Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Twenty-Five Years of Service to the Homeless

On Sunday October 23, we will observe Homeless Awareness Sunday, an opportunity to pause and reflect on the ongoing needs of our homeless neighbors, lift up our call to serve, and recommit ourselves to this important work. 

When the St. Luke’s Shelter opened in December 1991, followed by the opening of Metropolitan House just two months later, our congregation became the first institution, public or private, to shelter the homeless in Upper Northwest DC. In the coming year, as we mark twenty-five years of continuous service to the homeless, we give thanks to God for the many volunteers and supporters who have made this ministry possible and for the ways our lives have been touched by the hundreds of men and women who have been our guests.

We are proud of the longevity of this service, but equally proud of the ways this work has expanded and evolved in light of changing needs and standards of care. Both shelters now operate year-round, providing 24-hour access and a less-structured environment that encourages independent living skills, with Metropolitan House serving women and St. Luke’s House serving men. Through our partnership with Friendship Place, residents receive intensive job and housing placement assistance. And through the generosity of donors to our Residents Assistance Fund, we can provide help with security deposits and other up-front costs that can be barriers to those otherwise able to transition into rental housing. With these changes, the average shelter stay has been reduced to 6 months or less, allowing us to serve many more individuals. And our success rate in transitioning residents into jobs and permanent housing is more than ninety percent. 

We invite you to join us on October 23 – to participate in our annual Help the Homeless Walk (see below), which will be conducted after both services of worship, and to take the opportunity to learn more about the work of Metropolitan House and St. Luke’s House as well as our advocacy for affordable housing, the Campus Kitchen food recovery program, and the Grate Patrol which aids individuals living on the streets of DC.

Ann Michel

Monday, September 12, 2016

Red Tent Revival

The United Methodist Women (UMW) of Metropolitan are reviving the Red Tent Project this month to collect pads and tampons to support homeless women. Known euphemistically as "feminine protection products," pads and tampons are a basic necessity, though for women living in poverty, often too expensive to buy. Look for the red tent in our church foyer to drop off your donations.

The UMW started the Red Tent Project in 2015 when it learned that organizers of a free meal program at Mt. Vernon United Methodist Church in NE DC discovered that the homeless and poor women eating at the twice-weekly program were reusing their feminine protection. The UMW decided to collect tampons and pads for the women and a carload of products were given to the meal program last fall.

The title of the 1997 book by Anita Diamant, The Red Tent, refers to Old Testament times in which the women of the tribe of Jacob retreated to a red tent during their menstrual cycle where they found the support of sisters, mothers, and friends. 

The UMW will collect pads and tampons for the next several weeks, including Sunday, September 25, UMW Sunday. The donations will be shared with Mt. Vernon and the DC Diaper Bank, which distributes feminine protection products to their partner organizations such as Bread for the City, Bright Beginnings, Community of Hope and many others.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

We Welcome Bishop LeTrelle Miller Easterling

We are delighted to welcome our new Bishop, LaTrelle Miller Easterling, to our Baltimore-Washington Conference (BWC)!  Her appointment breaks exciting new ground: she is the first female bishop in the 232-year history of the BWC. In addition, Bishop Easterling and the BWC’s own Cynthia Moore-Koikoi were elected as bishops together, and it was the first time in the history of The United Methodist Church (UMC) that two African American females were elected at the same Jurisdictional Conference.

Bishop Easterling’s own words speak volumes to the kind of ministry that she will bring to her leadership, “I always, always, always stand on the side of justice, but I draw the circle wide enough for all of us to be there – and when I say all, I mean all.” 

In addition to the obvious heart that Bishop Easterling brings, she also has a very distinguished background, graduating from Boston University School of Theology summa cum laude in 2004; prior to that, Bishop Easterling earned her bachelor’s degree at Indiana University and her law degree from the university’s School of Law. Before entering full-time ministry, she worked as a mediator and as a Human Resources Manager and Director.  After being ordained, Bishop Easterling served as pastor of several churches in the New England Annual Conference, including Union United Methodist Church in Boston before becoming the superintendent of the Metro Boston Hope District. She was named dean of the cabinet in June. She was also elected a delegate to the UMC General Conference in 2012 and 2016, as well as serving on the UMC Northeast Jurisdictional Multi-Ethnic Board and the conference board of ordained ministry. 

Bishop Easterling is married to Rev. Marion Easterling, Jr., the pastor of Parkway United Methodist Church in Milton, Massachusetts. They are the parents of two sons, Garrett Walter and Miles Teronza.

When asked during interviews about inclusivity, Easterling said, “I know what it feels like to be excluded. I know what it feels like to be present but ignored.” But getting to know one another can change that, she said. “Once we get to know each other, it’s almost impossible to hate, it’s almost impossible to continue excluding, it’s almost impossible to remain where you were.  We are changed when we hear one another’s story.”

We look forward to being in ministry with Bishop Easterling and getting to share our stories.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

71st Anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki

Peace Statue, Nagasaki Peace Park
71 years ago today, at 11:02 in the morning, the US detonated a nuclear bomb called the Fat Man over the Japanese city of Nagasaki.  Over 70,000 people were killed in that explosion, and another 75,000 injured.  It was the second and last time a nuclear device was used in combat. 

Nagasaki Peace Park
Today, in the rebuilt city of Nagasaki, there is a beautiful Peace Park, littered with statues and monuments from all over the world – including the United States -- that all represent the prayers of people that such an event never happens again.  A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of playing in a concert of traditional Japanese music in the Peace Park, in honor of those who have lost their lives in war.

Dr. Parker plays the Shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese Bamboo flute,in
honor of those who have lost their lives in war
It is hard to conceive of the level of devastation that this weapon caused.  The photographs of the aftermath look like something out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.  And what is, perhaps, more troubling is that it seems to have been unnecessary.  In his memoirs, Dwight Eisenhower noted that he felt that there was no need for either atomic bombing. Japan was already defeated and “was, at that very moment, seeking some way to surrender with a minimum loss of ‘face  Many other military leaders at the time concurred with Eisenhower’s concern.’.”

Given that situation, it is a little unclear why we dropped the bomb. There is speculation that it was deemed necessary to justify the cost of the Manhattan Project, or to demonstrate to the Russians the power of our arsenal; in other words, political – rather than military -- considerations. What is crystal clear, however, is that such an act must never happen again.


Charlie Parker

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

August Sermon Series: "I Can't Find it" ("Not in the Bible")

August Sermon Series - “I Can’t Find It” (“Not in the Bible”)
Last August, we engaged in a sermon series that received a great deal of positive feedback called, “I do not think that means what you think it means” (you can’t go wrong with a good “Princess Bride” quote!), focusing on often misused Biblical passages. This year, we’re complementing that series with one on lines that people often quote as being from the Bible, but which really aren’t. This should
be an entertaining and enjoyable way to dig into some important Biblical and theological concepts.

 Join us for these informative sermons in August!
Sunday, August 7 - “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves”
Scriptures: Psalm 121:1-2, I John 3: 16-18

According to a recent survey, over 8 in 10 Christians believe that this is a Biblical verse; many cite it as one of the 10 commandments. Originally, it is found in Aesop’s fables, and makes its way through history (particularly in Benjamin Franklin) as an example of pithy common sense. While there is a kernel of truth in it, it is also a dangerous bit of extremely bad theology.

Sunday, August 14 - “Everything Happens for a Reason”
Scriptures: Deuteronomy 30: 15-20; Matthew 10:29-31

The implication of this truism is that God somehow pre-ordains everything; and therefore even tragic events have some greater purpose. This is not only bad theology (i.e., says something about God that is not true), but fosters a sense of apathy about the state of the world, and allows us to not take responsibility for our own destructive actions. As in other areas, good theology will foster strong discipleship.

Sunday, August 21 - “Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner”
Scriptures: Matthew 7: 1-5; James 4: 11-12

This commonly used phrase often crops up in the LGBTQ debate.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When a straight guy got saved by a LGBTQ church

One of the realities and gifts of performing music or theatre or dance is that you may never know how you will affect someone with your performance. It will give some people something to think about for the rest of the week. For others the reaction is more immediate. Many never say anything to the performer but still are appreciative. I'm sure this is true for preachers as well. Being a Reconciling Congregation allows us to share God's love in some unexpected ways and in some ways we will never know.

In a shoe-on-the-other-foot blog the author talks about how a United Methodist Church full of LGBTQ people helped a heterosexual man steeped in evangelicalism see his own worth and save him from a spiraling path of self-destructive behavior, because they modeled for him the concept that God loves us, just as we are, right now. Click the link above to read the article. - Kerm Towler

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Our Metropolitan Church's Response to Flooding in West Virginia

Dear Friends:

The recent flooding in West Virginia has been devastating; and, as we have done so many times over many decades, our United Methodist connectional system is responding.  In addition to offering your prayers, here is how you can help in being part of the response:

There will be collections at Wesley United Methodist Church (5312 Connecticut Avenue, NW) in the back of the Sanctuary and Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church (3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW) in the church office between now and Tuesday, July 6, at noon.  Wonderful Metropolitan members have volunteered to transport all of the donations to our Baltimore Washington Conference Center from which they will be delivered to a newly opened warehouse in Beaver, West Virginia.

The specific items that have been requested by the folks in West Virginia are:
  • Bottled water
  • Shovels
  • Mops
  • Brooms
  • Baby diapers
  • Baby formula
  • Baby wipes
If you prefer to make a monetary donation to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR),  please make your check out to Metropolitan Memorial, and in the memo line, write “UMCOR Advance #901670”.  You can either place it in the collection plates on Sunday or mail to the church office at 3401 Nebraska Avenue, NW, Washington, DC  20016. UMCOR has been responding to areas of need since 1940, and 100% of your donations go to the project you specify.

Charlie Parker