So long

The attached YouTube video is of one of my favorite songs, "Fareweel Regality." It's a bittersweet song of good-bye, with a hope of consolation "on some golden autumn morn or when July is hazing Dipton Slopes." Then, "we'll live and spend the day" again.

Thank you for all your love and support. Peace and love gan with ye.

-- Pastor Art


Dedication of Stained Glass Project

Today was Pentecost. The youth dedicated their stained glass project. All finished. And it only took three years!

Dedication of Stained Glass Project

The Church is the Ark of Salvation
Pastor Collins and some of the youth who worked on the project

Twenty-one youth and nine adults took part, one way or another, in designing and crafting this project. Funds came from a gift by Tammie Lawrence in memory of her mother, Peggy Ragle. Design was done by these three boys, seen here from their confirmation class three years ago. Yep, three pre-teen boys got this going.

All saints at All Saints

All saints at All Saints
2014 Confirmation Class visiting All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church

This is the prayer we used at the dedication, taken from the words of Sir Francis Drake:
Lord God, when you call your servants to endeavor any great matter,
grant us also to know that it is not the beginning,
but the continuing of the same, until it be thoroughly finished,
which yields the true glory;
through him who, for the finishing of your work, laid down his life for us,
our Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Missions Day Camp

A couple dozen youth and adults met at EFUMC this morning for doughnuts and devotions. We then spread out across town to do work for families needing a little extra help. This is following up the success of our three-day missions day camp last summer.

We met back at the church for lunch, then fanned out again to finish up the day's projects.

Pulling some weeds

Cleaning up storm damage
Lots of downed trees around town. Quick work with a chainsaw.

Cleaning up storm damage

Pulling some weeds
Several folks needed help with yardwork. It's been very wet, so yards and gardens have gotten out of control, and some of our people aren't able to keep up.

Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it

Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it
Mava wanted her flagpole painted.

Crossing Over

Cub Pack 129 held its annual Blue and Gold Banquet in Rogers Hall this evening. Tacos were on the menu again this year. Prior to the meal, however, all the Cubs and families and guests gathered in the sanctuary to see the Arrows of Light Den cross over to Boy Scouting. These young men have completed the Cub Scout journey, and they are ready for more and bigger adventures. Most will be joining Troop 119 forthwith; one plans to join Troop 121; at least one is unsure if he will continue on the Upward Trail.

Arrows of Light

Arrows of Light Crossing Over

I did a rough count of those gathered in the sanctuary to see these boys cross over, as well as the other Cubs receive their Whittlin' Chips and Bobcat badges and other awards. All told, we had at least 77 people in the sanctuary for the Crossover ceremony. Counting the people in the kitchen downstairs, there were at least 80 in attendance tonight. That's a lot of people -- and a lot of kids -- that our congregation touches. Later on, I spoke with several people about various things, including at least one very deep conversation with a mom who wants her son to do the God and Me program with me. This is serious Christian Education, serious missionary work. For some of the kids in our Scouting programs, we tell them as much about God as they know. Before the ceremony, one of the Cubs, a fourth grader whom I taught knife safety to last week, looked at me with new respect. "You're a pastor?!" he said. Yes, I'm the pastor of this church. Then, looking at my uniform (which I wasn't wearing last week) he said, "And you're a Boy Scout?!" His eyes shone.

Crossover congregation

Crossover Congregation

Our congregation was well represented at the Blue and Gold/Crossover. We have a number of volunteers and parents involved in our three BSA units. Though I always wish for more, even those who aren't directly involved in Scouting already. It takes all of us to welcome new people, to provide a different kind of bridge for the Scouts and their families to cross over, into new relationships, where our pride in these boys -- and their siblings, and their parents is expressed. All evangelism is relational. It's not enough to bring 'em in, somebody's gotta meet 'em there.

So that's what we do. We welcome those who come through our doors. And teach them about God. And about honor. And talk with their families about the challenge of raising kids in this crazy world. And challenge all of them to take the next step in their relationship with God and in their discipleship. This evening, the newly crossed-over Arrows Den were straining to get at the tacos, and I said, "We gotta pray first." Then, I turned to these 10-year-old boys and said, "You know, if you're so eager to get started, would one of you like to pray so we can start?" Austin immediately volunteered. And so rather than me saying grace, one of the Scouts led everybody in prayer. Just like he did it all the time.

Good job, Austin. Good job, everybody. I am so very proud of you all.

Scout Sunday 2017

We had a great Scout Sunday service at EFUMC today. Cub Scouts served as acolytes. Boy Scouts served as ushers and greeters. Venturers served as liturgist and communion servers. We had the 2017 Scout Sunday patch from NAUMS to give to all the boys and girls in uniform today, and we took up a special offering for the NAUMS Bible Fund.

After worship, we had Scouts and Scouters serving goodies in Rogers Hall for fellowship time. Scouts made s'mores. We had some Danger Cookies (ginger-cayenne cookies, extra strength) left over from the Winter Rendezvous to share. It was wonderful to have so many kids in church!

We also recognized two long-time Scouters from our congregation for their contributions to our ministry with the Cross and Flame Award. Glenn Hargitt earned his Eagle as a boy in Washington State. After leaving the military, he raised his children here in Ellettsville and served as an Assistant Scoutmaster when his son was earning his Eagle. When his grandson crossed over from Cubs to Boy Scouts some years ago, he registered again, this time as Troop Treasurer. He just stepped down last year. He has been a good role model and a faithful servant for EFUMC and for all our Scouts for many years. Kara Nichols came to our congregation when her eldest son was a Cub Scout. All three of her boys have been Scouts with us. Two have completed their Eagle and are now Venturers. For the last several years, Kara has served as our Local Church Coordinator of Scouting Ministry (and as BSA Charter Partner Rep), working with all our Boy Scout and Girl Scout units. She is also an Associate Advisor in our OA lodge, working with our Chapter unit elections team.

Kara and Glenn

Cross and Flame recipients Kara and Glenn
Well done, thou good and faithful servants.

Making S'mores

Making S'mores
Children, do not try this at home; we are professionals

Venturing baristas

Venturing baristas
Zach and Kate serve coffee and goodies during fellowship time

Not to us, O Lord, but to thy Name be glory.

This Sunday is Scout Sunday at EFUMC. Cub Pack 129, Boy Scout Troop 119, and Venturing Crew 119 will all take part in the service and help with the fellowship time afterwards. There will also be some special recognitions during the service.

The sermon will be from Isaiah 6:1-10. The sermon title: A Taste of Fire. We will celebrate Holy Communion.

You are cordially invited to share the morning with us. Worship is at 9:30 a.m. Fellowship time follows immediately thereafter, and Sunday School takes up about 11:00 a.m. or so.

Venturing Crew 119 Schedule

Our happy Crew met today and worked on calendar items. Here's what we're up to. All youth (boys and girls) ages 14-20 are welcome to be part of Crew 119.

February 5 Scout Sunday at EFUMC. Worship at 9:30 a.m. Be here 9:15 a.m. Stay for fellowship time after.

February 12 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m. Work on Financial Aid for High Adventure trip. Prep lasagne for Tri-Kappa Dinner.

February 13 Cater Tri-Kappa Founder's Day Dinner. Be here 5:00 p.m. for 6:15 serving.

February 19 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m. Structured reflection and personal goal setting.

February 26 CPR/1st Aid at Ellettsville Firehouse 1:00 p.m.

March 5 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m. Gearing up for backpacking.

March 9 Cater District Dinner. Time TBA.

March 10-12 HTC Wilderness & Remote First Aid course at Maumee Scout Reservation. Cost: $75. Must have current CPR card to participate.

March 16-18? Backpacking shakedown, Deam Wilderness.

March 26 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m. Ethical controversies.

April 2 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m.

April 9 Council Gala at Nashville; no meeting.

April 15 Intro to Leadership Skills Course at EFUMC (time TBA).

April 21-23 District Spring Camporee at Rogers Quarry.

April 30 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m.

May 7 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m.

May 13? Outdoor activity? Conditioner hike?

May 21 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m. Parents' meeting for Kandersteg.

June 4 Meeting at EFUMC 1:00 p.m.

June 12-19? High Adventure trip to Kandersteg International Scout Camp, Switzerland.

June 25 Photo Party and Court of Honor (time and place TBA).

The Wordsmith's Forge

My newsletter column for February

The mission of The United Methodist Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Making disciples is the Main Thing we do. And in any organization or endeavor, the main thing is keeping the Main Thing the main thing.

To assist in this, I will be leading a short-term class on Making Disciples during Sunday School, beginning January 29, 2017. Judy Carl asked me to sub in the Adult class for a few weeks, so I’m taking the opportunity to get my licks in on this vital topic.

Everybody in the congregation knows that I have a doctoral degree. Some people call me “Dr. Collins” as a matter of respect. Me, I tell people I have an ornamental doctorate, since my actual degree is not related to pastoral ministry or theology. Those folks who assume that I have either a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) or Doctor of Divinity (DD) or something like that are in error. My actual degree is a PhD in Secondary Education: Curriculum and Instruction. You see, once upon a time, I thought I would like to teach Christian Education in a seminary. When any such job failed to materialize, I was led back to the pastorate.

My concern, then and now, was not just to be a good maker of disciples myself, but to teach others how to do it. To teach congregations how to organize it. To teach clergy how to guide it. You all have seen me lead retreats, organize church camps, teach confirmation classes, work with our Scout units, lead mission trips. I have a passion to teach the faith. But I am not able to do these things because I’m just so personally awesome or something. You can learn how to do this stuff. I grew up a church orphan and had to learn all this. You can, too. And we need more people doing it than just the pastor for the church to thrive and to succeed in its pursuit of the Main Thing.

So this will be the what this short-term class will explore. f you are interested in this topic, please join us. The outline of the course is as follows. Sunday School follows Fellowship Time each Sunday at around 11:00 (or whenever we can pull people away from the coffee pot).

Making Disciples

January 29: The Primary Task of the Church
February 5: Spiritual Formation: Catechism or Cataclysm?
February 12: The Three Columns of Christian Education
February 19: Content Knowledge
February 26: Spiritual Skills
March 5: Ideas, Values, Experiences
March 12: Group Life
March 19: Starting and Sustaining Groups and Classes
March 26: Spiritual Leadership

Merry Christmas!

It was a short night here at EFUMC. We had a beautiful service of candle-lighting and holy communion last night. The sanctuary was circled by worshipers greeting the coming of our king. This morning, we gathered again to offer our praise to our Lord Jesus.

And to welcome two new members to our church: Bonnie Harding-Bickel, who is transferring her membership from Ellettsville Christian Church; and K.C. Stimson, who is transferring his membership from Ellettsville First Baptist Church. We rejoice to have you as members and friends!

Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning
The Master's house awaits his guests

Happy birthday, Jesus!

Happy birthday, Jesus!
A carrot cake for Jesus, by request

Welcome, new members!

Welcome, new members!
K.C. and Bonnie get to cut the cake

Joy, joy, joy

We had a nice gathering in worship this morning. Lots of presents under the Christmas tree for families in need in the community; after the service, the Missions Committee gathered them up to deliver them. The Choir had a fantastic cantata last week, and shared one of the pieces from that this morning. And three more speakers shared their Christmas messages for our Festival of Preaching.

We have had women and men, youth and young adults, all speaking in place of the pastor's regular sermon for three of the four Sundays in Advent. It has been a blessing to us all. Everyone has a story to tell or an insight from God to share. Asking people to share their stories and insights helps develop leadership in them, but it also builds up the congregation. I've been at this long enough to know that, important as the pastor's preaching ministry is, the ministry of calling forth the talents and wisdom of the congregation is equally important. Thank you T.J. Nichols, Dan Rogers, Bonnie Bickel, Evan Oldham, Jerry Pittsford, Tammie Lawrence, Neely Slabaugh, Laurie Samuelson, and Dan Rarey, for your witness. You have informed, delighted, and moved us all.

Saturday night is our Christmas Eve Service of Candle-lighting and Holy Communion at 11:00 p.m. This is always a high point in the year. You are welcome to join us.

Sunday morning, Christmas Day, worship will be at 9:30 a.m. There will be a big birthday cake for Jesus during fellowship time. Your humble servant will preach the Christmas sermon. No Sunday School on this day.

How great our Joy!