wooden handle

·         18 cleaning wipes - handi wipes or reusable wipes

·         7 sponges

·         5 scouring pads

·         50 clothespins

·         clothes line - two 50 ft. or one 100 ft., cotton or plastic.

·         24 roll heavy duty trash bags

·         5 dust masks

·         2 pair disposable waterproof gloves - rubber or latex

·         1 pair work gloves - cotton or leather

“Thanks to you, United Methodists will rebuild in Joplin. On behalf of others of our colleagues whose areas have been affected by tornados and floods, I strongly encourage you to lift up the UMCOR Spring Storms appeal. Funds at UMCOR are extraordinarily low right now, and this severely limits our capacity to act quickly and effectively during times of tragedy. Your help is appreciated.” From Bishop Robert Schnase, Missouri Conference

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Prayers for Sunday and Psalm 111

When faced with tough decisions where the consequences are particularly difficult, how do you include God?

Ideally, God is within every phase of the process but it’s not always easy. But if we are to proclaim ourselves Christian then Christ must be within every part of our life.

“I am a Christian,” is not something I merely proclaim on Sunday morning. I must be willing to allow Jesus Christ to influence my Monday through Saturday life as well.

How do I do that? Really!

I’ve been in the midst of some particularly difficult decisions over the past few weeks. During one of my prayer times, I ran across Psalm 111 and found the words comforting but at the same time, challenging.

Maybe they will provide comfort and challenge to you as well.  

Praise the LORD! I will thank the LORD with all my heart
    as I meet with his godly people.
How amazing are the deeds of the LORD!
    All who delight in him should ponder them.

Psalm 111 is a song of praise to God but within the praise are some reminders as to why we should praise God.

As I meet with his godly people… We are not alone. We are with others.
How amazing are the deeds… God has a history of being with us, taking care of us.
All who delight in him should ponder them… There is our challenge. Before we make any difficult decisions we should remember and reflect on how God has provided for us.

Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty.
    His righteousness never fails.
He causes us to remember his wonderful works.
    How gracious and merciful is our LORD!

Everything he does…
His righteousness never fails…
Remember his wonderful works…

So, as you agonize over difficulties, remember: “How gracious and merciful is our Lord!”

He gives food to those who fear him;
    he always remembers his covenant.
He has shown his great power to his people
    by giving them the lands of other nations.

In the midst of facing the possible consequences of your decision, something deep down needs to remind you that God will ultimately take care of you and all those impacted.

He gives food…God will provide for your day to day necessities.
He always remembers his covenant… God will never forget you.
He has shown his great power… God has proven this throughout history.
By giving them land… Here is one amazing example but there are many others.

God will provide.

All he does is just and good,
    and all his commandments are trustworthy.
They are forever true,
    to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.

As you make your decision, remember this:

All he does is just and good…
All his commandments are trustworthy…
They are forever true…
They are to be obeyed faithfully and with integrity.

Yes, there are difficulties and challenges ahead but in the end we recognize that God is in the midst of us and can be trusted and should be followed.

He has paid a full ransom for his people.
    He has guaranteed his covenant with them forever.
    What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!

God has paid a full ransom for us…
God has guaranteed his covenant with us…

What can you say but: What a holy, awe-inspiring name he has!

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom.
    All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom.
    Praise him forever!

Fear of the Lord will be the foundation of our true wisdom.
Our obedience to his commandments will help us grow in wisdom.
So, praise him forever!

As you face your toughest decisions, put Psalm 111 beside you. It may not make the decision process easier but it will provide a foundation for wisdom in the midst of the process and you will receive the comfort of knowing that God will be with you.

As you prepare for Sunday, know that God is with you. As you worship on Sunday, may you know that God will also be with you Monday through Saturday. When you are faced with seemingly impossible decisions know that God has provided a framework to guide you and God has a history of providing answers and comfort.

May you be comforted and guided by God’s presence in every part of your life.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Enjoy Dinner with Mell and Larry - May 26 at Timberlake UMC

Enjoy Dinner with Mell and Larry – May 26 at Timberlake UMC

Special Offering for Larry’s Trip to South Africa and Park View Missions

Larry Davies and Brad Phillips have been named by Bishop Charlene Kammerer as members of the 2011 World Methodist Council. Along with five hundred others members from all over the world, they will be traveling to Durban, South Africa in August of 2011. The Council meets every five years for inspiration, education, fellowship, to strengthen our common witness and to transact the business of World Methodism. The World Methodist Council is the voice of the people around the world who stand in the Methodist/Wesleyan tradition.

The good news for our Lynchburg District, is the honor of being asked to serve. The bad news is they are providing no funds for the trip. We have managed to earmark funds to pay for the hotel, registration and other expenses. What remains is the cost of the flight to South Africa which is expected to be approximately $2500.

In addition, our own Park View Missions is struggling financially to pay the cost of the food they are providing now for approximately 800 families every month. Imagine a shopping cart full of food that will last a family of 4 or 5 approximately two weeks and you get an idea of what they are providing for others. Park View desperately needs our help and the district is trying to do what they can.

So, I have an idea…

On May 26, Glenda Fort is going to cook one of her scrumptious meals. Mell and I and a few friends are going to help. We want to invite you to join us for a wonderful dinner. If you've never had one of Glenda Fort's famous meals, you've really missed out. For years her family ran the famous Koffee Kup and other establishments.

Everything will be paid for before you come. Much of the food will come from Park View missions so you can sample for yourselves the food that is given to the poor. Everything else will be donated.

In addition, David Baldree and a few of his multi-talented friends will be there providing music. Rev. Phil Showers will talk for just a minute about Parkview and I will talk briefly about the trip to South Africa.

We’re doing all of this so that every dollar you give will go to a worthy cause. Every dollar.

50% will go toward sending Larry Davies to the World Methodist Council in South Africa.
50% will go toward Park View Missions and help feed over 800 needy families every month.

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

So come and join us. May 26, Thursday night from 5:30 to 7:30 at Timberlake UMC.

If this works, we may do this several times a year at various locations throughout the district so that we can have more fun and support mission projects at the same time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bethany UMC Buying Goats for a Mission in Rwanda

Mission: Transformation. Reconciliation. Restoration.

“Prison Fellowship Rwanda seeks to transform the lives of those involved in and affected by crime through the good news of Jesus Christ, to pursue nationwide reconciliation and create peaceful communities and prosperous individuals.” – Mission Statement of Prison Fellowship, Rwanda.

Nancy Strachan represents the Lynchburg District in Rwanda. She has traveled there several times and works through Prison Fellowship and Pastor Deo. The remarkable aspect of this ministry has been the reconciliation among the tribes since the atrocities that occurred there years ago. Pastor Deo’s ministry has been a central part of the reconciliation by working within the prisons to bring both sides toward healing.

Recently Nancy sent me the following email about one of our churches. Bethany UMC, of the Bellevue Charge pastored by Rev. H.O. (Tom) Thomas. The letter shares an amazing story of the enthusiasm of a group of children who will make a difference in Rwanda.

Dear Larry,

I couldn't wait to share this good news with you and I will have some photos to share soon as well.

I am Nancy Strachan, Rwandan HUGS, Inc. and met you when you were so gracious to spend time with Pastor Deo from Prison Fellowship Rwanda and me in October. Thank you for hosting us.

Part of our ministry in Rwanda to very vulnerable people is livestock distribution, particularly goats. A few weeks before I left for my March 8-28 trip, a member of Bethany UMC, Carol Lee called to tell me their children wanted to help and were planning to raise money for goats by encouraging the congregation to save spare change for goats until Easter Sunday. By the time I left in March they had enough to give me money for 15 goats (at $35 each).

With their money and money from other donors I was able to distribute 150 goats and sheep, 9 pigs, and 4 hens during my visit to Rwanda. 

Bethany UMC in Forest invited me to come on Saturday, April 23 as the children gathered for their Easter Egg Hunt and Party.

I was moved to tears as a little girl proudly announced they had money for 52 GOATS!!!! 

These are small kids, not a teen youth group. What a difference this will make in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ in Rwanda. I have several churches on the waiting list for more goats so I hope the story of these little children responding so beautifully will encourage other children and adults as well.

Larry, some of the people I gave goats to in Rwanda were so poor they couldn't afford to buy a rope to take them home. They made ropes from the leaves on the stalks of maize in a nearby field to carry their goats home. Some came as far as 20 miles to receive their gift.

I thought you might like to know how Christ is alive and well at Bethany! Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

In Christ,
Nancy Strachan, Rwandan HUGS, Inc.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Week Following Easter: Highs and Lows


June Carpenter – Automobile Accident
Tim Gerde – Cancer Treatments at LGH
David Lord – Surgery this week
Phil Shower’s wife – Youlanda – Surgery on Tuesday

This week, we especially need to pray for the areas destroyed by tornados throughout the South including our own, Virginia.

A Week after Easter – Highs and Lows

Easter was a tremendous high for me. I observed several worship services with joy and even felt a touch of pride for our pastors and churches. I received emails and phone calls from many more telling me about the crowds and the transformation of people worshipping God.

Later, like many of you following worship I enjoyed a wonderful lunch surrounded by my family. All in all, Easter was a great day as it should be.

There were other highs throughout this week

Attending a clergy meeting held in Lane Stadium at Virginia Tech. I met distinguished leaders and heard football coach, Frank Beamer talk about leadership. (I know, you have to be a die-hard Hokie to love that one.)

I met several of our new pastors this week. Each one seemed perfectly suited for the church they will soon be serving. I could not be more thrilled.

I’m excited about several new ideas that will soon have a lasting impact on ministries, missions and churches within our district.

Of course there was the royal wedding. It was a wonderful and romantic time to share with my bride of twenty years as we woke up at 4:00 AM and watched it together.

But there were also lows

Mell’s mother continues to weaken. We try to visit frequently. This week, she seemed to show some improvement but at the same time we were told they are arranging hospice care.

Our Park View Mission continues to struggle financially and despite the amazing ministry of feeding over 800 families every month there are serious concerns about the future.

My neighbor asked for help working on his son’s house last week. He’s a marine returning from Afghanistan. He’s coming home to a nearly destroyed house. His wife left him and their child is now being raised by grandparents. My neighbor, the father, is in Jacksonville, NC trying to fix the house before his son returns. No one was able to help him. Here is the part that makes me feel really guilty, I’m not there either.

Tornados ripped through several states including Virginia leaving over 300 people dead and billions of dollars in property damage. As I find out more, I feel overwhelmed with the many needs and wonder with all the other problems we’re facing… will we be able to help?

All in all, it was a week full of ups and downs.

Not what I would have expected for the week following Easter.

Maybe you’ve had weeks like this full of highs and lows wondering what it all means.

What is the lesson to be learned?


I see the prophet Elijah with new eyes and understand more deeply how he felt following the showdown with the prophets of Baal. After a huge victory, Elijah was forced to run for his life. Rather than celebrate he was depressed but in the midst of that, Elijah heard the voice of God not in the windstorm or the earthquake or the fire but in a gentle whisper.

And the voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 

He replied, “I have zealously served the LORD God Almighty. But the people of Israel have broken their covenant with you, torn down your altars, and killed every one of your prophets. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.”

Do you sense Elijah’s frustration? After this week, I can understand how Elijah felt confused rather than victorious, depressed rather than joyous. 

But the Lord wasn’t through speaking to Elijah --

Then the LORD told him, “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! Yet I will preserve 7,000 others in Israel who have never bowed down to Baal or kissed him!” (Various Parts of 1 Kings 19)

Here is what I heard the Lord say…

·         I am not in the windstorm – do not be discouraged by the storms of life.
·         Go back the same way you came – remember from where you came.
·         Anoint Hazael to be king – you still have important tasks ahead.
·         Anoint Elisha to replace you – there is someone I have selected to help you.
·         7,000 others have never bowed down – you are not alone, others surround you.

Do not be discouraged by the highs and lows of life.
Remember from where you came.
You have important tasks ahead.
There is someone to help you.
You are not alone; others surround you.

Do not be discouraged is my reminder this morning to pray as someone with hope in the midst of the highs and the lows of life.

So as I pray for you during the Sunday following Easter, I pray knowing that God’s gentle whisper is there even in the midst of the storms of life.

I pray this morning remembering from where I came. I’ve grown so much over the years and how God has been with me throughout my journey of highs and lows.

I pray knowing there are many important tasks ahead and that God will provide the answers.

I pray with the comforting knowledge there is someone to take my place when I falter.

I pray knowing that I am not alone. Others surround me, pastors and churches full of people ready to answer the call.

I’m learning to appreciate the highs.

I’m learning to more fully rely on God through the lows.

I’m learning that God is not through yet.

This morning, I will pray for you and eagerly look forward to what God does through you.

Today, I will lead worship and bless the successful completion of a new church building. Proof that God has been at work in our community.

Today, I will take another pastor to a new appointment with renewed enthusiasm, knowing God is there.

Tonight, I will participate in a revival confidently expecting God to work miracles.

Next week, God’s Holy Spirit will guide me and you toward finding answers to the problems we face. Most of all, we will know that God is there.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A "Dying" Church

The following is a letter written by Patrick Pillow, a young VMI graduate who declared his intention to become a pastor in the United Methodist Church. Right now he is working as an Assistant to the Pastor at Court Street UMC. His enthusiasm for what is happening at the church he serves is contagious so I thought you might enjoy reading it.

Dear Members and Friends,

We are doing way too much! According to many sources in the Lynchburg area, we are a “dying” Church! We are supposed to have only twenty some members in our sanctuary on Sundays; the extra 90 we had on Palm Sunday cannot happen again. We are supposed to be without any sort of weekly programs, so Bible Studies, Wednesday Nite Alive and Choir Rehearsal will have to be cut. Finally, we are supposed to be on the brink of closing our doors, so the twenty plus ministries we support financially will have to be discontinued. It is time we face the fact and realize Court Street United Methodist is a spent force.

Sorry to disappoint you Lynchburg, but we are back and better than ever! For a church on the “brink of extinction”, I think it is safe to say that we are the most stubborn and brazen Church in the entire Virginia conference!

You cannot help but feel energized when you walk into our halls every day of the week. Many of my VMI friends often tell me how they are suffering from “a case of the Mondays” when they walk into their places of business to start the week. I wish they all had the opportunity to feel the way I do as I climb the steps up to Court Street. The leaps and bounds that we have grown since January is truly mesmerizing.

I was so glad to see so many of you take advantage of our Lenten services, delicious luncheons, and the uplifting worship on Palm and Easter Sundays. Just as Jesus’ death and eventual victory over sin led to a rebirth for his people, so too will Court Street benefit from our willingness to put his sanctuary back on the map.

The late spring is a time of bright, colorful flowers, beautiful green trees, and the birth of new life. We are like the caterpillar in the cocoon, just waiting for a chance to hatch and spread our wings in the gorgeous splendor that God has made.

While the Lenten season has come and gone, let us not forget that our Lord’s resurrection offers us the chance to begin anew and continue on a path towards righteousness. Let us keep building, professing the faith, and reviling in his joyous works that are all around us! If this is a “dying” church, I don’t want to be anywhere else…

May the Lord God bless you and keep you,

Patrick S. Pillow ‘09B
Minister's Assistant

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Easter Prayer and "The King's Speech"

This afternoon, Mell and I watched and were deeply enthralled in, “The King’s Speech.” I know, I know, it’s not a real Easter type of movie but in a way it is.

I found it fascinating that the King was in line to come to the throne. He was born for it and supposedly prepared for it but he had one problem. He had a speech impediment and for someone who would literally be known for how he spoke, this was a huge problem.

If the King who was born to be King could not overcome his speech impediment problem, in all likelihood he would go down in history as an ineffective King or even have to give up his throne.

Here is my parallel to Easter. Just like the King we are born with a mission to serve Jesus Christ. We have hopefully been prepared for it but just like the king we all have a problem or two. It may not be a speech impediment but it’s a problem just the same. If we are not careful, it could turn out to be a huge problem.

If we who are born with a mission to serve Jesus Christ and cannot overcome our problems, in all likelihood we will be ineffective in our witness for Christ or even walk away from our faith in frustration.

OK, so the King hires lots of speech experts to help him fix his problem but none of it seems to do any good. Some yell at him, some have him swallow marbles and do all sorts of weird things but none of it seems to work… until he meets Lionel.

OK, so we often try all sorts of things to find our mission or our happiness. We try various jobs, spending binges, wild parties but none of it seems to satisfy… until we meet Jesus.

Now at first, Lionel seems unable to help, in fact at times it seems like he’s made things worse.

Sometimes at first, our relationship with Jesus is a struggle; at times, it seems things are worse.

But over the months and years the relationship between the future King and Lionel strengthens until the moment comes when the King must be King and thanks to his hard work, persistence and the trust and ability of his friend Lionel, the King is able to carry out his duty when he is needed most.

Could it be that over the months and years the relationship between you and Jesus strengthens until the moment comes when you as a Christian must be a Christian where it counts and thanks to your hard work, persistence and trust in the ability of your friend Jesus, you are able to be a witness for Jesus Christ when it is need most.

Yes, the King was meant to be King but he had to be willing to overcome obstacles and accept a lot of help along the way.

Yes, you are meant to be a Christian witness but you have to be willing to overcome obstacles and accept a lot of help along the way.

Easter is here. You are meant to be here. You have been prepared for this but you’ve had a lot of help along the way. Jesus has been guiding you all along through the Holy Spirit and through the lives of others who have come in contact with you.

This Sunday morning people will come at first because it’s a tradition but we can make it so much more. You have been prepared for this. You have overcome numerous obstacles to be where you are today.

Now remember what happened and allow the power of God’s Holy Spirit to make the Easter story be transformed into so much more than a story… let the Easter story become Easter Faith.

Christ is alive and ready to work miracles in your life and in the lives of everyone who come in contact with you or your church.

Easter morning is here…

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” 

Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. (Luke 24:1-9)

The time has come. Easter is here. The resurrected Christ is with you.

As the King gave his speech, his friend Lionel was protecting him, helping him focus providing helpful advice and encouragement along the way. At one point he said: “Give the speech as if you were talking to me, your friend.”

Wouldn’t it be great if you could picture Jesus, talking to you the same way? “Talk to others as if I were walking beside you and guiding you, your friend.”

Easter is here. The resurrected Christ will be with you.