Dwelling in the Awesome Presence of God

“I am not afraid that the people called Methodist should ever cease to exist either in Europe or America.  But I am afraid lest they should only exist as a dead sect, having the form of religion without the power.  And this undoubtedly will be the case unless they hold fast both the doctrine, spirit and discipline from which they first set out.”

– John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Movement

Pastor ColleenDear Trinity UMC Family,

It happened again – clergy, new and seasoned, buzzing about the dismal state of today’s mainline American church.  In blogs, in personal conversations, and in gatherings of all sorts, discussions about “the death of Christianity in America” have continued to dominate.

Sadly, data concerning the state of the Christian Church in America do seem to affirm this dismal outlook.  For example, in 2010, the United Methodist Call to Action Steering Team commissioned the measuring of the vitality of United Methodist congregations in the U.S.  Of the 32,228 congregations reviewed, it was determined that 36% of UM churches are either dying or are already dead and simply haven’t realized it yet.  And a recent report from the Pew Center reports that the religiously unaffiliated in America has, from 2007 to 2014, increased from 16% to 23%, with weekly church attendance dropping to a mere 36%.  In addition, it was determined that a decreasing number of church goers actually engage in daily prayer.  Even in the face of the vibrancy and growth of the Christian Church in parts of Africa, Asia, Central America and Europe, the “death” of the Christian Church in America appears imminent.

Yet, during the long history of Christ’s Church, we have moved from challenge to renewal, again and again.  As we struggle to contend with today’s peculiar realities, the Holy Spirit remains faithful in leading and guiding us in ways to move from being stale in the status quo, from irrelevance and ineffectiveness by ignoring present possibilities for health and vibrancy to the immeasurable blessing of experiencing newness and life.  Christ’s Church is not dead!  Indeed, the Word of God has promised that we, God’s gathered people, will never be utterly destroyed.  Christ’s Church is not dead, but it is, again, time for us to re-examine and recommit our whole selves to true mission and ministry of Christ Jesus, our Lord.

The Spirit of the Lord is calling us to recommit ourselves to being Christ’s true disciples in the world!  We are to passionately, to faithfully and sacrificially accomplish the will of Christ Jesus and the work of Christ’s ministry in our time and place.  Our true love for and devotion to our Savior ignites our hearts, spurs our actions, and points others to Christ Jesus, our Lord.   How are you serving in Christ’s ministry?  How are you helping in the up-building of the ministry of Trinity UMC?  Each day, I pray for our total commitment to Christ – for that which instructs, enlivens, and takes us safely “from strength to strength”.

I can’t wait to see you on Sunday!  And don’t forget to invite/bring someone with you to join us in worshipping the One who is our true Life, Hope and Strength!

LIFE CELEBRATION SERVICE…for Lynda Mitchell, on Saturday, August 20th.  Lynda passed on Monday (8/15).  Services will begin with the Pre-past (visitation and fellowship) at 9:00 a.m., then will continue with the Memorial Service at 10:00 a.m.  Please keep the Mitchell family in your prayers.
THE WEEKEND IN WORSHIP… We will continue, with the third part of our new sermon series, “LEARNING TO TRUST GOD’S WILL”, with a focus on “God’s Will For Your Life”.  Not only do we often wrestle with “GOD AND SUFFERING – Part I” and “UNANSWERED PRAYER – Part II”, we also struggle with what our Lord God desires for our lives.   I hope to see you on Sunday, as the Word of God continues to teach, inspire and empower us!

THE 2017 CONFIRMATION CLASS HAS BEGUN…AND WILL RESUME IN OCTOBER 2016! Many thanks to Jacki Bogolia, our Director of Christian Education, to the parents who have chosen to “walk” with our young people in this extraordinary journey, and especially to the youth who have committed to this life-changing adventure.  Please remember to keep us all in your prayers!

THE PASTOR’S BIBLE STUDY CLASS… continues with a focus on “THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT”.   Jesus Christ preached with the authority of the promised coming King, and in this momentous sermon, the Lord taught about the wonder of spiritual transformation, about how the Holy Spirit works in supernatural and life-giving ways in believers’ hearts and minds and communities.  Hope to see you on Sundays, from 9:15 until 10 a.m., in this challenging and renewing journey.  I’m confident you’ll find it to be a great blessing in your life!
WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY FELLOWSHIP…Every 1st and 3rd Thursday of the month, beginning at 11:30 a.m.  We are using the “Experiencing Spiritual Intimacy” by Christa Kinde.  You can purchase your copy for $10 when you arrive at the class.  Ladies, join us for this powerful experience!  Contact Rev. Norman (847-621-9160) for additional information.

PRAY WITH US…as we seek to fill the staff positions of Office Administrator and Youth Leader.  Also, if you are able to assist in the church office, please be in contact with Martin or with Brian Kiel (beginning August 22nd).  We especially need the help of persons proficient in the use of the computer.

WE ARE TRULY GRATEFUL…for the devotion and faithfulness of Charlotte McCall Sneed, who has served as Coordinator for both the PADS and Trinity Treasures ministries.  Charlotte will be relocating closer to her family.  We pray for Charlotte, for her family and ongoing ministry as she embarks upon a new leg of her journey.  Blessings always, Charlotte!  You will be greatly missed.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN UNITING WITH TRINITY UMC, in MOUNT PROSPECT?  The process for uniting with the church begins with participation in an upcoming “Coffee With the Pastor” session, where you’ll learn a bit of the stories of The United Methodist Church and Trinity UMC, mp, and be introduced to some of our staff and leaders, along with learning about the expectations of membership.  To register your interest, please contact me, directly, at (847) 621-9160.

See you this weekend!
Pastor Colleen

Through It All

Ephesians 1:19-22

“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power
for us who believe him.”
(Ephesians 1:19a)

candleWhen we are truly honest with ourselves, acknowledging the discomforting uncertainty, the struggle, and the unpredictable messiness of life is unavoidable.  Absolute, easy, and predictable are the realities we, understandably, prefer.  Yet, since not a single day now passes without some measure of messiness – even unrestrained evil – to contend with, we need to be clear about how we will navigate the restless waters of our lives and time.  How do we, as Christ believers, contend with the loss of employment, or health, or marriage?  How do we keep moving ahead when long-cherished hopes and dreams have been crushed?  How do we breathe – much less heal – when someone we love has been brutally maimed or murdered?

Yet again we as individuals, as a nation, as a global community have been assaulted by the insanity of hatred.  In what has been described as “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history”, a lone gunman stepped into an Orlando nightclub and killed 50 people, while wounding at least 53 more.  Whenever this kind of unspeakable attack on human life happens, we reason that such was perpetrated because of the victim(s)’ race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation – just to name a few of the usual “offenses”.  But in truth, the real reason for such hatred and vicious violence is the absolute insanity of broken minds, hearts, and spirits!

Our mourning continues either personally or as members of the human community.  A year after another lone gunman entered a church to shoot and kill eight welcoming and praying church members, one who had lost her mother in that evil attack admits that her life (and livelihood) were forever changed.  Her priorities were shifted… altered that bitter loss.  But instead of allowing her grief and pain to control and destroy her, she and also others who suffered the loss of their loved ones on that shameful night are using the experience to help others who know grief, which continues to be a gracious means of their personal healing.

Amidst all the pain and struggle and brokenness throughout our world, we, who know Christ also know that we have a Savior whose faithful Presence, power and grace continues to keep and console us through it all.  May we never ignore the privilege of turning to that Savior, in prayer, in every time of need.  And may we always embrace the graciousness of offering prayer and other forms of love to others in the bondage of pain.  May it be so!

We continue with our sermon series focused on how to discover the blessing of experiencing REAL JOY in these challenging times.  Join us, and invite / bring someone to worship with us!

Our study of Jesus’ “SERMON ON THE MOUNT” continues to challenge and edify us all.  Join us, and bring your Bible and a friend as we continue this great and blessed adventure.  The class convenes every Sunday, from 9:15 to 10:00 a.m.

The Word of God assures us that the fervent prayers of the “righteous” – of God’s people – results in an outpouring of our Lord’s great provision and grace.  I invite you to join me a time of prayer every Monday morning, between the hours of 6 and 7 a.m.  

Beginning on Monday, June 20th, pray with me and others in our church family as we lift up special prayers for the families, friends and communities of the victims of warring and violence, everywhere.

Rev. Colleen M. Norman, Senior Pastor

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