October 31, 2022 - Grace and peace from our brother Jesus, Amen. We finally got some much-needed rain, but it will take a lot more to break this drought. This will be my last article and weekly newsletter for a while because I am having hand surgery next week. I don’t know what restrictions my doctor will give me, but I know I won’t be typing for awhile. And like that old joke, if I knew how to play the piano, I wouldn’t be able to do that either!
Last Monday evening, we had our annual Church Conference. Our District Superintendent, Dr. White, presided over the meeting. The first item was whether Paxton would leave the United Methodist Church. The vote was unanimous, with two abstentions, to split from the UMC and join the Global Methodist denomination. After the vote was certified, Dr. White left to go to two more church conferences. Because he wouldn’t have time to eat, Sue made him a snack package: sweet, salty, crunchy, and bottled water.
All the necessary paperwork to leave the United Methodist Church was filed—by email and snail mail—at the conference office in Houston. The church has also applied to the Global Methodist Church to become part of this new Methodist denomination. Starting on January 1, 2023, Paxton United Methodist Church will be known simply as Paxton Methodist Church. The Global Methodist Church is beginning the process of finding a new Global Methodist pastor for Paxton come the new year. I will continue to serve at least until January. The idea of leaving Paxton is a very hard decision, but it is time to completely retire.
The scripture for our Sunday School lesson was Ezekiel 47: 21-23. The writer continued with the theme that we Christians are to seek and show compassion for those with the least in our world. Today the scripture and our writer tackled the hot button issue of immigration. As with any group of people, there were various thoughts on this issue around our Sunday School table. We did agree that we must begin by treating all we meet with kindness. We also decided that there was way too much hate spewed on cable TV and that the rhetoric and vitriol had to be dialed back. And it was time that our elected senators and representatives to come up with a comprehensive immigration policy.
In our worship service we celebrated All Saints Sunday. For eighteen hundred years, Christian churches have celebrated November 1st as all Saints Day. Of course, All Hallows Eve comes the day before, AKA Halloween. The name “Christian” kind of stuck to the Jesus followers as the way most people in the empire referred to this new sect; eventually Jesus followers began to call themselves Christians. But the second most-used name was “Saints,” the term St. Paul used for Jesus followers.
For someone to be identified as a saint in the Catholic Church, they must meet certain criteria. But the Methodist view is more like Paul’s understanding of the word. Tradition tells us that on All Hallows Day, we remember those who have died in the past year. But we also honor the saints in our lives, as well as the saints of our church—those who have influenced us greatly.
Our church service began with a Gathering Hymn—“When the Saints Go Marching In,” a jazzy version by none other than Louie Armstrong. Sue led us in our Gathering Words, based on Psalm 149 and our affirmation of faith, the traditional Apostles’ Creed. Our second song was was “Joy to the World,” too beautiful a hymn to be sung only at Christmas time. And finally, we sang the old favorite “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms.” St. Augustine provided our first bulletin quote: “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.” The second came from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
During October, Paxton Methodists collected peanut butter and jelly for Community Christian Services; after church, we loaded up my truck with sacks to deliver next week. In November, we will collect bags, boxes, and cans of beans and rice. This month we will also be getting information for “adopting” a child from the Children’s Christmas part of CCS. Remember that a Blessing Box is located next to the Community Center in downtown Joaquin, and right next to the Blessing Box is a mini library. So you can drop off some canned goods and get a book to read!
Whoever you are, in whatever faith you were born, whatever creed you profess; if you come to this house to find God you are welcome here. Paxton United Methodist Church is an inviting church that takes to heart the idea of “Open Doors, Open Hearts, and Open Minds.” Worship begins at 10:00. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like the weekly email newsletter about Paxton Methodist, you can send your email address to the Paxton email address, and I will add you to the list. God’s Speed