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.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Statement by Bishop Marcus Matthews on the Stabbing at our St. Luke's Mission Center


Even as we are still reeling from the violent killing of the pastor and eight member of Emanuel AME Church in South Carolina, I received news of the stabbing death of a homeless man in the portico of St. Luke's Mission Center in Washington, D.C.

St. Luke's, a mission site of Metropolitan Memorial UMC, is doing outstanding and innovative work serving the poor and homeless in their community and throughout the city. Joel Johnson, a former guest of their hypothermia shelter last winter, was stabbed in an altercation at the site around 10:30 on Friday. He died of his wounds.

The thought of one of our churches as a crime scene saddens me beyond measure. However, it also awakens my soul to call for justice for all people. In a letter Thursday morning, I asked our churches to light a candle in memory of the victims of the church shooting. This evening I broaden my call, inviting you to also remember Mr. Johnson and to pray for the men and women of our communities who need to experience God's saving love and grace.

The Rev. Charlie Parker, senior pastor at Metropolitan, wrote: this tragedy "is a sign of the brokenness of our society that men and women continue to sleep on the street without food or proper medical and psychological care. ... While this is a deeply sad and disturbing event, it reinforces our commitment to engage this issue as a church and to work unceasingly until every person has a home."

I echo his words and call each of you to prayer and action. God is with us. God is love. May we each make manifest that love as we worship, and as we move into our communities in the days ahead, serving at witnesses to God's grace and peace.

God Bless You,

Bishop Marcus Matthews
Baltimore-Washington Conference
The United Methodist Church

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Tragedy Close to Home

The St. Luke's Mission Center

Last Friday night, a man was fatally stabbed in the portico of the St. Luke’s Mission Center at 3655 Calvert Street, NW. I believe that the man – 53 year old Joel Johnson – was one of the homeless men who have continued to linger at St. Luke’s after the closing of the hypothermia shelter this spring. When the hypothermia shelter closed, we began our usual efforts with the case workers at Friendship Place to find other shelter resources for the men. And for the handful of men who resist other placement, we have worked with the local police to try to move them from the church.

None of the events of last night involved any of the seven residents of our St. Luke's Shelter, who are all safe; that shelter remains operating with its normal effectiveness. After a brief period of closure on Saturday morning, the Mission Center itself is open again, with shelter and campus kitchen programing occurring as scheduled.

This tragedy highlights the ongoing calamity of homelessness in our city. It is a sign of the brokenness of our society that men and women continue to sleep on the street without food or proper medical and psychological care. That so many of these women and men are veterans – to whom we owe such a deep debt of gratitude -- heightens the injustice of their circumstances. While this is a deeply sad and disturbing event, it reinforces our commitment to engage this issue as a church and to work unceasingly until every person has a home. We are working now to identify and contact Mr. Johnson's family and will partner with our friends at Mt. Zion UMC (where Mr. Johnson regularly went to eat) to provide a proper funeral and burial for him. In a culture that teaches us to avert our eyes from suffering, we as Christians know that to encounter Christ, we need look no further than our doorstep.

- Rev. Charlie Parker

Reflections on Charleston

Our prayer vigil outside Wesley UMC

From our District Superintendent, Joe Daniels

Reflections on Charleston, SC

These are yet again times where people of faith must exercise great faith, exorbitant faith, in the God who by the power at work within us is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine. The incomprehensible and tragic massacre in Charleston, SC this past Wednesday night cause us to echo the more than 100 year old words of W.E.B duBois once again with even greater intensity. The problem of the (21st) century is the color line: race relations in America. Not only has the heinous activity of Wednesday evening escalated racial tensions in America, but the actions of Dylann Storm Roof in a bible study at the most historic black church in the state of South Carolina have shaken the very foundations of us all in multiple ways. And only the demonstration of a magnificent faith in God by the people of God through strong, mature, visionary spiritual leadership will take our country to the place and space of healing and wholeness we so desperately need.

For healing and wholeness to come to pass, we must confront the truth that America is suffering from serious illnesses, one being the major sin of racism. And, we must pursue a healthy path forward. First, we must not be quick to run to and hide behind the claim of mental illness in the SC case, or rush to make the memory of this heinous act disappear quickly. We must face the truth that once again we have a horrifying problem of race in our communities that unless dealt with head on, will not go away. In less than a year, we've had Ferguson, NYC, Cleveland, Charlottesville, VA, Charleston, SC, Jackson, MS, Baltimore, McKinney, TX, and now Charleston again. And let's not forget Trayvon and Jordan in Florida and so many other cases that didn't have cameras on them. And now we have a situation where a white young adult influenced by hate groups has gone into one of the most sacred, Divinely intimate places of black culture, let alone American culture --- the church sanctuary --- shared the Word of Life with congregants and then blew nine of them, including their highly esteemed pastor, away. As a clergy colleague was left to tell me via text Wednesday night, "Lord, have mercy."

The event at Mother Emmanuel AME Church cuts our hearts and drops us to our knees. As a black man and a pastor, it illicits all kinds of emotions within me. On Thursday, I was asked to be a part of a multi-ethnic, multi-faith clergy forum aired on WUSA-TV, Channel 9 at Metropolitan AME church in D.C., and I was greeted by a security guard who wanted to know who I was and what I was there for as he checked me out to make sure nothing suspicious was up -- in the church lobby! In the forum, a white female Jewish rabbi declared that it was clear that there is a war going on in this country against African-American males. I know that; I feel remnants of it everyday. But to hear her declare it was powerful and courageous. This is where we are.

But secondly, we will have to pursue a healthy path forward --- courageously. The renown theologian, Karl Barth, said once that "courage is fear that has said its prayers." Many are afraid, for many different reasons. But prayer pushes us forward by faith. People of faith must exercise great faith with phenomenal spiritual leadership, not with a fear that renders us silent. I thought some of the families of the slain church leaders at Roof's arraignment in the SC courtroom on Friday began doing this for us. They were already looking to forgive the perpetrator as a pathway for forward movement. What will the larger community of faith do? The temptation is to just talk about it, but dare I say, action is required now.

Five months before his assassination nearly 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. asked a poignant question, "Where do we go from here: chaos or community?" Almost 50 years later, the question still reverberates before us now. Where will we go from here? Chaos? Or community?

We have chaos now. Nine champions for the common good have lost their lives senselessly. One reporter said that in South Carolina alone, there are 19 hate groups. A flag bearing hate for many still flies in the state. Our political leaders in Congress still war, fight and remain divided over issues critical to our society and nothing substantive gets done. We have chaos now.

But instead of chaos, let's join together to build stronger community. Let's do so everywhere, particularly here where we live, in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area, one of the most diverse areas of the world. Over the summer, let's commit ourselves to:

* a time of deep introspection and heart searching, asking God how we might more deeply break down barriers and build bridges in our community.
* a serious attempt to develop new and strong relationships across all lines as the Holy Spirit leads us.
* connecting our congregations more intentionally to other congregations of all faiths in community building ministry and the establishment of multi-ethnic bible studies.
* look at how we can use our respective positions and professions to bring about racial, economic, and all types of justice.
* not be trapped by fear, but encouraged and energized by faith.
* come to forgive the Dylann Storm Roofs of the world. We all need forgiveness.
* engage in the Greater Washington District's racial justice and reconciliation initiative started last fall 2014 after the Michael Brown verdict. The next District gathering is Tuesday, October 20 from 7 to 9:30 pm at Silver Spring UMC. Check out the conference website at and go to the toolbox for more information on the initiative and conversations and action steps taken thus far.

In these moments, let us exercise great faith. Let us commit ourselves deeper to loving God, deeper to loving one another and deeper to loving ourselves. Stay encouraged!

--- Joe Daniels

-Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Response to Charleston, SC

All the words I normally have, even the prayers of lament, are not coming to me.  The cry How long, Oh Lord? doesn’t even seem strong enough. I don’t know where to find enough hope to rescue my prayers to pray them. 

When will enough be enough?  When will the outrage at lives obliterated move us to action?

Our annual conference prayers and re-building efforts with sister churches in Baltimore are still reverberating in Sandtown-Winchester.   Yet this morning I find out that 9 of our Wesleyan brothers and sisters are dead in Charleston.  Shot to death gathered at church in study and prayer, and we thought those things were buried in our history books or only happened in other countries like when Archbishop Oscar Romero was gunned down leading communion.

How many of us, God, all across the world are praying the prayer that you taught us?  That your kingdom come!  That your will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

Your children at Mother Emmanuel AME, in the words of NPR’s Scott Simon, “… made a stranger welcome. They put him in their prayers & gave him their love. They are grace.”  They followed your kingdom call, and all hell broke loose.

God, for the powers of evil that plague Dylann; for the systemic powers of evil in racism and gun violence that we perpetrate, Lord, have mercy.  Lord, have mercy.

Lord, make a way.  Make a way for healing and hope; make a way for breaking hearts of stone; make a way for seeing and understanding realities different from our own; make a way for us to deal with our fear and anger without ripping lives apart. 

Where there is soul-wrenching grief in Charleston, bring comfort.  Where there is oblivion in our nation, bring anger and dis-ease and CHANGE.  Open our eyes to our corporate need for confession—to own white privilege and pray for the forgiveness of our systemic trespasses in our collective misuse of power.  Open our minds, and break our 2nd Amendment obsession to see the destruction wreaking havoc on our families and communities. 

Lord, I don’t know how, but make the words of scripture come true—that
“Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross.”  Eph 2:14-16a

 Metropolitan Call to Action

If we want to end inequality in our city, we can.  All the church has to do is be the church.  All we have to do is care for one another—sharing job connections, housing notices, taking the kids, building a reliable safety net of spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical support.  What makes our work something that reproduces or ends inequality, though, is whether we do it only for our isolated groups of like-individuals or whether we include all our neighbors no matter what.

So, church, what’ll it be? I vote for putting shoe leather to our kingdom prayer.

Join us on July 1 at 7pm in Wesley’s library to talk about how to be more intentional in our multi-ethnic, multi-site parish, and how to witness and show a different way of living.  Please contact Pastor Kate Payton with any questions or reflections.

- Rev. Kate Payton