PASTORAL THOUGHTS BY CHUCK COOPER
I woke this morning to discover that the temperature outside was unusually warm. It was almost fifty degrees. For early April that’s nice. Apparently, rumors about spring coming may be well founded. I know I’m dreaming of a green spring. I’m remind of the verse in the Hymn of Promise, “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be.”
For me spring speaks to my soul as a time for new life, for renewal, and for a reason to once again to hope. Paul wrote, “These three, hope, faith, and love.” We can live in hope during the most hopeless dark times because we find our hope in God. God is sovereign! As I cry over the decline of churches, and the need for church family I must remind myself of the one who first created the “body of Christ.”
Many say to me, “I believe! I just don’t like organized religion.” It is understandable why people say such a thing. Organized religion or churches are often flawed, even very flawed. Why won’t it be flawed? After all, its full of flawed people. Someone once said, “If you find a perfect church don’t joint it.”
Think of the words of this song, “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! The church is not a building, the church is not a steeple, the church is not a resting place, the church is a people.”
Read Romans 12. St. Paul talks about how we are the body of Christ, and each one of us is an important part of that body. When we don’t join in the body we diminish the whole. All I ask is we pray for the body, our church, and all churches. All Christians are party of the “body of Christ.” The body of Christ grows weaker when parts of it are missing.
The word “Advent” is a church word for the time before Christmas. It is designed to encourage the congregation to prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Savior, Jesus. Each year we pause to get our hearts ready. The theme for our church this advent season is “Unwrapping Christmas.” Each week we will unwrap a new part of the story.
December 3 – Zechariah and Elizabeth
December 10 – Mary
December 17 – Joseph
December 24 – Innkeeper [morning services at 8:00 and 10:30 AM]
December 24 – Christmas Eve – Jesus
We will wrap and unwrap many gifts this Christmas. Will one of them be our faith in Christ Jesus, or will Jesus go unwrapped in our hearts? We can help! Come and join us bringing a friend or family alone. Let’s get in line to see Jesus.
I want to take this opportunity to unwrap my appreciation for a wonderful congregation with many people who are striving to be faithful to Christ Jesus, and to loyal to the Federated Community Church. It is because of you that this ministry and mission continues in so many great ways. You are awesome!!
Yes, we have more work to do. Yes, we are not perfect. The truth still holds you are a true and faithful servants of an even more awesome God.
Located in this newsletter is an article I found the board of global ministries sent out. It is about what the united Methodist church is doing through "The Advance." The advance is a worldwide program of hope and
healing to a world in need. I included the article because I thought you might like to know about it. You can also go the Wyoming presbytery website for similar opportunities.
What caught my attention was the theme, "connect your passion with god's mission." I firmly believe Jesus is calling us into mission, here, there, and everywhere we can, but i also believe our greatest mission field is right here in Hot Springs County.
But first, let me thank you for your generosity, and willing to share what you can for our church. I do not have a more recent report, but the financial report at the end of July was positive. Thank you! My prayer is that we are working together for the glory of god. Paul wrote, "As it is, there are many parts, but one body." -I Corinthians 12:20 each member of the body of Christ is important to the work of the body. No one should diminish what they have to contribute in prayers, presence, gifts, and service.
We will have our annual congregational meeting on November 5 after the 10:30 am service to vote on many important issues. It is a "celebration of ministry." These issues include the compensation package for the pastor, leadership on the administrative board/session, and a review of the budget/or 2017. This meeting is often seen as "busy" work. What it reflects is background scene of the body of Christ at work.
It is encouraging to think of all the people who contribute in so many ways to this congregation. You are awesome! We do need to help others feel welcome in sharing their talents, but this congregation is healthy and doing some amazing things.
This is the truth! We must not rest on what we have done, or on what we are presently doing. Paul wrote, "Do you not know that in a race the runners all compOete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that we may win it." -I Corinthians 9:24 Winning, however, in God's Kingdom is different than in the world. Winning is focusing on doing God's will for us as individuals and as members of the Body of Christ. Please, pray that you answer the call to do what God wants you to do in your life, and in this congregation.
Church is important! To Me! Worshiping God in many different ways is what I want to do. The worship in the Spirit of Christ is important! To Me! Praying in a hundred different ways in thousands of different places is important! To Me! Providing ways to study God’s word for God’s children are important! To Me! Are these things important to me because of my chosen calling or are these things important because of an inner calling instilled in each one of us? In the book of Jeremiah God expresses his desire for us to come back to him, “I will give them a heart to know me, for I am the Lord; and they are my people, for they will return to me with their whole heart.” – Jeremiah 24:7 What about these things? Are they important to you? Do you desire them as much as you desire most other things in your life? Do you desire to be part of church that provides them? Church is NOT important in and of itself. No one is saved by going to church, or denied salvation by not going. The church family, the body of Christ, however, is God’s tool on earth to bring us closer to the Kingdom. How do we do church in a changing world is the basic concern. I sense a lack of enthusiasm in our congregation. Is it time for a change in pastoral leadership? Or do we need to consider what we might do to serve God at this time, and in this place? It occurred to me we need to gather all of our leaders and anyone else who cares to consider what our present and future mission and ministries should be. How do we reach people who are not yet here? How do we reach those who want to be here, but are frankly are uninspired by how we do things? Do we need additional styles of worship? How about new and exciting Bible studies? What are we going to offer the children, youth, and young adults that will help them grow closer to God? A church moves in only two directions. It is either growing or it is dying. I assure you I love this congregation and those who attend. I also pray for those we do not reach. I promise you I will do whatever I can to help revive this church. Are you willing to help? If you have a comment in any way, please, send a message to me, sc_c@hotmail, or call me at 307- 921-9863.Pastor Chuck
Pastoral Thoughts by Pastor Chuck:
Easter Sunday was a great celebration of the resurrection. I want to thank all of those who made
it possible. The Easter story is central to our faith. St. Paul believed if there was no resurrection we
who call ourselves Christians are the greatest of fools. In fact, he went as far as saying if you believe
Jesus was crucified, and raised from the dead, you will be saved. Celebrating the resurrection is central
to our faith.
If you have doubts about the resurrection you are still welcome in our church, but I would classify you
as a seeker not as a believer. We welcome and, in fact, encourage seekers. We all need to pray and
Over the past few weeks we have been teaching our children and youth the stories that led up to the
crucifixion, and resurrection. Many of them do not know or have forgotten the story. It is our
responsibility as a Christian faith community to teach such basics to our faith.
Next fall I plan to teach a confirmation class. This class will be designed for the middle school
students who have not yet taken it, but often, adults join the class who feel they need such a class, or
would like a refresher. We will start the class in September. If you have a student you want in the class,
or you would like to join the class, please, contact me at 921-9863.
Discipling or helping each other grow in our understanding of the faith is an important duty of the
church. We do it through worship, Bible study, confirmation, and in a variety of other ways. We
disciple each other as we witness the faith through missions, witnessing, and how we live on a daily
basis. It is not an overstatement to say that people outside the church are watching. Are we too
judgmental to be hospitable to all?
One of the best things you can do for your church is to invite someone to “come and see.” Most people
outside the church come because of an invitation. Do you know someone not currently attending any
church? You should invite them. If they do not come that’s their business. Our business is the
One final thought. I pray you have the best summer ever.
AN OPEN INVITATION: The Federated Community Church invites you to join them in the
Sunday 6:32 PM service this Sunday for a Spirit-filled “Laugh-in.” We will sing fun camp and
children’s songs, tell humerus stories and jokes [only those we can tell in the sanctuary] followed by a
pot-luck desert. Come and join us, bring a story or two, and a desert to share. No joke! You are
In the Hymn of Promise there is this line, “In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be.” How true! Often, in the middle of the winter spring seems too far away, but new life will come. Plants will sprout. All kinds of new life will be seen on the farm, ranch, hillside, and forest. For me spring energizes me, and renews me. I pray the coming of spring will do the same for you.
Coming this spring will be the opening of our “Community Hall.” My prayer is that it will create new life and new opportunity for our congregation as well the community. Our only limit will be our imagination, and our willingness to put that imagination to work. Like our current building, the new building will not fulfill God’s will for our mission and ministry unless we are willing to take the action.
The construction work is progressing on time. The plan is to have the hall open by the end of April, if all goes well. Please, keep this project and our entire ministry in your prayers. Opening the hall will only be a beginning. Many of you have gone to a great deal of work and expense to help support this project. You deserve a huge thank you. More will need to be done, but much has already been done. Again, thank you!!!
Our congregation has been called to do much, and much many of you do. You have shown your willingness to do the ministry and mission God calls us to do through music, education, and through a variety of local and worldwide ministries. We have a unique ministry of grace in this community. We truly have open doors, open minds and open hearts. Why shouldn’t we?
Let us pray we will continue to pray for guidance for the days and years to come. Until the day comes we are called to serve. We will not always do everything but we must strive to do all we can.
God help us.