Like Rachel weeping for her children, so we as episcopal leaders weep for our church. We weep for the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harm that is inflicted upon women and girls because of this action. We weep for those who are denied the ability to use their gifts to make a difference in the world. We also weep for those who are not protected from exclusion in the church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition.
We see you. We weep with you. We seek your healing. We work for the healing of our church. We strive for a church and world that honors every person as a beloved child of God, made in the image of our Creator.
The women of the Council of Bishops recognize that we have much work to do as leaders to foster inclusion in The United Methodist Church. At the same time as we lament the devaluation of and discrimination against many groups of people in our world, we renew our commitment as United Methodist women bishops to ensure that all people are treated with respect, compassion, and grace and that all doors of opportunity and leadership are open to them. We pledge to model healthy relationships ourselves and are committed to researching why these amendments failed and what actions we can take to create a world where all people are able to live in safety, justice, and love.
This pastoral letter has been unanimously affirmed by the entire Council of Bishops. We invite you to join us in the journey of bringing God’s shalom to all corners of The United Methodist Church and our world
On Holy Ground: Stewardship of the Earth
All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil,
minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are
God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of
creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.
(Social Principles, ¶160) United Methodist Book of Discipline.
Earth's Seven Biggest Environmental Threats
Examination of the various threats to the Earth's environment includes human impact on the planet. Catch
phrases such as carbon footprint, global warming, deforestation, and other commonly used
terms have becomethe everyday jargon for those concerned about the environment.
1. Climate Change
According to the Global Risks Report 2018 from the World Economic Forum, environmental concerns have
been gaining on concerns over economic issues as the prominent risks people face. Climate change, and
extreme weather events which are increasing due to climate change, are cited as the top concerns clarifies The
Guardian. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of natural events like droughts, wildfires,
heat waves, rainstorms, tropical cyclone, and hurricanes, explains the Scientific American.
The Global Risks Report 2018 notes that extreme events could disrupt food production and cause famines.
NASA confirms that the amount of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased "from 280 parts per
million to 400 parts per million in the last 150 years", due to burning fossil fuels, intensive agriculture, and
other human activities. This has resulted in an increase of global temperatures by one degree Celsius over preindustrial
levels. Besides increasing extreme weather, this rise in temperature also has raised sea levels by 1-4
feet since 2010, caused Arctic ice caps to shrink, and increased growing season adds NASA.
During the year, our thoughts turn to thanksgiving for God’s generosity and our response as we experience
our stewardship program, first: putting GOD first in living and giving. We are made in God’s image and are meant
to be creators of life and hope, not the consumers of our culture’s shiny gods. We have the ability to change the world
and create a legacy that will live forever in the lives of generations to follow. That legacy starts when each of us takes
the hard steps of financial discipline and fulfilling the call to the generosity that God has placed in all of us.
The goal of this stewardship program is not to make you feel guilty, nor is it to say that you have to be exactly
like this or that person. The goal is for all of us to ask questions of ourselves and be open to the possibility
that God will lead us in new directions in our lives. We’ll be challenged to look for the idols in our own lives
(Hint: Most of them aren’t animals made of gold) and name the ways these idols enslave us,
holding us back from living in the true freedom that God desires for us.
We’ll be challenged to consider the place that money, work, and debt have in our own lives.
What are our common understandings of these, and might the witness of Scripture lead us
to some different understandings? We’ll be challenged to ask ourselves what it means for us to be faithful,
to save, and to give. How do we balance all the competing interests in our lives? What priorities does God
want us to have? Finally, we’ll be challenged to give with our hearts, not out of obligation or a sense of duty
and not just when we think the recipient deserves our gift. Instead, we’ll be challenged to give the way
God gives—freely, fully, with no expectations of repayment.
It’s unfortunate, really, the timing of the stewardship campaign being in the Fall when
church is making a budget for the new year. It makes it seem like the only motive for asking you
to pledge is to underwrite the church. That may be the result of your pledging but it’s not the cause.
The prayerfully-considered pledge is much more about faith development than budget development.
`According to the Bible, intentional, disciplined financial giving is at the heart of ... well,
your heart. And our hearts belong to God. The gospel of Matthew puts it this way: “For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21). Haphazard, random numbers put on a pledge card
may support the church’s ministry but they do little to increase the spiritual power of the giver.
On the other hand, a pledge that is generous, deliberate, and sacrificial invites faith to meet the center
of who we are. And our values are often seen most clearly through our financial statements.
So we invite you to give, not just because UMCMV needs the money but because you
need to give. It seems counter-intuitive, but some of us can testify to the difference giving has
made in our lives. Not so we can boast of our giving but so we can celebrate with you the joy we
have found in the process. I’ve said it before but financial planning with a tithe or beyond is the
thing that kicked my faith into another gear. Not a prayer discipline or seminary, or Bible
study.... it was being asked by my District Superintendent to give an amount I thought
completely unrealistic to give. It meant looking at my financial decisions (how much I spend on
basics, furnishings, shopping, and gifts to others, entertainment, dry cleaning –all of it) in the light
of my faith – that’s when I experienced the joy of my faith. That’s when I understood the wisdom
of that elderly man who said, “If your giving doesn’t feel good, you’re not giving enough.”
Methodists have never subscribed to a membership model that required a set fee to
join. Instead, they follow the much more Biblical model of proportional giving. The Biblical ideal
is that 100% belongs to God, so consider how much you need to take from that total to fulfill
your family’s needs. John Wesley famously advised, “Earn all you can, give all can, save all you can.”
Other places in the Bible suggest a 10% tithe of your income should be returned to the church.
We should note that in the Biblical examples, as well as in actual examples from
congregations, those who have the fewest numbers in their bank accounts often give a much
higher percentage of their income. That's true at UMCMV also. It is our prayer that we will
have begun to grow into the individuals and the church that God knows we can be.
Please join us in putting GOD first in living and giving.
To have our weekly newsletter "The Flame" sent to your e-mail, please contact the church office.
Copyright 2018 - United Methodist Church of Martha's Vineyard. All Rights Reserved.
Greeting from Rev. Roberta Williams
Read: Isaiah 2:1-4 Do you have a good memory? When was the last time you forgot something? What were the consequences of forgetting? What do you do to help you remember? I keep a list of what I need to remember on my computer and a pad of paper on my desk.
Memory is important. Our memory helps us to learn, to build a better world, not to get lost, not to repeat our mistakes. Memorial Day is MEMORY DAY. It is a day for special memories. Some of us are old enough to remember when Memorial Day was called "Decoration Day (1967)." Decoration Day, Memorial Day, began in 1868 when General John A. Logan called for decorating the graves of Civil War veterans.
Today, it has become the day we remember all those who died fighting our nation’s wars and conflicts. It is also appropriate to remember those who were wounded and the families whose lives were forever changed. Many have survived our conflicts and wars, but still, carry the visible and invisible scars with them. When loved ones are killed or hurt suffering is inflicted on the entire family. It is important for us to remember that during the first celebration of Decoration Day 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in Arlington National Cemetery. On that day in 1868, they did not celebrate the victory of the North over the South. They did not glorify the war that had ended, but they remembered those who had died in the conflict.
Sunday, we will remember their sacrifice because if we forget the cost, or if we glorify war, then history repeats itself and men and women die, women and men are hurt, and families suffer. We remember the cost and the men and women who have paid the price so we can fashion a world where we do not have to make war anymore.
In the Peanut’s cartoon strip . . . Lucy and Linus have a chicken wishbone. They are going to pull it to make a wish. As Lucy explains to Linus how the wishbone works, Linus asks, "Do I have to say the wish out loud?" Lucy says, "Of course, if you don't say it out loud it won't come true." Then she makes her wish first. She says, "I wish for four new sweaters, a new bike, a new pair of skates, a new dress and one hundred dollars." Linus goes next. "I wish for a long life for all of my friends," he says. "I wish for world peace, I wish for great advancements in medical research." At this, Lucy takes the wishbone and throws it away. "Linus," she says, "that's the trouble with you, you're always spoiling everything."
It does spoil things when into our self-centered, materialistic, divided world, we are able to forget our own needs and look to the needs of others. In a genuine way, those whom we remember Sunday looked beyond their self-interest to the common good. The best way we can honor their memory is by looking beyond our own needs, our self-interest and taking the first step toward peace. The best way we can remember those who have paid the "the last full measure of devotion" is by becoming peacemakers so one day women and men will not have to go to war anymore. As Isaiah said, they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.
In Christ's Service,
Rev. Roberta Williams