Trinity United Methodist Church
Saturday, April 17, 2021
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March 2021
There is no doubt that this past year has been a year of change. From masks to social distancing to drive-in worship to using Zoom to staying indoors to fighting for toilet paper: we have been seeing change in the way we do things. Some of the changes we will see as positive and want to hold on to. Others we will want to discard. The reality is that the world, including our church life, is and will be different that it was a year ago.

As we move closer to Holy Week (Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter) I think about how those events changed in lives of the disciples and ultimately the church. As time went on, after Easter and Pentecost, the situation for the church evolved. While the message of salvation stayed the same, the disciples had to change and adapt the way that they got the message into the world. Paul shares this when he says, "This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God's wonderful grace" (Colossians 1:6 NLT). 

I think that we find ourselves, in a similar situation today. The saving message of Jesus Christ is the same, but the way in which we share that message has changed due to the changing world around us. The early Christians moved from Jewish worldview to include a Gentile (non-Jewish) worldview. Over time, politics, technology, culture, and world events caused the church to adapt new ways in how the Gospel message could be proclaimed without changing the message itself. The challenge for us is to embrace both the Gospel message and those who we must reach with it. Our mission, as the church, has remained the same throughout time when Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations. 

Trinity United Methodist Church finds itself being reinvented with every pastoral change. As I finish my ministry with you before retirement, we must look forward to how our ministry will evolve into the future. And as the pandemic winds down, we must also look forward to what we learned about how to be the church in this constantly evolving world.

During the time between Easter and Pentecost, we can be like the very first iteration of the church.  We should reflect upon the death and resurrection of our Savior, while we look forward the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to be the true body of Christ. Then we can reach out with the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, make disciples of all nations in an ever-changing world.

Pastor Ken
January 2020
As we begin 2020, we find ourselves looking at the past year...our successes and failures; and then we look toward the year yet to come. We lament our dreams not attained, and often set our goals for the coming year. Too often, we set unobtainable goals that will only cause us pain, embarrassment, and shame next year at this time. This makes me wonder, if we too often consider the wrong things as we look at the future. We tend to focus on our shortcomings, failures and inabilities that prevent us from reach our goals. 
Perhaps, we would be better off as individuals and as a congregation, to examine our mission/purpose in light of our strengths and gifts. Instead of focusing on what we can't accomplish, we should look at what we can. Paul's encourages his young protege, Timothy, when he tells him, "I know that same faith continues strong in you. This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline...For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 1:5b-7,9). Just as Paul reminds Timothy that God has already given him everything that he needs to fulfill his purpose in his life, we need to remember that the same is true for us. And as we fan into flames our gift(s), by making use of them, we become even more empowered for ministry. This is true for us as individuals and as the body of Christ.
This doesn't mean that we don't work to connect our deficiencies. I believe that as we intentionally work toward our mission and purpose that has given us, we will address those things that keep us from more fully using our gifts, talents and abilities. Instead of lamenting our weaknesses, we can see where God has been at work through our weaknesses. Paul speaks about his thorn in the flesh. He acknowledges its existence, but eventually accepts its presence. He tells us, "Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me" (2 Corinthians 12:8-9). We should realize that even in our imperfection, God's grace is enough for us to fulfill God's purpose in our lives.
It is my hope and prayer, that we as individuals and as a congregation, we discover that God has already given us all the gifts that we need for the ministry that he has planned for us to accomplish. As we use them with power, love, and self-discipline, we believing ourselves to be inadequate, we will see our future as God sees it and know that God's grace is enough!
-Pastor Ken
 September 2019
"What's Next?"
On Friday, August 30th I graduated! Not from high school or college. I graduated from "Cardiac Rehab" at the Wellness Center of Berkeley Medical Center. I received a certificate of completion signed by the wonderful staff of the rehab center and along with my fellow rehabbers we celebrated fora  few minutes...after my last workout. As I reflect upon the events of that day, there are several things that come to mind.
The certificate that I earned is just as important, maybe even more important, as any one of my four college degrees that I have earned. When I began this program in May, I only had the strength to life about 5-10 pounds; didn't have much stamina on any of the exercise machines; was sore from having open heart surgery; and also had some amount of fear that I might end up in the hospital again. After three months of exercise, education, and support I have regained much of my strength and endurance. This is especially true over the last couple of weeks. I still have some days where I don't feel as well as others, but overall, I'm feeling pretty good.
One of the most important attributes of the cardiac rehab program is encouragement. As I shared at my graduation, I had been surrounded by a bunch of unicorns. Just as a group of fish are called a school, a group of birds are a flock and a group of cows are a herd; there is a special term for a group of unicorns. Two or more unicorns are called a "blessing". It was crucial to my recovery that I had support and encouragement from others. The staff was fantastic, not only in their knowledge, but also in their ability to encourage me to keep on trying. Encouragement also came from the people in the program, who encouraged me and made sure I was okay. They really were unicorns... a true blessing to me in my recovery. 
One important part of rehab is to learn about heart and pulmonary disease with the goal of not having another heart attack or pulmonary problem. Each week, we learned about various topics related to heart disease, such as, diet, exercise, cholesterol, among others. The idea is that the more that we learn about what caused us to have heart issues, the better we can both prevent another episode and continue in healthy recovery.
Graduation isn't the end of recovery, but a new beginning. I graduated on Friday and signed up for the exercise program at the Wellness Center on Saturday. While I have gained much of my strength and endurance back, I still have a way to go. I want to build upon that which I have learned and the recovery that I have experienced, so that I can be stronger and healthier. This is just as true spiritually, as it is physically. This reminds me of that Paul tells us in Colossians 2:6-7, "And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness." Whether we are speaking of physical or spiritual health, we need to continue to grow in strength or risk going back to where we were.
In many ways, my experience of cardiac rehab is like that of discipleship. We need practice, encouragement, and learning. To move forward, we also need to keep asking the question, "What's next?"
-Pastor Ken
August 2019
"Be Alert in Prayer"
I was watching my two miniature dachshunds (Ricky and Lily) the other day. No matter where they were laying, they were always alert. Sometimes it was obvious. For example, Ricky and Lily were on the patio surveying the back yard with their eyes, noses and ears. Nothing was going to get past them. Even when laying around in the house, they are constantly staying some degree. It doesn't take much to get them up and going, especially if a crumb of food falls to the floor.
One of my favorite Bible verses on prayer comes from Colossians 4:2; "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." Paul is speaking about the need for us to be active in prayer and not simply passive observers. For myself, I think that Paul is telling us to be looking for opportunities to pray and then do so with a sense of gratitude. Just as my doxies are always looking for an opportunity to go into action, we should be just as alert in our prayer life. This requires us to be observant with all our senses, both physically and spiritually. We should be looking for opportunities to pray. This might be for ourselves, others, ministries, or simply giving thanks to God.
Even when Ricky and Lily are outside, where I can watch them from a window, I can generally tell what they are thinking when they scamper off to defend the homestead. If it is a stranger or critter that seems to put them in protective mode, their tails usually stand straight up as they run. However, if it is our neighbor, Don, they scamper with their tails wagging. As I think about the Colossians 4:2 verse, I am reminded that we not only are to have alert minds, but also thankful hearts when we pray. I guess you can say that when we pray to God, we should be wagging our tails!
The key part of the verse, however, is when Paul tells us to devote ourselves to prayer. For Paul, prayer isn't something that is casually done when you have time. Instead, prayer is to be intentional where we must make time to pray. One of my prayer heroes is the Methodist pastor, E.M. Bounds, who lived 1835-1913. Bounds was known as a man of prayer who would fervently pray from 4 AM - 7 AM every morning. It was often reported that his prayers for people were so intense that he would often be in tears as he prayed.
I got into the habit, early in my ministry, to pray for sirens. To stop what I was doing whenever I heard a siren, even during worship. Some people would criticize me as being unprofessional. However, I would remind them that Jesus healed more people than he raised from the dead. As we consider the idea of opportune prayer, we must also consider timely prayer. We must be prepared and committed to pray at the moment of opportunity, not simply when it is convenient. And we pray with grateful hearts or wagging tails because we are glad to talk to Jesus.
Our world desperately needs people who are devoted to prayer. People who are praying for themselves, others, communities, and the Church. I sometimes wonder if we get what we pray for. Since we don't pray much, we sometimes don't get much. Imagine a community, family, or individual who seeks after every opportunity to pray...even when it seems inappropriate. Imagine what God might do!
 (Originally appeared in the July 27,2019 edition of The Journal)    
-Pastor Ken
July 2019
"What Are You Doing Here?"
When is a distraction a distraction and when is it a God moment?
Among my favorite spiritual practices is to sit in silence and contemplate God. I have discovered two things during this time of contemplation. First, as I empty myself and allow God to fill my soul, I experience a sense of love and peace that is hard to describe. It is almost as if I can feel God's heartbeat beating with my own. It fills me with such a joy that I find it difficult to explain. It leaves me with a sense of gratitude that such a God could love me so deeply. 
The second discovery is to not try to hide from distractions. Often as I sit in silence, a distraction will interrupt and break into the silence. Sometimes it is simply a distraction that causes my mind to move away from the silence. It is simply noise. More often, the distraction leads to something much deeper.  It leads me to an opportunity to encounter God in the moment. As I pay attention to the moment, I may find myself going deeper still to the point of attaining an "aha" moment where my soul resonates with God. It is in this God moment where I feel and sense the presence of God in his fullness. Regardless as to whether it is an affirmation or a corrective, I feel a profound sense of gratitude and joy as I ponder this spiritual insight.
In the midst of every silence is an opportunity for a genuine encounter with God...a God moment. The challenge is in allowing God to speak in that moment. I am reminded of 1 Kings 10 when Elijah stands in the mouth of a cave, listening and waiting for God to be present. God wasn't found in the wind, the earthquake, or the fire. Instead God was found in the gentle whisper. In that moment, God asked a simple question, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"
The Westminster Shorter Catechism, written in the 1640s in England, starts out with this question, "What is the chief end of man?" It then gives this answer, 
"Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."
For myself, entering into silence is waiting for God's gentle whisper, often found in the distractions. The distraction may be large or small, but it calls me to listen for God's voice in the midst of the noise. In a way, the question is always the same, "what are you doing here?" I think the answer is the same, to glorify God and enjoy him forever.
In waiting upon God, I have a deep sense of joy that flows from discovering God's presence. And in that presence, I have become aware of his love that gives me peace. It is in God's presence that I can find deeper meaning through the distractions that break into the silence. For me, these are God moments that provide an opportunity to hear God's voice.
Like Elijah, my greatest challenge is to patiently wait for God's whisper. I am too often tempted to rush and not wait for God's voice to raise up from my soul. Nor am I always patient enough for the answer to also come from the depth of my very being. It is for this reason that I practice spiritual disciplines that teach me to wait for God and look for God moments. I encourage you to find spiritual practices that help you to glorify God and enjoy him forever!
-Pastor Ken
June 2019
After completing in-home physical therapy after my heart bypass surgery, I felt that something else was needed. My physicians made some recommendations on "next" steps. So, several weeks ago, I began the wonderful cardiac rehab program at Berkeley Medical Center. Cardiac rehab is similar to the wellness center, but there is much more monitoring, education, and encouragement. In a recent session, I happened to arrive early and listened to some of the "war" stories. It kind of reminded me of some of the stories you hear in twelve-step meetings. However, the conversation was around individual's cardiopulmonary issues and their recovery plans. Put another way, the discussion seemed to be centered around whose heart attack, surgery or recovery was worst. In some ways the discussion seemed rather strange. But as I thought about it, I realized that what brought us together was our medical issues. In that way, we are united by our desire to recover and live healthy lives.
While pondering this conversation, I began to reflect on how cardiac rehab is similar to a good discipleship program. One way in which the two are similar is in desire. Just as I desire to live a healthy life, I also desire to live a healthy spiritual life. In this sense, I need to repent/change direction of all that moves me away from that goal, both physically and spiritually. You could even say that the end goals are also similar. The goal of both cardiac rehab and discipleship is to live a better and more full life.
Another similarity is the development of a personalized plan. In cardiac rehab, there is a plan that is unique to each participant. While they are similar and contain many of the same steps, they are unique because each participant is unique and their health condition is unique. The same is true with discipleship. While I may spend more time in prayer, someone else may spend more time in Bible study, Christian service, meditation, worship, or fellowship.
Both cardiac rehab and discipleship have a fellowship component. Through fellowship we are encouraged to continue the process, even when we want to stop. We are also challenged to work harder toward our goals. And we are also held accountable for our failures. Associated with fellowship is the need for coaching. In cardiac rehab, there are trained individuals who help set goals, monitor performance, hold us accountable, educate and cheer us on. We also need spiritually mature people to do the same in our discipleship. Sometimes it is hard to see our discipleship goals, our need for improvement and our need to have spiritual friends who can coach us. Far too often, we think we can do it ourselves, but later discover that we have backslid or need something new. 
In the end, our focus needs to be on our large goal of healthy living, both physically and spiritually. This is important, not only during the good and easy times, but also during the hard and difficult.I found that my spiritual life is getting me through my physical challenges. I'm reminded of Paul's description of this when he says, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he had given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love" (Romans 5:3-5). May you develop endurance, both physically and spiritually, for the journey that lies before you!
-Pastor Ken
January 2019
As we begin 2019, I've been thinking a lot about our vision/purpose that reads "As we learn about and experience God's love, we connect with God, with others, and with ourselves."  Last year, I began writing this on my calendar for every Monday. As I begin the week, I have been reminded as to why Trinity United Methodist Church receive and share God's love.
After Church Conference, the Church Council accepted that our theme for 2019 be "Growing Deeper Into God's Love" based upon Ephesians 3:14-19, which reads:
"When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator          of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited    resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then        Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will        grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the              power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how        high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God."
I think it is important that each of us begin reflecting and dreaming about what it means to grow deeper into God's love. But first, we need to understand what love is and isn't. The kind of love that is spoken about in this passage is 'agape' love. 'Agape' love is to actively desire nothing but the best (God's best) for another person. We are recipients of God's 'agape' love, but often we don't explore the bigness of that love or what it really means. Over this coming year, we will be exploring God's 'agape' love more fully. I want us to not only more fully understand it, but also experience it as well.
As a starting point, I encourage you to write out, copy, or cut & paste our vision/purpose statement and the Ephesian 3:14-19 passage. Put it someplace where you will see it weekly or daily. Let the words seep into your souls through prayer and practice. Meditate upon God's word with the expectation of encountering God's 'agape' love. Look for it and put it into practice. It is my hope and prayer that as we better understand God's 'agape' love, we will better connect with God, with others, and with ourselves.
-Pastor Ken 
December 2018
I don't know about you, but time has sure flown by this fall.It is hard to believe that Christmas is only a couple weeks away. Where has the time gone?
So much of our lives are oriented around time. We mark birthdays, annivesaries, special events, and appointments based upon time. In the Bible there are two fancy Greek words used to describe time. The first word is "Chronos" which essentially means tick-tock time. This is the root for the English word "chronological" which speaks of the sequential order of events. Our calendars and diaries, watches and clocks speak to this sequential order of time. Scheduling our Christmas Eve worship service at 7:00 PM on December 24th is an example of Chronos.
The second word for time is "Kairos". Kairos speaks about the quality of time and basically means in the fullness or opportune time. We sometimes talk about doing something when the time is right or in God's time. It reminds me of when small children ask when Santa is going to come, and we say something vague like it's not time yet.
This tension between Chronos and Kairos affects us in many ways. Our temptation to force chronological time onto opportune time; or attempt to schedule opportune time. For example, the opportune time for a spiritual experience isn't necessarily scheduled during the one-hour worship service. That is why, for some people, they might be spiritually affected during worship at different times. And even then, different people may find different parts of any one worship service to affect them differently. This means that we can't "force" or schedule a spiritual experience. The best we can do, is help people discover the opportune time before, during, or after worship occurs. Put another way, we need to be about preparing people to encounter God for whenever the opportune time arrives.
In a way, this is what the season of Advent is all about. It is a time preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ. On one hand, it is a remembering of the fulfillment of God's prophecies made regarding Christ's birth. And on the other, it is a looking forward to when Christ will return in the fullness of God's time.
When we look at time from the viewpoint of Kairos, we can look at each moment as an opportunity for God to act. This allows us to have the child-like Christmas expectation throughout our entire lives. That is what I wish for you, this Christmas season. Look for God to act in opportune moments in revealing his love for you.
-Pastor Ken
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