Devotionals
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Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - July 18, 2018

Last week I had the privilege of serving as the camp pastor at our UM camp Twinlow, just out of Rathdrum. I've done a lot of camp over the years (8 weeks as a counselor and 7 as a camp dean). It's been a few years since I've been and I really enjoyed the opportunity to be up with the kids and meet new people.

I also really enjoyed being pushed to try some new things and take some risks. You see, I'm a pretty conservative risk taker. I'm not a fan of failure, so I usually only risk when I know the odds are mostly in my favor. And physically, like with sports and things, I've never been one to push myself. But this week I was invited to try some new things and I thought, "why not?"

On one of the first days, the camp manager asked, "Do you like to swim?" Sure! I replied. "Do you want to swim across the lake?" Uhh...I guess!?! "It's about 750 yards" Uhh...ok... In the afternoon, he got out a paddle board and grabbed some goggles and offered them to me. I declined. "I can swim, but I'm not a good swimmer. I don't swim with my face in the water." And off we went. I swam the 1/2 mile across the lake. If you're a swimmer, that might not sound like much, but for me, it was the longest single distance I've ever swum in my life. And when we got to the other side he hopped off the paddle board and offered it to me so he could swim back. Which was great except 1) I've never used a paddleboard before and 2) My legs were exhausted from the swim so they just shook when I stood and tried to balance. I had a few graceless exits into the water before I decided I would just kneel and paddle. He encouraged me to get back on my feet after a little ways across the lake. I tried and failed again. And went back to kneeling. Then awhile later I tried again and got up and did pretty well until I started looking around at other things and lost my balance again. It wasn't pretty, but I was pleased, I had never done it and I tried. I didn't shy away fearing how awkward I would look or how hard it might be. I took the chance and made it.

A couple of days later they asked if I wanted to go rock jumping. Uh...sure?! And off we went. We had to climb a short ways to the ledge and then could choose to jump from 17 feet, 11 feet, 9 feet or 7 feet. I hemmed and hawed at the 17-foot ledge. I wanted to do that one, but visions of slipping and hitting my head kept swimming in my head. So I ventured to the lower ledge and took off. And it was awesome! I went up multiple times without a group and managed to get about 5 jumps in. I was never able to convince myself to do more than the 7-foot ledge, but there's always next time.

I don't share any of this to brag, but to let you know I was reminded of the importance of risk-taking and venturing outside your comfort zone. Doing new things can be tough (emotionally and physically) and you can even get some bumps and bruises (I ended up with cuts and bruises up and down both legs that are still healing). But you also get to explore, push yourself, and find a new sense of accomplishment.

I am praying God will encourage us to be a risk-taking church--to push ourselves, to take on new challenges, to risk failure, and to see new things and find a new sense of accomplishment in who we are as Christ's-followers. Will you pray with me?

 

In Christ,

Pastor Debbie

 

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Read more: Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - July 18, 2018

Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - June 30, 2018

Often times, we avoid certain topics in discussion with friends or family. We know they'll be contentious. We expect we might not like one another when we walk away, so instead, we avoid them completely. My family does it. And I'm fairly certain your families do it too. It's how we preserve relationships. But it can also be how we avoid learning other perspectives or sharing the value of our own. Delving into tough topics isn't easy. But it is often necessary. At Annual Conference this year, we heard from Dr. Brian Brown on the Anatomy of Peace, and then we were part of focus groups of 8-12 who discussed the nature of conflict, our approach to conflict, and what might be different in our lives, the life of the church, and the life of the denomination if we approached conflict with a "heart of peace" instead of a "heart of war". We live in contentious times. It's easy to get caught up in arguments or be dismissive of other perspectives. Throughout our time at Annual Conference, we were encouraged to be "curious" (e.g., "Tell me more about that") and to engage in discussion (and potential areas of conflict) with a heart of peace.

As Christians, we are called to be light-bearers, peace-builders, and justice-seekers, and we are called to do all of that with a "heart of peace" (of compassion and love for the "other").

How might you differentiate between a heart of peace and a heart of war? Where has that come easily for you lately? Where has it been challenging?

In Christ,

Pastor Debbie

 

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Read more: Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - June 30, 2018

Pastor Debbie's E-Spire - May 23, 2018

Two weeks ago I wrote to share about the Commission on the Way Forward and the decision of the Council of Bishops. I also mentioned that there had been other news about the Constitutional Amendments, but that it would require it's own email.

Today I am writing to that end. I will say it has been both emotional and confusing as people found out the vote on the amendments, responded to that vote and then found out there had been a change in language prior to the annual conference votes requiring that there would be a re-vote this year.

As I said in the last e-spire, the General Conference is the only body that is allowed to change church law. For changes to the constitution of the UMC, the General Conference must have 2/3 vote and then each individual annual conference has to have a 2/3 vote in order for the constitutional amendment to be ratified. In 2016, there were 5 constitutional amendments proposed and passed. In 2017, each annual conference was presented information on each amendment and then allowed to vote for or against the changes. Then, all of the vote tallies were compiled and the final data was delivered to the Council of Bishops at their meeting in early May of 2018.

Amendments 3, 4, and 5 passed. Amendments 1 and 2 did not. For a general article about the amendments, please click here.

Amendments 1 & 2 dealt with gender equality and their failure to pass was met with a lot of hurt and anxiety, especially by women about their role and value in the church as a whole. To read a response from the female bishops, please click here.

The female bishops summarize the amendments in this way:

Amendment #1, which added language that both men and women are made in the image of God and that we will confront and seek to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, received an aggregate vote of 66.5%, falling short of the necessary 2/3 majority by .2 % (less than 100 votes).

Amendment #2, which added this language, "... nor shall any member be denied access to an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church because of race, color, gender, national origin, ability, age, marital status, or economic condition," received an aggregate vote of 61.3%, again falling short of a 2/3 vote.

The complete language is found in the Bishop's response. Since the release of the information there has been much discussion about why these amendments failed (especially in a denomination that has affirmed women since the beginning and has been ordaining women for over 60 years. When asked, some annual conferences shared that the amendments did not go far enough in changing the level of inclusion, and others shared that other pieces of the amendment were not agreeable. Through all of the discussions, it was discovered that the actual amendment language had been changed before it made it to the annual conferences, so there will be a re-vote this year at each annual conference. For more information on the specifics, please click here.

I offer this to you as information of what is happening in the denomination and for reference for what some of you may see or hear or read from Methodist friends or family.

At the end of it all I hope you will know these things:

1) Change in the church is possible, and often slow, but it is thorough and thoughtful.

2) I do affirm the place of women and girls in our church and around the globe and believe it is our job to ensure equality in treatment and opportunities regardless of gender.

3) As always, if you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

 

In Christ

Pastor Debbie

 

p.s. after reading yesterday's e-spire, some asked for the original language of each of the amendments. To find that, you can click here.

Have a blessed day!

 

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Pastor Debie's E-Spire - May 9, 2018

This week, there has been a lot of news for the UMC. It has related to the decision/recommendation from the Council of Bishops, and the collective vote on constitutional amendments. Because of the breadth of each of those things, I will send the information about the constitutional amendments next week.

For some of us, it's been interesting, for others it's been painful, for others frustrating, and for still others, it hasn't even come across our screen. This e-spire will cover the basics of what's happened with links if you're interested in learning or reading more. As always, I'm happy to meet and talk about anything that concerns or interests you.

First, a few definitions:

The Council of Bishops: the name for the gathering of all Bishops of the global UMC. The Council of Bishops will regularly respond to national and global issues. Specifically, the General Conference of 2016 asked the Council to lead the church when the General Conference came to a stalemate on votes relating to LGBT inclusion. As a body, the bishops do not hold power to make legislative decisions that relate to the UMC.

General Conference: The quadrennial meeting of the UMC including clergy and laity from each annual conference. Numbers of delegates are decided much like the House of Representatives (more people = more representatives). The General Conference is the ONLY body of the UMC that can change our policy (Book of Discipline). In essence, they serve as the legislative branch of the UMC.

Annual Conference: The body and annual meeting of churches in a particular state/region/"conference". Our Annual Conference is The Pacific Northwest (PNW) and includes Washington and the pan handle of Idaho (with a couple of extra churches in Montana, Oregon, and Canada). Our annual conference meets in June and decides policy and response to issues that specifically relate to missions and ministry in our conference.

The Commission on the Way Forward: The group of 32, including 2 bishops, clergy, and laity, charged with creating options for how the UMC might move forward on issues that relate to LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questionning, intersex, asexual/allied) inclusion, marriage, and ordination. The commission has met various times since the 2016 General Conference and this year made a recommendation of 3 plans for moving forward.

This month, the Council of Bishops reviewed the recommendations and will allow all three recommendations from the Commission on the way Forward to come to the special called General Conference in 2019, with their recommendation being for the "One-Church Model". To see the UMC report on this action, please click here. To see what our bishop has said in regard to the Council of Bishops' decision, please click here.

In essence, the "One Church Model" would delete the exclusive language currently in the Book of Discipline and allow each local church to make their own decision about how they will respond/include LGBT congregants and requests for marriage.

Ultimately, the decision from the Council of Bishops is only a recommendation. It will be the General Conference who will ultimately decide which, if any, changes to make to the Book of Discipline. As with all decisions relating to our polity, no decision is forever. Our church laws are subject to change at every General Conference, assuming proper procedure, presentation, and voting on proposed changes.

What does all of this mean for us as a local church? Well, for some it is significant as it is deeply personal and we have much invested in the outcome of these votes. For others, it will likely mean business as usual--attending our ministries and participating in missions until something more is required of us as a congregation.

For any of the three recommendations from the Commission on the Way Forward, ultimately, it seems each church will need to clearly identify their stance on these issues and how we intend to be in ministry with the LGBT community. To do that effectively, we will need to create a stronger culture of conversation, respect and engagement on all types of issues where we may disagree, and become more clear about our mission and vision as a church.

For today, I would encourage you to pray for our church and our denomination as we seek God's will to be in ministry to all persons and reflect the love of God in how we live our faith.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

 

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Pastor Debbie's E-Devotion - May 5, 2018

Over the last several months I have been in conversation with Kim Malm from Gritman about developing a lay chaplaincy program. The purpose of the program would be to train lay people from different churches and faith communities throughout Moscow (and surrounding areas) to provide emotional and spiritual support to patients, families and staff at Gritman.

We know medical situations, particularly those that are critical and urgent, are often stressful. It can be scary to go through medical diagnosis and treatment alone. Often individuals feel isolated and need someone to talk to about what they are experiencing. Medical staff often need to be available to other patients and needs. We believe, and studies have shown, that having additional emotional and spiritual support while receiving care improves a patients attitude and recovery and that trained lay chaplains can provide this support.

We are pioneering this program here and so we have been doing a lot of "dancing" as we plan, dream, discuss, and work on logistics. We are ready to receive volunteer applications and work on training in the next couple of months. We see God at work in opening doors for this to happen and in bringing faithful volunteers who want to offer compassion and care.

I want to make you aware of it and offer the opportunity for you to explore this as a ministry for yourself. If you would like more information, please feel free to call or email me. If you would like to apply, you can get application paperwork from Kim at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In Christ,
Pastor Debbie

 

 

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Current Church News

  • Trustees Fall Church Work Day - September 29, 2018

    All helping hand needed!

    Trustee work day is Saturday, September 29th from 8:30AM - Noon.

     
  • Piety Sunday! September 23rd

    Pie-ty Sunday will be Sunday, September 23rd. Over the last few years we have enjoyed celebrating the culinary and baking talents of our church for both sweet and savory pies. We sell pie by the slice and a few whole pies you can take home. We are hoping to add homemade ice cream to the menu. The money we raise this year will go to support our missioners and work in Puerto Rico.

Get Directions

Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

Church Mission

The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...