On Sunday, October 30, Wylie UMC held a pumpkin carving contest. And the winner of the Most Religious pumpkin is... Roger Milholland's entry with crosses and fish! Congratulations Roger!
A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Ken McIntosh and his wife, Iweeta, flew to Hong Kong to serve as Methodist missionaries. They are now returning to Hong Kong for the 160th anniversary of Methodism in the region. They were scheduled to be special guests of President Lung Kwong Lo of The Methodist Church of Hong Kong on Oct. 27.The veteran missionaries have flown across the Pacific hundreds of times in their years as missionaries in Hong Kong and nearby Macau. At that time, Hong Kong was under British rule, and Macau was a Portuguese possession. Today, Hong Kong and Macau are both part of China.
While in Hong Kong, the McIntoshes will renew longtime ties and remember departed friends and colleagues, such as Rev. McIntosh's seminary friend Chester Yang, who first urged him to volunteer for Hong Kong.
That decision to go on the mission field was not easy for the young couple, who had already sacrificed much. They had met as teenagers at the old Lancaster Avenue Methodist Church in South Dallas. World War II interrupted their courtship as young Ken joined the Army in 1944, getting his father's permission to sign up. He was training to be part of the Japan invasion force when the war ended in 1945.
After his discharge as a sergeant in 1947, Ken returned to home, church and Iweeta. He enrolled at the Perkins School of Theology, SMU. He and Iweeta married in 1949, despite the reservations of his staunchly Baptist father-in-law. The patient young Methodist seminarian finally won over Iweeta's dad by listening to countless hours of him reading from the Baptist Standard.
Ken was ordained in 1950 and began serving North Texas churches. He became founding pastor of Lake Highlands Methodist Church in Dallas. Then the pleas of his friend in Hong Kong tugged at his heart.
The McIntoshes began working with what was then called The Board of Missions and were sent to Yale to study Chinese and the Asian culture. They arrived in Hong Kong in 1961 and were confronted with enormous challenges. Refugees were streaming in because of famine on the Communist-ruled mainland. There were thousands to feed, house and educate, as well as churches to build.
A consummate organizer, Ken acquired 14 noodle makers, flour from the U.S. surplus available through the Meals for Millions program, and deployed equipment and supplies throughout the mission area. They packed noodles in newspaper-like sheets for distribution to hungry people.
They also helped organize schools and churches, many of them on the rooftops of the seven-story walk-up buildings the government built to house refugees.
Ken's first Hong Kong church was composed of seven garages. He went to the mainland to look at land and later became founding pastor of a church named for Bishop Ralph Ward, the first American bishop in China.
The two older McIntosh children, Mark and Mary, grew up in Hong Kong. When the third child and youngest son, Matthew, returned to the U.S., he had trouble figuring out whether he was Chinese or American, the couple said.
While in Hong Kong, Ken was recalled into the U.S. Army as a chaplain major. He worked with troops deployed in Hong Kong, Taiwan and, later, Vietnam, where he traveled to Saigon to assist the Protestant chaplain. He retired from the Army after 25 years of service.
He was invited back to Hong Kong for five more years to assist the church during the transfer from British to Chinese rule. Though anxieties ran high, the transition went smoothly and The Methodist Church continues to thrive in the region.
Both Ken and Iweeta speak fluent Chinese. After China began to emerge from isolation and open up to travel from the U.S., she became an expert tour organizer, shepherding countless groups to China.
Both Ken and Iweeta have redefined the concept of retirement. He directed the NTC's Project Pentecost, a foreign-language church planting program, and she continued to plan and lead tours. The years have not stopped Ken from visiting the language churches he helped plant.
The couple now resides at C.C. Young Retirement Community. To contact them, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Through its Vision for Change grants, the Highland Park UMC Cox Chapel congregation is touching people close to home and across the world.
Among its projects is the Kamina Methodist University in the Democratic Republic of Congo (featured in the Oct. 14 edition of the United Methodist Reporter). A $10,000 Vision for Change grant paid to roof a dormitory, allowing students from remote regions to have safe shelter in a violence-torn area.
Cox Chapel member Bill Overthier got the idea to fund the roof after Kamina University director Mande Muyombo spoke to the Fellowship Class.
"I spent five years on the board of Vision Africa, and his message of education and re-entry of the child soldiers particularly interested me," Overthier said. "I talked with Jeff Hall and the Cox Chapel mission board, and the dorm roof project seemed like something we could do quickly. It was the kind of project that a donation of $10,000 could be very important to them."The Rev. Jeff Hall, Cox Chapel pastor, says Vision for Change has concentrated on two domestic and two international projects each year since 2007, with grants totaling $313,000.
The concept is based on Jesus' ministry of leading and healing. The congregation, which counts about 120 in average worship attendance, has committed to participate in world-changing, life-giving ministries as part of members' second-mile giving.
"We look for the opportunity to be catalysts and seek out projects where gifts of modest size can make a significant difference," said Rev. Hall.
One criterion is immediate impact.
The scriptural concept comes from the parable of the sower. Vision for Change sees itself as planting seeds in hopes that the gift will inspire others to provide support, introducing them to "amazing, transformative" projects.
It's been more than a year since the North Texas Conference joined the effort to recruit members for the Lands of the Bible Cruise for what has been billed as a once-in-a-lifetime experience to visit traditional Holy Land sites and the Eastern Mediterranean world of the Apostle Paul.
With Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe and his wife, Leslie, leading the way, a diverse group of conference pastors and laity caught the vision. When the Norwegian Jade sails from Rome on Nov. 4, the NTC group of 137 will be the largest group among 656 United Methodists and their friends. Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Conference and Bishop John L. Hopkins of the East Ohio Conference will also lead groups from their areas, and smaller groups from across the country will also be aboard. The 12-day itinerary includes numerous sites important to the early church. Some of the travelers will go on to Rome and Pompeii after the cruise.
In addition, Dr. John Holbert, professor at Perkins School of Theology, SMU, will present a series of lectures on "Paul and the Complex World of the Eastern Mediterranean."
The cruise, Dr. Holbert said, will "encompass an extraordinary array of sites and a vast range of Mediterranean history. I will offer five lectures that, I hope, will place some of these sites and historical realities in a larger context."
The bishops will also lead shipboard worship services.
In a meeting Oct. 11, some of the NTC tour leaders met with Bishop Bledsoe and Cruise Director Paula King of Educational Opportunities Tours for an overview of what to expect.
"I am thrilled by the response from North Texas to visit the lands of the Bible," Bishop Bledsoe said.
"For those serious about the study of the scriptures, this experience will broaden their knowledge and geography of the places where Christianity began," he said. "I have been to the Holy Land many times; however, this will be my first experience visiting some of the sites related to Paul's missionary journeys. I look forward to our time of learning and getting to know other Christians from all around the world."
For King, "the fun thing about a big, mixed group is the more people we have, the better the fellowship tends to be. People meet, talk and spend time together, forging new friendships."
The NTC participants will be divided into three bus groups led by district superintendents.
King said each bus group becomes like a big family, with members supporting each other and engaging in friendly competition with the other buses.
She also said Educational Opportunities Tours and the cruise lines monitor for any signs of danger and that security is a priority.
"We had 88 people in Cairo in February when violence first broke out, and EO had all our people out of Egypt before all the diplomats were out," she said.
The tour operator kept family members informed about the situation and the whereabouts of their loved ones, and gave frequent updates on the travel schedule details.
It will be the second trip to the Holy Land for tour leaders and NTC retirees the Rev. Byron and Norma Ruth Myrick, who now worship at Wesley UMC in Greenville.
"It will be wonderful to have the opportunity to go back, and we are especially looking forward to the Paul study. ...To have so many friends from the conference to share the experience is just great," Mrs. Myrick said. The couple recruited participants from Wesley UMC and Lake Highlands UMC Dallas, where both served for years.
The Rev. Janet Cavalier of First UMC McKinney bills her group as a "dream team." They have been studying the biblical background of sites they'll visit.
The Rev. Sue Gross, pastor of Tinney Chapel UMC in Winnsboro, will have her mother in her group. It will be a special time for the pair after the death of Rev. Gross' father.
The North Texas Conference strives to cultivate fruitfulness over the life span of clergy by encouraging growth and maturity by God's grace.
Over the past year, the Center for Leadership Development, in conversation with the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Board of Laity, identified three formative arenas of fruitfulness for clergy and laity: Living Discipleship Fruitfulness, Leading Congregational Fruitfulness and Developing Missional Fruitfulness. The Marks of Fruitfulness is a new online system for providing evaluative tools, feedback, mentoring and coaching resources, and improving clergy fruitfulness as disciples, leaders of congregations and missional developers in the community and world.
Living, Leading and Developing Fruitful Clergy consists of 20 skills and competencies necessary for the church's mission of kerygma (proclamation), koinonia (fellowship) and diakonia (service).
These 20 identifiable, measurable skills and competencies are part of an ongoing process and system for evaluation, feedback and lifelong learning. The purpose of ongoing evaluation and feedback for clergy is not to prove but to improve.
Marks of Fruitfulness is a process to assist clergy in gaining insight through self-reflection, self-evaluation and feedback provided by the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee on areas to affirm and areas that need development.
"Marks of Fruitfulness provides us with an objective performance appraisal seeking positive feedback for continued growth, including self-evaluation for living, leading and developing fruitful clergy," said Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe. "Marks of Fruitfulness will help us get farther down the road by improving the gifts God has already given to clergy."
All clergy and Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committees in the NTC will be able to go online and submit these forms for those under appointment. This evaluation tool will be completed in conjunction with the Annual Profile and Review Forms for both clergy and the committees. Online access will be emailed. (The NTC must have a current email for every clergyperson and committee chairperson). Submit this information Nov. 1-Dec. 15.
An overview for Marks of Fruitfulness and training videos can be found on the Center for Leadership Development website, by clicking the "Mentoring, Coaching and Life-Long Learning" icon. For questions, contact the district offices.
Project Transformation has engaged college-age interns in hands-on ministry through after-school and summer day camp programs to low-income children and youth, while helping these interns to discern a call to ministry. The North Texas Conference launched the outreach in 1998 as a key component of an emerging urban strategy.
From the beginning, Project Transformation's goals have been threefold:
To provide young adult interns with ministry exploration and leadership development.
To help under-served children and youth grow in body, mind, and spirit.
To connect churches with low-income communities.
After 13 years of ministry, Project Transformation is seeing its first two goals meld into one. As participating youth grow out of the program after ninth grade, many refuse to say goodbye and instead volunteer in the program. While many high school students might spend their summers parked in front of the television, 58 of Project Transformation's former day camp participants volunteered every day in summer day camp, reading with children and assisting with activities.
Some former participants, now in college, have returned to work as young adult interns, serving the same communities where they grew up. Of the 103 college interns serving with Project Transformation during the summer, four are former participants.
In order to stay connected to and invest in these high school students, Project Transformation launched a pilot program this summer specifically for the high school students who grew up attending its summer day camp.
Of the 58 high school volunteers from Project Transformation's nine church sites, 25 took part in Project Transformation's newly expanded Leader in Training Experience, or LITE, every Wednesday afternoon. In addition to volunteering at the day camp each morning, the volunteers participated in a leadership program designed especially for them.
Led by Project Transformation's summer staff, LITE participants explored their unique leadership skills and how they could channel those into furthering the Kingdom of God. Other weeks included numerous hands-on activities that taught them about respect, diversity, money management and goal-setting. The Rev. Tonya Burton of Perkins Youth School of Theology came to talk about conflict resolution and cross-cultural communication.
LITE participants also led a service project at a local nursing home in Oak Cliff, as well as took a daylong college visit to Southern Methodist University. The teens took an extensive tour of SMU's campus, spoke with an admissions counselor, learned more about becoming a college intern with Project Transformation and reflected on their summer experience.
The hope is that through the skills they learn at Project Transformation, they will not only pursue college and become interns, but also continue on as leaders in their church and communities.
Catherine Evans, former intern and current summer staff member, said that after four summers with Project Transformation, she reflects back on the children she's served. "I'm constantly amazed by how much they have changed me. But none have had quite the same effect as this group of teens has. Their dedication to the program and perseverance throughout several obstacles inspires me."
Come to shop at a 25 percent discount on all regularly priced in-stock merchandise and enjoy a scavenger hunt with prizes.
There is a three-day sale price of $99 on the 2011 Rejoice Christmas clergy stole, which has embroidered wording.
In keeping with longstanding tradition, all Cokesbury profits go to fund United Methodist clergy pensions. For more information, contact manager Katie Shockley at 972-964-5777.
Want to make life better? Try Wii bowling.
Anyone who wants to challenge that "virtual" bowling can be a life-changing experience would have a hard time making the point at C.C. Young Retirement Community.
A recent heartwarming story in The Dallas Morning News focused on a father-daughter duo, NTC retired Pastor Dr. Don Benton and his daughter, Donna.
The Bentons credit Wii bowling with helping rebuild a relationship that had been fractured by drug addiction that had left Donna nearly incapacitated.
With the support of her family, she is making great progress, and Wii bowling is playing a big role.
That isn't the only dramatic Wii bowling story at C.C. Young.
Another Young Striker, Fran Koeltzow, was once so affected by Parkinson's disease that she could hardly walk.
Fran had bowled a little as a girl growing up in Michigan's rural Lower Peninsula.
She was a pretty 16-year old selling popcorn at the movie theater when she caught the eye of 17-year-old Paul Koeltzow.
He asked her for a date, and they ended up going bowling. Fran won, decisively.
He didn't take defeat well. They never bowled again – until her physical therapist suggested Wii bowling would be good for her.
At first Paul didn't want to participate because he was afraid that his chagrin as a teenager would keep Fran from doing her best. But the team needed "a body." He joined on the condition that Fran would really try to do well.
C.C. Young Wellness Coordinator Jerome Weeks knew he had a star recruit soon after Fran began coming to weekly practices. There are now seven bowlers on the team, and the Koeltzows are always recruiting fellow residents to sign up.
Best of all, Fran's therapist was right. After several months of Wii bowling, she is much stronger and rarely needs a cane. She and Paul now walk hand-in-hand in the halls of their building and on the C.C. Young grounds.
Wii bowling helped Fran concentrate enough that her shaking has almost disappeared.
She got her own Wii for Christmas and practices in their apartment. Her highest practice score is 288 out of a perfect 300.
The Koeltzows, longtime members of Lake Highlands UMC in Dallas, have been married 60 years. In the early years of their marriage, Paul was a military pilot.
He served all over the world, eventually ending up flying more than 100 missions over North Vietnam.After retiring from the Air Force, Paul felt a call to United Methodist ministry. Perkins School of Theology, SMU, brought the family to Dallas in the mid-1970s. A freak accident aggravated an old injury and left him bedridden for six months. At that point he dropped out of Perkins, but kept his love for the Bible and his personal ministry as a Sunday School teacher.
When he could walk again, Paul pushed himself to work at his real estate business, purchasing houses and bringing them up to code. "The harder I worked, the stronger I got," he says.
They moved from their home to C.C. Young after Fran had some frightening falls, and they have made close friends there.
And, as they walk down the hall holding hands, it isn't hard to imagine those long-ago teenagers in love, wondering where life would take them.
The four-week series will examine how to worship fully, spend less, give more and love all.
More information is available at www.AdventConspiracy.org. In keeping with the worship theme, the church will host an Alternative Gifts Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 5, and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6.
A complete list of organizations benefiting from the fair is listed on the church website, www.fumc-denton.com.
There is no charge, and the fair is open to the public.
Each day featured webcasts, videos, and instant chats about various UMC projects.
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