June Newsletter Article

In his book, Becoming a Blessed Church, N. Graham Standish writes that many churches succumb to functionalism rather than openness over time. In other words, we focus a lot on the things we like to do and the things we need to do and forget to remain open to what God is calling us to do. Sure, sometimes those things overlap. We will always have important stewardship work to do to maintain our resources and be transparent through communication and decision making, but being a church is not simply like being a non-profit. We exist not for ourselves but for others.  Standish says, “When the leaders of the church, both pastoral and lay, become awake, aware, and alive to God’s presence in their midst, they create the conditions for astonishing things to occur.”  I shared during my Pentecost sermon that we are entering a year of waiting as a church, just like the disciples were asked to wait in Jerusalem in Acts 1. The disciples did not use that time idly. Their waiting was active and participatory. They elected a new apostle to the core leadership of their movement. They prayed, wrestled with scripture, talked, and organized themselves. They became, perhaps, “awake, aware, and alive” and the Holy Spirit did something astonish indeed.  When the time was right, well, let’s let scripture speak: “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” - Acts 2:1-4 (NRSV)

I can’t help but think about the multiplication that occurs at Pentecost - how God can take these handful of leaders and do so much more than anyone thought possible.  Our own story at University Christian Church is filled with astonishing, Pentecost type experiences - from incredible ministries with our neighborhood like the Blessing Box and Day Center to vibrant youth groups, camp programs, bible studies, and worship.  And I’m sure we can also point to times when we kept doing something just because it’s what we do, without pausing to wonder and wait on God’s Spirit to lead us in a fresh direction or breath new inspiration into that work.  Maybe you have experienced that same tension at moments in your personal life. I know I have!  In this coming mission year, we are going to be intentional about doing some active waiting, rooting ourselves in scripture and seeking to cultivate our ability to discern where God is leading. We will do that as part of our Future Story work which should be a lot of fun as we think creatively, talk to other churches, explore our community, and think through where God is leading us. But I think it is important for us to make sure we are cultivating that discernment in all aspects of our activity as a church - pausing for prayer and listening during our board meetings, asking our elders to wrestle with the places of hurt and pain in our church, and taking risks to let go as God moves us.

Our theme for the whole mission year will be “Grow Inward to Grow Outward”.  We will be intentional in our work to be awake, aware, and alive to God’s presence.  Likewise in preparation for that season, I am taking a sabbatical, a month and a half of intentional rest and renewal to be prepared to lead you in that journey.  My sabbatical season this summer is a chance to wait. It will be an active waiting as I rest, renew, go on some hikes, spend time with family, grieve the loss of my father, and engage in fruitful conversation. Some of my work will be taking the next steps for my project proposal with my Doctor of Ministry program at Phillips Theological Seminary. Some of my waiting will be sleeping out beneath the stars in the great American west. I will be praying for you church, and I will be looking for my own burst of Spirit wind to bring me back with fresh insight and direction for our work at this intersection.  I plan to preach on June 27 and then will hit the road with the family on the way to Oklahoma. I’ll be back in the office on August 17.  During that time, our elders will receive any pastoral care concerns that need to be shared, including Sara Hindsley, Chair of Elders, and Marshall Dunn.

Our worship will continue in person and online with guest preachers, including some familiar faces and new faces. Gillian Marcus, our Worship Division chair, will provide some leadership in that time as well as Rev. Seungil Eo, our incoming Ministry Intern.  Most importantly, I challenge each of you to join me on a sort of sabbatical journey, especially after the difficult year we have been in as we have endured a pandemic and faced grief together. Use our time intentionally this summer to rest and listen for God’s leading. We have much work to be done, but we don’t do the work to save our church or increase our budget. We do this work because the Spirit moves us to fullness and wholeness together.

Thank you for your continued generous support of our church. May we become awake, aware, and alive to the Spirit leading us forward.


— Rev. Nathan Hill
 

Some specific asks from your pastor:
  • Pray for me and my family during our sabbatical. Pray for your church and our community too!
  • Be faithful in worship attendance to listen for God’s word and feast at the table.
  • Continue your faithful generosity to keep our mission moving forward.
  • Start a new devotional reading plan or pick at least one book of the Bible to explore on your own. Keep a list of the questions and interesting verses you come across. I’d love to discuss them with you.
  • Gather with our Thursday evening Bible Study.
  • Carve out quiet time as part of your day to sit with God and just listen. Begin with 5 minutes then expand it.
  • Think about creating a personal worship plan, picking a hymn or gospel song to sing with and guide your worship and approach on a daily basis.

On the other side of the mountain

The Lord has opened doors for me and worked in unexpected ways above and beyond. I will be moving to University of Houston to pursue my doctorate studies with full tuition fellowship and TA position that provides a monthly stipend. This whole process started when circumstances pushed me to decide to apply. He had closed all other doors and only let me through this door, for December was the deadline for most schools’ applications and I missed most of them because the Lord had told me to stay at Southwestern in my “first discernment”. By the time I decided to apply, I was left with four doors — four schools that I can apply for (oh yes, I was quite desperate that I looked up almost every school in the nation). Of these four, I ended up applying to only one school.

This whole process was a roller coaster ride — weeping came in the night before joy comes in the morning. If I were to detail my emotions in chronological order, it would probably look like this:

First, the happiness I felt when I got unanimous acceptance votes from the piano faculty…

Hoping I will get one TA position when I applied for and got shortlisted for an interview with the Music Theory department…

Then, the confusion when the official letter came in to inform about my rejection…

I couldn’t believe it. We have just talked about my acceptance into the program. I have been through at least one TA position interview. I thought I was headed in one direction, then abruptly the door slams shut, without warning…

I stand in the hallway, outside the closed door. Analytical reasoning sets in when I tried to process everything, when I wondered what was missing in my application…

The more I analyzed, the more doubt I felt, and I started to analyze what was missing about me that other accepted applicants have…

Psalm 23 came alive for me over the weekend when I began to pray over all that I was experiencing. “Even though I walk through the valley of shadow of death, I shall not fear for You are with me.” I did feel like I was walking through the darkest valley. I did feel like all hope is lost and I had an impulsive response inside me to just give up and return to my country…

To pray is to give my pain to God and hand him the control to create and work something good out of it all…

A glimmer of light in the darkness came when the chair of the piano department invited me to enter the Masters in Collaborative Piano, with the possibility of switching over to the DMA program two semesters after…

Here I am being happy to accept a Masters program although I have already successfully gone through a Masters program. Is this humbling of one’s spirit or is this desperation to walk out of the dark valley? It’s no guarantee that I will definitely be able to switch over later, but I feel completely at peace with this decision. Without hesitation, I signed the partial scholarship offer and Graduate Assistantship accompanying position from the School of Music the next day…

Impatience soon built up inside me over the next two weeks, as the official University (graduate school) letter hasn’t arrived…

Anxiety kicks in simultaneously, as I was afraid whether I will get another rejection…

Then almost one month later, I saw an email came in from the school of music with two documents to sign. The first document is a scholarship offer, which resembles the previous document I have signed. Hmm why am I signing a second identical copy? Oh wait, did they make a mistake? I should be coming in for a Masters instead of a DMA. Oh well, regardless of what it meant, let me just quickly sign it and send it back…

I opened the second document — a Graduate Tuition Fellowship — and this is only awarded to select number of students in a DMA program. “Yay!” and “huh?” were what I felt, as I went back to re-read and double check both documents to see if they have sent to the right person. After confirming that those documents were addressed to me, I was blown away and complete surprised by the whole thing.

Two days later, I received another email that informed me that I have received a 15-hour TA position that pays a monthly stipend, and this is in addition to the Graduate Tuition Fellowship and scholarship for my DMA studies. Believe it or not, it was a total reversal back to my original plan of entering a DMA program, even though the concentration is now Collaborative Piano instead of Solo Piano Performance. I was overwhelmed and overflowing with immense joy…

Moving down to Houston on August 1 to begin a new chapter. Praise the Lord for He is a way-maker, miracle-worker, promise-keeper, light in the darkness, that even when I don't see it, He is working.

~ Sharon How

Estimate of Giving

You my provide your Estimate of Giving by sending an email to our Financial Secretary, Sara Hindsley at rshindsley@verizon.net.  Sara is the only person who knows the details of your giving.  As always, Estimates of Giving can be modified at any time by contacting Sara.

It’s time to return! RSVP for Sunday worship service


You can RSVP for June 6th and June 13th worship by clicking the link below
RSVP here 
or copy and paste RSVP link: https://forms.gle/qWeNDYff2LzwDLmU8

News you can use

University Christian Church Blessing Box 

How Does This Blessing Box Work? 

This mini pantry is a way for neighbors to help neighbors who are in need. 
 
Even though its home is on our church property, this mini pantry belongs to all of us. Please take care of it and the space around it. Tidy the mini pantry if it needs it. If you can, clean up spills, and please don’t litter. 
 
Give what you can by placing food, hygiene, or paper items inside the mini pantry. Give what you would want to receive. An easy rule of thumb: buy extra of what you buy your household. No gift is too small. Items should be unexpired and in good condition.  
 
Take what you need. If you find items inside and you need them, take them and know we care about you. Please remember the mini pantry belongs to all of us and take only those items you need, trusting the mini pantry will be here for you again. 

SAMPLE ITEMS NEEDED 

Paper Products
  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Tissue

Baby Supplies
  • Diapers 
  • Formula 
  • Baby Wipes 

Nonperishable Foods in Boxes/Bags/Plastic Jars/Cans
  • Peanut butter and jelly in plastic jars
  • Grains, beans and rice
  • Pasta: dry pasta, bagged pasta meals, mac n’ cheese
  • Pasta sauce in plastic jar
  • Cereal: cold and hot
  • Snack crackers
  • Canned meals (chili, ravioli, soup)
  • Canned meat (Spam, tuna, chicken, sardines)
  • Dried fruits
  • Granola bars
  • Canned fruit/Vegetables

LOWER CABINET 

Personal Care Items  

  • Shampoo/conditioner 
  • Soap 
  • Toothpaste 
  • Toothbrushes 
  • Moisturizer 
  • Pads/tampons 
  • Deodorant 
  • Chapstick 
  • Face Masks 
  • Hats/Gloves/Scarves 
  • Laundry Detergent 
  • NEW Socks/Underwear 

Pet Supplies 

Events

Youth Group

June 19th @ 5pm
"What's the Future"  -  Activities and discussion about the church from a kids perspective.

Save the Date 

Vacation Bible School
Sunday's Aug 22nd - Sept 12th

more information coming soon!

Thursday's

Adult Bible Study @ 7pm 

Bible Study Host: Rev Nathan
Registration is required
Click here to register

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Korean Bible Study Thursday evenings @ 8:15pm 

Register in advance for this meeting:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
If registration links do not work you may also register through the UCC website.  Choose GROW then Small Groups.  http://uccmd.org/small-groups.php

We  You!

~From the church at the Intersection

Upper Room Devotionals


If you would like a copy of an Upper Room Devotional mailed to you please email the church office.  Thanks. cucoffice@verizon.net
 


 

Do you have questions or need help email the church office.

Online Giving

Give Online at www.uccmd.org
University Christian Church
6800 Adelphi Rd
Hyattsville MD, 20782
cucoffice@verizon.net