Archive for Pastor’s Blog – Page 2

Beautiful Music // Música Hermosa

Crazy Man, Crazy!

“O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” Psalm 96:1

There is story that dates back to at least the fifties and the “beat” generation about a really cool dude who happened to wander into a very dignified church one Sunday morning. He was met by the pastor after the service, and he grabbed the pastor’s hand, and he said, “Hey, daddy, I really dug it.”

The pastor said, “Uh, excuse me, young man, I’m afraid I don’t quite understand.” So the goateed guest said, “Listen, cat, it was cool, it was gone, man, it really blew my mind!”

This really shook the pastor, and he said, “Could you explain what you mean?” “Well, dad, what I mean is, I really went for what you had to say, so much that I put fifty pieces of bread in the collection plate!”

All of a sudden, the pastor’s face lit up and he said, “Crazy, man, crazy!”

Sometimes we forget how exciting church can be. Our congregation has been involved in serving our community and beyond, since it started on the banks of the Pajaro River in 1852. Part of our past includes making beautiful music. Here’s an article by Jane Borg, Hal Hyde and Marilyn Hyde about the following photo, which we hope will inspire you to join us, as we sing to the Lord a new song!

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Our photo shows the Watsonville Methodist Sunday School Orchestra, organized in February 1905. In those times, “Sunday Schools” were very large, partly to encourage their meeting in outlying districts, especially during the winter. Overall Church membership was large and Methodists were very interested in music, so a group of this size could be organized. Some participants probably played in other Watsonville music groups, too, such as the high school orchestra, Watsonville City band, or women’s orchestra and band. In addition to church programs, orchestra members could have played in parades, given concerts at the “Opera House,” or performed at the downtown Watsonville Plaza bandstand.

At the time of this photo, the First United Methodist Church was located at the corner of Fourth Street (now West Beach Street) and Rodriguez Street, near downtown Watsonville and the city plaza. The orchestra probably practiced in the Sunday School rooms in the annex behind the church sanctuary.

This photo included Watsonville civic leader, H.A. Hyde (back row, last right), a Methodist and conductor of the Watsonville City band for many years. His descendants continue to worship with us today. Other early members of the church who could be identified are Mr. Clarence Perry, Mrs. Heron, Miss Dora Bliss, Miss Lucy Bliss, Mr. Fred Dempsey and Mr. Buckhart.

 

The Backpack Project // El Proyecto Mochila

It’s time again to gear up for our Backpack Project!

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Every fall when school starts, children ask the pastor, do you have an extra backpack? Do you have any paper, pencils or pens I can use? Many of the families in our community do not have the resources to buy what their families need for school, and unlike the old days, schools no longer can afford to supply their needs. That’s where our church comes in!

Last year we partnered with the Aptos Community United Methodist Church to collect over a $1,000 to fill 70 backpacks filled with school supplies for children and youth in our community. The list of supplies needed for school is long and detailed, including paper, glue, scissors, notebooks and binders. Once the money is collected, retired teacher Ruth Landmann (from Aptos UMC) contacts our local school district, and buys what the schools require.

After the giveaway last year, we also gave away additional backpacks to kids in need at Hall Elementary School (via Joan C.,) needy college students at Humboldt State University during “UndocuWeek of Awareness,” (via Stephane P.,) and a Tanzania school in Africa funded by Rotary International (via Tom A., Aptos UMC.)

Your generosity reached around the world!

In preparation for our Backpack Sunday (and the free giveaway) this year at our church on Sunday, August 17th after worship, volunteers will join the Aptos Community United Methodist Church, 221 Thunderbird Drive, to stuff the backpacks at 9:00 am, Saturday, August 9th. If you’d like to help please come! If you’d like to contribute funds, just remember to write Backpack Project on the memo line of your check, or if you are donating cash, please put it in an envelope labeled Backpack Project, and turn it into our church office or the offering plate on Sunday.

Change the World Weekend // Fin de Semana para Cambiar el Mundo

“Oh, God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service! I’m ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice and pray in the name of God. I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do, and I’ll do it in company with his people….” Psalm 116:13-18, The Message

Jesus taught us to serve. Serve your neighbor, change the world. It’s that simple. Ask yourself: Are you more interested in being served in church, or are you more interested in becoming a servant in the church? There’s a big difference.

I heard a story once about a group of young children, who were sitting in a circle with their teacher. She was going around asking each of them questions.

“Davy, what noise does a cow make?” He said, “It goes moo.” “Alice, what noise does a cat make?” “It goes meow,” she answered. “Jamie, what sound does a lamb make?” “It goes baa,” he said. “Jennifer, what sound does a mouse make?” Without hesitation she answered, “It goes click!”

And she’s right; that’s what a computer mouse does. That little girl is dealing with change, and she doesn’t even know it. Here at Watsonville First United Methodist church, we strive to face change head on. We look for opportunities to share our ministry with strangers, whatever it takes. We want to become servants of God in new ways.

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This year, the hands of thousands across our nation will join together in service during Change the World weekend, May 17-18. And we will, too!

Many women do not have swaddling clothes with which to welcome their child into the world. Distributed by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR,) Layette kits provide basic supplies for their baby’s needs. This year for Change the World Weekend, we are collecting the supplies needed for UMCOR Layette kits. This is a great opportunity for us to work together to help those in need. Are you ready to change the world?

For more details regarding the Layette kits we’ll be assembling, or to sew a Layette nightgown, call the church office for more details or find it online. We will collect the necessary supplies and then assemble the kits for UMCOR on Sunday, May 18th, and continue to collect supplies thereafter!

Wonderful Small Groups // Pequeños Grupos Maravillosos

By the numbers, Watsonville First United Methodist Church // Primera Iglesia Metodista Unida de Watsonville, isn’t a large church. But in small groups we are mighty.

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What does it take to have a thriving small group ministry?…

Check it out in the Pastor’s blog on the California-Nevada Annual Conference Website!

 

You Gotta Be Kidding

I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard it said that God answers prayer in four basic ways: yes, no, wait, or “you gotta be kidding!” Maybe that’s how it is for some of us, when we try to wrap our minds around the story of Jesus’ resurrection, after his horrible, violent death on a cross. You gotta be kidding!

Of course, that’s the power and mystery and joy of Easter all rolled into one, and it’s why Christians like us celebrate the way we do. We can’t explain it in scientific terms, but we’re okay with that because we know the truth of the gospel, that Jesus lives—Jesus lives in us.

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That’s why we plan to celebrate big time, as we worship God on Easter Sunday, singing and ringing, praising and praying our joyful thanks for the wonderful gift of the living Christ. That’s why we color Easter eggs, and decorate our altar with lovely lilies. That’s why we do what we do on this special day to honor our Lord and Savior.

And it’s wonderful!

You see, Easter means there’s new life and hope and possibilities galore for even the most hardened, cynical, lost and lonely—which pretty much includes all of us at one time or the other. Even the pastor! As United Methodist preacher Billy D. Strayhorn puts it, “What we need to remember is that Jesus didn’t die on the Cross for the perfect. Jesus didn’t die for the Godly. Jesus didn’t die for the good. If so, none of us would have had a chance. Jesus died for the imperfect, ungodly, sinners like us.”

We welcome you to church this Sunday, and every other Sunday, too. Why? Because Christ is risen, Christ is risen indeed!

All Means All

Jesus did not say, “This is my commandment, that you love a few people like yourselves.” Or that you love the people you think are worthy, the most famous, or the wealthiest, or whatever criteria you use to cut out the rest of humanity.” That’s not what Jesus meant by love at all!

Within our United Methodist Church, there is a new, non-clergy (what we call laity) movement which declares that enough is enough when it comes to discriminating against gays, lesbians and others. This group has publicly committed to a declaration of inclusion, which reads:

“We… declare that no one will be denied the services of our church because of sexual orientation. This includes the use of our property for same-sex marriages and holy unions.”

“This action is in accordance with the United Methodist Book of Discipline which states… “We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God.” [And that] “All persons, regardless of age, gender, marital status or sexual orientation are entitled to have their human and civil rights ensured…. “We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends….””

 “Therefore, we commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons because we understand that each individual is of sacred worth. We do this in a spirit of biblical obedience as we practice the radical hospitality of Jesus Christ.”  (For more information see Declare Inclusion UMC!)

And what’s the news in this you ask? Glory, glory hallelujah, on Feb. 9th our Leadership Circle voted unanimously for us to become part of this movement! This is an historic and significant commitment on the part of our church, and an important step in the right direction.

Let us pray that our international and national church comes to understand that all really means all, and that we move quickly towards full inclusion and acceptance of LGBTQ people. And may we the people of Watsonville First United Methodist Church continue to courageously support love in action for all people!

 

AR and Fred Pointer: 2014 Hunger Fighters of the Year!

“… for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me….” Matthew 25:35

AR and Fred Pointer, longtime leaders of Watsonville First United Methodist Church, have been chosen by Second Harvest Food Bank as 2014 Hunger Fighters of the year. Congratulations! AR and Fred have been passionate about fighting hunger for as long as I have known them. They spearhead the efforts of our church to support hungry people in every way we can.

Second Harvest Food Bank Annual Awards DINNER Announcement for (Small)As members of the Advisory Committee of the South County Winter Shelter Program, AR and Fred have been active participants in the weekly winter meal program provided by the City of Watsonville through the Salvation Army. They set up and maintain our yearly schedule, obtain food, organize the food storage area, pantry and kitchen, and coordinate volunteer teams of cooks and helpers from our church, as well as from other organizations in our community, to cook and serve meals every Saturday night. Wow!

AR & Fred have also volunteered directly at Second Harvest for years. They have been instrumental in getting the Food For Children program into our neighborhood, where we provide Second Harvest food and fresh produce in our back parking lot on the first Thursday of the month for up to 80 families. They meet with the families, obtain necessary paperwork and identification, and then help individuals carry the food to their cars.

AR and Fred Pointer have dedicated themselves to helping those in need, especially the hungry and the homeless. Working with Second Harvest Food Bank, they inspire our church and community to become the hunger fighters God calls us to be.

Truly, AR & Fred Pointer have been instrumental in making our mission to serve others a reality! What a blessing. I hope you’ll consider attending their awards dinner in Santa Cruz on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. Call the church office for more details, or online.

 

 

 

SOUPER Bowl of Caring // SOUPER Bowl de Cuidado

Tackle Hunger on Sunday, February 2nd

Following Jesus is never a sport for sissies. It fact it can be pretty hard sometimes! To me, following Jesus means doing something more than just sitting for an hour in church on Sunday morning. Jesus calls us to live out our faith in concrete ways with people we haven’t even met yet.

Of course, that’s precisely why we enjoy changing a football game into the Souper Bowl—spell it with me now—S-O-U-P-E-R Bowl of caring, Souper Bowl de Cuidado.

We support the kids (and others!) holding up soup pots for donations after worship, because it gives us an opportunity to give and give generously. We know how important Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County is to Watsonville, and we want to show how much we care right here and right now.

Why do we do it? We want to do what Jesus said to do!  Join us in celebrating the SOUPER Bowl of Caring on Sunday, February 2nd!

P.S. Donations gratefully received year round!!  Designate your check SOUPER BOWL or bring your donated food items and help us fill our food barrels for Second Harvest Food Bank.

Gabby tackles hunger

Gabby tackles hunger

Christmas is almost here!

 “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” Isaiah 11:6

Christmas is almost here!  What is most on our minds?  For many of us, the holiday season is full of too much eating, too much entertaining, too much spending, and too much of the gimmies!  What’s a believer to do?  

“On November 8, 2013, Typhoon Haiyan, possibly the strongest storm to ever reach land, devastated parts of the Philippines.  Ahead of the storm, the United Methodist Committee on Relief had teams in the Philippines laying the groundwork for a quick response.  UMCOR is now coordinating a long-term plan. Denise Honeycutt, Deputy General Secretary of UMCOR, says “UMCOR is really the local church at work in the world.”  UMCOR asks that prayers and dollars keep coming.”   www.umc.org/philippines-typhoon

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Maybe we need to get back to basics.  A little child shall lead us. 

Recently, we celebrated Filipino Sunday.  On that day during blessings, a little eight-year-old girl in our church came forward.  She explained that she wanted to help the people hurt by the Typhoon.  With the support of her family, she’d made bracelets out of tiny rubber bands the colors of the flag of the Philippines. 

Inspired by her example, a special offering was taken.  After worship, other children pitched in to help. 

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The following weekend other leaders in our church held a yard sale on the front lawn of the church.  Friends and members donated used items to sell, and folks spent hours getting ready.  All funds collected were given to UMCOR.

Continue to pray!  And if you haven’t given yet, please donate to International Disaster Response, Advance #982450, to support UMCOR Philippines staff and volunteers as they work tirelessly to provide assistance to those in need. Please write checks to Watsonville First United Methodist Church, designated to Advance #982450, or go online to donate: www.umcor.org   You can also text the word UMCOR to 80888 to give an immediate $10 donation.

 

Extravagant Generosity: The Heart of Giving

“I give thanks to the Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify God’s name forever!”
Psalm 86:12

Here at Watsonville First United Methodist Church, we believe that healthy stewardship is not concerned with how much money we have, but with what we do with what we have. Extravagant generosity is always at the heart of giving.

Speaking of generosity reminds me of one day at church, when the ushers came down the aisle to take up the offering. Little Kathy asked her mom what was happening. “They’re taking the offering and when they get here you can put your dollar in the offering plate,” her mother answered. Anxiously, Kathy replied, “But this dollar is for Jesus.”

Mom explained how, by putting her dollar in the plate she was giving it to Jesus, because of the many ways in which her gift would be used to spread God’s Word. As the plate came down her row, Kathy carefully placed her dollar in the plate, then turned to her mother and asked, “If that money is for Jesus, why wasn’t there more in the plate?” Why indeed?

Stewardship is a polite way of talking about something we don’t like to talk about, and that’s our money. When it comes to giving, we say sure, I want to be generous, but cold hard cash is another matter. The question is, are we really generous? I think it’s harder for most of us to give from the heart than we’d care to admit.

And what is generosity, anyway?

We know God wants us to live together with one heart and soul, and that means being generous, with our time, our talents and our financial gifts. Generosity starts with humility, along with a healthy dose of thankfulness and love. Generosity is putting our love into action. Or to put it another way, is this our church, or God’s church? Is it my bank account, my car, and all my stuff, mine and all mine? Or should I see it differently than that?

Generosity is the opposite of selfishness, self-centeredness, and greed. We all want to live a devout, righteous life, a life of wonder, faith, love, steadiness, courtesy, giving generously in the name of the Lord to our beloved church. We ask that you prayerfully consider your giving.  Please sign a 2014 Pledge Card and return it to church on Thanksgiving Sunday, November 24th, or mail it in if you’ll be away.  We thank God for your commitment!

Shalom,

Rev. Robin Mathews-Johnson
Pastor