Why I Follow Jesus. . .

30 06 2013

By Dan Woynarski, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Dan Woynarski

Dan Woynarski

I follow Jesus because his Facebook status updates are hilarious! OK, seriously, I could share that my formative years in Sunday school were so brilliant that I was won over by the power of the greatest story ever told.

Nope, that’s not it.

It could be that the colorful church history shaped me into a disciple…not that either. I could say that it was a hymn, a program, a powerful message given with precise pauses and perfect punctuation that prompted praise within me…poetic perhaps, but no.

It’s the memory of a quarter placed into my hand at 16 by a woman in my congregation who saw me struggling and said, “If you need to talk, call me.”

It’s because two people decided to adopt an unwanted child, and he grew up knowing he was loved. It is because of a wonderful grandma who always reminds me to whom I belong. It is because I have a wife who loves me, though I’m not the best husband. She reminds me that we are two imperfect people in a covenant relationship with God. (She says I might be just slightly more imperfect, but she sticks around anyway, so I can accept that.)

It’s more than just good feelings, though. It is really about the way people choose to live when they become followers of Jesus.

How I have followed Jesus is a different story, but it has a bearing on the why. Some moments in my life cause me to ask whether I do follow Jesus. Do my actions represent a life dedicated to the teachings and life of Jesus? When I consider the truth, I despair, and then I feel Jesus lifting me out of my pity party. I cry out, “I’m no good for you! Leave me here. I am a weight around your ankles.”

And still I feel Jesus pulling me. I submit evidence: “I am a poor father, a mediocre husband, a lackluster friend, an ineffective leader, a horrible example of what you should have as a disciple.” And still I hear Jesus whisper back, “You are exactly what I look for in a disciple.”

He provides evidence: “You are a child of God, and you have been given grace, whether you feel you deserve it or not. So put on your big-boy pants and let’s get to work.” (In my mind Jesus doesn’t take excuses. But thanks to years of Jesus movies, he does have a British accent.)

The point is, accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry tell me God accepts me, warts and all.

I follow Jesus because of the vision of the beloved community I believe he was seeking to establish here on Earth. I follow Jesus because of how he was with people, even in the tight spots. Jesus stepped in where most of us—me included—would have stepped out.

I want to be the guy who steps in and encourages others to do so. I have a selfish reason for following Jesus, too. When I find myself living a life more representative of Jesus, I feel good.

I’m OK with that.





Your Giving Makes Christ’s Mission Real in the World

28 06 2013

As you consider your true capacity to give to local and world mission tithes to help make Christ’s mission real in the world, reflect on the words of counsel Prophet-President Steve Veazey shared April 14:

Remember, a basic discipleship principle is growing Christ’s mission through both local and world mission tithes according to true capacity. Giving to other worthwhile organizations, while an important part of A Disciple’s Generous Response, follows world and local mission tithing and should not diminish or replace it. If a law is needed to focus and balance response, then let these tithing principles serve that purpose.

Tithing is a spiritual practice that demonstrates willingness to regularly offer every dimension of one’s life to God. When defined by faith, love, and hopeful planning, including resolving indebtedness, capacity to respond becomes much greater than initially assumed.

In March, contributors around the world gave an estimated $1,170,000 in world mission tithes, bringing us to a $9,769,644 total for the fiscal year. This is a shortfall of $1,480,000.

Please help us make up this shortfall before the fiscal year ends June 30, so we can continue to make Christ’s mission real in the world by inviting people to Christ, working to abolish poverty and end suffering, pursuing peace on Earth, and equipping individuals and congregations to pursue these initiatives.

Your giving helps:

  • Invite People to Christ: A pantry program offered by Pleasant Valley Congregation in Ohio led to a Sharing in the Round ministry to provide more than food by sharing a meal and information about social-service programs and ministries of healing and blessing.
  • Abolish Poverty, End Suffering: The Tunnel Hill Congregation in Illinois partners with Blessings in a Backpack to provide food for the weekend to children on free- and reduced-meal programs in all the elementary schools in its county.
  • Pursue Peace on Earth: World Service Corps volunteers travel to offer ministry and learn in other cultures, making connections with people of all ages.
  • Develop Disciples to Serve: Prairie Bluffs USA Mission Center has 28 people in its Young Adult Pastor Training Program, preparing for leadership through study and relationship-building.
  • Experience Congregations in Mission: Members of Soubré Congregation, where the church is growing in Ivory Coast, are working to construct a building that will accommodate 200 with funding help from world mission tithes.

Thank you for your generous giving!





World Conference Voices – 4

26 06 2013

The list of things people enjoy during World Conference is as diverse as the delegates themselves. Lauren Logan of Integrated Communications asked many people, “What do you like most about World Conference?” Some of their responses:

Christian Skoorsmith, Greater Pacific Northwest USA Mission Center
“There are so many things—of course there’s always the friends and seeing the church leaders. But I think it was all of the legislation that came. We had some really good discussions, and it was really powerful.”

Max Stuck, Lamoni-Heartland USA Mission Center
“The most enjoyable aspect for me was kind of recognizing how spread out the church was. I was kind of overwhelmed by how well represented we were in the world, and I just couldn’t wrap my head around that.”

Shirley Truelove, Cedar Valley-Nauvoo USA Mission Center
“I guess I enjoyed the evening services the most.”

Leah Wheeler, Greater Pacific USA Mission Center
“I enjoyed the fellowship that we’re able to participate in at World Conference, and to be able to hear the different opinions on the different things that we’re talking about. A lot of the stuff…I haven’t heard the opposing side, so it’s really important…to be able to see all the different perspectives.”

Wen-Chen Wu, East Asia Mission Center
“I like discussions, and I feel like we are family. We talk about important things that’ll be better for our future. I appreciate that.”

 





World Conference Voices – 3

23 06 2013

The list of things people enjoy during World Conference is as diverse as the delegates themselves. Lauren Logan of Integrated Communications asked many people, “What do you like most about World Conference?” Some of their responses:

Sharon Gernaat, Michigan USA/Canada Mission Center
“The opportunity to come together and move the church forward; to make policy for the church.”

David Harder, Gateway USA Mission Center
“I just enjoyed Conference, particularly quorum meetings.”

Rigobert Hauata, French Polynesia Mission Centre
“This is the first time I have participated in World Conference. I’m very happy to be here. It’s a very good experience to see the good news with our president-prophet. We had resolutions in my field. I’m really happy because they responded to our issues, our views…It’s a very special time to proclaim our mission to Jesus Christ, and…it’s good news to build peace in the world.”

Alexis LaFarlette, South Central States USA Mission Center
“I guess just seeing different views, how different people stand. It’s just really nice for everybody to get together and get around and just hear different things. It really puts perspective on all the different topics.”

Adelyn Naidu, Pacific Islands Mission Centre
“I think the best thing about World Conference is meeting everyone after so many years, and it’s also a time of good fellowship.”





World Conference Voices – 2

21 06 2013

The list of things people enjoy during World Conference is as diverse as the delegates themselves. Lauren Logan of Integrated Communications asked many people, “What do you like most about World Conference?” Some of their responses:

Naomi Barlow, Rocky Mountain USA Mission Center
“Fellowship and being together. My Community of Christ people are my favorite people, so we get to come together for a whole week.”

Julius Sackor Dixon, Ivory Coast Liberia Mission Center
“I think I see truly our Enduring Principles put into practice and come across because I see a lot of people from different cultures sit down together with our brothers and sisters in Christ. The resolutions, many are not African, but it’s good we all sat down, discussed them, came to consensus, and can move forward.”

Linda Donahoe, Bountiful USA Mission Center
“I love the celebrations, the music, and the festivals. I think that’s wonderful. I like all the interaction of the foreign- and the English-speaking people, and I really have had a ball with that. I like the deliberation on the Conference floor, ’cause that’s important, but it’s also frustrating.”

Iniobong Edet, Nigeria Mission Centre
“It’s very inviting. You learn much about the church and the worth of all people.”

Ralph Gault, Southwest International (Mexico/USA) Mission Center
“President (Steve) Veazey’s patience.”





World Conference Voices – 1

19 06 2013

The list of things people enjoy during World Conference is as diverse as the delegates themselves. Lauren Logan of Integrated Communications asked many people, “What do you like most about World Conference?” Some of their responses:

Jae Ok An, East Asia Mission Center
“Our church felt and seemed small in Korea. But after coming to Conference I realized how big our church is and saw how freely we are in God. I felt closer to God.”

Marketer Ash, Chicago USA Mission Center
“The parliamentary piece where everyone has an opportunity to express their thoughts, their ideas, and their concerns, and to put their recommendations on the table.”

Megan Ashburn, Rocky Mountain USA Mission Center
“The diversity of the people. Even though we’re from the same church, we all have completely different views, so it’s really interesting to see how we got to one view.”

Tanoh Assoi, Ivory Coast Liberia Mission Center
“Let’s see, there were many activities to partake in. I think that personally I enjoyed ILM (International Leaders Meetings) in which we discussed many issues and looked at the church life, church activities, and perspectives of the people.”

Young Eun Park, East Asia Mission Center
“In Korea, there’s a cultural difference. We don’t really state what we believe; rather we go with majority. But here, during Conference, it was good to hear a lot of people’s different perspectives and opinions. It was good the church actually listened to people’s opinions neutrally as much as they could. I liked worshiping with other church members, and how active people got involved with things, like the Tahitians when they sang.”





Prepare!

17 06 2013

Hymnal Launch and Peace Colloquy
By Jane Gardner, Integrated Formation Ministries and Brad Martell, Peace and Justice Ministries

The 2013 Peace Colloquy October 18-20 will launch the new Community of Christ Sings hymnal.

The 2013 Peace Colloquy October 18-20 will launch the new Community of Christ Sings hymnal.

We will welcome the Rev. John L. Bell as this year’s Community of Christ International Peace Award recipient at the launch of Community of Christ Sings during the Peace Colloquy, October 18–20.

Rev. Bell is passionate about congregational song and makes a strong case that any size group can “Sing Praises to the Lord!” His book, The Singing Thing: A Case for Congregational Song, is a short book about why we sing, laced with anecdotes from congregations—rural and urban, big and small.

You may order it from Herald House by calling 1-800-767-8181 to begin preparing yourself and your congregation for meaningful and memorable experiences of worship and song.

Rev. Bell is a member of the Iona Community in Scotland, which produces a rich array of materials for worship under the Wild Goose Resource Group. Among these are ideas and readings for worship services published in seasonal groupings written by Rev. Bell:

Cloth for the Cradle: Worship Resources and Readings for Advent, Christmas & Epiphany;
Stages on the Way: Worship Resources for Lent, Holy Week & Easter; and
Present on Earth: Worship Resources on the Life of Jesus.

These books, available by calling Herald House, come highly recommended for those who plan worship services. Take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to learn from and experience the ministry of Rev. Bell and the Iona Community in preparation for the Peace Colloquy and Community of Christ Sings launch!