Trinity United Methodist Church
Monday, December 10, 2018
We Care, We Share, We Grow

Pastor's Page

 November 2018   (This month's article is an exert from the Pastor's Report from Church Conference held on October 27th, 2018.)
2018 has been a busy year at Trinity United Methodist Church and for me as pastor. I have officiated at 8 funerals since church conference last year. On average, each funeral requires 16-20 hours of pastoral time leading up to and including the service itself. More importantly, this congregation does an amazing ministry by providing a time of fellowship and refreshment after each service. Time and time again, families express their gratitude for this ministry if hospitality that the congregation provides.
Speaking of congregational hospitality, my father spent two months with me after breaking his ankle this past summer. He attended Sunday School and worship each Sunday that he was here. He was surprised and overjoyed with the love that was shown him by the congregation. While I wasn't surprised by our congregation's hospitality, I am grateful for the support that both he and I received during that time. I have been involved in our community by representing the congregation in various ways. While much of what I do occurs on my own time, I am grateful that Trinity UMC allows me to represent them on various boards and agencies. For example, I chair the Berkeley County Criminal Justice Board that oversees the Day Report Center, Community Service, and Home Detention programs. Each of these programs provides alternative sentencing options that keep individuals out of jail and families together. I am also the president of the Berkeley County Ministerial Association and as part of my responsibilities is to offer prayer at the County Council meetings. I have opened the County Council meeting 14 times so far in 2018. I also write and edit the weekly faith articles for the Martinsburg Journal newspaper. While I edit each week's article submitted by various pastors, I have written 17 articles in 2018. In addition, I sit on the board of directors for the Family Resource Network and the Faith Community Coalition for the Homeless.
Through my community involvement, I have been able to raise up the visibility of Trinity UMC. When I first arrived four years ago, there were residents on West Martin Street who had never heard of our congregation. Today, it is not unusual to hear about our congregation in County Council meetings, the Chamber of Commerce, and on the streets of Martinsburg. We are becoming known as a congregation that loves our neighbors.

One way that we demonstrate our love for our neighbors is through our monthly Wednesday Nite Live community meal. Each month we serve 80 - 110 members of the community, many who are financially challenged. Over this last year, I have seen an increase in different groups within the congregation, take responsibility in serving the meals. It is my hope that we will see more members of the congregation come and share at the tables with our neighbors, rather than simply serving food to them.
 Over the last year, I have had the pleasure of being a part of a team of five people who are actively involved in the Academy of Church Finances. The academy provides training and coaching in church finance. One of the benefits that i have seen is the development of financial goals and our commitment to follow through on those goals. 

I also had great joy of going to ROCK in Ocean City with our youth this year. I enjoy the energy that comes from these young people and watching them struggle in their faith. It is in the struggle that all kinds of great things happen. I truly appreciate the adults that accompany our youth and their willingness to help them work through some very tough issues.

We continue to work with other UMC congregations in Martinsburg. A great example is the Lenten series where we rotate among the various congregations and preachers. We also hold our joint confirmation class. This year Trinity UMC had three youth confirmed into full membership. In my teaching ministry, I have been able to assist in various teaching assignments with confirmation class. I have always found working with children to be a wonderful experience. I also taught an advanced lay servant class this Fall. This class, Discovering Your Spiritual Gifts, took place on two full Saturdays. It was a fascinating time with eleven students from various congregations in the Frederick District. During the Sunday School time, I also teach a weekly Bible discussion class, based upon the Bible lesson for the Sunday's sermon.

I am very active as a chaplain for the Shenadoah Valley Chapter of the Order of St. Luke (OSL). While I have been active in healing ministry with the OSL for nearly 25 years, it wasn't until coming to Trinity UMC that I was able to participate in an OSL chapter. This has been a particular blessing to me. This year, I completed a three-year commitment to the Residency In Ministry program of the Board of Ordained Ministry. Through this program I mentored seven commissioned elders on the path to becoming ordained elders in the United Methodist Church. I also served on the district Committee on Ordained Ministry which assists individuals through the process of candidacy and/ or local pastors. I am currently mentoring two individuals through this process. In addition, I serve on the District Superintendency Committee that provides advice and counsel to the Frederick District Superintendent. 

-     Pastor Ken
October 2018
It's hard to believe that the leaves will soon be turning various colors. It seems like just yesterday we were complaining about the summer heat outside. Somehow, we manage to adjust and change to the changes of the seasons.
I find that as I get older two things happen. First, the seasons seem to come and go faster. It feels like it was only yesterday when we were looking forward to warmer temperatures. Second, I fail to fully embrace some of the seasonal changes that take place. For example, I would be okay with simply skipping Summer, going from Spring to Fall.
Reality is that we cannot avoid all changes. We might be able to compensate or avoid change for a period of time, but the changes will eventually take place anyway. Just as the leaves will turn amazing colors, they will eventually drop to the ground. It's that way in the church. Sometimes changes are thrust upon us, simply because our world has changed. A great example is the use of electronics in our lives. I'm old enough to remember rotary telephones and party lines. I wouldn't want to go back to those days, but I know some people who resisted those changes as much as they could. Eventually, they had to modernize to new technology.
What really scares me, isn't that change will come to the church, my ministry and my life. Because change will come. What sometimes terrifies me is that I won't be either willing or able to make the adjustments needed to embrace the changes as they happen. Put another way, my fear is that if I don't embrace the changes that come, I might be left behind or even discarded.
In those moments of change, I have found Reinhold Niebuhr's "Serenity Prayer" to be helpful. Perhaps you can find help in it as well. The shorter version goes like this,
                                   "God grant me the serenity
                              to accept the things I cannot change;
                              courage to change the things I can;
                              and wisdom to know the difference."
-Pastor Ken
September 2018
Have you ever felt overwhelmed? That's the way I feel right now. It sort of feels like I'm digging a hole, while someone else is filling it in at the same time. No matter how fast I dig, someone else is putting the dirt in faster. It feels...hopeless!
I've had this feeling since last Spring and I just can't seem to get caught up. So, I've decided to slow down. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, but I think that for myself that is the best approach. The problem starts, at least for me, when I treat everyone as having the same priority. So, what gets handled first may not be the most important thing to do.
I remember taking a Franklin Covey course some years ago. The suggestion was that you prioritize things through a four-box chart of two columns and two rows. The columns are labelled Urgent and Not Urgent. The rows are labelled Important and Not Important. You would take your "to do" list and place them on the chart according to the label. Then you start on the items that are Urgent-Important first. Then the Not Urgent- Important second. Followed by the Urgent-Not Important third. And finally, the Not Urgent-Not Important last... if at all. The idea is that you must work on those tasks that are truly important to achieving your purpose while not being distracted by the unimportant tasks that might be screaming at you.
I think about Jesus as he travelled around Galilee. His priority was to preach "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near." He did not heal everyone that was sick, but he did heal some of whom he encountered. So, some went away unhappy that he didn't always respond the way that they wanted. But, he was true to his priorities.
I am finding that I now need to get back to not only setting my priorities but keeping to them as well. And then I can begin to find the relief that I need to do my job better. Perhaps, we as a congregation, should also be looking at how we set our priorities in accordance to our purpose instead of being distracted by those things that often distract us from achieving it. 
-     Pastor Ken
July 2018
On July 4th we celebrated the birth of our nation... our independence from Great Britain. It is a time for us to celebrate with picnics, fireworks, parades, and other patriotic displays. Perhaps our most important way to celebrate is through gratefulness. We are grateful for the sacrifices made by those who fought for our liberty and those who continue to fight for it today. We are grateful for our representative form of government, even when we disagree with their decisions. We are grateful for the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to the next. We are grateful for the right to disagree with our government and peacefully protest in the public square. We are grateful for the freedom to follow the religion of our choice, even if it is no religion at all. We are grateful for God's intervention in our lives and the life of our nation.
While we as a nation celebrate our independence from other nations, we as Christians should also celebrate our dependence upon our Triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). This dichotomy of independence versus dependence is sometimes difficult for us to grasp. We have been granted independence, liberty and freedom as citizens of the United States of America. Yet our faith demands upon our full dependence upon God. For us in the United States, it presents a sometimes uncomfortable tension where we have been raised to do things for ourselves, but our faith requires that we place ourselves under the authority of God. I hope that throughout this month we will reflect with gratefulness, the birth of our nation and continually lift our nation before God.
It is hard to believe that Vacation Bible School (VBS) is soon upon us. The dates are July 9-13. The theme this year, "Game On!" comes from 2 Peter 1:3 (NIV). "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." It encourages us to join His team, train hard, celebrate salvation, and encourage one another. I hope that you will help our children learn more about Jesus' love by volunteering with our VBS this year. If you would like to help, even for just one evening, contact Kay Barkwill. We will finish our VBS week with a picnic on July 15th at the Orchard House Center. So, remember, Gear Up...Get Ready...Game On!
-     Pastor Ken
June 2018
With the congregation wearing red, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday with baptisms and confirmation. We continued to celebrate with a fellowship meal. I want to thank all those who planned, led, and participated in our unity worship service for Pentecost. I also want to welcome our newest members: Mary Kate McCune, Naomi Diamond, and Emelia Geyer.
As we move into the summer months, we are practicing a "casual summer", where you are encouraged to wear comfortable attire. Our worship will be a little more informal. I want summer to be a time of re-creation of body, mind, and spirit.
For those who are travelling this summer, I would appreciate bulletins and information about the churches you may choose worship at. In that way, I get an opportunity to gather new ideas for our worship ministry here at Trinity UMC. I also encourage you to have the attitude of being "summer missionaries" wherever you go. Consider every camping trip, visit to the beach, and other trips as opportunities to be missionaries sent out from Trinity UMC, After all, our faith doesn't stop at the church doors.
Also, please remember that even though you may be on vacation or away, the cost of ministry at Trinity UMC continues.  Our budget simply doesn't go on vacation. Please consider continuing (or even increasing) your gifts and tithes throughout this summer.
Lastly, our Vacation Bible School (VBS) takes place the second week of July. Please prayerfully consider being in ministry with us as we share the good news of Jesus' love to the children of our congregation and community. You will be hearing more about our VBS plans as we get closer to July. Or you can be proactive and let Kay Barkwill know that you would like to serve in our VBS this year.
It is my prayer that each of us has a wonderfully blessed summer!
-     Pastor Ken
May 2018
We are moving closer to Pentecost Sunday (May 20th) where we remember and celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Christ's church. The Greek word for "Spirit" is "pneuma" which can mean breath, breeze, wind, non-material part, vital principle, or inner being. Acts 2 describes the coming of the Holy Spirit as being a "wind". The Bible also talks about being "filled" or empowered with the Spirit.
Far too often, we fail to acknowledge the person-hood of the Holy Spirit. Part of the problem is that we have no gender neutral pronouns in the English language, so we often refer to the Holy Spirit as "it". However, Scripture is clear that the Holy Spirit is a person. As you flip through the Bible there are many images of the Holy Spirit. Among them we find that the Spirit chooses the gifts that every believer will be given. The Spirit provides counsel and acts as an advocate. The Spirit provides comfort. The Spirit comes with power. These are but a few such images. These images sound similar to that which people might also have. However, the source comes from God and not man.
A normal part of Pentecost Sunday worship includes the confirmation of youth. Confirmation is a rite where a young person (or adult) confirms the vows that were taken on their behalf in their baptism or is baptized if it hasn't already taken place. Put another way, confirmation is one way of publicly professing one's faith in Jesus Christ before the community of faith. As part of this ceremony, the individual most often takes vows of membership as well. So, there is progression that one sees, membership in the universal Church by baptism/profession of faith to membership in the United Methodist Church to membership in Trinity United Methodist Church.
We have three youth who will be confirmed this year. Mary Kate McCune (who will actually be confirmed at the early service on May 13th), Naomi Diamond and Emelia Geyer (who will also be baptize). During the confirmation service, the congregation will be asking for the Holy Spirit to come upon these young people and empower them for ministry and life. And in doing so, it is my prayer that we will make room for them in the ministry of Trinity United Methodist Church.
I hope that you will be able to join us on May 20th at 10:00 AM as we come together as one congregation to celebrate our youth's faith journey, remember your own journey, and then have a potluck luncheon after the service.
- Pastor Ken


April 2018

As we have gotten through the Easter worship experiences, we can now reflect and grow from the knowledge of what God has done for us through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. I believe that as we remember the generous outpouring of God's love shown to us, our hearts should also be overflowing with that same kind of love shown through generosity. When I speak of generosity, I'm speaking less about how much we give of ourselves to others. Rather, I'm talking more about the motivation behind our actions or what causes us to be generous.

Over the last six months, there has been a small group of people from Trinity UMC that began participating on a two year program called the Academy for Church Finances. We were asked to develop goals for the year, both personally and for our congregation. Among my goals, I stated that I wanted to become more generous. While I think I am already pretty generous, I also want to be generous in more than just money, time, and talents. I want to be generous in my heart where I don't think about how much I have or should give of myself. I want my giving to flow from my relationship with Jesus as natural as breathing is. I want my generosity to flow from my heart instead of my head.

I am inviting you to join me on this journey of self-discovery. Over the next several weeks, we will be exploring what Easter means to us and how it can help form generous hearts that result in generous actions. In other words, we will be looking at what it means for us to be living generous lives. And generous lives bless not only ourselves, but also bless our neighbors.

-Pastor Ken


March 2018

A couple weeks ago, I was preparing to preach at the Lenten Worship Service at Otterbein UMC. My sermon basically was that there should be an integrity between who we say we are and what we do. The illustration for my sermon was a banana. As I peeled the banana what I revealed wasn't the tasty fruit that people expected, but a bunch of cotton balls. Yes, I previously peeled and ate the banana and then carefully put cotton balls in the peel and glued it shut. And yes, I accidentally glued my self to the banana.

As we approach Easter, moving from Good Friday to Easter morning, we find the disciples going from what they expected (dead Jesus in tomb) to the unexpected (tomb was empty). This raises the question for each of us, "What do I expect to find as I come close to the tomb on Easter morning?" The sermon for Easter morning is our final message in our series "A Simple Way to Pray." It is entitled, "The Great Amen!"

I hope that you will be able to join us for worship on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, and Easter morning. On April 1st, we will have SonRise Worship at the Orchard House Center (6:30 AM), followed by Easter Worship at 8:15 AM and 11:00 AM. In addition, the community's Good Friday "Cross Walk" will begin at 10:30 AM on March 30th on our front steps.

After Easter, we will begin exploring how our faith in a risen Christ helps us live generously. We will be discussing not only financial generosity, but also take a holistic look at stewardship. Our generosity toward others flows from God's generosity to us.

May the God who gives generously to us; bless each of you with the fellowship of his Holy Spirit, so that you will find encouragement to live and love as Jesus did. Amen.

-Pastor Ken


February 2018

It seems like we just got through Christmas, but in less that two weeks we begin the season of Lent. Our message series, The Art of Neighboring, is coming to an end. Lent and Easter come early this year with Lent beginning February 14th and Easter falling on April 1st. Stay on the look out for more Lenten activities in the Sunday morning bulletins.

Beginning February 18th, we will begin a new message series that will help us develop a deeper prayer life as individuals and as a church. The tentative title of the series is "Six Prayer Hats" based loosely on the work of Edward de Bono's book on creativity, Six Thinking Hats. I will also be leading a Bible study on the Six Prayer Hats, that will take place in the Philathea Conference Room during the Sunday School time. This Bible study will also begin on February 18th.

The in-town cluster of United Methodist Churches will be holding Lenten worship services every Wednesday during Lent. The first service will take place on Ash Wednesday (February 14th) at Calvary UMC. The preacher will be Rev. Mike Cantley from St. Luke's UMC. Trinity UMC will host the Lenten service on March 14th with Rev. Mark Mooney preaching. I will be preaching on February 28th at Otterbein UMC.

I just got back from ROCK with our youth and young adults. We have some amazing youth! They really are quite impressive and I'm excited for their futures. We also have wonderful adults who really love our young people. While some went along as chaperones, the support of our congregation for our youth is quite amazing. You are a very generous congregation!

Speaking of youth, we will be celebrating Scouting Ministries Sunday on February 11th. We are blessed to have American Heritage Girls, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and a Venture Crew as part of our youth ministry.

-Pastor Ken


January 2018

Well, we got through the Advent/Christmas schedule of events, activities, and worship relatively unscathed. It is as we approach the new year that I can really appreciate our church staff and volunteers. There is simply so much going on programmatically, administratively, and in worship that I am always amazed at the abilities of our wonderful staff and volunteers.

I hope that you had a wonderfully blessed Christmas in worship, at home, and in the community. I know that I did. In fact, I didn't even open my computer on Christmas Day this year and simply enjoyed being at home with Diane and the pups. I can also tell you that Diane and I truly appreciated the gifts, cards, and well wishes that we received from our church family this year.

Now, we can begin looking toward 2018 in the life of our congregation. There are several goals that I have for 2018 that I am really excited about and I want to share two of them with you today.

Starting January 14th, we will be exploring the "Art of Neighboring" in worship so that each of us can better connect with our neighbors in our homes, workplaces, schools, and church. As part of this, I want us to reflect upon how well we know our neighbors. Over the next several months, I want to visit with you so that you can share with me something about your neighbors. As we begin this series, I'll be making up a schedule where you can sign-up for me to visit with you. Also, I'm going to be setting up a time for us to get together, at the church, and watch the 1941 movie "Meet John Doe" staring Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Brennan. Diane and I watched it at home and we were amazed at how this movie talks about "Neighboring". So, watch out for more information about the movie and scheduling a time for me to visit with you over the next several weeks.

During Lent, February 18th thru March 25th, we will be looking at the topic of prayer. We will be exploring the Biblical aspects of prayer during worship, as well as, offering a Bible study on prayer. By the time we finish, we will have developed some new prayer practices for us as individuals and new ministries for us as a congregation. I believe that prayer is a foundational spiritual practice for us as Christians and for the church. It is my hope that as our prayer lives increase, so will our connection with God and each other.

As the year starts to unfold, I'll be sharing the rest of my goals with you. I can't hardly wait for us to get started! May God bless you, your family, our congregation, and our community during 2018!

-Pastor Ken.

[i] Claim the Name Confirmation (Cokesbury, Nashville), p75
[ii]Ferguson, Charles, “Organizing the Beat the Devil” (Doubleday, Garden City, NJ), 1971.
[iii] See Acts 6
[iv] See Acts 5