November 2019 Connection


I have been doing a lot of thinking about the word “gratitude” these past few weeks. I have been thinking how God continues to bless my life in so many ways. What about you? “There is gratitude all around me” to quote the singer, Karen Drucker, who I listen to at least once a day! I see more clearly the face of God in so many places and in so many faces. I now start each day thanking God in moments of prayer, solitude and meditation. It brings joy to my heart to thank God each morning and to recognize all the blessings that I have. What about you? I have given myself permission to live in the promises of Jesus the Christ. We were born to love, not in fear – but in hope, gratitude and freedom.
I awake each morning feeling the Spirit opening my eyes to joy, peace and love that I have not experienced in many years, if ever. For the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to visit with two of my beloved sisters: Juanita who lives in Tennessee and my twin sister, Judy, and her amazing husband, Melvin, in the twin cities. Juanita and I are in the photo below on this page. Judy and Melvin have worshiped at GBUMC since my appointment there. Judy and I celebrated our birthday together for the first time in over thirty years! It was another memorable time where we shared common stories and said to each other, To God Be The Glory. Tears and laughter filled the room as family and friends sang happy birthday. My little great-grand niece, Vivian, who I had the joy of baptizing in 2018, also sent me a video of her singing “Happy Birthday.” And joy upon joy our two granddaughters, Sydney and Reese, and their mother, my daughter Tera, were able to visit their grandfather for hugs, funny-faced photos and memory-making!
With both sisters, my daughter and granddaughters, I was reminded of how important it is to capture those moments of family and to realize that staying connected in faith, we come to be thankful everyday for the gift of relationship and unconditional love. These two beautiful sisters have taught me so much about love and spiritual wellness. They have helped me to see the beauty and strength in me, and thus embrace the beauty and goodness in life. I am so grateful to God for blessing my journey to be with my sisters. It is really all about gratitude!
I am also grateful for having taught in the Native American Course of Study held in Minnesota. It was another rich blessing that reminded me GOD IS MY SOURCE OF STRENGTH, WISDOM AND GOODNESS. I encourage each of you to begin each day thanking God for giving you everything you need and more. You are loved by the Creator! I now entreat you to go and return that blessing of kindness with others.
Julius E. Del Pino, Ph.D.
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October 2019 Connection

Cultivating Generosity
It was on September 17 that I had the opportunity to attend a clergy workshop on Cultivating Generosity. Clergy from the East Winds District gathered in Marlette, Michigan to gain new and exciting ideas that may prove helpful to most local churches. A special thanks to Rev. John Hice, District Superintendent of the East Winds District, for responding to our need for clergy to grow in our understanding of generosity.
John Laster was our leader/trainer. What was most helpful to me was his introducing ideas for increasing generosity. Here are a few:
  • Pastor/leadership should make every effort to tithe.
  • Encourage leaders to tithe
  • Always talk ministry when talking about money
  • Say thank you often
  • Create new traditions with regular on-going Christian financial planning classes
  • Be aware of the reasons people give
  • Have at least 10% of church membership involved in ‘hands-on’ missions
  • Make it convenient to give
  • Remain positive and hopeful
  • Remain open to change and remember the words of General Eric Shinseki: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”
As we continue to gear up for the Fall and Winter, please remember your church leadership is already planning for ministry needs for 2020! Please remain open to how God has blessed and will continue to bless this congregation in its efforts to make disciples of Jesus Christ! Bless each of you for your strong commitment to be relevant, vibrant and growing in Christian faith!
Your Pastor,
Julius E. Del Pino
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September 2019 Connection

Great Things Happen Here

As a congregation we are fortunate and blessed to have such dedicated and spirit-filled lay leadership. This past summer we had a successful VBS led by Jessica Smith and Christy Waters that reached beyond our walls and into our community and touched the lives of children from all walks of life.
As we worshiped in one service, many experienced the richness of song and spirit as individuals collectively celebrated their faith. We were inspired by Common Grace by holding our second annual Worship in the Park. The result of this was once again, several families are now worshiping with us at GBUMC.
Thanks to the dynamic leadership of Shelly Rice, Jennifer Lengyel and Val Wise the new Christian Education Program coined “J.A.M.” (Jesus and Me) will launch on Rally Sunday, September 8. The Christian Education Training session and Christian Education Picnic on Sunday, August 11 attracted a number of people who responded to the urgent need to implement an organized program that requires very little time or preparation on the part of those in the classroom. Most of the work is done for the classroom managers ahead of time by a new member who has recently joined the church.
We all expect that Great Things will Continue to Happen Here. What do I mean by that?
  1. . We will continue to grow in worship attendance which positively impacts education, outreach and community involvement
  2. We will continue to reach and minister to those who are home-bound, sick and those in nursing homes.
  3. We will, together, discover ways to raise incoming funds to meet all identified ministry needs in the congregation.
  4. We will continue to offer leadership training to those called to serve in leading this church forward.
  5. We will support the Vision team as it continues to create a path for continual spiritual growth.
I ask all of you now to prayerfully be open to God’s prompting how these needs can be met.
Great things have happened and will continue to happen as we truly believe God has a purpose and plan for this congregation.
I invite each and every one right now to move into the GREAT zone starting today.
Julius E. Del Pino, Ph.D.
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August 2019 Connection

The week of July 15 – July 18 we had our Vacation Bible School.  The Theme was “ROAR!”  We had over 75 children in attendance and over 37 volunteers!  The ROAR VBS program is an epic African adventure that engages the whole herd. At Roar our children explored God’s goodness and celebrated a ferocious faith that will power them through this wild life. They learned lessons we all need to remember: When life is unfair. . . God is good, When Life changes. . .God is good,  When life is sad. . . God is good, When life is good . . . GOD IS GOOD !! Is there anything better to learn than the greatness of God?
We ended the last day with a family picnic sponsored by our United Methodist Men and we had the amazing experience of watching live African drumming and dancing.  What a great testament to God’s work! Check out all of those smiling faces!
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July 2019 Connection

Reflections on Annual Conference
From Reverend Laurie Del Pino: Every year I so look forward to meeting and greeting old and new friends from the Michigan UMC many of whom I’ve known since 2005.  Nurturing lifelong friendships in the Michigan church body has been a joy – there is something sacred about journeying alongside those in ministry.
Bishop Bard right out of the gate stated that if the church was going to split, let it be known that he will be on the side of inclusivity.  This statement lifted a weight off of the body of the church that had been felt discouraged by the traditional vote at General Conference.
Immediately afterwards, two individuals, one of whom is in a committed relationship with a same gender person and the other who is a professed homosexual were ordained in front of the entire assembled conference.  This goes against the traditional vote made at General Conference, but the action went ahead nonetheless.  In a straw, non-binding vote, it was determined that 69% of the body assembled were on the side of inclusivity and 31% on the traditional side.  This is a reflection of the will of the UMC Michigan Conference.
The sense was one of relief that many felt the same and were willing to stand against the global church decision.  It seemed to me the Holy Spirit was very present in the body, it’s worship, it’s speakers and actions.
On a lighter note, I entered a Grand Traverse photo contest and won the prize for the May entry – the prize is a meal for two at a lovely restaurant at the resort!  I took a photo of the sunset right outside of our room on the first floor of the resort.  All in all, a memorable conference this year!
From Tom & Carol Cerny: It was a privilege to represent GBUMC as Lay Members to the 2019 Michigan Annual Conference at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme. It was an amazing feeling to worship, sing and pray with 2,000 Methodists! The spirit of God was very present those four days. These are challenging and exciting times. The United Methodist Church is a worldwide denomination that is committed to “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the world” with deep historical roots in mission and outreach to a hurting world.
The 2019 Michigan Annual Conference was a wonderful celebration of what makes Methodism so effective—committed Christians worshiping, praying and working together on difficult topics, all trying to be true to the teachings of our Lord as we understand them. It followed the 2019 Special General Conference in February when actions were taken by the global church that have caused confusion and great anxiety on the part of many deeply committed Methodists, especially those in North America.
We are truly blessed to have Bishop David Bard leading our Annual Conference in these challenging times. The conversations were respectful and those who listened (which we think were most who attended) learned a great deal and have a much better appreciation of the issues faced by those who are committed to inclusion of our LGBTQIA sisters and brothers who have felt marginalized and at times abandoned, as well as those whose experience and understanding is more “traditional”. People felt safe and secure when expressing their heartfelt beliefs and hopes for the future.
A non-binding “straw vote” was taken to help all get a sense of where the clergy and laity members who were at this Annual Conference stand on the question of inclusion of LGBTQIA persons in the life and ministries of the church. Bishop Bard acknowledged the importance of caring for everyone’s feelings when he said “Jesus of the parables cares as much about the 70% as the 30%.” 70% affirmed the desire to be an inclusive church, while 30% endorsed the “traditional” approach that was approved at the 2019 Special General Conference.
What the structure of the United Methodist Church will become is a work in progress with many unknowns that will be known in God’s time. As noted in the Conference electronic newsletter, a Resolution to be presented to the 2020 General Conference was approved by 70% to 30% vote, that the Michigan AC recommends “creation of a Central Conference encompassing North America”. If created, the Central Conference would allow more contextualized ministry and mission not allowed by the American church under the current structure.
As Bishop Bard indicated several times—this is a time for discernment and prayer. As a local church it is important for us to engage in dialogue, pray and learn as much as we can so we will be able to make decisions when and if needed. We encourage everyone to keep informed of what is happening in the larger church, to open our hearts and minds to God’s nudging, to engage in open, respectful dialogue, and to keep focused on what we United Methodists do best, reaching out to help others in this hurting world. Think about the Hymn of Promise…
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June 2019 Connection

This and That from Dr. J.
The Michigan Annual Conference will meet May 30-June 2, 2019 in the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, Michigan. As most of you are aware, as a result of the special called session of the General 2019 Conference, our Michigan Conference will be addressing many important decisions which will affect every annual conference and local church.
We will also be electing delegates to the General Conference for the largest legislative decision-making body in our denomination. As noted in the Michigan Statement, “These persons we recommend are people of deep faith in God and will faithfully represent the Michigan Conference with a strong commitment to a United Methodist Church that is open to all in response to the teachings and life of Jesus.”
Pray for Tom and Carol Cerny, who are our Lay Members to the Annual Conference. Rev. Laurie and I will also represent GBUMC. Keep us in your prayers as we do God’s work among Christian friends.
Lastly, please remember that starting June 16, Father’s Day, we will have one worship service each Sunday during the summer months. We will also offer Junior Church during worship and Sunday School will resume in September. I am aware that we need to slow down during the summer, but please remember the ministry and work of our church continues. Please be present in worship when you are not travelling, as your church continues to joyfully and faithfully live out our vision:
Friends in Christ exercising
Love, Hope and Grace
to Enrich all lives!
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May 2019 Connection

A Note from our Seminary Intern

Hey Church!
Can you believe 8 months has passed by us already? Sunday May 12 will mark an end to my time as a seminary intern at Grand Blanc UMC. It has been an incredible experience for myself and my family. We are thankful for the ways in which you have fully embraced us and accepted us into this community. To my Wednesday night class who have journeyed through The Good and Beautiful Life, we have had a great experience learning to be more like Jesus, thank you for the laughs and teaching me how to walk alongside others. To the congregation, thank you for helping me to find my pastoral voice. The sermons I delivered have been both challenging and transformative for myself, revealing the ways God is moving in my heart to walk alongside his people. To Nan Rahn and Laurie Tritten, thank you for sharing your wisdom and helping oversee my time here. To Dr. J., thank you for being an amazing mentor, an honest spiritual leader, and a courageous senior Pastor, our church is lucky to have had you appointed here.
As for me, I have a year left in seminary and expect to graduate Spring 2020. I plan to continue working as a Hospice Chaplain locally out of our Flint office. My family and I have been in the Grand Blanc community going on seven years and we love it here, so we are staying put. Finally, we plan to stick around and attend Grand Blanc United Methodist Church. We look forwarding to continuing to see what God has in store for this church and finding our place in that.
In Christ
Eric Carlson

A Note from Dr. J.

Easter Sunday has come and gone.  As we continue to glow in the spirit of Easter, we are looking forward to the warmth, joy and carefree days that the spring and summer seasons will bring. But first, wonderful memories rest gently in our minds of the powerful and spirit filled worship experiences on Easter Sunday.  The children were present leading us to celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus. Both the choirs, Common Grace and the Chancel Choir, inspired us to believe that hope is the foundation of great faith. The ushers were present in full force to greet you with love and compassion. The Tech Team ensured all those who spoke would be heard. Susie, the Co-Chair of Worship and the Arts went beyond what was expected of her to execute worship events that will linger warmly in our hearts.  The decorations of the altar and communion table were vivid reminders of the glory of the resurrection of our Lord!  And of course, we have been profoundly blessed having our very first Seminary Intern, Eric Carlson, offered a unique morning prayer that was interactive, joyful and Holy. He and his family have touched our hearts and inspired us to believe that we can be a Church that meets the needs of young families. We can be a church unafraid to be inclusive in loving all of God’s people.  We will have an opportunity to express our gratitude to Eric, Sarah, Bennett and Drake on May 12, his final day of internship. Come to church that Sunday and feel the glow of the spirit once again at work in our lives and in worship.  Let’s shower our joy upon Eric and his family for their service and presence in the lives of Grand Blanc UMC!
Your Pastor
Rev. Julius Del Pino
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April 2019 connection pic

April 2019 Connection

April 2019 connection pic
This and That from Dr. J. 
When I see and sense what is happening here at GBUMC, I am convinced more than ever that this community and this world needs GBUMC. This congregation is needed to give hope and healing beyond the confines of our church walls. We are a church that cares about each other, and we are learning how to extend our care to strangers and those beyond our walls.
This congregation is poised to lead boldly in effectively transforming the world. Who will make this possible? YOU! You are needed. Will you answer the call and gladly participate in strengthening the ministries for God’s church?
Your time, energy and faith will help us develop creative new programs to keep ministries alive and relevant. Your own commitment will inspire others to move off the side lines to join in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.
  • How can you support your church?
  • Engage your church in as many ways as possible
  • Help form a social justice ministry team
  • Attend morning worship as often as possible
  • Volunteer to teach our children and youth
  • Attend a bible class or a book study to deepen your faith
  • Ask questions about how the vision (Friends in Christ exercising Love, Hope and Grace to enrich all lives)           of this local church is impacting people’s lives
  • Actively invite people to worship here at GBUMC
  • Support the church’s budget generously and the specific ministries close to your heart
  • Believe that your church, with prayer and God’s help, can and will make a useful difference in this                       community
If you have questions about how we can expand the church’s ministries, or how you can get involved, please talk to me or a member of the Vision Team. We would be happy to have a conversation with you on how we can build upon our church’s ministries.
May the sweetness of the Holy Spirit give you peace and hope for the journey ahead!
Julius E. Del Pino, Pastor
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March 2019 Connection

This and That from Dr. J…
Hibernating over this cold wintry winter? Not us!
A poem about Winter by Rumi (13th C Persian poet):
Don’t think the garden loses its ecstasy in winter
It’s quiet
But the roots are down there riotous
While we have experienced an unusually cold winter and lots of snow to remind us that we live in
the great state of Michigan, we as a congregation have not been dormant. We’ve been downright “riotous” as Rumi’s poem suggests, in spite of the cold, cold days. We have continued to grow and remain active in touching lives and responding to our own immediate needs.
Have you noticed the past few months the following activities that have sparked a new excitement and interest?
The Covenant and Renewal experience. This group of people has met over a period of five weeks to learn about the mission and ministry of our congregation. They have formed relationships with each other as they grow in grace together. From this group, two children have been baptized, and some have already identified their ministry passion. They were all joyfully welcomed into membership on February 24th. Please be sure and introduce yourself to them when you see them.
In another ministry area, a group of us travelled to the home of Dr. Luay and Ruba Alkotob in Flint for a screening of the movie, Sultan and the Saint. This showing was in honor of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony week. It is a true story about the attempt of Saint Francis of Assisi and Muslim leader, El-Karem to bring a peaceful ending to the Roman Crusades into Egypt. Members of the Bahai, Muslim and Christian faiths spent the afternoon of February 17 and were treated to a spread of Arabic food, discussing questions provided by the producer of the movie leading towards ideas of peacemaking efforts. Seven people from Grand Blanc UMC took part.
In the area of our most pressing need, a new roof, ambitious and determined individuals have formed a team to raise funds for this new roof. Even our children and youth are committed to this effort as well. How many of you bought Girl Scout cookies on February 17 in fellowship hall? Did you know that $1.00 of each box sold goes towards a new roof? Another example of a youth getting behind this cause is the selling of decorative elastic hair bands. Are you aware from this initiative alone, one thousand dollars has been raised by one child from the Grand Blanc congregation? If these young creative, faithful children can do that, what can you and I do?
God bless you for contributing above and beyond your annual pledge and tithe. A heartfelt thank you to all for implementing creative ideas to get this done. The Raise the Roof Team has more than ten ideas that are actively coming into fruition. If you have an idea, please send it on to the Raise the Roof Team.
Another example of our “riotous” activity in the depths of winter is the monthly Parents Night Out that is very well attended. I am deeply moved by the number of children who are left in our care and the number of congregation members who have “stepped up” to provide activities and loving care while parents have a night of relief from responsibilities of child rearing. Thanks again to church members who show up to support this ministry in caring for these darling children. Have you volunteered to help?
We are also very grateful that new people to this church are stepping up to assume leadership positions to support the new church vision statement. We have prayed for this time of new life…….and thanks be to God here it comes.
Bless you all in this New Year of New Life.
Julius E. Del Pino, Pastor
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February 2019 Connection

Bishop David A. Bard, President of the North Central College of Bishops, shares a pastoral letter regarding the special called session of the General Conference in St. Louis, February 23-26.
Dear Friends in Christ in the North Central Jurisdiction,
We, the bishops of the North Central Jurisdiction, greet you in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit. Together we all stand on the edge of the special called session of General Conference in St. Louis in February. We are grateful that you have been praying with us in the months and days leading up to this significant gathering of the people called United Methodist, and we remain grateful for your continuing prayers.
During the past months we each have written and shared about this General Conference and the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. We have traveled throughout our areas teaching and listening, responding to your questions, sharing information and perspectives, and standing with you in this time of uncertainty.
As we approach this General Conference we invite you to trust that God’s Spirit will be at work. The God of Jesus Christ is a God at work “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5), and often in surprising ways. “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:8). Pray that fresh winds of God’s Spirit will be at work and trust that God will answer this prayer.
Know that whatever decisions the General Conference makes, the ministry to which we are called in our churches, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, will continue. The day after General Conference there will still be hungry people needing food, those mired in poverty needing help, addicted people needing freedom, frayed relationships needing mending, broken lives needing healing, lost lives needing saving, injustices needing to be righted, and this work of God in Jesus Christ will still call to each of us and to our churches. If the decisions of General Conference lead to changing structures for engaging this ministry we commit ourselves to working with you to make grace-filled responses.
Finally, know that the entire Council of Bishops takes seriously the demands of presiding at General Conference. Bishops have undergone additional preparation so that we are better equipped to preside with the grace and acumen needed to help the General Conference do its work well.
As we approach General Conference we find ourselves in Epiphany, a season rooted in the story of magi who follow a star to find Jesus and when they do “they were overwhelmed with joy” (Matthew 2:10). May we each continue to see light that draws us closer to Jesus, and fills us with joy, so that we might share this joy with the world.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop David Alan Bard
President of the North Central Jurisdiction College of Bishop, on behalf of the College
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