Monday, April 23, 2018

Deaf Couple Complete Advanced Certified Lay Servant Class -- Leo Yates, jr.

Deaf Couple Complete Advanced Certified Lay Servant Class

By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.

For the first time, two Deaf people have completed the Advanced Certified Lay Servant training in the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Billy and Mary Ann Deters, a Deaf couple who are members at St. Andrew United Methodist Church of Titusville FL, participated in the advanced class on April 6-7, 2018. Sign language interpreters were provided so they could fully participate in the training.

The couple, who oversee their church’s Deaf ministry, completed the Basic CLS class last year. With encouragement by their pastor, the Rev. Mark Charles, to attend, the Deters enrolled in the Advanced training and feel that the skills gained in the Advanced class will better enable them to do ministry within their church and community.

According to Mr. Deters, "I'm so glad for the opportunity to complete the Advanced training. I feel more empowered to help others and to better connect the church with other Deaf people in my community." Mrs. Deters said, "We are glad to have completed the training. They were helpful by providing us with interpreters. We love serving the church and this training gives us more skills for serving." The Deters also shared their gratefulness to their faith community for supporting their ministry and their leadership. 
Billy Deters (2nd left) and MaryAnne Deters (right) with a few others from the class.

Certified Lay Servant classes are often offered by districts and/or annual conferences to support faith communities. These classes prepare students for serving churches in different capacities such as leading Sunday school classes, outreach ministries, leading worship, and congregational care. The Deters family intend to continue serving in Deaf ministry, assisting in worship, and teaching sign language classes, but they will also be working with their pastor to see how else they can serve. They are also active in the Global Ministries Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries. Mr. Deters is a committee member, and Mrs. Deters serves as a resource person for the committee.

The majority of certified lay servant trainings are completed by hearing individuals and it is a rarity for Deaf individuals to complete them. Deaf people can share their gifts with faith communities through their gifts of language, culture, and by their presence. Just as important, they too have spiritual gifts for serving the body of Christ. With the Deters completing their training, we hope they'll be trend setters and more Deaf people will take the training. In fact, Mr. Deters added, "I want to see more Deaf people take the training. Pastors need to ask them."

Rev. Leo Yates, Jr.
Consultant, Global Ministries United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries
Chairperson, Baltimore Washington Conference Commission on Disability Concerns
Associate Pastor, Magothy United Methodist Church of the Deaf

Friday, April 20, 2018

News and notes from AMD, 4/20/18

Here are the highlights of postings this week from the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, Disability Ministries Committee, Mental Health Ministries, Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries Committee, and UM Congress of the Deaf:
UMCD, DHM, ELDA, ECD joint meeting in Las Vegas, July 22-29
UMAMD Meeting and Academy, August 1-3
Northeastern Jurisdiction Deaf Ministry Conference, November 9-10
UM Disability Blog, DHM: Trinity UMC Deaf Outreach
MHM: Mental Health and Social Justice
UM Disability Blog, AMD: Prelude to a sermon
Social Principles revision: call for comments
Remembering and healing
Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several
          disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
This newsletter is also published on the UM Disability Blog
Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Prelude to a sermon -- Eric Pridmore

A Civil War chaplain approached a wounded soldier on the battlefield and asked if he'd like to hear a few verses from the Bible. The wounded man said, “No, I'm so thirsty, I'd rather have some water.” The chaplain gave him a drink, and then repeated his question. “No sir, not now – but could you put something under my head?” The chaplain did so, and again repeated his question. “No,” said the soldier, “I'm cold. Could you cover me up?” The chaplain took off his inside coat and wrapped the soldier. Afraid to ask, he did not repeat his question. He moved to leave, but the soldier called him back. “Look, Chaplain, if there's anything in that book of yours that makes a person do for another what you've done for me, then I want to hear it.”

It is so easy in our affluent and busy society for us to forget who we are as people created by God and redeemed through Jesus Christ. It is easy for us to become preoccupied with our work, our family, our hobbies, and our own needs that we forget our essential call to be the body of Christ.

John Gardner, Former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education & Welfare, once made this observation: “In the absence of criticism every organization ends up being managed for the benefit of the people who run it: most schools tend to be run in such a way as to serve the purposes of the teachers; the Navy tends to be run for the benefit of naval officers; the vested interests of postal employees are the predominant factor in controlling and directing the future of the post office; the policies and practices of most universities are explicable chiefly in terms of the vested interests of the professors.” (quoted in Rev. King Duncan, Collected Sermons) If this is true regarding schools, military services and bureaucracies, it is also true of the church. The church does not exist for our benefit; rather, it exists for the world in order to make disciples and transform the world for Christ. As the old saying goes, “Jesus did not command the whole world to go to church. Jesus commanded his church to go to the whole world.”

Take a look at James 1:22-27. This is the text I will be teaching on this Sunday in worship. James encourages us to not simply hear the gracious good news of Christ Jesus but to actually live it out. the title of my sermon is “Don’t Forget What You Look Like.” We will have a special guest with us as well, Samantha Crimm from our state department of Child Protective Services. Samantha will be sharing about Rescue 100 which is a partnership between CPS and local churches in our state to help address the child foster care need in our state. As James says in 1:27, “True devotion, the kind that is pure and faultless before God the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep the world from contaminating us.” Christian discipleship was never intended to be merely lofty platitudes and pious talk. Our Christian faith is the active engagement with Christ who has risen from the dead and has brought us into new life. As Jesus himself teaches in Matthew, “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and didn’t do anything to help you?’ Then he will answer, ‘I assure you that when you haven’t done it for one of the least of these, you haven’t done it for me.’” (25:44-45) the natural response for the grace that we have received in Christ Jesus is to be the embodiment of Christ in our world today. A society that ignores the legitimate needs of orphans, the elderly, disabled veterans, children and adults with disabilities, and the least among us is a deeply flawed society. Let us live out our Christian witness by doing what we can to care for the least and the lost in our community. and let us share our concerns with our local area churches, community leaders, and government officials. There are many in our own community who are searching for the very thing you and I have found in Christ Jesus. May we heed the advice of James, “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves” (1:22)

I can’t wait to be in worship with you this Sunday. I hope you will be with us in worship and I encourage you to invite someone to come with you. It is my honor and privilege to serve as your pastor and I hope you will call on me if I can be in prayer for you or serve you as your pastor. the good news is that christ is risen and that has changed everything!

With gratitude and hope,
Dr. Eric

Monday, April 16, 2018

Trinity UMC Deaf Outreach

Trinity United Methodist Church, McMurray PA, participated in a  SIGN-A-THON at Robinson Center Mall last Saturday. It was held  on the first floor in the center of the mall. There were games for the children and entertainment.  Probably 200-300 Deaf people were there for the afternoon.

The Sign-a-thon was sponsored by HDS, an agency supporting the Deaf community  in our area.  Among their services is providing ASL interpreters. Trinity Church was one of several agencies that participated.

At Trinity, we viewed this as an opportunity to get the word out about our Deaf Ministry. On our table, we had a picture loop of activities related to our deaf ministry on a TV screen. You can see our church building and address on the screen in the photo.

A group stands around a table in a shopping mall, there is a poster welcoming anyone to the church with the sign for ASL; they have cookies!
As you can see, we had hand outs and advertisements for visitors. The "flowers". were a spinning game for the children  where they could win prizes (depending on what number they landed on) . The jar on the end of the table was a container for a drawing for a $50 Visa card. 

And of course, we had cookies  

And we talked to a lot of people. The second picture is the drawing for the card  on the entertainment stage. The young man is Caleb, our interpreter. We had the opportunity to meet many Deaf people. Most of them didn't live really close to our church, but we felt we made out presence known.Two people stand on a platform, one is signing and the other holds a decorated jar.

Friday, April 13, 2018

News and notes from AMD, 4/13/18

Here are the highlights of postings this week from the Association of Ministers with Disabilities, Disability Ministries Committee, Mental Health Ministries, Deaf and Hard-of-hearing Ministries Committee, and UM Congress of the Deaf:
UMCD, DHM, ELDA, ECD joint meeting in Las Vegas, July 22-29
UMAMD Meeting and Academy, August 1-3
Northeastern Jurisdiction Deaf Ministry Conference, November 9-10
National Disability Institute: Poverty and disability
UM Disability blog: What would Jesus discard?
MHM: Connected
Two stories: Jesus, healing, disability
DHM: Epworth UMC on-line Deaf ministry
MHM: TED, childhood trauma
Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several
          disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
This newsletter is also published on the UM Disability Blog
Visit us on the web or Facebook.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Body Broken -- Sharon McCart

The Body Broken
A sermon drawn from John 20:24-28

Thomas somehow missed a crucial moment for the disciples. He had never been a key player and was only mentioned a couple of times in the Gospels. And now he had missed seeing the risen Christ.
It must have been hard to be the only one who hadn’t been there. He must have felt left out, different from the rest of the fellowship, apart from the community of believers. He must have wanted to be part of that group again and not be an outsider.
Evidently, Christ also wanted Thomas to remain as part of the community, to belong to it completely. So he came to Thomas, the one sheep who had been missing. Not only to him, though, but to the others, so that they would know that Thomas was still one of them, and not left out or different.

Christ made sure that Thomas still belonged by inviting him to touch his wounds----his hands where the nails had pierced and his side were the spear had gone in.
Thomas’ reaction was a profound declaration---“My Lord and my God!”
The wounds were still there. Christ in his resurrected body still had those wounds. Why? Because they were part of who he was. Without them, he would have been someone else.
He is God, but he is also human. The wounds prove his humanness. Can God be wounded? That’s a philosophical question I am not prepared to answer. Can humans be wounded? Of course. We are wounded often, by life and by each other.
So here we have the wounded, risen Christ. He does not shake Thomas’ hand with his nail-pierced hand. He does not hug Thomas to his spear-pierced side. Instead, he does something even more painful.
He invites Thomas to touch his wounds, to put his finger into them!
Renaissance painting, Thomas puts his hand into Jesus' wound

And by doing that, he offers himself up once more, his incarnate --- his human----body a sacrifice for a single person so that the one who was left out can be restored to the community, to relationship with both himself and with the others who had been together for the three years of Jesus’ ministry.
And in bringing Thomas----
and the lepers and the blind men and the boy with epilepsy and the woman with a hemorrhage and the man living among the tombs and so many more ----
in bringing all of those back into community, Christ is telling us that we belong as well.
No matter what has kept us from belonging
No matter what has separated us from other people
No matter what has separated us from God
Christ came then and still comes to us now to bring us back.
We are each a lost coin, the one sheep missing while the community of 99 sheep is safe. We are each the prodigal son, returning to the family.

Christ, at the Last Supper, said to those eating with him, “This is my body, broken for you.” We hear those words repeated every time we celebrate Holy Communion.

But do we ever really think about them? Internalize them? Take them literally and personally?

Thomas saw the brokenness of Christ’s body. He touched the broken places.

Christ’s broken body was before him and he cried out, “My Lord and my God!”
I believe that Christ could have been healed from those wounds. After all, he had healed so many others, it only seems reasonable to think that he could have been healed as he rose from the grave.
If God could bring him back to life, why couldn’t God have made his flesh whole and unwounded again?
“The body, broken for us,” still broken for us.
The Apostle Paul told us that we are the Body of Christ.
Jesus breaks bread with two followers

The body of Christ, broken for us, is us. We are still broken.

Why do I say that?

Because our community is not complete. Most of us hold back parts of ourselves from each other, and others are not here. Too many have never been part of a church at all. They either don’t know or don’t feel welcome or don’t want to find out what the body of Christ is like.
Until everyone is here, the body of Christ will still be wounded, the body still broken.

Why is the risen Christ still wounded? Why is the body still broken for us? Because the broken places make more room for more people. When a container is whole and unbroken, there is a limit to what it can hold. When it is broken, there is room in between the pieces for everything to fit.
broken flower pot with roots and flowers spilling out of it

I am reminded of a potted plant. Left to grow and grow, eventually the roots will fill the pot and the pot will crack open, making more room for more roots.
The body of Christ is left broken, leaving more room for more people.
In Christ’s body, broken for you, there is room for me and there is room for you. There is not one single person who cannot fit in the body of Christ.
The brokenness of Christ’s body is what makes room for every one of us.
Healed, the capacity would have been limited. Christ’s body is broken for you
to make room for you!
Christ came back to restore Thomas to community with the other followers who had already seen him. He didn’t have to do that. He came back for the one that was lost and left out.

Christ comes to each one of us, restoring us to relationship with him and with each other, completing the love and the life that is in us.
And some day, the body broken for all of us will be whole again, when “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess [as Thomas did] that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
But not yet. The body is still broken and there is still room for more.
Room for all the people out there. Room for all the people in here.
Room for me.
Room for you.

This is my body, broken for you, Christ said.
Broken so that you fit, so that you belong, so that we can all belong in community together.
And together we will be the completed, healed body of Christ, no longer broken.

(copyright 2018, Sharon McCart)

Sharon McCart is a Lay Preacher at University United Methodist Church, Irvine, CA 

Monday, April 9, 2018

What would Jesus discard? -- Theresa Weaver

I sat in the Starbucks this morning sipping my cup of coffee and reading messages on my phone. From time to time, people who are homeless venture into this Starbucks. One older man wearing torn up clothes started talking about Palance. I tried to politely answer his questions while keeping to myself, but he just wanted to talk. So, I let him. I could tell he had a mental illness from what he was saying. He then told me he was an artist and made jewelry. He had a bracelet with him he'd give me. Something inside me told me to accept his gift, which I did. He put it on me and talked about how I should get a charm for it. He walked off and kept talking. I looked down to see a hunk of knotted up wire with a metal piece hanging from it. I soon realized that it was a broken USB cable. I thanked him again, got a spill stick, and left for my next bus. I have to admit I left faster than I would've normally because I was trying not to laugh in front of him. I was thinking "Bless his heart..." as I got on the bus and took off the "bracelet." When I got to the office, I stopped by the bathroom and washed my wrist and the bracelet (not to insult the guy but because I do tend to feel concern about germs). By the time I got in, I knew I wasn't going to throw away the gift.

 I started to think of it a bit differently before I stepped off the bus. I mean, yes, the guy was obviously experiencing mental illness. But... he saw something that others labeled as trash, picked it up, created something he valued with it, and then valued me (a stranger) enough to give it to me. He probably didn't have much else, but he wanted to still give me something. My eyes fill with tears when I think about this... that he valued what others didn't and then saw something in me to pass it on.

It leads me to ask, "How often do we do this to people? How often do we discard others and assume they're nothing when there is something of value that can be seen in them?" I'm not laughing now, and I'm not looking down at him either. I see the value in what he offered, and that bracelet will go in the box with the rest of my jewelry. I can just ask that we take the time to value what we have or even take the effort to see the value in those people and things that others might so casually discard.

a USB cable, wound with loops into a bracelet, anchored by the plug

Theresa Weaver lives with her service partner, a black Lab named Palance, in Indianapolis.