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. 

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
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.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Washing Dishes...

Originally posted by William Carpenter on his blog Musings of a Reluctant Radical
Campus Kitchen
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 4pm - 7pm I Saturdays 10am - 1pm
St Luke’s Mission Center (3655 Calvert St. NW)

Campus Kitchen needs your help to make meals and recover donated produce and protein we receive from local food operators. We also want to expand our meal delivery program, delivering the meals to our brothers and sisters in Wards 7 and 8 who live in food deserts (over a mile away from a full service grocery store). Want to volunteer? Sign up for shifts here! For more information, contact Rev. Dottie Yunger.

I love washing dishes! At first glance, this would seem to be a pretty silly statement about a pretty mundane task but let me explain. I don’t necessarily love washing dishes in my own home, since it is a pretty dull thing to do however, since I am not fond of eating off of grimy utensils, I wash them.

The dishes I love to wash are not mine.

I am specifically speaking of the volunteering that I have done for a hunger relief program geared toward providing opportunities for college students to learn how to give back to the community by learning how to prepare food for those who might otherwise go hungry. At Campus Kitchen of Washington, DC I have peeled and sliced fruit and vegetables, organized a walk-in freezer/refrigerator, sorted fresh produce as it arrives from local stores and farmers markets and even delivered food to those who serve these hot nutritious meals to those who might not otherwise get a decent meal that day. I have done all these things and yet, my favorite task is washing dishes.

Why? Simple. Washing mounds of pots, pans and utensils is the way that I feel most connected to the whole process of feeding people who don’t have regular access to decent food. How is dish washing a metaphor for caring for the hungry? Let me take you on a journey…

A large metal pot is both a receptacle and a serving dish. Into that pot goes fresh, nutritious ingredients and over time, those ingredients blend together to create a hot, nourishing meal that not only sustains, but also uplifts. People who don’t have a lot cannot generally afford the kinds of foods that are prepared by Campus Kitchen. Most of the food that comes to CK is organically grown produce and free range, organic meats. This kind of food is very expensive however, because of marketing considerations retailers find that many times, perfectly good food must be pulled off the shelf. Certain retailers and farmers markets are unwilling to throw away what is very safe and edible food and so they donate that food to those working to mitigate hunger.

This is how Campus Kitchen is able to operate. Good food, past its prime but perfectly safe and delicious, is donated to CK whose volunteers and paid staff then prep, prepare, and distribute to those in need. It really is a pretty awesome system. Good food comes in and good food goes out. The same is true of a big metal pot: good food goes in and good food comes out. So how is dish washing connected to this process? Simple: without a clean, well maintained pot, none of this would be possible.

Just because Campus Kitchen is a hunger relief organization, it is not exempt from the requirements for food safety that are mandated by state and local governments. CK uses a nationally recognized food safety protocol for ensuring that what is produced in the kitchen is not only nourishing but safe to consume. A key component of food safety is clean cooking implements.

An unclean pot has two problems: 1) pots, pans and cooking utensils that are not thoroughly cleaned retain particles of food which, over time, will eventually create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. 2) food residue that is left on the inside AND outside of a pot builds up and eventually creates a barrier to heat conduction, which then allows for cool spots, which then requires higher heat to cook the food, which then can lead to not only energy waste but then allows for uneven cooking which creates either under or overcooked food. So you see, a clean pot is pretty important in producing safe, nutritious and delicious food to feed the body.

This food also feeds the spirit, for when people know that someone cared enough to produce a really delicious meal that they trust is safe, they feel cared for and even loved. Don’t believe me: when was the last time someone you cared about took the time to prepare food for you and you did not feel special. I still have fond memories of my mother preparing her annual batches of pecan sandie’s for Christmas time and try as I might, they never taste quite as good as the ones she made, even though I use the same recipe. They were simply better because my mother made them and I knew that my mom cared about me. I still miss mom’s cookies. Maybe that’s why I wash dishes. My mom and my dad taught me that if I said I would do something that I was to do my best, regardless of the job. And so, I wash dishes. I wash dishes and take the time and care necessary to make them sparkle. My mom would approve.

Now, washing dishes does not make me a star in the kitchen, since we all know that not many people pay attention to the person in the corner slaving over a hot sink, they pay attention to the person slaving over the hot stove. This is how it should be. The person slaving over the hot stove is tasked with producing those delicious meals and making certain that everything that goes out of the kitchen is safe, nutritious and on time. That person is under the gun constantly. The old guy in the corner who is working over the hot sink is under no such pressure and yet, with just a bit of reflection, he understands that he is a part of this process, his contributions are important and what he produces matters.

I am content to wash the dishes. I am content to contribute in a small way to a greater purpose. I understand that I am not the chef and that I am not responsible for what ultimately happens in the kitchen and yet, I feel a keen sense of purpose each time a grab a scrub pad and attack a particularly crusty bit of food build up. The chef depends on a clean pot…and hungry people depend on a dedicated chef…and God expects us all to do our part to make the world better, even when it’s not very glamorous.

Now, could you please pass me that steel wool, this is a really nasty stain…

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Serving Pillar at The Metropolitan Church

The Serving Pillar extends radical hospitality, transforms lives, and pursues justice through service, mission, and advocacy. Each act builds the kingdom of God and deepens our relationships with one another and with God. Each act of mercy, each act of justice is a meaningful worship experience, and each is another faithful step in our individual and collective discipleship journey.

The Serving Pillar addresses issues of hunger, homelessness, sustainability, and reconciliation of relationships through integrated approaches meant to unlock complex problems and unjust systems in our city and around the world. There are many ways to serve, and you are invited to prayerfully consider where God is calling you to engage.

Some of the ways you can serve, this weekend or any day of the week includes:

Campus Kitchen at Washington, DC. Campus Kitchen DC increases food security among vulnerable populations and reduces food waste by focusing on food recovery.We are partnering with area universities, local churches and businesses, and community members to recover food that would otherwise go to waste, prepare nutritionally appropriate meals, and deliver them to those in need of increased food security. CKDC has several shifts a week (Tuesday-Thursday, 4-7pm, Saturdays 10am-1pm) for meal prep and cooking, meal delivery, and food recovery. We have expanded the clients we serve to, especially in Wards 7 & 8. CKDC now provides the food for Grate Patrol twice a month — on the last Monday of the month and the first Sunday of the month — bringing together Metropolitan, Wesley, AU, and SLMC in this ministry and providing a hot, cooked meal for the Salvation Army clients. For more information and sign up, contact Rev. Dottie Yunger or visit

East Capitol Urban Farm. On September 26, the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) began construction of an urban food hub in Ward 7 of the District of Columbia, directly adjacent to the Capitol Heights Metro on East Capitol St NE. Thirty people from Metropolitan Memorial, Wesley, SLMC, and AU joined nearly 1000 community folks to build the East Capitol Urban Farm with UDC and the DC Building Industry Association (DCBIA). The first of its kind and scale in the nation, this urban food hub will provide fresh produce and protein to residents in this food desert, while also producing opportunities for employment, entrepreneurship, and education in the community. Learn more below:
Metropolitan supported the community farm section of the urban farm. Planters are set at different heights to address accessibility issues and to be manageable by young and old alike. Benches and a shaded area are provided. The space will include a storage and prep area for nearby residents and students, and the harvest from the individual plots/planters is for the residents to either eat or sell on-site at the farmers market, providing entrepreneurial opportunities within the community. Metropolitan has also provided support for stipends for at-risk youth who will be trained how to manage and operate the urban farm, partnering with Groundwork Anacostia RiverDC.

Saturday, October 17 is the second build day, to finish what we started on Sept. 26! We need YOU again! Please come out and join us and bring a friend! The address is 5900 East Capitol Street, SE, from 8am until finished!

Tyler Rusch Homeless Walk. This Sunday, October 18, is our annual Tyler Rusch Homeless Walk. Every fall, the entire Metropolitan community—young and old—demonstrates their support for Metropolitan's homeless ministry by participating in the walk. The walk route starts at Metropolitan Memorial and proceeds through the neighborhoods surrounding the church. This annual fundraising event is the principal source of funding for Metropolitan House homeless shelter, raising over $200,000 since 2000. Last year, walkers and other donors contributed over $21,000! The event is held in honor of Tyler Rusch, an 18-year-old member of Metropolitan and a dedicated Metropolitan House volunteer who died in a tragic automobile accident in 2003. Walk at 10:10am or 12:15pm at Metropolitan Memorial, or on October 25 at 12:15am at Wesley UMC.

For more information about any of these ministries, or how you can serve, contact Rev. Dottie Yunger.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cross-river partnership targets homelessness in DC

Cross-river partnership targets homelessness in DC
By Erik Alsgaard 
In Washington D.C.’s Ward 8, near what is now Brighter Day UMC, an abandoned apartment complex that once housed more than 1,000 residents sits empty. Parkway Overlook, with 266 apartments, has been vacant since 2007, when the property failed safety inspections.
This complex is not alone. They are called “abandomoniums” and they dot the Washington, D.C., landscape, especially east of the Anacostia River. Some United Methodist and civic leaders, instead of seeing blight and decay, see opportunity, especially as it relates to alleviating chronic homelessness in the District.

And so it was that a group of interfaith leaders gathered in what used to be busy and bustling streets to pray just outside the fenced and locked gates of Parkway Overlook. They came following a worship service at Brighter Day that highlighted the need – and the opportunity – to be in ministry.
“We’re trying to call attention to the need for affordable housing in our city,” said the Rev. Earnest Lyles, pastor at Brighter Day. “This property has been vacant since 2007 and we want the city to move expeditiously in getting this property developed so that our citizens will have an affordable place to live.”

According to the “Homelessness in Washington, D.C.,” report (May 2015), 11,623 people were homeless in the nine regions that comprise the Metropolitan D.C. area when the Jan. 28 “enumeration” was taken. This represented a 2.7 percent drop in one year, the report stated. In the District itself, homelessness declined by 6 percent from 2014, with 7,298 people listed as “homeless.” Still, that number is 11 percent higher than the 2011 enumeration, the report noted.
“A lack of affordable, permanent housing opportunities remains the most significant and persistent obstacle to ending homelessness in our region,” the report states. “Increases in the region’s already high rents make it very difficult for extremely low income households to find or maintain housing that they can afford.”

For the Rev. Charlie Parker, senior pastor at Metropolitan Memorial UMC in Washington, the day’s events were a way to keep the process moving. Metropolitan, which is in partnership with Brighter Day, has made ending homelessness in the District one of its ministry priorities.

“We started this two years ago,” he said, noting that the mayor of D.C. and other government officials were present. “There was a lot of exciting, initial movement, and then it’s sputtered since.”
Parker and Lyles decided that an event of some sort was needed to “kick-start” the process again, and more than 100 people gathered that Sunday afternoon to worship and hear from former residents of Parkway Overlook about the need for affordable housing.

As a result, even before the worship service occurred, “as soon as the invitations were sent out to the mayor and the D.C. City Council,” Parker said, “that week, the D.C. Housing Authority called and said that they had the pre-development work all finished.” A meeting between former residents and city officials also occurred, Parker said.

Parker also stressed the importance of this event as highlighting what he called “cross-river partnerships.”

“I really do think that this is a model that we would love to see other churches in our connection replicate,” he said. “It’s been a great, great gift.”

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A New Direction for Metropolitan House

Tyler Rusch Homeless Walk - Sunday October 18, 10am and 12:30pm
Walk with us to support our homeless shelter. Over the years, this fundraiser has raised over a quarter of a million dollars to support the work of Metropolitan House and other homeless ministries of our church. Walk times are at 10am and 12:30pm. Registration fee is $25/adults and $15/people under 25 years of age.

A New Direction for Metropolitan House

Each fall for the past 23 years, we have prepared to open the doors of Metropolitan House to a new group of men. This year, we are preparing for a new beginning of a different sort. For the past two summers, we have piloted a program that provides transitional housing at Metropolitan House for four women. It is modeled on the highly successful “vocational rehabilitation” model we instituted in partnership with Friendship Place at our St. Luke’s Shelter in 2012.

The Metropolitan House Board of Directors has decided to explore with Friendship Place offering the women’s program at Metropolitan House on a year-round basis. Planning discussions are ongoing and we hope to finalize a revised partnership agreement soon. In brief, our intent is to house men at our St. Luke’s Mission Center and women at Metropolitan Memorial. Both programs would be managed by the Metropolitan House Board working in partnership with Friendship Place’s AIMHire employment program. Both shelters would provide 24-hour-a-day access to residents, making it easier for them to work nights or jobs with odd hours, and more autonomy and flexibility to encourage the development of independent living skills. Based on our experience at St. Luke’s, we expect that we would be able to serve many, many more individuals because the intensive support provided by AIMHire has cut the average shelter stay to about 3 months. The success rate in transitioning residents into jobs and permanent housing has been more than 95 percent!

As we explore this new approach, we remain committed to one of the founding principles of our homeless ministry, which is providing ways for church and community members to be engaged in hands-on, person-to-person ministry with their unhoused neighbors. As we refine our new program model, we will be sharing ways that you can volunteer by providing meals and supplies, taking part in community meals, mentoring, and social events with residents of both Metropolitan House and our St. Luke’s Mission Center, or helping with upkeep and maintenance tasks. But one significant change is that the new program model will not rely on volunteers for overnight staffing.

It has been more than two decades since Metropolitan Memorial and St. Luke’s made the bold decision to open our buildings and our hearts to our homeless neighbors. In moving to this new approach, we reaffirm our long-standing commitment to serving the homeless while also bringing our programs more in line with today’s standards for effective homeless services.
Metropolitan House will be open to visitors on Sunday, October 18, the day of our annual Tyler Rusch Homeless Walk. We encourage you to stop by and learn how you can be involved.

Ann Michel

Monday, October 05, 2015

East Capitol Urban Farm

Please Join Us at a Special Opportunity for
Inter-Generational Work in Our City.
Community Improvement Day - Saturday, October 17
East Capitol Urban Farm (5900 East Capitol St. SE)
First of all, thank you! Thanks to all our many partners & friends, our East Capitol Urban Farm Build Day was a huge success. On Saturday, ground was broken on the East Capitol Street Urban Farm, which is an Urban Food Hub. Countless partner organizations and neighborhood groups brought together close to 1000 volunteers who transformed a vacant corner lot into a fabulous community-oriented project consisting of a farming space, community gardens, rain gardens, a nature trail, playground, and community art space. The joint effort was a model community oriented partnership that will measurably improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of people and communities in the District of Columbia.

We completed about the 75% of the work on Saturday, September 26. We will complete the remainder on Saturday, October 17. We need YOU again! We also need volunteers to help water and maintain the site on a continual basis. The tasks of watering and maintenance can begin immediately.

In coming weeks you will hear much more from us regarding site activities, educational opportunities, programs offered on site, and special events. Thanks again for being a integral part of this effort! Together, we can make a difference.

Please come out and join us on October 17 and bring a friend! For more information, contact Rev. Dottie Yunger.