Posts

Becoming Members

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Salem is receiving new members on Sunday, May 13. Sixteen people have been fulfilling the requirements and responsibilities of membership and are ready to step up and help take responsibility for Salem.  When we receive the new members during worship, there’s a moment when the people in the congregation renew their membership vows, as well. Because of that, I want remind you of those membership responsibilities. Members are people who have professed faith in Jesus, been baptized, completed the membership orientation, and regularly practice spiritual disciplines to worship, grow, serve, give, and share. What does that that look like? Members worship each Sunday (9 or 11 AM) unless they are sick or out of town. Worshiping weekly gives them an opportunity to gather with others to love God, offering praise, honor, and glory; to hear what the Lord God says to the by reading scripture; and to speak their prayers to the Lord. It’s an incredibly powerful moment to re-center their lives in commu…

A Decision Will Be Made About Our Future

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It is incumbent upon me to clearly communicate what’s happening in the wider United Methodist Church. Salem may be required to make a big decision in another year, depending on what happens next February at a specially called General Conference.  In 2016, the every-four-year General Conference decided not to take up any legislation related to homosexuality. Currently, The United Methodist Church declares that all individuals are of sacred worth but the practice of homosexuality (so not homosexual people themselves) is incompatible with Christian scripture and tradition. Further, the church prevents clergy from officiating at same-sex unions, teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman, and prohibits the ordination of self-professed practicing homosexuals. Rather than voting on these matters again in 2016, the bishops were authorized to form the Commission on a Way Forward to help our denomination discern what to do in the midst of our differences around human sexuality. The Commi…

Discipleship Pathway

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Our church’s mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Our Annual Conference, the connection of United Methodist congregations in Iowa, has set the goal of every church developing a process for intentionally forming disciples of Jesus by 2020. At Salem we began this process with our Healthy Church Initiative consultation back in September 2013. We were given a prescription to develop a discipleship pathway for all ages. Therefore in 2014 we created and implemented a path for people to follow in order to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ, to become like Jesus. As an aside, John Wesley, the founder of our Methodist movement, defined a disciple as having a heart habitually filled with love of God and neighbor, and having the mind of Christ and walking as Jesus walked. At Salem we imagined our discipleship pathway as a meal, offering just a bite, a more filling portion, the entrĂ©e, and dessert. Each part of the meal has it’s place. So we created a menu…

State of the Church

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How are we doing with our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world?Each year, in assessing the state of Salem, we take a look at some benchmark statistics. 2017 has been another fruitful year! Our membership now includes 242 professing adults. We also have 45 baptized infants and children— so 287 total.  This past year we lost 17 members as 5 died, 3 transferred to other congregations, and 9 were withdrawn. We received 5 new members. That means we have now received 114 new members since arriving at our current location a little over seven years ago!  Additionally, we have about a hundred active non-members. That means we actually have closer to 400 people who are a part of Salem. As part of our mission to make disciples of Jesus who transform the world, we essentially carry out four actions: reaching out, connecting, forming, and sending. Reach. Our Outreach Team leads us to reach out to others with activities such as our Easter Egg Hung, Trunk or Treat, Cleaning …

I Am a Writer. There, That Was Easy!

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This is my tenth year at Salem. So much has been accomplished since the flood of 2008 changed Salem’s course. It's encouraging sometimes to step back and reminisce. Pastors have the privilege of requesting and planning a period of time for personal renewal and growth each year. Normally, that period is two weeks for each appointed year. Once every four years, however, the renewal is expanded to one full month. I previously received this renewal leave in 2008 before coming to Salem and then in 2013. I am overdue and proposed last fall that I take my renewal leave in early 2018. The Leadership Board and, subsequently, the District Superintendent approved this. Therefore, I am currently on leave from January 15 through February 13. I will return to work on February 14, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  During this time, I am writing about my own and Salem’s experience with the 2008 flood and rebuilding the church. In short, I'm writing about saying no. When I went back to sc…

What's Going Well?

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I sat down a couple weeks ago with our district superintendent, Rev. Kiboko Kiboko, for my annual professional interview. We prayed together. We talked about Salem and my ministry and my family. He asked a wonderful question: “What’s going well?” I thought of so many things. Salem is a great congregation with wonderful people. We continue to reach out and receive many new people. Worship gatherings are passionate, lively, and engaging. We are tweaking our discipleship pathway and working on engaging people in discipleship and service. We created a MAP (ministry action plan) for the congregation. We have built a wonderful, new facility and are working on paying the debt (about $1 million). We're in the midst of our second capital campaign. Giving continues to increase and we are getting closer to paying 100% of our general church apportionments again, supporting the ministry and mission of The United Methodist Church around the world (we've been working on this since recovering f…

Living Life Together

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On a Thursday afternoon, Gary is trying to leave work. It’s been a busy week, but he wants to get out of there so he can make it on time to his small group. Honestly, to begin with, he wasn’t all that excited about being in a small group. His wife, Karen, kept asking him about participating in one together, and the preacher kept talking about how important it is for discipleship. So he finally agreed. But after they made the commitment to gather with a small group of people regularly, he soon discovered it was one of the highlights of his week.  In fact, it changed his life. In his small group, he began to talk about his spiritual life—the ups and downs, joys and struggles, questions and doubts. Others shared what was happening in their lives. They began to live out the practices of discipleship, especially praying for one another. He was stretched in his relationship with the Lord, but he felt such peace. He grew in all his other relationships, too. Not just with Karen, his small grou…