Manchester United Methodist Church

Defying Gravity

Over 400 people are signed up for Defying Gravity small groups! AAAHHH! I’m so excited I could … fly?

Over the next four weeks, Manchester UMC is focusing on a truly church-wide theme, using a book called Defying Gravity, by United Methodist pastor Rev. Tom Berlin. The message series on Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings will focus on the book. Many existing groups have selected the book as their curriculum for these four weeks. Additionally, numerous new groups have been created at various times and places.

One of my hopes for these next four weeks is that together we can discover the forces at work that are keeping us from becoming the people God wants us to be. And in the same way, discover the forces at work that are keeping us from being the congregation God desires, the denomination God desires, the Church that God desires.

Moreover, I hope that we can together discover ways to break free from those forces, align ourselves more fully with God, and live into the fullness of God’s envisioned future.

Yeah, sorry those hopes are so small and inconsequential! (Kidding! These are “God-sized” hopes, I know!)

And why not? Why not have “God-sized” hopes for the future? God certainly does. 

I’m ready. Are you? Are you ready to break free from cultural norms and expectations that limit what we can be? Are you ready to become the ones God created us to be in the first place? I am so, so ready! And so excited I could fly!

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Fall Festival: Register Now for This Free Family Event!
Fri., Oct. 4, 5:30-8p

Come on by for delicious food, family fun, and fellowship. Enjoy BBQ, hayrides, bounce houses, crafts, pumpkin decorating, games, petting zoo, balloon artists, s’mores, ‘PipeSqueaks’ (kid-friendly music), and more. Suggested donation: one item per family member from our Food 4 Kids list (see website). This event is open to the community, so invite everyone you know! For faster entry, RSVP online. Walk-ins welcome.

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Special Musical Performance!
Wed., Oct. 2, 5-6:15p, Fellowship Hall

I’ll be on the piano and joined by Mark Seckington (bass), and Rev. David Bennett (drums) for this one-time performance. Reserve your meal (it’s Oktoberfest!) for only $8 online before midnight Sun. 9/29. Kids eat FREE with each pre-purchased, paying adult meal.

Kitchen Cabinets

I was at a workshop about congregational hospitality. The speaker had started a mentorship ministry in his congregation; long-time members served as mentors for newer members. They were paired up for months, and even years. Often the initial mentor/mentee relationship became something else over time; frequently they became dear friends.

Someone in the workshop asked the presenter, “How do you know when a mentor relationship is successful? How do you measure it?”

Without pause, he said, “When the mentee knows which kitchen cabinet the mentor’s dishes are in.”

The line got a laugh, but he wasn’t actually joking. Their goal is for the hospitality of the mentor to be so authentic, so deep, and so natural that the mentee is comfortable helping herself to a glass of water or a snack from the pantry. They want the “mentee” to feel at home with the “mentor.”

Who in your life, besides people who live with you, knows which kitchen cabinet holds what in your house? Moreover, how many friends’ homes could you walk into and help yourself to a glass of water without feeling as if you were being rude?

“Home” is rarely a place. “Home” is usually a person, or your family, or a group of friends. “Home” is authentically embracing one another in our messiness, allowing another person to see inside our kitchen cabinets.

May we as the Body of Christ in the world today be a people with whom all can feel “at home.”

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Defying Gravity Small Group Experience
4-Week Conversations starting Sept. 28

Have you signed up yet for this exciting 4-week all-church faith journey? We will explore Tom Berlin’s short book, “Defying Gravity: Break Free from the Culture of More.” Each conversation lasts just one hour and there are 19 daytime or evening groups to choose from. Check the website for more info and class listing. On Sept. 29, I start a new message series called “Defying Gravity.” Both the classes and sermons compliment each other!

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Free Fall Festival: Register Now!
Fri., Oct. 4, 5:30-8p
Come on by for delicious food, family fun, and fellowship. Enjoy BBQ, hayrides, bounce houses, crafts, pumpkin decorating, games, petting zoo, balloon artists, s’mores, ‘PipeSqueaks’ (kid-friendly music), and more. Suggested donation: one item per family member from our Food 4 Kids list (see website). This event is open to the community, so invite everyone you know! For faster entry, RSVP online. Walk-ins welcome.

Zacchaeus Week

Great news, everybody! It’s Zacchaeus Week!


Sunday morning’s scripture will feature everyone’s favorite wee little man, featured in Luke 19.

I mean, come on, who doesn’t love the Zacchaeus story?   He’s the guy who dared to host Jesus literally at his own house. Can you imagine? Hosting Jesus at your house? What if he just showed up one day and said, “Hey dude, I’m coming over!” Would you panic, run home right away, and immediately begin cleaning? 

You don’t want Jesus to see those dirty dishes in your sink; am I right?

I think Zacchaeus has something to teach us, though. He’s so much more than just a “wee little man.” When he hosted Jesus, something within him changed. He became a better version of himself.

So yeah, it’s Zacchaeus week, and I’m pretty excited. Because like Zacchaeus, I’m pretty sure all of us can be better versions of ourselves, if we will welcome Jesus into our lives. Even with (especially with) dirty dishes in the sink. 

Hospitality ought to impact the host as much as the guest. See you Sunday!

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Defying Gravity Small Group Experience
4-Week Conversations starting Sept. 28

Have you signed up yet for this exciting 4-week all-church faith journey? We will explore Tom Berlin’s short book, “Defying Gravity: Break Free from the Culture of More.” Each conversation lasts just one hour and there are 19 daytime or evening groups to choose from. Check the website for more info and class listing.

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Charge Conference Set
Oct. 13, 5:45p, Rm 141
Our Leadership Board has scheduled a Charge Conference. Our District Superintendent will attend. All members are welcome. Voting members are the Leadership Board and retired clergy whose Charge Conference is at Manchester UMC.

Missions Grants

A person writing in a notebook with a pencil.

What is the Missions Grant?

In 2019, the Missions Team began wondering how we could better serve our community partners and internal missions ministries and empower them to achieve big goals. We desire to be good stewards of the generosity of our parishioners, and endeavor to use our resources responsibly to make a difference for Christ in the world. Through this commitment, we developed a grant form where our community partners and missions ministries can have a conversation with us and tell us directly what their big goals and dreams are. Through this process, we aim to support the empowerment of our partners and their ideas.

The Missions Grant is adapted from the Missouri Common Grant Application, and was created by Director of Missions Autumn Dennis with the support of the Missions Team.

Who should apply for a Missions Grant?

We have separate forms for External Community Partners and Internal Missions Ministries. These are defined as follows:

  • An External Community Partner is a 501c3 non-profit organization separate from Manchester UMC that serves the community. At this time, these partners will apply to be considered to receive funds from the Christmas and Easter offerings, which are disbursed within two months of that holiday.
  • An Internal Missions Ministry are those missions ministries that are apart of the Missions Department of Manchester UMC. At this time, these ministries will apply to be considered to receive funds from the General Missions and Communion offerings, which are disbursed in the first two months of the calendar year.

How can my organization/ministry apply? Which application should I complete?

Internal Missions Ministries shall submit a “Missions Grant for Internal Ministries.” External Community Partners shall submit a “Missions Grant for Community Partners.” Click the appropriate button to download. Please pay close attention to download the correct application.

All applications must be submitted electronically to Autumn Dennis, Director of Missions.

When should I submit my application?

These applications will be accepted on a rolling basis, however determinations for the following offerings will follow this timeline:

  • Applications for the 2019 Christmas offering are now closed. To be considered for this offering next year, please have your application in by August 2020, date TBD.
  • We are not currently accepting applications for the 2020 Easter Offering.
  • Applications for the 2019 Missions General and Communion offerings are open and should be submitted by Friday, November 15th. At this time, we are only accepting applications from internal missions ministries.

For more information or any questions, please email Autumn Dennis, Director of Missions.

Homecoming

It feels good to come home. I don’t necessarily mean one particular location. I mean “home.” The place where you are known. Where you are welcomed without condition or expectation. I believe that you are “home” whenever you are in the presence of people you love, and who love you right back.

Maya Angelou said that home is “the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” Near the beginning of almost every worship service at Manchester, as words of welcome are spoken, we say out loud that this is a “safe place,” a place where we can all be the imperfect people we are, together encountering the perfect love of God.


Our upcoming Sunday morning sermon series is called “Homecoming.” I am going to focus on invitation, welcome, and hospitality as it ought to look in the church. These next three weeks would be perfect opportunities to invite someone to church with you, to welcome them “home.”

Coming to church should feel like coming home. Not necessarily one particular location. “Home.” The place where you are known and welcomed without condition or expectation. The feeling you have when you are in the presence of people you love, and who love you right back. 

Come on home, and I’ll see y’all in church!

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All-Church Gathering
Mon., Sept. 9, 6:30p, Fellowship Hall
We’ll celebrate our achievements, and look to God’s plan for our future. This special gathering will include refreshments, 2021 Plan testimonials, and I’ll be on hand with an important message! Please let us know you’re coming so we can plan better.

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Defying Gravity Small Group Experience
4-Week Conversations starting Sept. 28

Have you signed up yet for this exciting 4-week all-church faith journey? We will explore Tom Berlin’s short book, “Defying Gravity: Break Free from the Culture of More.” Each conversation lasts just one hour and there are 19 daytime or evening groups to choose from. Check the website for more info and class listing.

***

Meals and Ministries Is Back
Wed., Sept. 11, 5-6:15p, Fellowship Hall

Come on over for a delicious fried chicken meal and awesome fellowship. Stop by Fellowship Hall to purchase your meal for only $8 by Sun., Sept. 8 or pay online. KIDS EAT FREE with each pre-purchased, paying adult meal!

Ministry Transitions: Giving Thanks for Computer Rehab

computer resting in a pile of orange fall leaves

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

In just a few weeks, our trees will begin turning and dropping their leaves, signifying a transitional season. In our American society, we often associate how long something has been around with how successful it is, and associate that thing coming to an end as some sort of failure. We are taught to fear death, whether its physical death or a metaphorical death. At its best, the church is a place where we learn to become comfortable with the reality of death and the reality of changing seasons. Ecclesiastes speaks to this; to everything, there is a season.

Today, I want to give thanks to the Computer Rehab ministry for incredible impact this small but powerful ministry has had in the past four years. Over the course of its lifetime, the Computer Rehab ministry provided over 200 refurbished computers to organizations like Epworth and Home Sweet Home, as well as local hospitals. These computers provided access for children to do homework at home, or keep up with their homework while hospitalized. Computers also provided technology access to low-income individuals who were able to use them to find employment and other resources. The Computer Rehab ministry has been a stellar example of the big impact just a few individuals with skills and passions can have.

As with everything, there is a season, and the sun has set on this small but faithful ministry. What happens when a ministry retires? At Manchester, we rely on the gifts, passions, and time of our volunteer ministry leaders. When life changes, we seek new leadership; if there is no lay leadership, we take the cue that the Spirit is doing something else and is doing a new thing. We do our best to honor the legacy of the ministry by making sure the assets and resources of the ministry go on to do their intended purpose in a new fashion.

An article published on Computer Rehab

For the Computer Rehab ministry, the remaining computer donations were able to be donated to St. Louis Byteworks, a local non-profit in the Soulard neighborhood of St. Louis that rehabs computers for schoolchildren, just like Computer Rehab. From their website, the Byteworks has an “Earn-A-Computer” program where “local kids learn the skills to successfully operate a computer, gain experience with various types of software, learn some networking skills, and learn how to safely search the Internet and send and receive E-mail.  These skills are designed to extend their knowledge of the computer and its uses as well as build confidence.” All other unusable computer parts and hardware that could not be used for this non-profit were recycled through the Midwest Recycling Center, to ensure they could be given a new life instead of ending up in a landfill. The remaining ministry funds that have been donated to this ministry will go on to serve the communities that the computers would have served, the people of Epworth and Home Sweet Home.

As we retire this ministry, we give thanks for the dreams begun by Emil Mariani who used his gifts, passions, and skills to launch something big from something small. We give thanks for their tireless dedication and service to this ministry, as well as all of the volunteers who have given their time to this ministry over the years.

If you have computers you would like to donate, we recommend donating them to St. Louis Byteworks or St. Louis Computer Village. For older computers, keep an eye on the monthly electronic recycling events at Schroeder Park in Manchester on the 3rd weekend of each odd-numbered month.

For any questions, please email Director of Missions Autumn Dennis.

Thank You, Computer Rehab!

Look Up! Go Beyond.

Hands forming a heart looking toward the sun.
Hands forming a heart looking to the sun.

There’s so much more to be seen when we Look up! New horizons, amazing vistas, and God’s dreams for the kingdom. Led by God’s vision for peace, justice, and healing, Manchester United Methodist Church is a community committed to Go Beyond our walls to do Christ’s work.

Please help ensure your church continues its work, both today and tomorrow by making a one-year (2020) pledge to support the ministries and capital projects of Manchester UMC.

Complete the Commitment Card below to make a pledge.

Gifts Given Freely

Bishop Robert Schnase once said that he couldn’t recall ever hearing someone during a funeral service ever say, “They were such a devoted and faithful follower of Jesus … but they were just so stingy!”


Generosity is a characteristic of faithful followers of Jesus. A giving, generous spirit is a natural response to the generous gifts we have received from God. Having received indescribable, mind boggling, awe inspiring gifts from God, our gratitude overflows into generous giving. 

Think about it. God has given us life itself. We are alive, we breathe, we sense the world around us, and all of that is given freely to us by the Creator. 

God has given us the gift of salvation. We know grace, we are set free from sin, we are forgiven, we are invited into abundant and everlasting life, all offered freely, given as a gift by the Savior.

God has given us the gift of divine presence. God is with us in every moment, we are never alone, we are strengthened and guided along our way by the freely offered gift of the Holy Spirit. 

When you think about it, how can we NOT express our gratitude for all of that? 

May our gratitude continually “overflow with many thanksgivings to God” with extravagantly generous outpourings of our time, our talent, and our treasure.

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Meals and Ministries Is Back
Wed., Sept. 11, 5-6:15p, Fellowship Hall

Come on over for a delicious fried chicken meal and awesome fellowship. Stop by Fellowship Hall to purchase your meal for only $8 by Sun., Sept. 8 or pay online. KIDS EAT FREE with each pre-purchased, paying adult meal!

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New Church Directory Photos

A new pictorial directory is coming soon that will help us get to know each other better. There are two ways you can schedule a photo appointment: 1) go online, or 2) sign up at the Information Center on September 8, 15, or 22. Every family photographed will receive a copy of the directory, plus an 8×10 portrait at no cost. Photo dates are Sept. 30, Oct. 1-5, 7-12, 14-19.