Jackie DeCarlo, CEO for Manna Foods, was the guest speaker at the October Racial Justice meeting. Jackie discussed how Manna is seeking to address racial and social justice in eliminating food insecurity in our region. The deep inequalities in food and other systems became even more apparent during these many months of the COVID pandemic. To view the recording, click on this link Jackie DeCarlo speaks at SSUMC Racial Justice Meeting
What does it look like to be a more faithful disciple? Not just someone who has a deep faith. Not just a trustworthy church volunteer. A disciple who is deeply connected to the community of faith, growing in their love of God, and transforming the world around them. I’m excited to share a new three-step discipleship-formation course that we’ll be offering on a regular basis. It’s called Journey With Jesus. As we look at the gospels, the church didn’t just happen. It started when Jesus called disciples to follow him, led and taught them by word and example, and then sent them out into the world in the power of the Holy Spirit to do the work of continuing and expanding his ministry. So Journey With Jesus is designed around three steps.
Step 1 is about connection to Jesus Christ through the congregation. It’s along the lines of what we used to call “new member classes.” If you’ve heard the call of Jesus to follow him, but you’re not sure what that might mean, this is where to start.
Step 2 is about growing in your faith through participating in small groups, classes, and ministries through the congregation. Think of this as the time the disciples spent traveling alongside Jesus, watching his ministry and learning from him.
Step 3 is about being sent out to make new disciples and transform the world. How can you be in ministry in your daily life in your home or work? Are you being called to start a new ministry that extends the life of this congregation in new ways? How do you take that step?
Journey with Jesus isn’t a class, and it’s not a ministry program. It’s a discipleship-formation process that can change your life and change the world.
Interested? Click here to find out more and take your next step!
– Rev. Alex
Trunk or Treat is back and we are sooooo excited! Mark your calendars now for Saturday, October 30 from 12 noon to 2:00 p.m. Bring your kids, grandkids, friends and neighbors. We will have lots of trunks, treats and games. Be on the lookout for more information.
Then, on Sunday, October 31, we will celebrate the Children’s Sabbath during both worship services with our children leading us in worship. As a part of this special service, we will present Bibles to our 3rd grade students. All children are invited to wear their costumes (virtually or in person). Please, no weapons or scary masks. During the 11:00 service, the children will trick-or-treat the congregation for UNICEF. If you have a child that would like a part in the service, or that is in 3rd grade and will receive a Bible, please contact Ms. Marie by October 20 as we want to make sure that we include all our children on this special day.
Questions about either of these upcoming events? Contact Ms. Marie.
Today marks 20 years since the attacks on the World Trade Center and Washington D.C. that have defined so much of our lives for two decades. We continue to mourn the lives that were taken, as well as those who gave their lives to protect the safety of others.
As we remember this day, we mourn for a world in which extremism–both religious and political–devalues the lives of others who are different. We recognize the role that our nation and others played in creating a situation in the Middle East in which political rage and religious fundamentalism could come together with such deadly results.
And finally, we look back on how these events changed us, and not for the better. In the name of an unattainable national security we became suspicious of our neighbors, embraced nativism and xenophobia, and embarked on an unending war on terrorism in which we sacrifice lives today to give meaning to the lives we’ve sacrificed before, so that “their sacrifices won’t be in vain.”
On this 20th anniversary of 9/11, it’s hard to know how to pray. We lift a prayer of grief. We lift a prayer of confession. We lift a prayer of hope for a different tomorrow. We pray that we would be the agents of peace and reconciliation that Jesus Christ–the Prince of Peace–has called us to be.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
The riotous assault that occurred on Wednesday January 6, 2021 on the United States Capitol building was a dark and disgraceful event in our nation’s recent history. This dangerous insurrection by an armed mob, fueled by hate and misinformation from the highest levels of our government, was a vicious attack, not only on the seat of our government, but on American democracy itself. Such actions were heartbreaking and wrong and have no place in our political discourse.
We, the members of the Silver Spring United Methodist Church Racial Justice Ministry, strongly condemn this unprecedented attack on our democracy, and we call on all our elected leaders and all communities of faith to do the same.
American voters made their voices heard when they elected Joseph R. Biden, Jr. the next President of the United States. The election was lawful and secure, and the peaceful transition of power is a core tenet of our democracy, one that we always have and always should respect. And, in spite of the violence and threat against their lives, our elected leaders went back to work to protect our democracy, and to fulfill their constitutional duty under the law.
As people of faith, we have important work to do to help heal the divisions in our nation, and to rebuild our relationships with one another in order to prevent such violence in the future. In the spirit of Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, let us focus on that work: to move our churches, our communities, and our country forward toward unity and equality.
May there be Peace with Justice,
SSUMC Racial Justice Ministry Leaders
Kick off your discipleship journey in 2021 by joining an SSUMC small group or study group! What’s the difference between a small group and a study group, you ask? Good question! I tend to think of small groups as longer-term groups that are committed to supporting each other in addition to engaging in faith formation and their discipleship journey together. Study groups are groups that convene mostly for the purpose of reading a certain book or engaging in a certain topic. They’re often shorter term.
Both small groups and study groups are excellent resources for discipleship ministry! Both provide opportunities to connect with others in the SSUMC community and help to develop the web of relationships that is a sign of health in any church. The culture of these types of groups are different though, and in meaningful ways. All of the SSUMC groups are open for new participants, and it can be help to know more about where these groups fall on the small group —————– study group continuum when you’re considering joining one. Here’s the list for the Jan-Feb 2021 “term” at SSUMC:
Being Christian study groups with Rev. Alex (Sundays from 7-8pm, and Mondays from 7-8pm). As we begin 2021, wouldn’t a great New Year’s Resolution be to grow spiritually? Rev. Alex will be leading a 5-week book study on Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer by Rowan Williams beginning January 10th. This accessible, beautifully written book explores how these four elements work to shape our relationship with God and each other. There are two options for you to join this study: Sunday evening at 7:00 PM and Monday evening at 7:00 PM. The book can be ordered online for about $10. (Please make sure you order Being Christian; there’s a sequel book called Being Disciples that will possibly be a study for another time!) If you need the church to send you a book, reach out to Jen!
Monday Night Study Group (7-9pm). This group has been meeting weekly for nearly 10 years and loves doing a variety of studies. We meet for 2 hours in part because we take time for joys and concerns at the end of every meeting to check in with each other. We love when folks join us for a single study…but we warn you that some of our long-term regular folks joined for “just one study” years and years ago 🙂 Starting January 11, we’ll begin a 6 week study using the book, Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God. by Kaitlin B. Curtice.
Adult “Monday School” Class, led by Neil Hindman (7-8pm). This Adult Sunday school group has been meeting for decades and has taken their weekly meetings to zoom on Monday evenings. They often study books of the Bible, and are currently working through the gospels! While they have a core group of folks that have been meeting together for a long time, they are always happy to welcome new folks. Their meetings are on-going, but you can join them at any time.
Wonderful Wednesdays (7-8am) is a true small group! They meet and discuss the Upper Room scripture and devotion and how it applies to their lives. They spend time in prayer for each other during the week and cherish the opportunity this group creates for them to deepen their faith and their relationships with each other. New people are welcome, especially those looking for a “caring and sharing” group.
Women’s Bible Study (Thursdays from 10-11am) – This group has been meeting for 6 years now and enjoys doing a mix of studies and books throughout the year. We regularly welcome new folks to join us for specific studies, though there is a solid core group that enjoys participating in every study together. We make time for joys and concerns at the end of each meeting. Starting on January 7, we’ll begin a 6 week study using the book, Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God. by Kaitlin B. Curtice.
I know my calling to a caring for creation ministry for SSUMC is kind of an outlier. I will testify a bit to my experience. In 2004, our churches merged. I had been teaching the youth and doing a small garden at Marvin Memorial. I had discovered a set of plants that attracted butterflies there and at my home. When we started meeting as a joined congregation, we had our first Time and Talent survey, but I was no longer teaching Sunday School. At that time, some of us Marvinites felt a bit out of place, some still do. But the church ministry staff was fantastic in selling the idea together we could be a strong church as a merger of two congregations.
We cannot hide the fact, that we have every few years the conference or a circumstance changed our senior pastor. But, each senior pastors so far have brought visionary ministry. Anyway, I asked Rev. Rachel if I could use my time and talent to plant a butterfly garden at our downtown campus. I am kind of a John the Baptist:
I would prefer to live out in a wilderness among God’s creations or in hillbilly parlance in some lonely holler where the sun never shines, like where I grew up, in Southwest Virginia. I had to come to the big city for work and was never able to go back to the mountains to be the activist I trained to be. Elizabeth always said that I got happy as soon as I got out in the countryside and my country accent started coming back.
My wife asked me at some point change my attitude and to grow where I was planted, this included a lot of things including where I was working. Anyway, at church, the butterfly gardens attracted 5 types of the common butterflies. A church member told me that there was a workshop called Sacred Grounds. Really, Sacred Grounds is a visionary project that believes the places of worship in our area can have an interfaith ministry to raise up God’s creation. I was really smitten by the idea—if I can not go back to the wilderness, I can bring some wildness to the city.
This has been spiritually fulfilling work. The church has a cistern, two rain garden complexes, a trench, 5 separate butterfly gardens, 9 new canopy trees, and a grove of shrubs. Silver Spring United Methodist Church has a Rob the Environmentalist problem. I will say that I have gotten myself into a lot of “good trouble.” The work described was accomplished without a lot of true believers other than myself, I will say Rob and his friends brought the church grounds to the state they are in now with the permission of the board of trustees. This came at essentially zero cost to the church.
If I were to disappear, I sometimes wonder whether all these improvements would gradually be un-installed.
SSUMC leadership gave me five years to transform the church grounds and I have created something that is amazing to me. I am not done yet. Now I want to change the rest of you or at least 30 or 40 of you for 2020. I had a short career in Appalachia as an activist and I got the idea that people did not want to be changed. To see the mess they made of my beloved mountains makes me cry. What is the point of having scientists, if no one is going to believe them. If we get the Earth-saving work wrong, the species that will go extinct is all of them. We will have to hope that the New Jerusalem is on a still living planet somewhere in outer space.
So the point is can we, as a church, take the next step to fully and faithfully participate in this Caring for Creation program. We have four people signed up in the focus groups through the sign-up genius, one being me and one being my lovely wife Elizabeth. We cannot think about step two if cannot take step one. But, SSUMC has already done some impossible things. We were re-born from two broken pieces, we became reconciling to people who thought they would be forever forgotten, we have worked for a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
I know I am a big troublemaker, but if I get about 20 sign-ups on for the Sacred Grounds focus groups, that will keep me happy for a few days. Anne Metcalf, Elizabeth and I will make calls in the next few days also to try to fill up the focus groups. The three focus groups are next week. My faith tells me that the sessions will have a good number of virtual attendees. My faith tells me that you will make an important difference for me.
Mental health and spiritual health are tightly connected. Faith can be a source of grounding and strength, hope and grace. But we also sometimes need mental health support, especially during chaotic times like these. Asking for and seeking help are signs of strength.
Here is a list of information and resources. Many of these resources are free. You can also reach out to Rev. Michele for more information on resources or call the Pastoral Care Emergency Line at 301-458-0768.
Suicide Prevention Week is September 6-12, 2020
National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual week-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide.
World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept 10
Consider saving this number in your phone as a possible resource for moments of crisis for those in Montgomery County: Crisis Line: 240-777-4000
EveryMind works to improve mental wellness through counseling and case management, peer navigation to veterans, support to at-risk students and their families, crisis prevention and intervention and community education.
Call/text for crisis support. Text service operating 7 days/week from 12:00pm to 12:00am.
301-949-5852 (not a crisis line)
NAMI Montgomery County provides free classes and support groups for individuals – and family members of those individuals – living with a mental illness.
202-546-0646 (not a crisis line)
The mission of NAMI DC is to support and educate family, friends, the public, and persons with a diagnosis of serious mental illness, and to advocate for the development of services.
The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor. Free service 24/7
Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ+) young people under 25.
Each Mind Matters is a California based Mental Health Movement. It is a helpful resource with links specific to California and also helpful beyond there.
As frustrating as it is to have to move so much of our lives into a virtual space, I am really looking forward to the SSUMC youth programming for this year. We kick off on September 13th!
All youth ages 6th-12th grade are invited to join in a weekly zoom on Sundays from 5-6pm. We’ll catch up, play some games, and split into middle school and high school groups for a series of discussions about (surprise surprise) Bible stories that feature characters whose plans for their lives unraveled. We know that we’re not alone in dealing with the unpredictable stuff in our lives, but it helps to spend time with some of the stories in our holy scripture that give us examples of how we find motivation, comfort, resilience, and joy in the midst of uncertainty, grief, and resentment. Each week this Fall, we’ll use this resource to introduce stories and some beautiful art to reflect together about finding God in the midst of all kinds of unraveling.
Families do not need to purchase this material. We’ll engage primarily via screen sharing on zoom, and I will scan each lesson and email it out for those who can’t make it any given week.
Join the Zoom! Meeting ID: 834 8767 3206 Passcode: 8900
In addition to weekly zoom meetings, I have prepped materials for three of the creative projects I wish I could do with the youth this semester, and have made videos so that youth can do these projects anytime they need a brain break or want to do something creative. Creative projects are one of my favorite parts of youth group; they help us relax and get out of our own heads, and they remind us that our ability to create – even when we’re making small things – is something that connects us to our Creator. They help us create reminders of who we are called to be as God’s people.
Families will need a few basic materials at home (list provided), but the tricky-to-find materials will be available for pick up at the church on the same days as you can come by to grab some Kick off swag!
Thursday September 10 from 5-7pm
Saturday September 12 from 10am-12pm
Sunday September 13 from 2-4pm (also drive in communion)
Tuesday September 15 from 12-2pm
I’ve got a few other tricks up my sleeve, so be sure to email me to join the email list for other events this fall: firstname.lastname@example.org.