Director of Congregational Care

Ruth King

 

A Note from Ruth

 

October 2017 Message


I recently returned from what I am now calling, “The Adventure of a Lifetime” - my trip to Ghana.  The eleven days were rather exhausting at times as travel in Africa is challenging and we rode by bus stopping at seven different towns/cities.  We were totally immersed in the Ghanaian culture eating the local dishes, touring schools and medical clinics and learning many of their customs.  It is a time I will never forget and I want to share briefly in this article about what touched my heart deeply – the Ghanaian’s spirit of hospitality!

They are an incredibly joyous people – an amazingly friendly people – and above all else, they are welcoming in a way (I believe) our culture has forgotten.  Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the air conditioner on our bus only worked the first day so that meant we rode with windows wide open for 10 days.  We would end our days with laps full of red dust BUT this enabled us to wave and holler “hello” for hours and hours as we traveled at 10-20 mph along bumpy roads.  We never got tired of waving and greeting the Ghanaian people and they rewarded us with huge smiles and shouts of “Obroni, Obroni” (their word for foreigner). 

Their generosity is remarkable in the midst of poverty.  You never decline whatever they wish to share as that would be considered rude even though you know it is going to mean they will eat less that particular day.  One day, we even loaded live guinea fowl on our bus as that was the village’s gift to our team!  We were able to take it back to where we were staying and the kitchen staff took it from there… 

We began each visit by everyone sitting down and sharing their names.  This is an important piece in their culture and often explanations were given about why they were given a certain name.  We were then given bottles of water by the Ghanaians which by the end of our stay we lovingly labeled, “taking the drink!”  We would then sit and drink together before we eventually told them why we were on our “Missionary Journey.”  This all took a lot of time but I assure you we were never bored as relationships were formed and friendships were made.  We didn’t eat at every stop (thank goodness!) but if we did, it followed our time of sharing after we had gotten to know each other a little better.  This was such a lesson to me, in my life of running from place to place on a daily basis, how important it is to take time for relationships – to stop, take the drink, and get acquainted with folks.

I will close by also sharing that the Ghanaians are a deeply spiritual people.  We were always accompanied by

a “local” pastor as we moved from place to place.  Every time we boarded the bus and every time we exited

the bus, we prayed – every time.  We were also privileged to attend two different three-hour worship services

where we praised God and danced our way to the offering basket.  The Holy Spirit is alive and well in Ghana

and I will be forever grateful that God gave me the strength and the energy to not just survive this amazing

journey, but to come home changed and renewed!!  As my friends in Ghana like to say, “Alleluia.” “Amen.”

 

June/July 2017 Message

 

The “Lazy-Hazy-Crazy” days of summer are not quite here yet as I sit writing this article but I’m confident by the time you read this newsletter, we will be enjoying some warmer temperatures.  I for one am looking forward to leaving my coat in the closet for a couple months and taking some long walks in the country as our summer schedules tend to be a little slower – or are they??  Packing and unpacking for vacations, repeated trips to the Little League field, even preparing for the annual family reunion can begin to feel like work as these “fun” summer activities can sometimes sap our energy. 

Scripture says in Genesis 2:3, “Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”  God understood the importance of rest – so much so that He himself rested and also included this verse in the Bible so we would pay attention.  “Kicking back” is important and necessary for us to be the best version of the people God created us to be.  If our tanks run on empty, we will soon lack the stamina to do well spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.  Our relationships with family and friends will suffer and I’m pretty sure our relationship with Jesus will suffer as well. 

If you are the type of person that feels guilty or unfulfilled if you’re not busy all the time, it’s important to remember that everything on your “to do” list doesn’t need done immediately!  The older I get, the more relaxed I have become as I attempt to prioritize my schedule for the day.  We read in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”  My interpretation of this verse is, “Don’t worry, Ruth; the chores will still be there.  They aren’t going anywhere!  Sit down and have that glass of iced tea in your beautiful backyard; Listen to your granddaughter read another story; Pray about some of those “undone” items on your list making sure you are using your time wisely.” 

Your to-do list will look different than mine and your ideas for relaxation will look different too.  That’s ok - just don’t let summer fly by without remembering the importance God places on rest.    “Summer and winter and spring-time and harvest; Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!”

Ruth

 

 

April 2017 Message


I really enjoy the season of Lent – perhaps more than the season of Advent! 

 

Every year, when the Christmas season is over and we begin to start thinking and planning for Lent, inevitably I look at my calendar and label Easter either “early” or “late”.  This year I have decided it is “late”.   I got so curious I even googled the question, “Why does the date of Easter change every year?”   I found out it can fall anywhere between March 22 and April 25 and is always celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon.  This is all established from historical tables and ultimately determines if I can wear sandals or boots with my Easter dress!   But seriously…..

 

Perhaps you do something similar every January or maybe it’s just me since I’m on staff here at Park Church and these things matter.  By the time you read this, we are well into the Lenten Season which began on Ash Wednesday.   At that meaningful service, we were reminded of our Lord’s suffering and death on the cross while sharing Holy Communion and receiving ashes on our foreheads as a reminder that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return.”  Devotional prayer journals were handed out to be used as tools to reflect on scripture and renew our sometimes-weary spirits.   Maybe you gave up something or took on something in an effort to feel closer to Jesus.  If you did, I pray it is making a difference in your faith journey because this is how we grow and change.  But if you didn’t, and if all this talk of Lent and Easter is catching you off guard, you need to know it isn’t too late to remember Holy Week and take advantage of the worship opportunities in our sanctuary. 

 

April 9th is Palm Sunday when we shout “Hosanna to the Son of David” remembering Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  We will take home palm branches to remind us “the crowd cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.”

 

There will be Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday Services in the days leading up to Easter.  Please come at 7:30 p.m. and remember the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Disciples; His Crucifixion on the Cross and the Service of “Waiting” for Christ to rise from the dead. 

 

All this prepares us for the celebration that will occur on Easter Sunday, April 16thA Sunrise Service will be held in the church library at 6:30 a.m. followed by a hot breakfast in the Fellowship Hall.  Worship begins at 10:30 a.m. where we will gather and greet each other with the well-known words “Alleluia! Christ is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia!”  Please join me for one of my favorite weeks of the year.  And then let’s continue the celebration throughout the rest of the year





February 2017 Message

Faithful Intentions

January has come and gone and perhaps along with it, our New Year’s Resolutions.  I recently came across the idea of “faithful intentions” while reading a devotion and I immediately thought that I might prefer that phrase when considering making improvements in my daily living.

For some reason, when I “break” a resolution, I tend to feel like there is no going back.  I didn’t drink the four glasses of water yesterday that I promised myself I would consume so no point in drinking them today.  That’s all it takes.  One slip up and I feel like I have failed.  My record is no longer perfect so what’s the point!

When I think about a “faithful intention”, my whole mindset seems to change.  Every morning when I am having my quiet time, I have the opportunity to reset my mind and my soul.  I need to remind myself that even if I failed yesterday, God has granted me another day with renewed energy to try again.  I am not perfect but I am improving!  That’s grace and I believe that’s the difference between a failed resolution and a faithful intention. 

Of course, this is going to take some effort on our part.  God can pour down all sorts of grace on us but if we don’t make an effort to grow spiritually, not much is going to happen.  Following is “A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition” used in the Covenant Renewal Service, often celebrated on New Year’s Day.  It’s actually printed on page #607 in our hymnal and a wonderful prayer to use all year long.

I am no longer my own, but thine. 

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low by thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.  Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.  So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.  Amen.

 

You don’t have to tackle all your defects and weaknesses this week or even this year, but you can earnestly strive to be more spiritual starting today!  Then re-make that “faithful intention” the next day and the next….

 

 

 


December 2016 Message

I know God gave Rick and I grandchildren to love and enjoy BUT I also believe he gave us grandchildren to keep us on our toes!!  Troy is especially good at asking me faith questions.  Sometimes he catches me when I’m busy or tired so my answers aren’t always super thoughtful.  Lately I have been trying to do a better job of stopping to really listen to his question then taking time to share what hopefully is a helpful response. 

 

His latest question was, “What is Advent, Grandma?”  He asked me this following worship so I was busy running around touching base with my church family doing my best to fulfill my role as Congregational Care Director.  He had a devotional in his hand – you know – the one Cheryl Davis gifted you with along with a piece of candy!  He was asking if he could take one home with him but he obviously wanted to know if Advent was something he wanted to read about.

 

I immediately stopped, looked him in the eye and began to describe to him what Advent means to me.  I explained that Advent begins this year on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.  It always includes four Sundays and officially ends on December 25th.  I told him it is a time of “waiting”, of preparing our hearts for the coming of baby Jesus on Christmas Day.  I took this opportunity to remind him of the “Reason for the Season.”  It was a good teaching moment and since Troy took the devotional home with him, I’m thinking I did ok!!

 

His question did prompt me to google the word “Advent” which I learned is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming.”  That’s the part I left out when I was caught off-guard by my 10-year old grandson.  Yes, we are “waiting” to celebrate Jesus’s birthday on Christmas Day BUT we also need to remember that Jesus is coming – AGAIN – someday – Scripture promises this.

 

Life is hard.  Some days are difficult and especially dark.  We need to stay close to God.  We need to search for His light every way we can think of.  I don’t believe God wants us to rest on our laurels while we wait for Him.  I believe He calls us to be His hands and feet. 

 

This Advent Season, let’s covenant to make a difference in our lives as well as the lives of those we hold dear.  You’ll

have to give up something that is precious to each and every one of us – that something is TIME.  Take time to pray; Take

time to read your advent devotional; Take time to visit a shut-in; Take time to write a note or make a phone call; Take

time to listen to your grandchildren (and/or children).  I’m glad I did…

 

 

October 2016 Message

Recently I read during my quiet time a devotion that included verse 14 from the book of Romans, Chapter 8 - “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”

 

I know I claim to be a child of God BUT I also know I don’t always behave that way.  Some days I pay lip service to the idea that God lives and breathes in me while allowing my circumstances to affect my attitude.  I tell myself I am a child of God BUT I let other people’s opinions dictate how I think and act.  I tell myself I am a child of God BUT I let my insecurities keep me from being transformed by God’s Spirit.   I tell myself I am a child of God BUT I lose sleep because I am afraid of what the morning may bring.  Perhaps you can relate to this thinking? 

 

This is not how God wants his children to grow in their faith.  We need to lose the But!!  Every time I say I am a child of God, I need to remove the but and instead use the word therefore to carry God’s promise into my life.  Following are a few scripture verses we can lean on the next time you are tempted to say BUT. 

 

“I am a child of God, therefore I don’t have to be afraid or dismayed.  I know God is with me.  He will strengthen me, help me, and uphold me with His hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

 

“I am a child of God, therefore God’s Word is there for me.  It is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  Psalm 119:105

 

“I am a child of God, therefore God is in my midst, a mighty one who will save me; He will rejoice over me with gladness; He will quiet me with his love; He will exult over me with loud singing.”  Zephaniah 3:17

 

God’s word can and will lift us above any situation or circumstance that is bringing us down.  God loves us and we need to love ourselves enough to realize we ALL have a special purpose in God’s world.  We can never say that “nobody loves us” because our Father loves us unconditionally.  We need to believe in ourselves (and each other) instead of allowing circumstances to bring us down.  We need to read the word of God daily in an effort to invite our Father consistently into our hearts.  And we need to put our best foot forward each and every day because how will we ever convince the world that God loves them, if we don’t first love ourselves and each other as Jesus commanded.  Let’s try to lose the But and challenge ourselves to live as children of God wherever our daily life takes us…

 


June/July 2016 Message


 

In the wake of General Conference and with Annual Conference just around the corner, I have been thinking quite a bit about what it means to be “the church.”

 

When I started to meditate about what I would write, I pretty quickly thought about a song I remember singing in Sunday School.  You may remember it too -  It’s called, “We Are the Church.”  Did you know it is actually in our hymnal – written not that long ago in 1972 by Richard Avery and Donald Marsh.  I bet right now you are starting to hum it and maybe even adding the hand motions we were taught. 

 

It begins with the refrain: I am the church! You are the church!  We are the church together!  All who follow Jesus, all around the world!  Yes, we're the church together!  What exactly does this mean to you?  Do you see yourself as “the church”?  Do you look forward to seeing your church family every week in an effort to be “the church together”? 

 

The first verse goes on to say that: The church is not a building; the church is not a steeple; the church is not a resting place; the church is a people.  That means us – reaching out to a hurting world and showing hospitality when folks come into our sanctuary.  Our goal should be for people to encounter God and find a sense of belonging when they enter our midst. 

 

The second verse speaks of diversity and how we need to embrace those that may be different: We're many kinds of people, with many kinds of faces, all colors and all ages, too from all times and places.

 

In verse three we sing: Sometimes the church is marching; sometimes it's bravely burning, sometimes it's riding, sometimes hiding; always it's learning.  Show up.  Be present.  Do a task nobody else wants to do.  Give of yourself until you are physically spent – God will refresh you.

 

Verse four talks about the different aspects of the church when we’re together: And when the people gather, there's singing and there's praying; there's laughing and there's crying sometimes, all of it saying…  We are called as the church to sing and pray; perhaps laugh and cry – excited to be a part of the connectional United Methodist Church.

 

And finally in verse five: At Pentecost some people received the Holy Spirit and told the Good News through the world to all who would hear it.  Let’s be the church.  Let’s step out of our comfort zones to make Christ known to others.  Let’s transform the world by being the feet, hands, ears and eyes of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 


April 2016 Message

 

 Many of you know that I am a long-time member and advocate for Covenant Discipleship in the life of our church. In an effort to keep making progress in our faith journeys, our group “re-writes” our covenant list every year or so. This past December, we added the practice of lectio divina.

I was first introduced to this practice by Sister Carolyn at the Women’s Spirituality Retreat at Olmsted Manor in the fall of 2015. When our covenant disciple group discussed this idea of “divine reading”, we decided it would be a good way to connect the reading of scripture passages with what is going on in our lives.

When we Pray the Scriptures, we begin by reading a few verses of the Bible. We read unhurriedly so that we can listen for the message God has for us there. We ask, “What are you saying to me today, Lord? What am I to hear in this story, parable or prophecy?”

 

Here are the three steps you will want to follow if you are interested in giving this spiritual discipline a try:

 

  • As you read the scripture the first time, listen for the word or phrase that leaps out at you. What word or phrase calls to you or sticks in your memory? As you hear the word, gently take it into your heart and silently recite or ponder the word during the silence.
  • As you read the text a second time, meditate on the word or phrase that speaks to you. Let it interact with your thoughts, your hopes, your memories. Consider how the word or phrase is touching your life today.
  • As you read the text the third and last time, consider how God is calling you forth into doing or being through this scripture. Allow God to use these words to touch you, shape you in your life today. Before you are finished with your quiet time, spend a few more moments in prayer and meditation. If you keep a journal, make some notes about this time apart.

When our covenant group decided to challenge ourselves with lectio divina, it was a really new practice that we didn’t know that much about. We still giggle some weeks as we are not sure if we are pronouncing it correctly!! The funny thing is now that we have made it a part of our weekly discussion, we are quick to point out when we have seen it in other personal devotions or heard about it from other sources. Kind of like when God wants you to pay attention to some area of your life so He keeps revealing it to you over and over until you finally have that A-ha moment when you say, “so that’s what You were trying to teach me today.”

 

Are you ready to add a new spiritual discipline in an effort to enhance your time alone with God? Think about it. Pray about

  



February 2016 Message

Thin Prayers, Fat Prayers – Big Prayers, Small Prayers! So many types of prayers and always plenty to pray about.  

 

Recently I listened to Craig Groeschel preach a sermon on prayer. It was interesting and enlightening and intimidating. Wait – there’s a right way and a wrong way to pray??!! Oh no – how can that be? I still remember a conversation I had with my now deceased father-in-law, Rev. King. I was young and new in my faith and I was asking him just that question. He assured me that there was no right or wrong way to talk to God. He even gave me a book on the subject and sent me on my way feeling pretty good about my somewhat sporadic (at that time) prayer life.  

 

I know I have come a long way since that talk with Dad King. I still believe it is about me talking to God and Him listening and responding in His time. But what I did learn from Pastor Craig’s teaching on this particular week was that I need to be encouraged to pray big and to pray specific. Often we go to our Father with little requests – things that are already in place – like blessings and food. When we take the time to really focus and think about the specific needs in our lives at the moment, God then has the opportunity to work in wonderful ways that we can recognize and ultimately give Him all the glory. When we keep our prayers small and general, we don’t leave much room for God to show us his “supernatural” power. A power so great that we don’t begin to understand it. We aren’t supposed to. Our faith is a mystery that is not easily explained or even understood.

 

And it’s not just Craig Groeschel that has me thinking about how I pray either. It’s granddaughter, Chloe. Lately when we sit down for a meal at Pa and Grandma’s house, Chloe makes sure somebody says grace. It isn’t like we weren’t saying grace before, it’s just now Chloe is the one giving the orders. When all this started, it was all about Chloe picking who would pray – and let me be clear – Chloe wasn’t about to be that person! The sweet thing about this story is that now Chloe picks the person to say grace and she copies them. One sentence at a time – she repeats what we say. Talk about intimidating!!!!!! Like I said earlier, faith is a mystery – like using a five-year old to teach me to pray differently.

 

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 encourages us to, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Moving forward in 2016, let’s rejoice always, pray BIG, SPECIFIC prayers continually and give thanks in all circumstances. God loves us and He is waiting to hear from His people so that His glory can be seen and recognized by ALL.

Ruth

 

 


LAY PASTORS

 

 

 Park Church currently has an active group of “lay” people that minister to our congregation. The Lay Pastor Ministry was created in the spring of 2012 to help our pastor meet the needs of our congregation. As your Congregational Care Director, I am so happy to have this wonderful group of ladies who are a living witness of Christ’s love and grace to our folks. Currently they are: Sally Barbour, Toni Derks, Mary Lou Hopkins, Cathy Howard, Ruth King, Rita Otto, Betsy Sceiford, Sharon Swift, and Sue Travis.

A Lay Pastor training will be held soon to help equip individuals to make occasional visits to someone in the nursing home or hospital, pray for and with someone or offer a kind listening ear. The total length of this training is only 5-6 hours and will take place in three different sessions beginning February 19th. This ministry is not to be confused with Stephen Ministries which is a one-on-one relationship between a Stephen Minister and a Care Receiver for an extended period of time. Education and training enables us to be better caregivers-it even helps us be better friends and better listeners with our family, friends and coworkers. Three people have already committed to this training but I am hoping others may read this and feel called to talk to me about the details. NOTE: - this ministry is open to both men and women. Please prayerfully consider if God may be calling you to use some of your time and energy in this direction. Ruth King will be offering the training beginning February 19th from 10:30 to noon. Please speak to Ruth, 725-4105, if you have questions or need more information before making a decision.

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