Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gather at the Block-Long Table Saturday

Gather at the Block-Long Table Saturday
Rev. Dottie Yunger

Tuesday was a deadly day in the District – three people were fatally killed in three separate incidents across the city. Tenika Fontanelle, William Conley, and Amari Jenkins were the 95th, 96th, and 97th homicide victims in the District, with homicide rates up 30% from this time last year. I’ll be honest – it wasn't the victims’ names that caught my attention. They might have been yet another statistic about violence in our city and our world, except that Mr. Jenkins died at a church, and it was the name of that church that got my attention. The church is St Luke, a Catholic church on East Capitol St SE. It’s only a couple of blocks from Hughes Memorial UMC, where our Campus Kitchen Washington DC provides meals for Hughes’ community anti-violence program. In fact, that meal is on Tuesday’s, and a CKDC volunteer had just returned from delivering that meal when the violence broke out. The Washington Post reported that Jenkins’s body lay in a courtyard between St. Luke Roman Catholic Church and a community center, near a statue of Jesus and a sign that reads “Be Calm and Trust God.”

It’s been almost two months since Joel Johnson was fatally stabbed at our St Luke’s Mission Center, his body found in the courtyard, near a sign that reads “Building Bridges to End Hunger, Homelessness and Bring Reconciliation” – in other words, to participate in the building of God’s kingdom. I only learned Mr. Johnson’s name and story after his death – a fact that troubles me greatly. Tuesday I learned three more names – Tenika, William, and Amari – and I don't think it will be long before there’s a new name to learn, the name of the 98th homicide victim in DC.

Some days, it would be all too easy – at least it would be for me, I won’t project on you – to succumb to the tragic irony of this past Tuesday. A man killed at a house of worship, his body near a sign about peace and trust in God. Two St Luke’s – one in NW and one in SE. This violent act happening only shortly after we deliver meals to an anti-violence program only three blocks away.

But we are called to be people of hope, not despair. It has been incredibly moving for me as I witness all the ways we as a church community – Metropolitan, Wesley, and St Luke’s Mission Center – have come together to remember Mr. Johnson over the past two months. It has been a tremendous witness of peace and trust in a loving, merciful, just God. It takes peace and trust in God to stand with 85 people on the spot where Mr. Johnson was murdered, and light candles and share our names and offer prayers. It takes peace and trust in God to hold Mr. Johnson’s funeral and provide him his final resting place in Metropolitan’s columbarium.  It takes peace and trust in God to remember that the light always outshines the dark, life always triumphs over death. It takes peace and trust in God to live as brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God, and be part of that kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

So I called St Luke Roman Catholic Church, to offer my condolences and prayers on the tragedy of Mr. Jenkins’ death on their property. Father Cornelius Ejiogu answered the phone, and as we talked, by God’s grace, we knew we have more in common than our church names and our recent experiences with violence in the city. What unites us is the peace and assurance of a loving God. I invited Father Cornelius and St Luke Church to our community meal and block party on Saturday, on Gault Pl NE, between Minnesota Ave and Nannie Helen Burroughs Ave. This meal is part of God’s kingdom-building between Metropolitan and Mount Vernon UMC, in which Campus Kitchen at the St Luke’s Mission Center provides meals for those in need through Mount Vernon’s feeding ministry. Together we work to address hunger and homelessness in Ward 7, and bring reconciliation throughout the city. On Saturday we will come together for food, fellowship, and music, and we will be a powerful witness for all that unites us as we share a meal at a table that extends down the block.

I hope you can join us Saturday for this meal. We need volunteers to set up, serve, and eat at the table. For more information, contact me at or David Hackney

You can join us for some or all of the day: (meet at 4147 Minnesota Ave NE)
10am set up Volunteers are needed
11am-1pm    Moon bounce, crafts, music, etc
12-12:30pm  Table set up
​12:30pm       Seated dining
2pm-3pm      Backpack giveaways/clean up

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Wesley August Worship Theme on Prayer

There is so much before us—a new intergenerational Bible story hour, the merger assessment, the urban food hub, the chance to birth a connectional system with the power to end inequality in our city.  We’ve talked about the Lord’s Prayer, but for the month of August we’re looking at why prayer itself is important and how it can birth vision, hold us through the chaos of obstacles and complications, give us hope, and break through our impossibility to bring God’s possibility.  We are following the story of Samuel and David and the birthing of the Israelite nation paired with the beginning of Christ’s teaching, preaching, and healing ministry. *5312 Connecticut Ave., NW.
  • August 16 – Trusting What God Sees; Scriptures: 1 Samuel 15:34-16:13: The Gospel According to Mark 4:26-34. Using a poem—I like what I see; I’ll wait—we’ll explore what is at work beyond our awareness and how to trust the movement of the Holy Spirit in living into our part of God’s kingdom work, even when we don’t understand or see the whole.
  • August 23 — All that Trusting Paying Off; Scriptures: 1 Samuel 17: 1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49; The Gospel According to Mark 4:35-41
Finally a glimpse of being in the right place at the right time!  For the Israelites and David, it’s all that trying to be the family of God and trying to trust God’s crazy guidance where in taking out Goliath the pieces finally start to fall into place and there’s a glimpse of what God has been up to all along.  For the disciples, a little more trust would have turned a moment of disappointment into celebration, but that glimpse of what God can and does do was there for them as well.

Intergenerational Bible Story Hour
First and Third Sundays, 9:30am, Wesley*
Join us on the first and third Sundays of the month for a more in-depth look at the stories in scripture we’ll be reading in worship at Wesley. Meet at 9:30am to sing a few songs together. At 9:45am step into the story tent on the stage in the fellowship hall. Pastor Kate will re-tell the story, and then we’ll have until 10:45am to reflect on the story using different art mediums--drama, drawing, painting, modeling clay, journaling. This is a time for all of us to gather--no matter what age--for some Wesley family time in exploring scripture together. Contact Pastor Kate with any questions or ideas. *5312 Connecticut Ave., NW.

Monday, August 10, 2015

“I Do Not Think That Means What You Think it Means”

Our August sermon series, “I Don’t Think That Means What You Think it Means” has been exploring scriptural passages that are often misused and misquoted. If you miss any of the sermons in this enlightening series, you can listen to the audio version of the sermons on our website.

Recently several of our church members have inquired, “What does your new sermon series title mean?” The series takes its title -- “I don’t think that means what you think it means” – from a wonderful movie called “The Princess Bride” (a really delightful movie that I highly recommend if you have never seen it), in which one of the characters regularly misuses a word. Playing off of that idea, during the month of August, the sermons will explore Scriptural passages that are often misused or misquoted. While there is certainly rich material to choose from, we picked four phrases that are widely heard (and often incorrectly).

We launched the sermon series on August 2 with the phrase: “The Lord watch between thee and me, while we are parted one from another,” from Genesis 31: 44-50, often called the Mizpah blessing. While most of us have heard this phrase used as a passage with romantic connotations between spouses when they are separated, in fact its Biblical origins are quite different and the passage actually expresses the deep distrust that existed between the patriarch Jacob and his father-in-law Laban. We used this passage as a springboard to look at how we structure healthy boundaries with difficult people in our lives.

On August 9, the sermon was based on the phrase, “Vengeance is mine,” and the Scriptural base was Deuteronomy 32: 34-35 and Romans 12: 18-21. While this is often used as an expression of anger against those who we perceive have wronged us, Paul reminds us that God’s vengeance is exactly that: God’s. In these verses, we have an opportunity to look at how we let go of our own anger and hurt, and place our trust in God’s perfect justice.

On August 16, the phrase that will form the basis of the sermon is “The poor will always be with you,” and based on Scriptures from Deuteronomy 15: 10-11 and Mark 14: 3-9. These words of Jesus, which are often quoted with a sense of apathy regarding the hopelessness of changing economic structures, are actually a command to allow our passion for social justice to flow out of our relationship with God.

On August 23, we will close out the sermon series with the phrase we have all used many times, “God won’t give you more than you can bear.” The Biblical base is from I Corinthians 10: 12-13. This verse from I Corinthians is often (mis)quoted to comfort people going through affliction. In reality, it is a verse that calls us to prepare for hard times. We will spend this week looking at where we find God in the midst of crises and what we can expect from God in those times.
I hope that you will join us on this August journey as we explore together these often-used phrases and learn why, “I don’t think that means what you think it means.”


Monday, July 27, 2015

August Sermon Series: “I Don’t Think That Means What You Think it Means”

Watch Dr. Parker Discuss Our New Sermon Series

Join us in August, as we look at Scriptural passages that are often misused and misquoted.
  • August 2 - The Lord Watch Between Thee and Me; Scriptures: Genesis 31: 44-50; Acts 4: 13-21
  • August 9 - Vengeance is Mine; Scriptures: Deuteronomy 32: 34-35; Romans 12: 18-21
  • August 16 - The Poor Will Always Be With You; Scriptures: Deuteronomy 15: 10-11; Mark 14: 3-9
  • August 23 - God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Bear; Scriptures: Jeremiah 12: 4-6; I Corinthians 10: 12-13

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Giving Thanks and Communion on the Steps of the Supreme Court

On Friday,  June 26, I woke up to texts from Ellen Bachman, Facebook posts from Chet Pritchett, and a quick check on the SCOTUS blog showed that 5 boxes had been delivered. Sure enough, as I rushed out the door, the opinions on same sex marriage were rolling in—and WE WON! After a quick trip to the office to share the good news and invite anyone to come with me, I headed down to the Methodist building where Ellen, Chet, and Mary Kay Totty from Dumbarton UMC were already gathered. At 11am, Mary Kay and I shared the Great Thanksgiving Liturgy, celebrating the victory love had won. As we remembered the dark night on which Christ was betrayed, we also asked those gathered to remember the dark nights that preceded this victory and the dark night in Charleston—the funeral for Rev. Clementa Pinckney being held at same time as our celebration.

After we served communion to the crowd initially gathered, some students from Wesley seminary started singing hymns, and folks came by—many thanking us for being there, some receiving communion in tears, some giving a Shabbat shalom! as they passed on taking communion. We were asked to give interviews, Ian Urriola and myself doing some in Spanish, and the celebration of the freedom and right to love was one of the best kingdom moments I’ve yet experienced.

The part that was hard was when, in the excitement, some of those gathered asked if this meant that we as Methodists could begin marrying same-gender loving couples legally. I so wish that was the case! But only General Conference can change our Book of Discipline.  So we started talking about the resolution our conference is sending to remove the language calling homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching” and delegates—Charlie Parker!—who will be voting on that resolution among many others.

This victory was incredible, but there is still kingdom work to be done within our own institution and within workplaces that are still discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity. So may this win for love flow into the battles ahead and bring the transformation we pray for as disciples of Christ. I do pray with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength that love will find a win next May in Portland, just as love won on Friday, June 26th at the Supreme Court.

Rev. Kate Payton

Monday, July 13, 2015

Youth in Mission

This year’s Youth 4 the DC Cause participants  are: Holly Adams; Chloe Bautista; Max Breton; Will Burks; Caleb Grim;  David McConnell; Andy McFarland; Andy O’Daniel; Sander Rodman; Katelyn Rommel; Ashley Rommel; and Christopher Smith.

Our high school students have participated in the Appalachia Service Project for 41 years, but it was only a few years ago that our middle school students also took a week out of their summer for missions. Started by Ohemaa Nyanin in the summer of 2012, Youth 4 the DC Cause is an opportunity for our middle school youth to engage in mission throughout our city.

This week long mission camp centers around our St. Luke’s Mission Center. The youth and adult leaders will stay at the mission center overnight in our Shalom Place youth hostel. We arrive Sunday evening, July 26th and stay through Friday afternoon July 31st. For many of our youth, this is their first time to experience a week-long trip focused on mission.

A typical day on Y4DCC begins with a work project in the morning followed by an educational field trip in the afternoon. The evenings have games and other fun activities. Each night there is a Bible study that encourages youth to reflect on the events of the day and see how they can apply their study to their daily life after Y4DCC. In the past, our projects have included visiting the elderly, cooking meals for Campus Kitchen, assisting Brighter Day, and various environmental projects.

This year, our focus is on environmental stewardship with a particular emphasis on the work of the Anacostia Watershed Society. We will be learning about the effects our actions have on the surrounding environment and what efforts are being taken by people to help clean up our rivers in the DC metro area. Other projects around hunger and homelessness are still being finalized. If you’re interested in the Youth 4 the DC Cause or our youth ministries, please contact Patrick Landau, Director of Youth Ministries.

Check Out Our Youth Blog
Discover more about our youth and what they are doing! 
Follow their adventures at

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Celluloid Redemption: July Film & Sermon Series

In July we will be exploring theological themes in the movies. The topic this month will be “redemption”: what it means and how we experience it. Each week, we will show the film on Friday evening (with popcorn!), with a sermon drawing on that film the following Sunday.

Film: July 3, 7 pm, Youth Room (206)
Sermon: July 5, Scriptures: Isaiah 43:1-7; 1 John 4:16b-19

Queen Elsa has power over ice and snow, but is trapped by her fear. Princess Anna is mortally injured by her sister’s action, and only an “act of true love” can save her life. Both sisters need and receive redemption in this modern fairy tale.
“Groundhog Day”
Film: July 10, 7 pm, Youth Room (206)

Sermon: July 12, Scriptures: Lamentations 3:22-24; Matthew 6:25-34
“Groundhog Day” explores the journey of a man trapped in an endlessly repeating day. It is a powerful invitation to step away from our endless planning and embrace the gift of living in the moment.
“Akeelah and the Bee”
Film: July 17, 7 pm, Youth Room (206)
Sermon: July 19, Scriptures: Judges 6:11-16; I Corinthians 15:9-11

“Akeelah and the Bee” tells the story of an eleven year old girl with a gift. But she resists claiming that gift until a mentor challenges her. As she receives the support of her struggling community, she finds that her gift transforms them as well.
“The King’s Speech”
Film: July 24, 7 pm, Youth Room (206)
Sermon: July 26, Scriptures: 2 Chronicles 34:1-3, 29-32; 2 Timothy 1:5-7

In an interesting contrast to Akeelah, “The King’s Speech” explores the struggle of King George VI – a man with every conceivable privilege -- as he seeks to fill a role that he feels inadequate for, as he prepares to lead his country into WWII.