CONNECTION

 
feb 2020 connection image

February 2020 Connection

feb 2020 connection image

Turning The Page

Many of you may know that Reverend Laurie and I officiated the interment of brother-in-law, Bill John Shoults on Saturday, January 18, 2020 at the family plot in Mount Pleasant Cemetery, Toronto Ontario, Canada. It was a sacred and memorable occasion as Bill and Laurie’s sister, Debra Joan, were reunited in death.

Present were Bill’s former co-worker and fellow Native Canadian, Desiree, two sons, Ryan, from Kitchener, Ontario, Michael and Ayumi from Japan, Gwen and Alice, granddaughters, Laurie and myself, sister and brother-in-law to Deb and Bill.

 
Laurie thought it was appropriate to begin the service incorporating some of the Manitoba Cree traditions as this is the tradition Bill was born into. When it came time to pass the Native talking stick, their son Michael bent down to brush the snow away from the grave marker. He pointed out the image of an open book with pages turning that were on the marker. He remarked that this service signaled the end of his mother and father’s earthy story and the beginning of their time in eternity.
 
Our page here at GBUMC is also turning. The chapter of Grand Blanc United Methodist Church being lead by Reverend Dr. Julius E. Del Pino is coming to an end. A new chapter will begin July 1, 2020 under the guidance and leadership of Reverend Brian West. The history of this congregation will continue to unfold in a way that God will have it be. So let it be done.
 
My heart feels both gratitude and joy for what has been during this amazing chapter and what will be in the future for this new and exciting chapter of Grand Blanc. Let us rejoice!
 
To God be the glory.
Julius E. Del Pino, Pastor
 
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January 2020 Connection

Happy New Year!

Believe it, a new year has just started. New hopes and dreams will be cast in 2020. New ideas will surface to sustain the vision of GBUMC. Expect change to occur.
 
As we contemplate change, I encourage each of you to begin thinking about how we can become more clear and committed to making new disciples for taking Christ’s love, justice and healing into this community. Perhaps one area of emphasis will be to compassionately represent our vision to those who have left the church—-not just this church —-but any church.
 
A colleague of mine sent me the following diagram that offers reasons why people have left the church. George Barna, a reputable church consultant and researcher gathered this statistical data that has significant merit and is credible. Please take the time to study it carefully.
 
In closing, I want to have this last thought for your prayerful reflection. Stay hopeful and positive. Keep reaching out to this community. Continue to exude a gentle and loving spirit to all who come through these doors. Talk about how much God is blessing this congregation and not be reluctant to share those blessings with strangers and friends. And be prepared to step up to lead in an area of ministry that feeds your soul! Be ready to change and grow!
 
In the Name of Jesus!
Julius E. Del Pino, Pastor
 
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December 2019

Joy, Joy For Christ will be born

Greetings to all of you in this most blessed season. Advent is here!
 
The season of Advent (coming, arrival) is a time of preparation and inner exploration. The coming of the Christ child brings hope to all Christians around the world, for what we and the world might become. The retail stores usually begin advertising for Christmas before Halloween, but the church’s time of preparation focuses on the four Sundays that precede Christmas.
 
The altar paraments are purple, the liturgical color for the penitential, preparing seasons of Advent and Lent. Advent lessons and prayers are filled with images of light and watchfulness. Remember, the theme of Advent is repentance and change. As we change our lives to meet the Christ child, we experience the blessed assurance that no matter what difficulties we face in life, God in Christ will always be there for us and will see us through. We can claim that promise, and we can live in that confidence. This is the “Good News” of Advent and Christmas – God’s seeking, sustaining, sacrificial love.
 
Make worship your priority during Advent. Be more generous with the resources God has given to you. Join an adult Bible class and be sure and invite a friend or a stranger to attend one of our Christmas Eve services. Pray for your church that God will use each of us to take the spirit of Christ out of the manager and into those places where people are hurting and yearning for love, grace, and hope.
 
God be with you on this Advent journey!
 
Rev. Julius E. Del Pino
 
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November 2019 Connection

GRATITUDE

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

ROARRRRRRRRR!!!
 
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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