Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
It is with great joy that I join you in celebration of 175 years of ministry and service for the Kingdom of God. This represents a multitude of changed lives.
Please know that I am in prayer for the members of your congregation and for all those who have been touched by the ministries you have offered. I know that as you celebrate a vibrant and fruitful past, you will also be looking forward with joy and anticipation to the lives you will touch in the years to come.
Grace and peace,
Janice Riggle Huie
Dear Liberty Family of Faith,
Grace and peace to you as you celebrate 175 years of ministry in the Liberty community. I commend you on your faithfulness to the mission of the church to make disciples for the transformation of the world.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7a says,
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your Hearts. Impress them on your children.
It is with great joy that I join you for this great celebration of ministry. Surely you are people that love God and know how to pass down the faith to the children. You are in my prayers as the Holy Spirit guides you to reach future generations.
Rev. Alicia Coltzer
We should never forget the rich history and traditions of the church that we have inherited. Especially we should give thanks for those in the Methodist faith tradition that began our church in 1840. First United Methodist Church has been served well by each generation as they faithfully shared Jesus Christ in their time. We have come a long way since the log church on Church square to logging on to the church's web page on the internet, but the challenge to the church throughout the years has been the same - make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. May we live up to the challenges in our day and follow where God would lead us into the future in Liberty with a people called United Methodists.
August is "casual month."
Please dress as you are comfortable.
P.S.: Thank you, church, for your prayers, cards, gifts, meals, and visits following my recent shoulder surgery and recovery. DeeAnn and I really appreciate you all. I look forward to healing and returning to my regular duties as your pastor!
For decades the UMC has struggled with the issue of homosexuality and same sex marriage, and we are still not of one mind. There are those pastors among us who believe that same sex marriage is consistent with the will of God, those pastors who believe that it is not consistent with the will of God, and a significant group of pastors who continue in prayerful discernment. Immediately after the Supreme Court decision, regardless of its outcome, we can assume that some laity and clergy will be pleased while others will be upset. Many of us will struggle with what to say in conversations, sermons, newsletters, pastoral visits and perhaps with reporters.
I want to remind us that whatever our personal beliefs, I hope we will be sensitive to the people who believe differently than we do. Please think "respond, not react." Take particular care with messages you may send out on social media because those messages will define you not only in your current congregation but also in the future. Using language that is consistent with the fruits of the Spirit, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23) is a good measure of appropriate response.
Our historic United Methodist stance on marriage defines marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman. Our Book of Discipline states, "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches" (BOD 341.6). Changes in civil law do not apply to the religious practices of the UMC.
Our United Methodist Church also declares that all persons, gay and straight, are persons of "sacred worth" and so our pastors and churches are mandated to be in ministry "to and with" all persons. We are especially to advocate for equal civil rights for all persons. Same gender couples who are legally married should be respected by all of us. If they are members of our churches, they should be listed that way on our membership records. Likewise, the children of same gender couples are eligible for baptism by our pastors in our churches; baptism focuses upon the children and upon God's grace.
The dilemma for many United Methodist pastors is how to be in ministry "to and with" gay and lesbian persons from their congregations who will be married in a service conducted by another pastor in another denomination in another church. The Discipline is silent on this matter, and practices vary across the church. I have every confidence in each of you to be faithful to your vows as a pastor in covenant with The United Methodist Church.
If the Supreme Court does rule to legalize same-sex marriage, the Cabinet and I will plan a Conclave on Pastoral Responses to the Supreme Court decision in early to mid-August. We hope to feature two guest presenter pastors with different points of view on the subject of same sex marriage who live within the UMC covenant and who are committed to the unity of the church. Each would be serving in an annual conference in a state where same sex marriage has been legal for some time. They would be invited to speak to pastoral issues raised by any changes in civil law, questions that have emerged when the law in their state changed, changes they and/or their congregation might be experiencing, and how each lives in covenant with those persons and positions with whom they disagree. Our intention is to hold a similar conversation in two locations (north/south) of the annual conference.
In the midst of grief over the violence at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, storms and floods in Texas, Supreme Court decisions, preparation for General Conference and more, I hope you will do two things: 1) get some rest and renewal this summer. God is in charge of the universe, and the sun will rise tomorrow; 2) keep your heart, mind and energies focused on the mission of the church, "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world".
Thank you for your ministry. God bless you all.
Grace and peace,
Janice Riggle Huie
Once again at Annual Conference the connection of the United Methodist Church becomes apparent and is celebrated. As many of you may know the town of Van, TX was devastated by storms and a deadly tornado in early May of this year. Our Bishop is calling for all of the United Methodists in our conference to help with the relief effort that is taking place in Van which is in our conference. Her appeal can be seen at the Conference website at www.txcumc.org. Please go online and see the entire video message. She asks for all of our churches to take up a special offering before June 30th. June 28th is our V.B.S. Sunday and in response to this need the offering that the children give at V.B.S. will go to the Van Relief Fund. I am asking that on V.B.S. Sunday we take up a love offering from our congregation to combine with the V.B.S. offering on that day. Gifts can be made anytime before V.B.S. Sunday as well. Simply put Van Relief on the envelope or on the memo line of your check to insure your gift will go to the relief effort. Please keep Van, TX in your prayers.
We will be starting a new study on Wednesday evenings on May 13th based on Adam Hamilton's "When Christians Get It Wrong." We will be using a video format for the study with a student book. The trailor for the study reads..."More and more young adults have opted out of Christianity and the church. The reason? Christians. When young adults talk about the problems they have with Christianity and the church they often name certain attitudes and behaviors they believe are practiced too often by Christians: judging others, condemning people of other faiths, rejecting science, injecting politics into faith, and being anti-homosexual. With his familiar style, Adam Hamilton tackles these issues and addresses the how's and why's of Christians getting it right when it comes to being Christ in the world." The books are $10 and a beginning supply of 10 are being shipped. I hope that I need to order more. A sign-up sheet will be available in the Narthex. We will finish the study this summer. Please be aware that we may need to skip a Wednesday or two because of the summer church schedule and you may need to miss a night or two for vacations but the format is flexible and your participation on one night is not dependent on material covered the week before. It should be an interesting study and well worth our time together.
P.S. Give God thanks for your mother with a gift to another. Designate a Mother's Day Gift to the Methodist Retirement Communities Benevolent Care Fund this Mother's Day. Help support the men and women of the Methodist Retirement Communities who can no longer live independently and cannot afford their care.