Welcome 

Welcome! We're glad you're here. Our mission is to:

*minister to the unhoused in new as well as familiar ways

*use our resources to meet the needs of children and youth in our community

*support and develop our Hispanic Ministry.

Our traditional worship service begins at 9:30a.m. in the Sanctuary followed by fellowship in Sprague Hall. At 10:45a.m. our Hispanic Ministry begins in the Rees Room and Sunday School classes begin for ages 5-17yrs.

For the health and safety of all, we ask that if you have experienced any COVID-19 related symptoms, have tested positive or have someone in your household who is experiencing symptoms or has tested positive within ten days prior to the service, we ask you to stay home and view our worship service via the live-stream available on our YouTube channel. For more information, please contact the office at 360/424-3628 or office@mvfumc.org.

For our YouTube channel, click hereYouTube Worship Videos

For our Facebook page,click here: MVFUMC Facebook

 

 

Announcements 

ADVENT/CHRISTMAS CANDLELIGHT PRESENTATION, DEC. 11, 4PM

Mark your calendars for Sunday, Dec. 11th at 4pm and join us for our Advent/Christmas presentation of “The Winter Rose," a cantata by Joseph Martin.
 
For over 40 years, our choir has offered a Christmas Candlelight Service to our congregation and the community during Advent. At this service listeners experience a time of peace and rest from the holiday hurry and focus on the miracle of the Christ Child and the anticipation and beauty of this sacred season. No cost to attend and no reservation required. For more information, please contact our office at 360/424-3628.

CHRISTMAS WORSHIP SERVICES

Christmas Eve: Join us for our family-friendly service at 4pm in the Sanctuary.

Christmas Day: Please enjoy our pre-recorded worship service on our youTube channel: Christmas Day service


PASTOR'S READING CIRCLE - January 3rd

The Pastor’s Reading Circle book for December is You Can Go Home Again, by Monica McGoldrick. This is a fascinating book exploring the psychological facets of one’s family. It may not be the easiest read. But this book found me when I was in need of some help in understanding my family of origin. McGoldrick is a proponent of Family Systems Theory which maps and explores the emotional relationships in our families. It helps us see patterns and challenges in our family story. Seeing these patterns and challenges helps us to break unhealthy cycles and develop healthier outcomes.


RESPONSE TO COLORADO SHOOTING

Dear Church,

 

I wanted to address you as a congregation about the shooting that took place at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. This letter gets a bit long, so please bear with me.

 

As I was preparing for worship this past Sunday, news was emerging of a mass shooting at a nightclub in Colorado Springs, CO. Five people were killed and dozens more injured. Apparently the heroism of the patrons of Club Q saved the lives of many others. Admittedly, I saw the headline just before worship and decided to press on with my previously planned talk. More on this aspect in a moment.

 

The story emerged further to detail that Club Q welcomes LGBTQ+ people, providing them a safe place for friendship and dancing. The story continues that Colorado Springs has residents and leaders who are very publicly antagonistic toward the LGBTQ+ community. The gunman’s own motive is still emerging. But we are learning that his extended family are part of that public opposition to the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs. And we cannot ignore the particularities of the gunman’s victims.

 

I am disappointed in myself for not stopping to engage the story before worship. I feel very much like the Levite who saw the beaten man on the side of the road and walked on because he was busy. As it stands, God has found other people to offer the compassion the victims and their families have needed.

 

With that said, I have some insight as to why I may have hesitated. Firstly, gun violence is a touchy subject. Like a lot of other topics, people fall into either/or camps when it comes to gun violence. And we are currently unable to find a solution, so the status quo continues. I also think there is nation-wide exhaustion based on the frequency of gun violence and our current stalemate.

 

Secondly, as a denomination, we are embroiled in a decades-long debate on the status of LGBTQ+ people in the church. I shared rather coyly before that I support their inclusion in the church. But I don’t really know how any of you feel. I think this may have led to some reluctance on my part to address the tragedy in Colorado. I didn’t want a ‘nice’ church service to get too ‘political’. I was wrong to ignore the spiritual matter that was crying out in our world.

 

These oversights are symptoms of some of our larger problems. Certainly, we can agree that the slaughter of nightclub patrons is tragic, regardless of the orientations of the victims, right? Before we do anything else, we ought to pause and recognize the humanity of the victims. We ought to acknowledge the senselessness of their murders. We ought to refrain from any hesitation to dehumanize those lost or to excuse their deaths. In my mind that should be first.

 

What then should we do? Prayer is an answer, but there is a warning there, as well. The regularity of gun violence has rendered “thoughts and prayers” a sick punchline in our society. Certainly we have prayed and thought dozens of times and yet not much changes. How then should we pray? Prayer is about opening us to the depth of the reality. We must acknowledge our inability to find solutions. Those with 12-step experiences know that the first step is to acknowledge that a situation has become unmanageable. I personally believe this is where we are as a country regarding gun violence. The next steps are about surrendering the matter to God and allowing a higher power to direct your ways. Prayer ultimately is about this surrendering of the ego, the self to God’s will. It’s really a lot less about changing others. 

 

Prayer ought to open us to the pain the victims’ families are feeling. We also ought to be open to the sense of dread and isolation felt by the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado Springs and beyond. 

 

Prayer ought to recall for us God’s will for our world. What does God desire from God’s people? Are we not called to be people of mercy, justice and healing? Certainly, if we are against gun violence we ought to be evangelists for peaceful solutions to conflict and healing solutions for troubled people. We ought to be defenders of people’s dignity and inherent sanctity. We ought to be actively denouncing efforts to dehumanize or demonize particular members of our community. 

 

Prayer also ought to spurn us into holy action. Jesus prayed intensely in the hillside before dawn, then he went on with healing and sharing good news. That is the model for Christian people to follow. Our prayer opens us to the deeper realities of the world and its circumstances. Prayer opens us up to God’s will for our lives and our communities. And prayer girds us for holy action. That is a kind of prayer that isn’t trite, powerless or ineffective.

 

What kinds of holy action could you take right now? First and foremost, be a listener and a learner. You can listen and learn about the victims and their lives. Their stories are emerging, and learning who the victims are is one way to rehumanize people who have been dehumanized. We all have prejudices, but this moment calls on us to put those aside and allow victims’ stories to be told. It’s easy to move on. It’s Christian to stay and pay attention.

 

I also think we all need to be listeners and learners of the LGBTQ+ community. The shooting not only occured at a nightclub for LGBTQ+ people, but also occurred on the eve of the Trans Day of Remembrance, a day much like our All Saints Day. Club Q was not only a place for entertainment, it was hosting a memorial service for trans people who face higher levels of violence than non-trans people. One of the victims was a trans woman, Kelly Loving, who was leading the ceremonies that evening. The shooting highlights the plight that LGBTQ+ people face. It would behoove of us as Christians to listen and learn about the extra danger that LGBTQ+ people face. As we listen and learn about the victims, let us also listen to what the LGBTQ+ community faces regularly. Regardless of one’s beliefs about homosexuality, let us agree that dehumanization of LGBTQ+ people is not a Christian act. We should instead be voices of dignity, understanding and grace.

 

One final note on listening and learning: there are helpful and eloquent advocates out there to help with questions. I don’t understand all there is to know about the LGBTQ+ community. So I seek out knowledge, just as I would about any other group. PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is a national organization with a local chapter that supports and advocates for LGBTQ+ community in the public sphere. I have learned a lot from them and think you would too.

 

If you are looking for a local pastoral perspective, my seminary classmate Rev. Jeremiah Williamson is an Episcopal priest at Grace & St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Colorado Springs, CO. He DID respond in worship Sunday, while his parish was also celebrating Christ the King Sunday. I found his sermon beautifully pastoral for the moment. You can find the sermon at fatherjeremiahwilliamsonsermons.blogspot.com

 

So Dear Church, do NOT do as I did. Do NOT be so quick to “move on” from this story. As the news cycle has already “moved on,” let us be still and pay attention to this tragedy in our world. Let us soften our hearts that we may hear the cries of the anguished among us. Let us be responsible for our rhetoric and our responses. Let us be the people of compassion, grace and love that God has called us to be. Let us be moved to deep, attentive prayer and holy action in this moment of grief.

 

Grace and peace,

Rev. Christopher Gudger-Raines


  December 2022  
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