For February 2014
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From Our District President
A Congregation’s Witness
I’m grateful for Grace. Grace Moravian Church in Westland, Michigan celebrates Black History month each February. During worship this past Sunday we prayed a liturgy acknowledging the “anguished cries” of ancestors. Below is a highly abbreviated version of it. The responses all come from the hymn, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” (see #707 in the Moravian Book of Worship).
God, you heard the anguished cries of our ancestors, forcibly enslaved.
“Stony the road we trod.”
You have seen women’s dreams for a united family vanish as they were sold at auction blocks.
“Bitter the chastening rod, felt in the days when hope unborn had died.”
God you have ignited the sparks within us into a blazing demand for freedom, equality and justice.
“Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet, come to the place for which our fathers sighed?”
God you have seen our tears. You have been pained by the evil of human hearts. Yet, you loved humanity enough that you sent your only Son to identify with the outcast, marginalized and rejected.
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears.”
God you wiped every teardrop during out exile in captivity.
“Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee.”
Our ancestors’ hard work, their courage, their convictions, and their belief in you paved the way for our emancipation and education.
“Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world we forget Thee.
Shadowed beneath Thy hand, may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.”
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to learn this hymn. Stand to sing with passion. Though race is a gift, an expression of God’s self in creation, when race comes up in conversation too often dis-ease enters. One of my mentors, Gwen Jackson, walked to Selma many years ago. She tells the story of being on the end of a line of marchers. Someone approached her and spit on her face. She walked on, bearing the hatred and ignorance, bearing the spittle. To wipe it off would have been interpreted as an act of aggression by the authorities. So she wore it on her face and walked on. Gwen went on to become the National Chair of Volunteers for the Red Cross.
In this month of February, I encourage you to give thanks for the races, created in God’s image. And as we give thanks, remember the work that yet needs to be done for each one to find dignity, the courage to bear the fears of others, and the capacity to live as “blessed” (Matthew 5:1-12).
[Note: After searching the internet, I was unable to find the author of the liturgy I abbreviated.]
Young Adult Retreat
Open to all Western District young adults ages 18-30 on February 21st-23rd at Mt. Morris Camp and Conference Center. The program is entitled “Guidance for the Journey” and will include a live concert by JJ Heller Saturday night. The cost is only $55 and includes the concert, lodging, and meals. Registration forms have been sent to your local church office.
15th Jane Harberg (22 years)
26th Kurt Liebenow (19 years)
2nd Bethel (123 years)
3rd Morongo (57 years)
13th Unionville (144 years)
The Call Process
Please hold Grace MI and Saratoga WI in prayer as they discern God’s guidance in pastoral leading.
Please also hold Marquardt Village in prayer as they discern God’s guidance in a new chaplain.
A Men’s Retreat will be held on February 28th – March 2nd at Mt. Morris. The retreat is sponsored by the Men’s Fellowship of the Lake Mills Moravian Church. The theme will be “Faith Shapers.” Cost of the retreat is $85 and includes lodging and meals. Registration forms have been sent to your local church office.
Pre Synod Area Meetings
Pre-Synod Meetings are designed to prepare delegates and alternates for informed, effective participation at the 2014 Northern Province Synod (June 19th-23rd, 2014). The fall meetings are now complete; a list of the spring meetings is below. If you are unable to attend the meeting in your area, try to attend one in another area. Joint Board members are invited to attend if they wish. Meetings will last about 3 hours; Saturday meetings will generally be in the morning; Sunday meetings will be in the afternoon. Thank you for your participation!
Mar 15 Shepherd
Mar 16 Northfield
Feb 22 Terre Haute
Feb 16 West GB
Feb 15 Saratoga
Feb 23 Ebenezer
Mar 23 TBD
Fall District Conference
Mark your calendars! On September 26th–28th, Craig Atwood will be at Mt. Morris offering a follow-up on his 2013 conference, “Proclaiming The Moravian Story: Understanding and sharing the story of the Moravian Church.” This conference was enjoyed by all who attended. Plan on joining us as we continue to learn more about our rich Moravian history as well as ways to share our Moravian Story.
From the Moravian Ministries Foundation
Viable ministries require a broad base of solid support. The Moravian Ministries Foundation’s Morning Star Campaign Services help churches and agencies create consistent funding streams from members and supporters. Morning Star services include capital campaign con-sulting, year round giving programs, de-velopment and long-range planning ser-vices. Contact Chi-Chi Messick, MMFA Vice President, for more information (HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com”;firstname.lastname@example.org).
Prayer Day for Star Mountain and Middle East Peace
Since 1867 the Moravian Church has been engaged in mission and ministry in the Holy Land. Our ministry there has long been known as Star Mountain and currently serves children with special needs and their families. Following action of our 2006 synods, the Northern and Southern Provinces have a joint membership in Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP). Recently the Provincial Elders Conferences designated May 18, 2014, as a Prayer Day for Star Mountain and Middle East Peace. The coming months are important ones as our country and others are giving increased attention to achieving a just and lasting peace for Israel and Palestine, and the need to support our sisters and brothers at Star Mountain is certainly ongoing.
The 2014 Unity Offering has been designated for “ministry in the interior of Suriname.” March 1 is observed as the founding of the Unitas Fratrum and March 2nd is the Prayer Day for Unity Work and the Sunday when the Unity Offering is often received. The Unity website will soon have detailed infor-mation that you can share with your con-gregation: www.unitasfratrum.org. Your congregation’s check should be made payable to “Moravian Church-Northern Province,” forwarded to Tina Giesler, Provincial Controller, with a note in the memo area indicating “Unity Offering.”
Marquardt Village Wins Forward Award
Marquardt Village is honored to be recognized by Wisconsin Forward Award, Inc. for participating in its program modeled on Baldridge Criteria for Performance Excellence. Achieving WFA’s 2013 Challenger Level qualifies Marquardt Village to continue striving toward the state program’s top-level award and eventually for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the nation’s highest Presidential honor for performance excellence. WFA’s Board of Examiners rigorously evaluates participating organizations in seven core areas aligned with Baldridge Criteria: leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis, and know-ledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results. “This past year was our first year in the WFA pro-gram,” said Sherry Cira, Director of Organizational Advancement for Marquardt. “We are honored to be recognized for beginning this journey of excellence and we are committed to meeting the challenges ahead in the state program – and potentially to apply for the national pro-gram. What we are proudest to accomplish is how our progress toward performance excellence drives us to deliver ever-improving quality and value to our residents and home-based customers every day.” “With feedback from WFA, we have an assessment of strengths and opportunities for improvement that will guide us as we continue to implement excellence systems,” said Matthew Mauthe, Chief Executive Officer. Participating organizations in the Wisconsin Forward Award distinguish themselves as leaders in their field; through commitment to achieving increasingly higher standards of excellence, they enable themselves to be as successful and innovative as possible in their endeavors.
I must admit and face up to the fact that Facebook works…very well. It is new to me; I had avoided it for years. What happened was some key lay leaders who attended a 2013 Stewardship Summit said, “Let’s use Facebook to stay connected throughout the year.” It was a word of encouragement and shove into the real world of social media, so the North American Moravian Stewardship Facebook Group was launched. I invite you to join me, the Western District Stewardship Committee and many other Moravians by getting connected. Face-book offers an opportunity to share ideas and conversation regarding the ministry of Biblical stewardship. The next step for me may actually be a smart phone!!
Facing it together, Gary Marsh (Director of Stewardship, MCNP)