Monday, February 08, 2016

Yes In My Backyard


Yes In My Backyard
Short-Term Family Housing Solution
Washington Interfaith Network
February 2016
DC is an incredibly tough place to live right now. The wages of working class families are stagnant and our unemployment rate for African Americans, young people, and those without a college degree have NOT recovered from the recession. To top it off, the cost of living especially housing is constantly going up and we are losing affordable housing each year.  A recent report cited that now 37.8% of one bedrooms in DC cost $2,000/mo or more to rent. What’s a family to do?

In this environment, if you are a family that hits hard times, it is all too easy to end up in need of emergency housing. In 2014, nearly 8,000 persons experienced homelessness on any given night (an increase of 13% from 2013, and 20% from 2010). The majority of the increase was from families with KIDS experiencing homelessness. These are disproportionately young single mothers, some of whom have exited domestic violence situations. It is a shame that our family homelessness numbers are going up not down!

And when families end up needing shelter, unfortunately our city sends them to family shelters like DC General that are no help in getting them back on their feet. DC General is an overcrowded shelter next to a methadone clinic, morgue and a jail, it is not what any Washingtonian deserves. Residents share the building with raccoons and bats, that is not what any Washingtonian deserves. Scabies outbreaks and moldy rooms and hallways have led to children going to the hospital. Just because families, mothers, are homeless doesn’t mean that they deserve this.

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So what can you do?
Attend the community meeting to hear about the proposed Short Term Family Housing Facility in your ward on Thursday, February 11th at 6:30pm at Metropolitan Memorial UMC 3401 Nebraska Ave NW. Let your ward councilperson and at-large council representatives (David Grosso and Vincent Orange) know that you are saying Yes In My Backyard to a short-term family housing.

Lastly you can join our WIN team. You can volunteer to learn this wrap and give it at your small groups or other organizations you are a part of, and to help call our members that live in the district to ask for their support. Contact Rev. Dottie Yunger.

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There will always be families among us that struggle; it is our role as a community to provide solutions that don’t warehouse our neighbors, but helps them get back on their feet. For the children living at DC General, we need to be the village that steps up to make sure they have what they need to thrive.

And DC needs working class families! We’ve met people at DC general that work serving our food, caring for our children. We’ve met transit workers that get us to and from, utilities workers that keep our lights on, and home health providers caring for the aging. We need these critical service providers in our city and that means we have to make enough affordable housing for them to live here to. DC General needs to be shut down and replaced with better, smaller community based short-term family housing in all 8 wards. 

Closing DC General and creating short-term family housing in all 8 wards, even in ward 3, might cause controversy.  Some will wonder if it is possible to find a different location. Some will worry about increasing density in order to build the housing. We must ask ourselves if the root of these worries is actually more about our fear of living with people we perceive to be different from ourselves. Kids and families experiencing homelessness are just like you and me, they just don’t have the blessing of a roof over their head to call their own. In order to shut down and replace DC General, all wards will need to make space in our neighborhoods and our hearts for new neighbors.

Approaching Lent in Silence...The Art of Holy Listening

We enter this season beginning on Ash Wednesday, February 10. This is a wonderful time to reclaim a spiritual discipline most likely lost through the rush of the holidays and New Year activities. Our theme includes “Holy Listening” taking time to slow down, stop talking and listen. Listen to our families, friends and co-workers, listen to those whose political beliefs are different than ours, listen to what God is saying. In the words of Pope Francis, “Let us hear the Holy Spirit, let us listen to the Holy Spirit and may we move forward on the path of love, mercy and forgiveness. We must listen to the Holy Spirit who is within us.” What strong and powerful words to begin our journey through Lent. Learn more about our Lenten Sermon Series below!

Lenten Contemplative Services: “Holy Listening, Holy Speaking”
Sundays, February 21, 28 and March 6, 13
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. in the Great Hall at Metropolitan Memorial
Join Senior Pastor Charlie Parker and Drema McAllister-Wilson, Minister of Congregational Care, for a Lenten journey centered on Holy Listening, Holy Speaking. Metropolitan once again presents a series of Contemplative Communion Services on four Sunday evenings in Lent: Feb. 21, 28 and March 6, 13, at 7pm in the Great Hall. This healing worship integrates scripture, prayer, music, silence and reflection into a deeper experience of the Living Word and the Holy Sacraments. Charlie and Drema will explore how to grow in understanding through mindful listening and speech using the spiritual practices of breath, music and prayer within a supportive spiritual community. Choirmaster/organist Bruce H. Caviness joins a team of skilled musicians (Douglas Bell on cello, Kerm Towler on flute, and Jennifer Rutherford as cantor) to guide this healing ecumenical service, offered for all who seek a closer and fearless encounter with the Divine Presence.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Plastic…Give it Up for Lent!



Metropolitan’s Green Team invites you to join with our brothers and sisters at the National Cathedral in giving up plastics for Lent, and in doing so, being mindful this season of our relationship with God, with each other, and with all of creation.

Plastics are forever. Every piece of plastic we have ever used is still here today.
It is not biodegradable. Millions of tons of plastic enter the ocean yearly. The sun and waves break it up into smaller pieces, creating vast concentrations of flotsam in the ocean. Up to 80% of rubbish in the oceans comes straight from beaches and storm water. Most of it is plastic. It sickens and kills fish, birds, whales and turtles, up to one million animals a year.

Plastic has insinuated itself into our lives and is ubiquitous. It’s a huge effort to give it up completely, but we can begin to take small steps towards eliminating it from our lives. Developing an awareness and desire to do better is the first step, a prayer in itself.

Steps to Consider

  • Buy food in glass, not plastic, jars.
  • Use cloth shopping bags.
  • Buy detergent in boxes, not plastic.
  • Bring your own container for take-out and leftovers from restaurants.
  • Use reusable coffee mug and tableware, stainless steel utensils, glass or stainless steel straws.
  • Avoid K-cups for coffee, tea, and cocoa.
  • Use rubber gloves.
  • Buy eggs in cardboard cartons.
  • Use a glass blender.
  • Use bar soap instead of liquid.
  • Give up chewing gum (contains lots of plastic!)
  • Use glass bowls for pet food.
  • Use wooden hairbrush with natural bristles.
  • Upcycle. Think of new uses for old items.
  • Reuse packaging materials from packages sent to you.
  • Buy cheese in a wheel wrapped in wax.
  • Wear clothing from natural materials. Polyester is made from plastic.
  • Use stainless steel ice cube trays.
  • Go digital and avoid CD and DVD plastic.
  • Skip bottled water. Carry reusable glass bottle or BPA-free metal bottle.
  • Volunteer at beach, stream, or river clean-up.

 Add your own ideas! Be creative! Send your ideas to our Environment Advocacy Group members: environment@cathedralcongregation.org

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sermon Series: "From the Heart of the Sea"

There is still time to join us on a journey of exploration as we look at where the rich text of Moby Dick stimulates our consideration of Biblical texts (Watch Dr. Parker discuss the sermon series).

We launched the sermon series on January 10, with the theme of The Power of Awe. The central character of Moby Dick – the whale – is essentially a mystery, and in many ways is a tool to explore what it feels like to live in a world that is beyond our control. The whale is a character that inspires awe, a feeling – according to the writers of Scripture – that is at the heart of what it means to be a people of faith. What is awe about? How does it shape our understanding of God? How do we cultivate it? (Listen to the sermon here.)

On January 17, the sermon focus was on Hate and Madness. Ahab’s response to awe is madness. His anger and bitterness at the loss of his leg, and his powerlessness in the face of the force of the whale, drive him to his mad obsession.  Moby Dick is, in many ways, a meditation on how anger and hate can become consuming forces in people’s lives, and an opportunity to explore how to diffuse this danger in our own lives, and address it when we encounter it in others. (Listen to the sermon here.)

On January 24, the theme of the sermon will be Exploitation of the Earth. A recurring theme throughout the novel of Moby Dick is the exploitation of our natural resources.  Melville wonders aloud how long whales will be able to survive in the face of whale hunting, and compares their plight to that of the American bison. The novel gives us a wonderful opportunity to revisit our call to care for the natural order and develop our communities in ways that are sustainable.

On January 31, we will close out the sermon series with a focus on Leaders and Demagogues. In an election year, Captain Ahab gives us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the nature of healthy (and unhealthy leadership). Captain Ahab uses many of the classic tools of the demagogue to manipulate his crew and get them to support him on his unholy quest (and that we also see in many elements of the current election cycle). And Melville spills a great deal of ink over what healthy leadership looks like.

I hope that you will consider doing two things: join us on this journey of exploration as we look at where the rich text of Moby Dick stimulates our consideration of Biblical texts -- where do we see Biblical themes in the four topics we have selected from Moby Dick? The second thing I would encourage you all to do is to extend an invitation to someone in your family or a friend or neighbor or co-worker to join you in worship in January, particularly someone who doesn’t yet have a church home. 

We have an opportunity to offer life transforming stories of our faith to others who might love to be on this journey with us as we start the new year and live out our church’s Vision of extending radical hospitality, transforming lives, and pursuing justice.

Blessings,

Charlie Parker

Thursday, December 10, 2015

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

Advent is the time of year when we prepare for the coming of Christ – as a baby at Christmas, as our Risen Lord at the end of time, and every day as Christ is born anew in our hearts. As we wait and watch for Christ, we have lots of opportunities to celebrate, worship, and share during the Advent and Christmas season.

Share in the joyous sounds of the season on December 12 at 6:30pm as Jazz@Wesley presents A Jazzy Christmas. Performers include the Wesley Combo featuring Jazz vocalists, Tiya! and Clint Hyson, and special guests: Kim Sator, harpist; Winona Stanback, soprano; and Alfredo Mojica, percussion and vocals. Plus, join the Wesley Choir in a carol sing-a-long! Tickets available at the door and at instantseats.com. Entry $10 I $7 Seniors I Children 12 and Under Free.

Our annual Evening in Advent is on December 13. We will gather in the Vestry at Metropolitan Memorial from 4-7pm for Christmas crafts, a tasty chili dinner, carol singing, and time with friends from all three Metropolitan sites and Brighter Day Ministries. Children will be welcomed into a Christmas shop where they can select a (free) gift for a special adult in their lives.

In the midst of the Advent festivities, we understand the season isn't joyful for everyone. Whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or the loss of a job, or you just want to find a time of peace in the midst of the hectic season, there is a place where you can seek comfort and prayer. You are welcome to the Longest Night service on Tuesday, December 22, from 7-8 pm in the Wesley sanctuary. This quiet service of prayer, reflection, and Holy Communion is a reminder that Christ is our light in the darkness.

Christmas Eve offers several opportunities to worship and celebrate. Our children will lead us in worship at the 5pm service at Metropolitan Memorial – telling the story, and acting out the parts of shepherds, angels, and multiple different animals. Candlelight communion services will take place at 7pm at Wesley and 7:30pm at Metropolitan Memorial. A musical prelude at 10:30pm precedes our 11pm service at Metropolitan Memorial. Come celebrate our God who became a baby in a manger, lived, loved, taught, healed, died and rose again for us, and who lives to bring love and justice to all people today.

And don’t forget – Christmas doesn’t end December 25! Continue to welcome Christ with a service of lessons and carols at Metropolitan Memorial on Sunday, December 27 at 10am (One Service). Or come to Wesley for the 11am Kwanzaa service, to praise the God who created both rich diversity and beloved community.

Blessings,

Rev. Janet Craswell

KATE MURPHEY PAYTON AND JIMMY SHERROD



The intensity of ministry helped form the lasting friendship between the Rev. Kate Murphey Payton and the Rev. Jimmy Sherrod. Both were serving as associate pastors at Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church when the church was adding a third ministry site by merging with St. Luke's United Methodist Church. They shared an office and preaching duties for three years at three different sites in Washington, D.C.

"All of that going on just drew us closer," says Sherrod, who now pastors Central United Methodist   Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. The 2011 graduate recalls their first service together. "It was one of those moments when we just clicked---our styles, our energy, how we fed off each other. It was kind of like, 'You're my people.'"

"That's where Jimmy and I crossed over," says Payton, who graduated in 2006 with her Master of Divinity from Wesley. "He was in charge of worship at St. Luke's, and I was in charge of the entire ministry coming out of it." Payton continues as the associate minister of serving and young adult ministries at Metropolitan. Her work includes outreach at St. Luke's, now named St. Luke's Mission Center, and serving as lead pastor at Wesley United Methodist Church, which is also a part of Metropolitan.

"Over a year, we alternated preaching at Wesley UMC and at St. Luke's. We worked so closely we found that family with each other," Sherrod says. Along with his wife and Payton's future husband they enjoyed life together outside of the office. "Not only did we work hard, but we played well together." Payton agrees, “It’s been one of the best relationships that I've had in terms of the spectrum of play and idea bouncing and processing space for ministry ideas. That was really critical when we were trying to figure out what the vision was for the church at all three sites."

Although they've not worked together for two-and-a-half years, the family-like relationship remains. "Jimmy flew out to be a part of my wedding and one of my bridesmaids asks, 'Jimmy, what are we calling you?'" Payton laughs.

"I was the guy who stood on her side [of the wedding parry]," quips Sherrod. In turn, Payton stood with him when he was ordained, just as a family member would.

Friday, December 04, 2015

A Day to Be Thankful with the President and First Lady


Preparing for Feast w/ Friends at Campus Kitchen @ Washington DC
On the day before Thanksgiving, President Obama and his family came to the St. Luke’s Mission Center (SLMC) to serve a Campus Kitchen meal to the clients of Friendship Place, our partner working to end homelessness in the DC area. Campus Kitchen @ Washington DC (CKWDC) had the honor of preparing this meal, with food donated from local Mom’s Organic Markets (MOMs), recovered by community volunteers, and prepared by our chef and students from local universities.
Michelle Obama tweeted about the day of service

The Feast w/ Friends, as the event was called, was for veteran families and formerly homeless participants in Friendship Place’s Veterans First Program. The President and First Lady, their daughters, Sasha and Malia, and Marian Robinson (the First Lady’s mother) got to work as soon as they arrived, serving the Thanksgiving-themed meal to over 60 surprised participants.

CNN coverage of the event

Friendship Place launched the federally funded Veterans First program four years ago to provide prevention and rapid rehousing services to veterans and their families. It has grown from a small grant to a regional operation, able to support 550 households in the DC Metropolitan Area each year and has the ability to move veterans with zero income from homelessness to housing stability in an average of 127 days. Learn more here.

The St. Luke’s Mission Center is part of The Metropolitan Church, a multi site United Methodist community in NW DC. St. Luke’s Mission Center provides vital ministries and partnerships in the city, including a small group home shelter, a hostel for mission groups, a commercial grade kitchen, and office space for our partners at Friendship Place. Campus Kitchen @ Washington DC has operated out of SLMC for approximately three years. It is part of the Campus Kitchen Program (CKP), a national leader in community service for students and the future of hunger relief. CKP empowers the next generation of leaders to implement innovative models for combating hunger, develop food systems and help communities help themselves.

Chef Anthony Mickens cooks turkeys to be served by President Obama.
With a dedicated team of community volunteers, CKWDC recovers about 5,000 pounds of food a month from local MOMs, Chipotle, and farmers markets. Our chef, Anthony Mickens, along with hundreds of community volunteers and students from local universities, turn that food into approximately 1,500 meals a month, which are served to those in need, including the homeless, at risk youth, seniors, and veterans. Learn more here.

While the First Family served the meal, their friends and other family members helped package snacks, toiletries, and other items for the street outreach efforts of Friendship Place and Grate Patrol, our monthly program with the Salvation Army to distribute much-needed resources to people living on the streets throughout the city.

- Dottie Yunger

Monday, November 16, 2015

Stewardship "It's About Time"

“It’s About Time”
In our worship services over the past month, our sermons have focused on the theme “It’s About Time.” The central thesis of the series has been that when we put God and God’s call at the center of our life, and carve out time for what God calls us to do, the other pieces of our life fall into place.  In a world and a city that value “busy-ness,” where our value is determined by the frantic pace of our activity, this is an important truth of which to be mindful.

The plain truth is that how we use our time shows more clearly than almost anything what we value. But most of us spend our time in a haphazard reaction to whatever crisis is in front of us. Setting aside time for God’s work, for prayer, for family, these things give our lives the rhythm that allows us to be pro-active rather than re-active. Once these “big rocks” are in place, the other, less important activities fall into their proper place.

I have been preaching out of our lectionary texts and have structured this sermon series about the five “pillars” of the program life of our church: Praising, Learning, Serving, Caring, and Sharing.  My hope has been that as we have reflected on these broad program areas, that you might have felt a small tug from the Holy Spirit to engage in some area of this work. Many of you are already engaged in one of these ministry areas, and my goal has not been to have you spread yourselves more thinly. If you feel fully engaged and fulfilled by this work, wonderful! If you have been working in a particular area for a while and feel a call to a different area, that may be a sign that there is a different call on your life than before. And if you have been engaged in one of the ministry areas and feel a call to engage more deeply, that too is a gift. But primarily, my hope is that everyone finds a place where the Holy Spirit is calling them to work.

In the same way that putting God first in our time allows the other pieces of our schedule to fall into place, putting God first in our money allows the other pieces of our budget to fall into place. All of our money is God’s, and the question that healthy stewardship asks is “how much of God’s money do I need to keep to live a full and happy life?” When we ask ourselves that question, it is amazing how many things that we thought were essential no longer seem so.

As we have discussed in years past, sacrificial giving (of both our time and our money!) is at the heart of heathy stewardship. On Sunday, November 22, we will gather in the Great Hall at Metropolitan Memorial at 9am and 11:15am for a continental breakfast, worship (with the focus on “A Life of Gratitude”) and Communion. Gathered around small tables, we will discuss our hopes and dreams for our congregation.  We are not mailing pledge cards in advance, and you will receive Stewardship materials that day. You can fill out the Pledge Card then or take it home and reflect and bring or send it back to the church.  We will mail materials on November 23 to those who were not able to be at our Stewardship Brunch.   

I hope that you will read and reflect on both the programmatic and financial materials from Metropolitan. You might start by looking at your checkbook (or its electronic equivalent) and your calendar. They will tell you a lot about where you are currently setting your priorities, and I would encourage you to prayerfully consider where God might be calling you to engage in ministry in a more active way as we work together to live out our Vision of extending radical hospitality, transforming lives, and pursuing justice. 
Blessings,

Charlie Parker

Monday, November 02, 2015

UMW Bazaar - Saturday, November 7



Mark your calendars for the Fall Bazaar!
Saturday, November 7, 8am – 3pm
Why do the United Methodist Women of Metropolitan “Bazaar” each November (yes, we’ve been doing it so long, it’s become a verb)? Bazaar season actually begins in July, when a group of 4 to 6 women gather each Tuesday, for an hour or two, to begin sorting and pricing donations. This weekly ritual of chipping away against a Sisyphean mountain of gently-used merchandise connects us to our roots as United Methodist Women. The UMW of today started in 1869, when two missionary wives shared their witness of the neglected spiritual, medical and educational needs of women and girls in India with a group of only 8 women. From this tiny assembly, a larger, committed group grew, which collected “Pledges to Mission” of 5 cents each – via snail mail! – ultimately raising enough money to send a female educator and a female doctor to India.

As part of our call as a UMW unit, we pledge over $6,000 each year to support the U.S. and international missions sponsored by the wider UMW. These missions intentionally focus on the health and education of women, youth and children (see unitedmethodistwomen.org/what-we-fund).
Our unit also has a tradition of “local” giving in order to support women, youth and children close to home and close to the hearts of our members. Local mission donations have supported organizations like Courtney’s House, a safe haven for trafficked youth; Sasha Bruce Youth Works for homeless youth; Bright Beginnings, childcare and early learning for homeless families; and Health in Harmony, “Saving the Rainforest with a Stethoscope” to name just a few.

But the other reason we love to “Bazaar” is that it’s just plain fun! We get to see friends whom we haven’t seen all year and with whom we keep meaning to catch up. We’re also bound to meet new friends while browsing for “Attic Treasures.” Whether you love to browse or simply relax with a steaming hot cup of Harvest soup and a sandwich, drop by the Bazaar and drop a few nickels on us. You never know how far they’ll go – maybe to India and back.