I am really excited by several things happening at Marble Memorial United Methodist Church. The first two make sure to read about elsewhere in this newsletter: this is my first experience with the ‘Goodie Sale’ and what is happening as we implement our ‘ministry plan’. (If you were in worship Nov. 18th you heard an update including our new vision statement and core values – who we strive to be and how we strive to get there.)
Another thing I am excited about is Advent and Christmas! I have heard about what the building may look like when it is decorated, including new trees. Decorations are important and can help us grow closer to God during this time.
What I am really eager to begin is our Advent study and worship series. It is entitled ‘The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem.” This study and series will help us better understand the events that led to the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem while we see more clearly its theological meaning and reflect on the meaning of these events for us.
Our worship series and study is based on the series by the Rev. Adam Hamilton with the following themes each week:
Also available is a daily devotion. They are available now at the church. There are 28 devotions in the book that go with this series. It is suggested you begin on December 1st but whenever you start is good. There is a suggested donation of $9 per book but having one is more important than paying for it!
And … of course there is Christmas Eve! Services will be at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m.
See you Sunday! … Pastor Jackie Roe
Has anything changed in your lifetime? Have you had a birth in your family? A death? A marriage?
Everyone has at least one of these things happen in their life. Another thing that any adult has seen
change is phones. I am old enough to remember when the phone was on the wall and we had no idea
who was calling until we answered it. Now, I carry I phone in my pocket and may not answer it if I
don’t know who is calling. As much as I may grumble about not being able to get away from the phone,
I really don’t want to go back to a phone on the wall.
Things change over time. That does not mean how things were done previously is bad or wrong, just
different. The phone on the wall was what we knew and we didn’t think anything about getting up to
As we continue to work our ‘ministry plan’, which we as a congregation adopted in May of this year,
several things the church does will change. (See elsewhere in this newsletter for more information
about what is happening with our plan.)
Please remember as these changes occur just because something is changed does not mean it did not
at one time meet the needs of the day. What at one time was ‘current’ and even ‘beautiful’ may not
meet the needs \ desires of people today and may not be ‘beautiful’ any longer.
Please know that I, and I believe others, appreciate the hard work of the many people who have put
many hours into the ministry of the congregation. I appreciate the things that have been purchased
through the years to enhance ministry, including the building, of this congregation. If it had not been
for people giving so much time, and money, our congregation may not be here today. We would no
longer be ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’.
In order to survive and thrive as a congregation who is effectively “making disciples of Jesus Christ …”
we need to make some changes to how we reach those who do not yet know Christ. Mark 2:22 talks
about not putting new wine into old wineskins. We, as a congregation, need to adopt some ‘new
wineskins’ to reach those who do not yet know Christ, or may be looking for a new church home. We
do this so that our congregation will be here for years to come and many more will become disciples
of Jesus Christ and transform our world. Our world does need some things transformed, but that is
Below, you will see a picture of some of the new kitchen pulls and handles at the parsonage. Your
trustees bought and installed them not only to make the kitchen look nicer and make the doors easier
to open but to extend the life of the doors. Likewise, some things at the church will change so that God
‘looks nicer’, is easier to access and who’s message is extended.
See You Sunday!
… Pastor Jackie Roe
Recently I was reminded of our memory verse from our recent worship series “The Power of Words”.
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so
that your words may give grace to those who hear.” (Isaiah 4:29, New Revised Version of the Bible).
Another verse that came to mind in this incident is “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23a, New
International Version of the Bible)
So what made me think of these verses? Recently some ladies from the congregation were at Sharon
and Richard Early’s home working on crafts. I came late, very late, to the gathering (in time for snacks
As the last group of people were leaving I was walking to my car with Karen Bolz. Karen noticed a cat
near a car that was getting ready to back out. In order to make sure the cat was safe, knowing cats
don’t like loud noises, I told the driver, Wanda Kanitz, to honk the horn. She did, because I asked.
Meanwhile, Karen bent down and called the cat – the cat came.
As I reflected on that incident I get upset with myself. That poor cat didn’t need the car to honk to be
safe. In the same amount of time I was rude and loud, scaring the cat, Karen showed ‘love, kindness
and gentleness’ to the cat while making sure it was safe.
It made me think about the times I have done the same with my words. Yes, there have been times
when I have been rude and my words have not ‘shown grace’. Often I realize it only later – like I did
with the cat. I am working on those times becoming fewer and further between.
When discussions get intense, personal and deal with a change I tend to not use words that build
others up. During those times I tend not to show “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.” The image of Karen bending down and petting the cat is
one I hope I remember in those times.
I wonder if I am the only one who doesn’t always show those qualities. Dare I write I doubt it? I am
thankful that God forgives me for those times – I hope we forgive each other, even as we are striving
to live with ‘love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and selfcontrol’
and use words that build each other up.
See You Sunday!
… Pastor Jackie Roe
As we head to September it is hard to believe I have been here two months already. In some
ways it feels longer, it some ways it feels shorter. The Vital Church Initiative groups that our
plan calls for to this point have met, at least once, in August. There is excitement and
commitment from those who are serving on these groups. As these groups continue with their
work they may ask others for help. There are still groups to be named which will happen
according to the plan. (There are extra copies available in the office if you need one.)
I hope you have Saturday, September 15 from 9 a.m. to noon reserved on your calendar for our
Day of Visioning. As noted elsewhere in this newsletter, the Rev. Dr. Sherry Parker-Lewis will be
leading us in this very important time together. This day will assist us in clarifying and providing
a more focused vision and pinpoint our core values as we move into the future.
Following that day, according to our plan, I will identify 3 persons to review the work on that day.
They will then write a concise, memorable guiding vision and core values which reflect what we,
as a congregation, want to become.
From there, Church Council will be asked to affirm their work and then it will be shared with the
congregation in many ways, including worship.
I hope as many as possible can be in attendance for this important time in our life. I know some
people already had commitments – thank you for letting me know you can’t make it. It is
impossible to find a day everyone can be present. (I am glad that the University of Michigan
football game isn’t until 3:30 and Michigan State doesn’t play!)
See You Sunday!
… Pastor Jackie Roe
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ! I am excited, honored and humbled to begin serving as pastor at Milan: Marble Memorial UMC! Having been active on the Conference Committee on Youth Ministry while in high school I attended Annual Conference and remember hearing of Milan as a ‘Spotlight Church’ which means you are serious about ministry in Milan as well the world! You have been served by some wonderful pastor’s (The Rev,’s King Hanna, the Goudies, Kristie Sigal and others including, of course most recently Bob Miller). Serving God as a pastor is humbling; being appointed to a church with a rich history of involvement in ministry with such wonderful pastoral leadership is even more humbling – and exciting.
You know how to welcome a pastor! A big thank you to all who brought or had us (my parents were here for several days) over for meals, worked on the beautiful parsonage inside and out, provided answers to my many questions (more will come), offered to take me on a tour of the area, and did, and will do, so many other things to make me feel welcome. You certainly demonstrated radical hospitality!
As you likely know, Marble Memorial is in the midst of not only a pastoral transition but you accepted a new ‘ministry plan’ May 20th! Exciting! Great way to reach new people and enrich each of our relationships with God! Also, scary. I firmly believe God is present through all this change – and always. As I already said, I am excited, humbled and I will admit a little scared, or awed may be a better word, to be a part of this adventure which you have been on for some time.
I had the pleasure of meeting many of you at the Vital Church Initiative Consultation event on April 21. Again, you were very welcoming! Many of you introduced yourself to me that day. I have seen some of you since and you have been very gracious in saying your name again. I struggle with names! You can help me with this by saying your name when we met until I call you by name. Feel free to give me a few moments and let me struggle as I try to learn all of your names. Thank you for helping me!
“I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.”
(Eph 1:16-18, ESV)
59 months ago, to the day, I sat down to write my first Pastor’s Column for our monthly newsletter here at Marble, and today I sit down to write my last … admittedly, with mixed emotions. A part of me feels the sting of knowing that Rochelle and I will be leaving the faith family we have lived with for these past five years and that we have come to know and love. But another part is feeling an excitement around what the future is bringing for that same faith family, including Rochelle and me. So, with such mixed emotions, I reflect on these past five years, and consider what lies ahead.
First and foremost, and on behalf of Rochelle and myself, please know that we are grateful beyond words for all the love and compassion we have experienced through you here at Marble. You have embraced us as both friends and fellow disciples of Christ, and we are better people for all we have learned and experienced because of this time that we have shared together. For this, we are humbly grateful.
Looking back on our time together, my heart is warmed by the worship, ministry, and spiritual formation we have shared, and the transformative journey we have travelled together. How much I cherish our walking together as our hearts have further deepened, our doors have opened wider, our presence in this community has become more impactful, and our understanding of our God given purpose has become clearer. Together, we have each gained and grown in our respective and important ways. I am leaving a better person and Christian disciple because of the time we have spent together. My hope is that you may be able to say similar things about yourself from our time together.
“God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places… And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church.”
(Ephesians 1:20 & 22, NRSV)
One thing for sure, this past April has been anything but boring. We entered it with an amazing celebration of Resurrection Sunday on the 1st, and closed it with the Spirit-filled Vital Church Consultation Weekend and receipt of our Vital Church Ministry Plan. Chances are, as you read this, we will be in the midst of holding our three Town Halls whereby we will be in Holy Conversation, asking questions and understanding the details, around that Ministry Plan, all in discernment and preparation for our Church Conference vote of that plan on May 20. If you’re like me, you probably feel like the train we are riding on just picked up a good dose of speed. But I am reminded that our “train conductor” is really our Triune God, whose guiding and sustaining Spirit is both among and within us every step of the way. I personally find that little tidbit incredibly assuring and life-giving.
Still, who can help but feel a little nervous, and perhaps a little overwhelmed? After all, this Ministry Plan has a lot of detail, requires deep introspection into things that have been a part of Marble for quite some time, and most every one of us will find ourselves challenged in some way or another. For sure, we will look somewhat different 2 years from now when we complete all the details of the plan.
But perhaps, that is the overarching point. That is exactly what this Ministry Plan is intended to do. For us to be in a better place 2 years from now—not to mention 5 and 10—there are areas of our church that need to look different. (I say “our” church, but it is really our particular segment of “Christ’s Church”). Christ, who is “the head over all things for the church,” desires for all of us to know the joy that comes from being in full connection and mission with him. This Ministry Plan comprehends our God given gifts and passions, our history and local community, and the best wisdom and practices of thriving church congregations. This Ministry Plan is a tailor-made step-by-step action plan, combined with on-going coaching and personal support, aimed at guiding us to the place in Christ’s Church that Christ desires for us to be. This I also find assuring and life-giving. For sure, there is substantial effort and dedication involved, but if faithfully pursued, I believe the rewards to be beyond our current imagination.
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him won’t perish but will have eternal life.” - John 3:16 CEB
In this year, 2018, April 1st marks the end of Lent and the start of the Easter season. The older I get, and the more years I spend experiencing and studying the presence of God in this world and in my life, the more and more meaning Easter has for me. The late Rev. Reuben Job, a past Bishop in the United Methodist Church, captured these words with respect to Easter:
As I reread these words heading into this year’s Easter season, I am even more struck by their relevance given the journey we have been on, and the place we stand today. Certainly, we can see the connection from the perspective of worldly events and national turmoil. From such perspective, these words remind us that we have every good reason to hope for a future that may turn cries of grief to songs of joy … a hope that perseveres “to every Christian in every age and circumstance.”
See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.
(1 John 3:1, NRSV)
As we enter into the month of March, we come toward the completion of the Christian season of Lent and our entrance into the Paschal Mystery with the renewal of life and hope that follows. And just like my opening sentence, there is a lot packed into the words and traditions of the Lenten season. This year during Lent, we will be completing our church-wide study and unpacking the substantive insights contained in Gordon MacDonald’s book, Who Stole My Church? Our study overtly included open and respectful conversation and dialog around long held questions and beliefs, and how we might be informed by God’s leading. To say that many of us have found this experience transformational as individual Christians and as members of Christ’s Church would be an understatement. I have felt blessed and privileged to have been a part of our various study groups and discussions.
Another wonderful and related read, especially in the Lenten season, is a short but rather packed book by Bishop Reuben Job, entitled Three Simple Questions; which asks “Who is God?,” “Who am I?” and “Who are we together?” And in the end, as is so often the case, these simple questions have enormous significance, and Bishop Job’s answers are strikingly simple, albeit with a fullness and substance that we can spend a lifetime unpacking. First, God is love beyond our wildest imaginations, and the ways God has and will manifest that love number beyond any capacity to count. Secondly, Jesus Christ demonstrated that God considers every single one of us as God’s children. Thirdly, together we are God’s family, and as Christians we are the living body of Christ.
“No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”
(Romans 4:20-21, NRSV)
You know that metaphorical idiom: “The elephant in the room.” It speaks to the obvious that no one wants to discuss. These such elephants present themselves in virtually every aspect of human life—the work place, social institutions, family dynamics, and even churches. They also can be found at almost every level, from the most serious, to even the lighthearted. The problem is, wherever and however they exist, by not discussing those things, by not acknowledging their existence, by refusing to name them, we ultimately give those things power over the things we truly want.
I have been privileged to witness and recognize one such elephant that is particularly pertinent at this time in our communal faith walk and journey here at Marble; and that is our church-wide book study of author Gordon MacDonald’s work, Who Stole My Church. Interestingly, this book has generated a wide range of initial reactions, ranging from curiosity to irritation to amusement to even anger. Some of us were unable to put the book down once started, and others of us had to set the book aside after only a few chapters unable to keep reading.