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Grace United Methodist Church

Collin's Column: Incarnation

UPDATE FROM JANUARY 7, 2021

 

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
A few important announcements follow, so please read thoroughly!
 
Firstly, I want to invite you all to a Church Conference on January 27th at 6:30 via Zoom.  This is a follow up from our Charge Conference last fall to button up two items.  A Church Conference differs from a Charge Conference in that all church members in good standing are allowed to vote.  We will be approving my 2021 salary package, as well as electing officers for 2021 so it is super important that you be present.  Please make every effort to join us!  If you are unfamiliar with Zoom, we will be broadcasting the meeting in the sanctuary where social distancing and masks are required.
 
Secondly, the Future with Hope Committee has been meeting every Monday evening for a few months now.  They’ve answered some questions that can be found here.  That document will be updated periodically as our work continues.  Also, that same committee wants to hear from you!  As such, we’ve set up Future Forums during which our congregation can voice your concerns and your hopes for the future of ministry at Grace UMC.  Each forum will have room for up to 8 church members so that we can chat about ministry in intimate groups.  You can sign up for one of the 8 Future Forums we’ll be hosting over the next few weeks by clicking here.  When you sign up to attend a Future Forum, please read over it carefully so that you can take note of the questions we’ll be addressing during each Forum. 
 
Each forum will last between 60 & 70 minutes and the same questions will be asked at each forum.  Further, each forum will be led by a member of the Future with Hope Committee.  PLEASE TAKE NOTE – 6 of the Future Forums will be done via Zoom, and two of the forums will be held in person in the sanctuary where social distancing and masks will be required.  We humbly ask that you reserve the in person Forums for those who do not have easy access to Zoom.
 
This week in worship, we will examine the Baptism of Jesus in light of the recent events in our nation.  How does the Baptism of Jesus speak into who we are today?  For that matter, what does our baptism say about who we are and how we should act?  I’m excited to share my thoughts with you and look forward to sharing what it means for us to be Christian in 2021.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
UPDATE FROM  JANUARY 7, 2021 MERGER UPDATE
 
The Future with Hope committee held it’s regular Monday night meeting this week and continued our work regarding the potential merger of Grace with Chapelwood UMC. The primary purpose of Monday’s meeting was to confirm the structure and schedule of the ‘Future Forums’ which will be held online and in-person over the next few weeks. These Forums will be listening sessions, which will give members of the Grace United Methodist Church yet another opportunity to participate directly in this process and make their voices heard. 

The input of church members is an essential and necessary part of the Future with Hope Committee's deliberative process. Accordingly, these meetings are a chance for the laity to share their worries, hopes, concerns, and ideas as we all collectively consider the advantages and disadvantages of a potential merger with Chapelwood UMC. The content of the meetings will be summarized and reported back to the congregation; this will become part of the body of work of the Future with Hope Committee. We hope that all Grace UMC members who are able will sign up and participate in these listening sessions.
 
The Future with Hope Committee also planned the outreach it will undertake subsequent to the ‘Future Forums’. In February, with laity concerns in mind, committee members will contact counterparts at Chapelwood, as well as at Fair Haven and Generaciones (both congregations who have already merged with Chapelwood). The purpose of these conversations will be to raise our laity’s concerns, get candid feedback of the post-merger reality for all of these institutions, and see what if any long term advantages have been gained regarding their Worship, Mission, and Ministry. 

Again, we would like to see as many members as possible of the Grace community come forward and participate in these Forums. As we proceed, the entire church community will have another chance to weigh in on this vital decision in March when the Future with Hope Committee makes a formal recommendation regarding the merger with Chapelwood.
 
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM DECEMBER 17, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
Merry Christmas!  I just haven’t been in contact with that many people in a while, and didn’t want this season to pass without me being able to say it to you.  In the midst of what has been an extraordinarily difficult year financially, Grace UMC has still been engaged in our community as much as possible.  Just as a reminder of what we’ve been able to accomplish in the name of Christ, let’s look back. 
 
In 2020, we:
Hosted our first ever virtual Vacation Bible School
Created an online worship service
Collected school supplies for Grace Weekday School
Collected food baskets for Burrus Elementary
Did a food drive for our Food Pantry, and served over 1,000 people
Raised funds for ministry through our most successful pumpkin patch ever
Created a virtual coffee hour for our members to socialize
Collected clothing and toys for students at Burrus Elementary
Hosted virtual Messy Church
Created drive through communion
Hosted a virtual Sunday school for the whole church family
Baptized 4 babies
Visited the sick in the hospital
Celebrated births
Host first ever Service for Hope and Healing online and in person
Sent cards to our seniors
AND SO MUCH MORE!
 
Yes, 2020 has been a year unlike any other and the first part of 2021 is shaping up to be similar, but the vaccine is available and people are receiving it.  There is light and hope at the end of the tunnel.  And, especially this time of year, that is what the Christian faith is all about:  HOPE.  There is hope because we believe that God came down to earth in human form and told us, in no uncertain terms that, “the worst thing is never the last thing.”  I’m honored to be in ministry with you, and looking forward to a fruitful and faithful 2021.
 
Of course, before we get to 2021 we have to usher in the Christ Child!  This week in worship, we’ll continue our sermon series on Incarnation by reminding ourselves that Jesus is quite literally the light of the world.  We’ll be reading from John 1, so I want to invite you to read through that chapter before Sunday.
 
I can’t wait to see you in the GOD IS HERE place this Sunday.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin

 

 

UPDATE FROM DECEMBER 10, 2020

 

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
Well, we are really getting close to Christmas aren’t we?!  As of this writing, Christmas Day is only about 15 days away (my kids would want me to say 14.5 days).  As we draw nearer to the birth of Christ, there are a number of different activities that I want to make sure you are aware of.
 
  1. Sunday, December 13 at 6 PM.  We’re going to have a service of Hope and Healing.  This is a time to recognize the fact that God desires us to throw our cares and concerns upon God.  If you’re down about the holidays or have lost someone near this time of year, this service is for you.  As of now, this will be online and in person, but be watching your email for a notification of the suspension of in person of worship.  As a reminder, we make the decision each Friday for whether or not we’ll have in person worship and notify the congregation each weekend.
  2. Saturday, December 19 at 6 PM in the parking lot.  Come and enjoy a free socially distanced community Christmas concert in your car performed by Deux Voix.  Many of you will remember that our Director of Music Ministries is a member of this nationally acclaimed group, so come out and support Justin.  They are doing this free of charge, so please come prepared to thank them for this gift!
  3. Sunday, December 20 at 6 PM.  Enjoy our annual Lessons and Carols worship service online only.  You can access this special concert on Facebook Live and on our website.
  4. Thursday, December 24 at 4 PM.  Join us for our ONLINE ONLY Family Christmas Eve worship service.  The worship service will feature the children of our church who have been working on a Christmas pageant.  Worship with us on Facebook Live and on our website.
  5. Thursday, December 24 at 6 PM.  I hope you’ll make time in your Christmas schedule for our ONLINE ONLY Candlelight Christmas Eve worship service.  This year, both of our Christmas Eve services will be online only.  It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it is the right one for this strange time we’re going through together.  You can worship with us on Christmas Eve on Facebook Love and on our website.
 
This week in worship, we’ll continue our sermon series that is drawing us ever nearer to the birth of Christ.  We’ll examine what it means for Emmanuel to come among us during a worldwide pandemic.  Is the promise of Christmas any different this year?  If so, what does that mean to us?  I hope you’ll join us this Sunday to find out!
 
See you this Sunday in the EMMANUEL place.
 
In Christ,
Collin
 
UPDATE FROM DECEMBER 10, 2020
MERGER UPDATE
Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
This week, another member of Grace is offering an update on the potential merger with Chapelwood UMC.  This week’s column is authored by Kyle Thiel, Chair of Trustees.  As always, let us know about any questions you may have!
 
Hello Grace Family,
 
I wanted to take a step back this week and talk a little about the “Big Picture”.  As we rotate through the Future with Hope committee members and report week by week, we hope that you will come to see us as your advocates and allies.  The purpose of our group is to discern a future direction for Grace UMC, to work towards a recommendation to the church council, and to diligently and carefully explore options for the next phase of our community.  The central question that drives us is:  Is the best next step for Grace UMC a merger with Chapelwood UMC? 
Now, there has been a fair amount of conversation around this topic informally and in previously organized meetings. Our committee’s purpose, being your voices and representatives, is to work on the difficult “how” and “what” questions that result from this central question. 
Our work is driven by the following mission statement:
  • We will discern the will of the Holy Spirit regarding the future of ministry at Grace United Methodist Church through fervent prayer, being transparent with our process, and diligent work.
  • We will maintain an openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to new ideas presented to us by other members of the Future with Hope committee, and by other members of Grace United Methodist Church
  • We will promote integrity within our group by supporting each in this work, by shining the light of honesty onto all that we do, and by sharing with each other any and all information that we might use to properly and accurately communicate our work with the congregation at large.
The work we are taking on will culminate with a called Church Conference where we will present our findings and recommendation to the body at large.  Currently, we anticipate that will occur around the end of March 2021.  We will ask for, at that time, an up or down vote on the proposition to merge with Chapelwood.  If this merger is approved, we will continue the work of generating a merger document in concert with representatives from Chapelwood to document the expectations of our communities individually, and as a combined entity.
In the intervening months, we will be investigating, debating, discussing, reviewing, meeting and otherwise attempting to uncover all of issues that surround this idea and hopefully providing solutions or feedback as required. 
Please keep your eyes and ears open to future opportunities – we will be hosting Q&A sessions and gathering additional feedback from the community at large. We encourage you to reach out to any one of us directly, if you feel moved. We would like to understand what you are thinking and feeling, to share our work with you, and to receive your input. 
With warm regards,
 
Kyle Thiel
 
Future with Hope Committee (in alphabetical order)
Rebecca Edwards, Mary Gossett, Daniel Jackson, Leslie Maxfield, Collin Taylor, Allan Tiller, Kyle Thiel, & Peter Zustovich
 
 
 

UPDATE FROM DECEMBER 3, 2020

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
This week in worship, we will continue our Advent sermon series entitled, “Incarnation.”  While I can’t believe Advent is here already, it happens to be my favorite time of year.  While Advent and Christmas are two different seasons in the church calendar, Advent definitely announces to me that the Christmas season is here, and I just love it.  I love seeing lights, I love the cold nights, I love seeing my children light up each morning as they search for our Christmas elf, I love lighting the Advent wreath, the Advent calendars, shopping for gifts, and so much more.  Usually around this time of year, though I am much busier than usual, my soul just feels a bit lighter.  There is an extra bounce in my step that isn’t there during other parts of the year.
 
However, this year is very different, isn’t it?  I can’t take my kids to do the usual holiday events that we usually attend each year for fear of getting them or myself sick.  We have to wear masks wherever we go.  And, I don’t know about you, but I have a little bit of pent up anxiety this season.  But, the show must go on, right?  Worldwide pandemic or not, we will look forward to and celebrate the arrival of the Christ child.  It’s one of the great things about our faith – it is always there regardless of the turmoil and chaos that may surround us. 
 
This week in both our online service and in-person worship, we will turn to Matthew’s gospel and remind ourselves why God came to earth in human form.  We will take time to remind ourselves that all of us have the need to be saved from sin and that Christ has already done that important work for us.  In fact, Christ’s name even means, “God saves.”  We were a people lost to the wages of sin and death, and Christ’s birth changed everything.
 
See you this Sunday in THE LORD PROVIDES place.
 
In Christ,
Collin

 

UPDATE FROM DECEMBER 3, 2020
MERGER UPDATE

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
This week’s merger update comes from one of the members of the Future with Hope Committee.  Each week, you’ll hear from a different voice from that group updating you on the work done, progress made, and often be able to share data that we’ve collected.  This week, as you can read below, you’ll be hearing from lifelong Grace UMC member Lesley Maxfield.

 

 

 

Hello Grace United Methodist Church!
 
Most of you know me, but if not, I’ll take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Lesley Maxfield and I have grown up here in the church. My father grew up here with his family and our family has attended my entire life. If you have been to the church (in pre-COVID times) then you have probably seen me running around with the kids in the sanctuary before church after finishing up Sunday School with them or in the back in the choir once the service starts! If you are new to the church and have recently started viewing our online services, then you have probably seen me singing with my sister, brother-in-law and other amazing choir singers.
 
Currently, I am on the trustees committee, the Grace weekday school board and I have now been asked to participate on the Future with Hope committee. I have a very strong hold on the church, and the decision on whether or not to merge with Chapelwood is very important to me as I want the absolute best for the future of our church. I was excited to be a part of this committee and be involved in the research to ensure that we are making the best possible recommendation to the church before voting on a final decision all together.
 
The committee is getting together each week to work hard and do our due diligence for Grace. This week, we got together to go over the list of great questions that members of the church brought forward. We realized that we were spending a lot of our meeting time going through these and that they need much more research than what we have time for each week. Therefore, we decided to have Collin do the proper research to get the best answers for everyone. The committee will then come together and go over the questions and answers and make sure they are the most accurate and informative before releasing them back to the church. We also took the time to give each member on the committee a specific category or task that they will take on to do their own research outside of our meetings. Then, when we do come together, we can be efficient and effective with our time and give status reports and discuss our findings and proceed with next steps to keep this process moving.
 
This process is of the utmost importance to the Future with Hope committee. We want to make sure that we are spending our time working toward the mission of Grace United Methodist Church and doing everything we can to assist in making the best decision for the future, whichever that may be. If you have any questions, you can call any member on this committee and we will be open to discuss any concern or question you may have. We want to be fully transparent about our meetings and what we discuss each week.
 
In the meantime, I can’t wait to get back to in person worship, safely, and see all of your smiling faces again! I hope you are all doing well in this crazy time.
 
Thank you and have a wonderful rest of your week!
 
-Lesley Maxfield
 

 

 

 

UPDATE FROM NOVEMBER 25, 2020

 

Greetings all in the name of Christ!
 
Happy New Year!  That may sound like dreaming since 2020, as of this writing, still has 37 more days.  But in the liturgical or church calendar, this Sunday marks the beginning of a new year.  This Sunday begins my favorite time of year - Advent!  And with Advent beginning this Sunday, we also will begin a new sermon series called, "Incarnation."  As always, we will look towards and focus on the birth of the Christ child.  That is a monumental event, but this year the birth of the Christ child comes during a worldwide pandemic, and so we'll also spend some time talking about what that has meant in our lives, too.
 
Also, a few things that I want to make you aware of:
 
1) Please don't forget to bid in our virtual online auction!  Most of the time, we have a live auction, and we have a blast raising some money for our church.  But this year, as with so many other things in 2020, we had to reimagine the auction.  Find the link to bid on some great items here.   https://m.signupgenius.com/#!/showSignUp/10c0549aaa92ba2fb6-grace
 
2)  As you are aware, we canceled in-person worship last Sunday due to COVID-19 exposure among our staff.  Luckily, almost all of the tests came back negative.  But we do have one staff person who is confirmed positive.  Please be in prayer for this person.  They are feeling ok right now, but it is certainly not what we were hoping for.
 
3) It is looking increasingly likely that we will need to suspend in-person worship.  As of this writing, the positivity rate for Harris County was 9.5% and we will suspend worship if that number exceeds 10%.  We're monitoring it closely and want to act in the best interest of not only our church but the community as well.
 
4) Just so you know, on December 4th,  I will have surgery on my right knee to repair a torn meniscus.  I will be on crutches for about 6 weeks or so, so I may be a little out of pocket for a bit.  Also, if I am able to preach, I will likely be preaching for a chair or stool.  Just wanted to let you know
 
I can't wait to see you this Sunday in the INCARNATION place.
 
Yours in Christ,
Collin
 
 
UPDATE FROM NOVEMBER 25, 2020
MERGER UPDATE
Greetings all in the name of Christ,
 
The Future with Hope committee hasn't met since I last wrote to you regarding the potential merger.  We will be meeting again on November 30 at 7 PM.  So the update this week is that there is no update.  Don't worry.  There will be much more to report next week.
 
Your servant in Christ,
Collin
 
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