Disaster Response in Missouri

Pleasant Grove Family,

Like many of you my television has been filled with saddening images of homes destroyed and communities flooded. These storms and waters have impacted the Midwest at heart wrenching levels so far this Spring, and this year it has gotten really close to home. Those affected are our neighbors, our friends and our families. Therefore, I, also, have a desire to do something:

1.    Pray…Pray…Pray…and…Pray some more! The key differences between the church and the other organizations that respond to these situations is our belief in God and his desire to comfort those who hurt. Pray for the victims, pray for the responders, pray for anyone you can think of and when you run out of people to pray for, start over. This is going to be a hard year for a lot of people, long past the storms end and the water recede. According to Agweb Missouri is about 20% behind average in Corn planting and the USDA is saying this could likely be the smallest planting season for corn since 2010. In the Soybean Fields Missouri has 12% in currently compared to the 75% this time last year. Leading some to refer to this as “No Plant ‘19” on Social Media.

2.    Thank a First Responder! Right Now it is my understanding that response in Callaway County is being coordinated and communicated through the Sheriff’s Office and Dispatch. To show our appreciation we are going to provide a meal of pulled pork on Thursday, June 6th. Anyone who would like to donate salads, chips, relishes, or deserts should have them in a disposable container and to the church by Thursday morning 9:30 am.

3.    Help with Clean Up! The following are emails from District Office, the Jefferson City Information is dated but I am told the phone number is still active. The information on Eldon is new:

We have some information for you if you would like to assist in the tornado clean up in Jefferson City.  I spoke to Jason of the United Way.  He said if you would like to volunteer to help in the clean-up efforts that you can report to the Sears wing of the Capital Mall throughout the day on Wednesday, May 29, from 9:00am- 3:00pm. Volunteers are asked to check in to receive their work assignments. If you would like to volunteer on a different day, please contact their office at 573-462-9904 between 9am-5pm. The volunteer days/hours may change daily depending on the needs.

The agency asks volunteers to bring a valid ID, work gloves, long pants, closed-toe shoes or work boots, water, and lunch.

Volunteers who want to clean up debris must be 18 years old or older. Other service-related jobs will be posted as they become available.

The Salvation Army is also seeking volunteers to help with cleanup in Eldon and Jefferson City. Those interested in helping can contact the Salvation Army at facebook.com/SalvationArmyJC.

           Here is some information about the tornado relief efforts in Eldon.

 First, volunteers who want to help in Eldon can call 573-392-9111 and tell them when and what work you wish to do.  They will relay that info to the person in charge of volunteer groups in Eldon and he will return the call and give assignments.

 Second, financial help can be given in any number of ways:

The City has set up a disaster relief checking account at Central Bank in Eldon at 611 E North Street Eldon, MO 65026 (573)392-5086

The ministerial alliance has a fund for disaster relief as well.  The contact for that is Rev Bill Fogelsong (treasurer of the alliance) at First Christian Church 573-392-8282

Eldon UMC also has an emergency fund set up, please contact Joan DeBoe with questions at 573-819-7330.

At this point, clothing or food is not needed.  Most folks are getting relocated and are able to manage their meals.

 The Red Cross and Salvation Army have been very active in the community.  The Red Cross has been set up at the Community Center to assist.

 Thank you so much for all of your concern for the people affected by the tornadoes.

 4.    Give! Pleasant Grove is accepting donations to be forwarded to the Missouri Annual Conference Disaster Relief Team and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). You can also make your donations directly at www.umcdisaster.org. Also at that address is the instructions for making a flood clean up bucket that can be donated to those in need.

5.    Get Trained! This is not the first and will not be the last series of storms to hit our area. The Missouri Annual Conference has a team of trained volunteers who have learned how to respond to disastrous situations. Their goals are to:

·      Provide a Christian presence, be a part of the caring ministry of listening

·      Take steps to prevent further damage to a family’s personal property: tarps, flood clean-out, debris removal

·      Help manage donated materials, gather information, or do other things needed in the community

·      Observe survivor’s needs and repost those to the local diaster operations

The next training is June 15th in Saint Joseph, MO and the Registration deadline is June 10th. You can register at http://www.umcdisaster.org/training.html .

  Friends, that prompting you feel may be the Holy Spirit calling you into great witness of faith. Faith in God who steps in our lives offering hope when all seems hopeless. Please listen to that call. If you have question about any of these options or need anything please feel free to let me know.

Blessing,

Pastor Paul

Open Letter to the Pleasant Grove Family and the Hatton Community

Re: The Recent Burglary

Dear Ones,

I am sure that many of you are aware of the events that took place Monday, March 11th, but so that the record remains truthful let me attempt to summarize. In the morning hours of Monday a young man approach my home, claiming he needed a ride to Fulton. During that conversation I became increasingly concerned about his presence so after he left my home I notified the Callaway County Sheriff's Department. A deputy arrived quickly and we walked both the church campus and the building. It was discovered that the sliding window to the church office was removed and several items were missing throughout the building. This includes televisions, a computer and other various items throughout the building. During that search we were also notified that the individual who had been at my home was at another location within the community. The deputies and the Missouri Highway Patrol responded to that area. He was found to be in possession of the church computer and other items and informed us that the TVs and remaining items were in the bushes behind the church and a closet within the building. In summary all of the items were recovered and the only physical damage to note was a scratched TV screen that will need to be replaced which we are making provisions to make that happen in the next week or so.


While we are grateful the physical damage was minimal, the emotional and spiritual damage remains present. Let me name some of my own emotions around this event in hopes of trying helping others to do the same. I feel angry and sad that this would happen, and more upset that it happened to my church and my church family. Additionally this experience has raised a level of concern, as like many of you my family frequently is at the church alone or in a small group. I wish to convey that the leadership team at Pleasant Grove is committed to the safety of the PG family and we are already having conversation about options for improving the physical safety and building security at the church campus.

Finally, I have a couple of requests. Please join me in expressing my gratitude to the Callaway County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri Highway Patrol. Their actions Monday proved both their professionalism and dedication to our community. We will have cards in both services for everyone to express their appreciation and are asking our children’s Sunday School classes to make cards or write letters as well. Additionally as we live into our call I request that we pray for the young man or any others that may have been involved. I had a trusted friend say to me this week, “Paul if he felt like his best decision was to steal from a church, how bad must the other choices have been.” That was the true wisdom I needed amongst my own anger and believe it to have been of divine sourcing. Therefore please join me in praying that this is a moment of healing and course correction. As I told the young man when he apologized to me Monday morning Jesus loves him too much for him to live like this, I hope he can love himself enough to change.

As always if you have questions or concerns please do not hesitate to reach out to me.


Grace Sufficient,

Pastor Paul Klepees


Special Called Session of General Conference 2019

In 2016 the General Conference, the United Methodist Church’s legislative body, in a regular scheduled meeting, met in Portland, Oregon to do the required work of the church. This meeting is attended by a delegation from every conference (12 from Missouri 6 Clergy 6 Lay) of the world-wide United Methodist Church. That year the work reached a stalemate on the topic of human sexuality and it appeared it would be unable to reach other important agenda items. To allow for the work to move forward, a Commission on the Way Forward was gathered to provide the church with plans for how the church might address these issues, then these plans would be addressed in 2019 at a Special Called Session of the General Conference which will take place at the end of this month in Saint Louis.

There are three plans that have been put forth by the Commission and countless others by various groups from across the spectrum. To summarize these plans is not my purpose today and I do not know that I could properly do that justice. There is a link below to a page that will provide you with that information. Today I would like to address what we know right now and what this means for Pleasant Grove. I will attempt to refrain from the hypothetical or hypotheses as much as possible.

What we know (a Few Things Among the Many)...

First, we know that statistically every member of this congregation and the world wide Methodist church likely knows someone who either is homosexual or loves someone who is. This makes emotions and tension very high in these conversations as this is a deeply personal issue for many. Therefore, my first request is that you be mindful of HOW we have these conversations. It is important that Christ live not only in our hearts but in our conversations and on our social media accounts regardless of which side you are on. The life of Jesus shows us that you can have a conversation and disagree with people while refraining from name calling or inflammatory speech. In fact as I read scripture I find that Jesus often frustrates those who he disagrees with by asking good questions and truly listening to the answers. This is a model for the church.

Second, we know that there are faithful, Christ loving people on both side of this issue. I have friends on both sides of this debate, and I can tell you that neither side loves Jesus more than the other. In fact as we discuss these topics we discuss two sides, but the truth is that most people fall somewhere in the middle. Therefore, I refuse to question the faith or the salvation of someone who disagrees with me and I request that you do the same. All sides cite scripture and tradition for support and all sides make effective arguments. We must refuse to demonize the other just because we disagree (regardless of the issue).

Lastly, what comes out of General Conference will likely look different than anything going in. The United Methodist Church (then the Methodist Episcopal) took shape during the early days of the formation of the US government. Therefore, we look much like that structure, making General Conference the United Methodist version of congress (its ok to sigh at that). That means that there will be impassioned and inflammatory speeches, and that any proposal will have to be altered in order for everyone to vote and it to pass. That, however, will not be the end of it. The issue will then have to be voted on in every Annual Conference around the world. This will not be immediate and likely will take a couple of years due to scheduling the votes. So just because it is decided in Saint Louis doesn’t mean that it is decided. On that note, I am going to break one of my own rules and tell you that as I read blog posts and articles I am not convinced that anything will be completely decided at the Saint Louis meeting. I hope it is, but I am not sure it will be. Regardless, until that process is complete the Book of Discipline will remain unchanged.

What does this mean for Pleasant Grove…

In short, nothing. There may come a day when we have to make a decision but right now we do not even know what that decision would be, and to take any action at this point would be premature and unnecessary. Let me just say this again, there is nothing going to be 100% locked in at this meeting. I say that because you will read all kinds of things, and any message that says the “Methodists have decided…” is inaccurate. This is just a step in the process (see above).

At Pleasant Grove we will continue to “know Jesus Christ and to make him know,” and we will continue to do the work of Christ in the world. In the short term, it will be business as usual except we might occasionally get a question about this being in the news. I encourage you to use the resources below to help you answer those questions effectively and never be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” or more importantly, “I might be wrong but….” EVERYONE who walks in the door will continue to be met with the love of Jesus every time. That is our call.

I will close this with some words from the Bishop found in a letter that is linked below. However, before I do that I want to encourage that if you have any questions or comments please share them with me. I do not promise to have the answers, but I promise to listen, be present, and help when I can. I do not know what 10 years from now looks like, but I know that Christ is calling us to rise above petty arguments (especially that found on Social Media) and to have a conversation about how best to advance the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,

Rev Paul Klepees, RN BSN CEN,

Pastor

Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church

3639 State Road E

Hatton, MO 65231

573-387-4822

pastor@mypgumc.org

“As I have previously stated, I am committed to leading the Missouri Conference through this season of complexity with my eyes fixed on the mission of Jesus Christ and the vision of the Missouri Annual Conference where we will relentlessly lead our churches to be outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers. Whatever the decision, the Sundays following General Conference will come and there will be songs to be sung, prayers to be said and scripture to be read. Throughout the week, our buildings will be filled with after-school programs, knitting circles and potluck dinners. Our people will move throughout their communities bringing Holy Communion to the homebound and making sure people on the street have food in their stomachs and warm clothes.”

~Bishop Robert Farr


Bishop Farr's Letter

Bishop Farr's Presentation Video

MO Annual Conference Resources

The Commission on the Way Forward


As I Sit Here...

   I sit here on the couch tired following a long Wednesday evening. Now I want to be clear Wednesday nights at Pleasant Grove are powerful and amazing. Tonight alone there were 81 young people (PreK-5th grade), 31 Jr High Youth all playing, learning, and eating. On top of that experience there was Choir, Staff, and others throughout the church. I love Wednesday nights, they are the most amazing form of tired I have ever experienced.

   Tonight, however, was twice as impactful. Amongst of all this controlled chaos, I had an amazing opportunity. Pastors are not always the best at letting people into the “awesome weirdness” of our jobs. Tonight, was one such moment. Tonight, I had the privilege of celebrating the Eucharist with those 31 Jr High students; I stood before them and through Communion told them of the God that loved them so much, he would send Christ to be broken so that they could be whole. I told them of the New Covenant, the forgiveness of sin, and the promise that they are never alone. I tried to show them that regardless of what the world says, the God that created them and knows the hairs on their heads calls them, “Good.” After sharing in Communion, we prepared to pray by taking Joys and Concerns. Of the 31 youth there were 20 concerns, and not a single one was about them. There were prayers for family, prayers for friends, prayers for the world, and prayers for others. It was such a beautiful moment and I was honored to just be part of it.

    So tonight, I am extra tired and extra full. My soul is broken open by the Spirit that was present in that sacred moment. The world would have us believe there is no hope, that every day will be worse than the last. I am here to call that hog wash. There were multiple faith traditions represented in that group and as long as young people still gather to hear the gospel and pray. As long as moments like this still happen, there is hope. And tonight, as I hit my knees, I thank God for everyone one of them and the presence of God with them, and I give God the glory for the Kingdom work being down through them. Will you join me?

             Grace Sufficient,

                        Paul

Article: Better Together

The last couple of years we have had an increase in those who have “formally” joined the church. This has led some to ask me, “What does it mean to be a member of the church? And Why does it matter” This article by Joe Iovino published by UM Communications on www.UMC.org helps to answer that question. Church membership has become a tricky thing in our modern view of the Church, and I will admit that I probably encourage it more than many Pastor’s from my generation. Additionally, I recognize that there are those who struggle with the way that the status of “member” has been used in some contexts in the history of the church worldwide, and I share some of those concerns. However, I believe that the vow of membership is as much about the commitment that is made by the congregation to those joining, as it is about those vowing membership. The powerful words spoken over those formally joining the family are commitment to offer growth and encouragement.

 If you are interested in taking the formal vow of membership, please let me know or contact the church office.

 Grace Sufficient,

Pastor Paul

 http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/better-together-why-church-membership-matters