Monday, October 22, 2012

Pasadena area Crop Walk

37th Annual Pasadena Area Crop Walk is slated to take place Sunday, October 28th, 2012.

CROP Hunger Walks are community-wide events sponsored by Church World Service and organized by local volunteers to raise funds to end hunger.

Each year, First UMC Pasadena has participated in the Pasadena/Altadena Crop Walk. Join our youth and families and walk together to bring awareness about hunger in our world community.  The Walk is a 5K loop.

This years event will take place in Altadena at
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
1014 E. Altadena Dr,
Altadena CA 91101. 

Registration begins at 1:00 pm, with the walk to follow at 1:30 to 3:00 pm.

25% of the funds raised are shared with the following local hunger-fighting agencies including:
•    ACTS Food Pantry
•    Bad Weather Shelter (ECPAC)
•    Holy Family Giving Bank
•    St Vincent de Paul at St. Elizabeth
•    Friends In Deed
•    Foothill Unity Center

CROP Hunger Walks help children and families worldwide - and right here in the U.S. - to have food for today, while building for a better tomorrow.  Our local efforts are making a huge difference... and you are part of it! 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

FUMC Pasadena Arts Committee invites you...

The FUMC Pasadena Arts Committee invites you to enjoy all of the wonderful events coming up at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena.

Family Pageant Prop Workshop November 3rd
The Arts Committee invites families and other FUMC friends are invited to come work under the guidance of Doug Rogers to make props and costume bits for our children’s Christmas pageant.  We will begin at 9 am on Saturday 11/3 in Great Hall and work through the morning.  Light breakfast will be provided.  There should be lots of fun paper mache and other opportunities for kids and parents and friends to help with.

Ernie Ozsvath Art Show November 4th
The Arts Committee invites you to a show of the pen and ink art of Ernie Ozsvath will be shared during coffee hour on Sunday 11/4.  Enjoy his detail designs of Porsche vehicles and local Pasadena buildings.

Family Fall Floral Workshop November 11th
The Arts Committee invites you to come make a floral arrangement using dried and fresh flowers to use during the Thanksgiving season.  The workshop will be in the Grades 2-4 Sunday School room on Sunday, 11/11 at 12 noon for a cost of $7 per arrangement.  Fun for both kids and adults!  Sign up during coffee hour.

Christmas Eclectic Concert December 11th
Tuesday, December 11, the Arts Committee and the Drama Committee invite friends and families to a concert and storytelling in the Chapel.  Children can wear pjs and enjoy hot chocolate, cookies and a book gift.  Handbells, traditional stories including “The Velveteen Rabbit” and more will be on the program.

Children’s Fall Habitat for Humanities Mission Project
Be on the lookout for our Sunday School children bake sales on November 4th and 11th as they raise money to support Habitat for Humanity.  They will also be collecting spare change in their Habitat houses.

Art in our Lives - Creche Display
Once again, the Arts Committee will be sponsoring a creche display during Advent on Sunday, December 23, during coffee hour.  Please consider sharing a traditional creche that your family enjoys. 

Contact for more information on all of the events above.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I’m Thankful I’m A Methodist

by Mikala L. Rahn

Lately I have been in a cycle of spiritual re-awakening. I am re-embracing what it means to be Methodist. I grew up Lutheran, but was married at FUMC as I joined the Rahn Family. As a current Lay Leader of the church, I have been drawn to the Book of Discipline and how it may speak to me, and the congregation.
As many of you know I work daily in my life on social justice issues. Creating a school for high school dropouts has put me face to face with issues of poverty. I live with the poor, and it’s an honor and hardship I am blessed to be called to do. Some of my toughest moments have been with the criminal justice system. Our system is very broken.  I have sat with many crying mothers as their children rely on public defenders, faced with tough sentencing laws, and little room for forgiveness. Luckily, in the many court cases I have been a part of, I have not experienced a student murdering another (only attempted). I have had to have difficult conversations about consequences, self-forgiveness, and reminding the convicted that they are children of God, no matter what.

At the top of our system of punishment is the death penalty, which affects our approach to sentencing. We are the only industrial nation that continues to have the death penalty. On Sunday, the 300th person on death row in the US was proven innocent by DNA evidence. I believe the hardest task we have as Christians is forgiveness. Forgiveness of ourselves and others. It’s the hard work we are called to do. I am proud that the United Methodist Church for over 50 years has declared its opposition to the retention and use of capital punishment and urges its abolition. In spite of a common assumption to the contrary, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,” does not give justification for the imposing of the penalty of death. Jesus explicitly repudiated retaliation (Matthew 5:38-39).

The Book of Discipline (Par. 164G) states,
 “We believe the death penalty denies the power of Christ to redeem, restore and transform all human beings. The United Methodist Church is deeply concerned about crime throughout the world and the value of any life taken by a murder or homicide. We believe all human life is sacred and created by God and therefore, we must see all human life as significant and valuable. When governments implement the death penalty (capital punishment), then the life of the convicted person is devalued and all possibility of change in that person’s life ends. We believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that the possibility of reconciliation with Christ comes through repentance. This gift of reconciliation is offered to all individuals without exception and gives all life, new dignity and sacredness. For this reason, we oppose the death penalty (capital punishment) and urge its elimination from all criminal codes.”

I am thankful I am a Methodist. I pray for Policy change.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Reconciliation and Forgiveness

by J.P. Harris

Almost a year ago, our congregation affirmed, by over 80%, that we would become a member of the Reconciling Ministries Network. This meant that we would openly express, in an outward and visible way, that all are welcome in our congregation, including persons that identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. All meant all. Although that vote was inclusive of members of the LGBT community, it was not meant to be exclusively for them.

As Christians, we are in constant need to reconcile with God, other Christians, people of faith that are non-Christian, and our brothers and sisters in the secular world. Although I have been told recently I should not use the word reconcile because it is too “loaded,” I intend to use it more frequently.  Now, more than ever, we all need to give true reconciliation a chance in a very deliberate way.

The past year has been very troubling for many in our congregation. There are still some that remain deeply hurt and distrustful of others. Many want to affix guilt or innocence to those involved, but the truth is, there were none guilty or guiltless, winners or losers. I surely made mistakes during the past year in my leadership role and in the years leading up to, what I will call, “the troubles”. I ask for your forgiveness, just as I forgive those who felt the need to say and do hurtful things.

On October 7, Paul Audley gave our church a wonderful sermon about stewardship, giving and forgiveness. He provided some keen insight to how hurtful and destructive bullying can be when conducted via anonymous letter writing.

For those that are unaware, our clergy were recently the victims of a personal attack via an anonymous letter. Even though the person(s) who wrote this anonymous letter are forgiven for their hurtful acts, they still are accountable for their actions and must understand how unacceptable and un-Christian their conduct was.
Because no one knows the author of an anonymous letter, it cannot be assumed they were in church to hear Paul’s outstanding stewardship message or his message of forgiveness. Therefore, I am including an excerpt of Paul’s message here in the hope that the author of that inappropriate and hurtful letter will take Paul’s message to heart.

We are human. We harbor grudges, anger, hurt and hold it within.  We refuse to let go and we might even lash out hoping to hurt the person for whom we hold hatred.  We put darkness around our hearts, our mood and even our health as we hold on to anger.  We separate ourselves from love and God. Meanwhile the person we are angry with may be going about his or her life with great joy.  And we get more angry.  Is that how we want to live?  Is there anything Christian in living in that state?  There is a wonderful quote attributed to Buddha which says; ‘holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.’  It’s true that when we wallow in anger and hurt we make ourselves sick and separate ourselves from the kind of forgiveness and love God shares with us.

“Let’s be clear about this – forgiveness of another is not a release from responsibility or accountability.  It is releasing the anger and hate that make it impossible to approach reconciliation, resolution and a return to a state of peace.  Forgiveness is a gift to you, as well as to the one being forgiven.

“It is national anti-bullying month. And in this month I am reminded of my most difficult challenge to the teachings of God about the gift of forgiveness.  My son and my family suffered terribly at the horrible impacts of sustained bullying.  We were abandoned by the schools and fearful of losing our son.  I am forever indebted and grateful to wonderful people who helped him and the rest of our family heal.  Yesterday, I asked [my son] Stuart what he thought about forgiveness.  He said, ‘Forgiving them was a gift to myself.’  It doesn’t let the bullies off the hook for their actions.  But it removes the poison of anger and hate from the heart that prevents joy and love in your life.

“The issues of bullying and anger are not secular.  Even in congregations of God and among followers of Jesus there are those who are living in darkness and seeking to exact revenge on others.  This past week, one of the blogs for United Methodist Clergy was full of exchanges about how to deal with church members who seem bent on destroying their pastors.  The common response was to follow the path Jesus showed by forgiving, and in the state of love that could only come with that forgiveness, pursuing a way to help the congregant heal the anger and hatred that created destructive behavior.  These Christian bloggers were being defined by the extraordinary generosity of forgiveness.

“I struggled this week with this next part of the message.  After many hours of prayer and consultation with wonderful and loving people – including my pastor when I was a youth – I changed part of the prepared sermon.  I knew I would be talking about our church’s need to renew its commitment to forgiving ourselves and each other for our shortcomings and grievances.  And that I would talk about the powerful change it could bring.  We know our church has been through some tough times in recent months.  And some natural feelings of anger and confusion had risen up for many members of our congregation. Some knew the lesson of forgiveness and passed through the time with grace and trust in God.  Some stumbled and are working on letting go of bad feelings and distrust through thoughtful prayer and loving discourse.  The challenge about today came as I was forced to reflect on those who have held on to their anger and grievances, and with the darkness that it creates, and have reached out to injure others.  Our clergy were subjected to an anonymous, bullying, hateful and hurtful letter this week.  It was born in the darkness of anger.  Our clergy’s response was one of forgiveness – something I admire them greatly for.  Still, we need to be accountable to each other for this type of behavior.  We need to recognize that we have work to do.  We need to recognize that the person who wrote the letter needs to be forgiven by us so our own hearts are working in the light of Christ to find reconciliation.  Our clergy demonstrated that giving forgiveness is a gift to them that enables them to look for a way forward.  To continue ministering to us in love.  To continue to demonstrate the generosity of forgiveness. 

“The writer and others still bound by anger need to give themselves the gift of forgiveness so the darkness can come off their hearts and enable a return to God’s love and light.  Those in the grip of anger need to forgive those who are perceived as having done wrong.  It is a gift to themselves - so that separation from the love of God can end for them.  I cannot judge any one of us or where we stand in this scenario.  I know I am commanded to forgive and to love.  And you know what?  It makes my life lighter.  Even blessed.  To tap into God’s promise of love and His generosity through forgiveness is to be able to expand my heart, be open to good things and the goodness of people.  It opens my mind to look for a way forward. 

“I prayed for guidance in giving this message.  So many wonderful people responded.  And on this World Communion Sunday, I was moved to restate the great gift of Communion.  God is so generous. He gave us His son.  God has forgiven us everything. God has given us the ultimate example of forgiveness and its power.  Through God’s amazing, generous grace, we are reunited with Him.  Through Jesus’ example, we are taught forgiveness: even on the cross, dying, ridiculed and tortured, Christ called on God to forgive His persecutors.  And the price paid by Jesus for the forgiveness of all of us, obligates us to learn the gift of forgiveness, to make it part of our heart and soul, and to share it freely.”

Thank you, Paul, for your message of forgiveness and the need to move beyond from what was, to what is, and what is yet to come for our congregation. As we celebrate the one year anniversary of our becoming a Reconciling Congregation, let’s remember the true meaning of reconciliation: the new relationship between God and humanity effected by Christ’s redemptive work. Let us all be in a new relationship with God and with each other, working in concert to fulfill the great commission: to make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reformation Sunday - Rejoice in the Lamb

On Sunday, October 28th, Reformation Sunday, the Sanctuary Quartet, Chancel Choir and Ae Kyong Kim will present Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, written in 1943, while Britten was on a ship from the US to Britain.  

Composed by one of the 20th century’s most gifted composers of opera, its sensitivity and expression of text is remarkable in its conciseness and color.

The following description is in the preface to the score, and was written by Walter Hussey, to whom (along with the choir of his church) the piece is dedicated.

The words of the Cantata - Rejoice in the Lamb - are taken from a long poem by the same name.  The writer was Christopher Smart, an eighteenth century poet, deeply religious, but of a strange and unbalanced mind.

Rejoice in the Lamb (Jubilate Agno) was written while Smart was in an asylum, and is chaotic in form but contains many flashes of genius.

It is a few of the finest passages that Benjamin Britten has chosen to set to music.  The main theme of the poem, and that of the Cantata, is the worship of God, by all created beings and things, each in its own way.
The Cantata is made up of ten short sections.  The first sets the theme, the second gives a few examples of one person after another being summoned from the pages of the Old Testament to join with some creature in praising and rejoicing in God. The third is a quiet and ecstatic Hallelujah.  In the fourth section Smart takes his beloved cat as an example of nature praising God by being simply what Creator intended it to be.  The same thought is carried on in the fifth section with the illustration of the mouse. The sixth section speaks of the flowers  -  “the poetry of Christ”.  In the seventh section Smart refers to his troubles and suffering, but even these are an occasion for praising God, for it is through Christ that he will find his deliverance. The eighth section gives four letters from an alphabet, leading to a full chorus in section nine which speaks of musical instruments and music’s praise of God,  The final section repeats the Hallelujah.

Please join us for a wonderful listening experience.  Bring a friend!

The Pasadena Christmas Market is Coming!

The Season is quickly approaching - time to plan the perfect gift for someone. How about giving for someone else as a true gift ,and donate to a good cause in someone’s name?

The Christmas Market at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena will be full of gifts you buy, OR donate, to one of the agencies that the church supports during the holiday season. This year we will have a variety of “hard-to-choose between items” including:
  • Young & Healthy - Providing free medical, dental and psychological services for low-income, uninsured children in the greater Pasadena area.
  • Union Station - Providing the homeless and poor with the means to transform their lives so they can become productive, stable and self -supporting citizens.
  • ECPAC - Providing human survival services such as the largest full service pantry, Friends In Deed and The Bad Weather Shelter in Pasadena
  • Pasadena AIDS Service Center - Offering more than 20 programs to people with HIV including home health case management, benefits advocacy.
  • San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity - Seeking to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness. 
  • FUMC Social Service Center - Offering food supplies and vouchers, clothes, help with the DMV and bus passes for transportation.
  • Muir Ranch - Providing local food directly from the school farm run by students.
  • Give Ye Them to Eat (GYTTE) - Provide community, agricultural, livestock, church and faith development as well as community and family health in Central Mexico.
  • Project Tariro - Treating many persons living with HIV in the rural farm communities in Zimbabwe, Africa with medical, emotional and spiritual support.
Please come see us for the perfect gift during coffee hour following worship beginning November 25th, December 2nd, and 9th.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pasadena Mission Area Projects

Looking for help in the Pasadena area or looking for a way to get involved? 

Dream Cafe at Holliston UMC, an outreach ministry to students of Pasadena City College, that provides a safe place for students to spend their time from 10:30 AM to 3 PM. Lunch and snacks will be provided. The Cafe is also wired for free WiFi. Students who sign up may also avail of free parking at Holliston UMC. Pasadena Mission Area (PMA) churches are encouraged to: 1. offer prayer support; 2. get word out to students attending PCC from mission area congregations; and 3.provide volunteer support.

For more information, contact Pastor Min Lee --, (626) 793-0880.

Friends in Deed (Ecumenical Council Pasadena Area Congregations or ECPAC). ECPAC’s mission is to improve the quality of life for low income and homeless individuals and families. Some of its programs are The Pantry, Bad Weather Shelter, The Women’s Room, and Homeless Prevention. PMA churches are encouraged to support ECPAC’s food pantry by providing the following nonperishable items which are among the fastest-moving items off the shelf: peanut butter, tuna, chicken, chili, beef stew, dry beans; whole grains such as pasta, oats, rice, cereal; milk (shelf stable or powder); jelly, tomato sauces, soups, cooking oil, baking items.

Friends in Deed/ECPAC is located at 444 East Washington Boulevard,  Pasadena, CA 91104; (626) 797-6072.  Or, you can find more info on ECPAC on the web.

Pasadena Mission Area Youth Ministry. The idea is collaboration at its best in that churches that have the resources help out churches that don’t and broadens the understanding of ministry beyond the confines of an individual congregation to one that occurs among PMA churches at seven campuses. Rev. Allison Mark, the main proponent of this mission project, proposed that pastors and youth workers from PMA churches meet together to lay the ground work for sharing calendars and information about upcoming events and activities so that PMA churches can feed their youth to these activities and events, including: Joint Confirmation program and celebration; Joint PMA youth choir; PMA youth leading worship and taking the worship experience around PMA churches; Gospel hymn sing and revival meetings; special services, e.g. Lent/Easter, etc.

October Messenger

Friends, its time to get caught up on all the latest news, activities, and goings on at FUMC Pasadena. 

The October Messenger is ready for delivery!

In this issue you'll read about:
  •     Reconciliation and Forgiveness by J.P. Harris
  •     I'm Thankful I'm a Methodist by Mikala Rahn
  •     A Fond Farewell by Rev. Debbie Gara
  •     Reformation Sunday
  •     A Magical Musical Medley
  •     Missions, Peace, and Justice round up
  •     Arts Committee news
  •     and a Christmas Market and Advent Workshop primer.
  •     and lots more...