Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Letter from Pastor Mark - March

Dear Friends,
There are several things that will begin in the month of March that I want to lift up for you.  You are receiving this newsletter on the first day of March and this is also the day of our Ash Wednesday service.  Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the 40 day observance of Lent.  Lent is a time of repentance and preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.  Easter is April 16 this year.  I am looking forward to the special opportunity that Lent and Easter gives each of us to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ.  I am hoping that you are looking forward to those opportunities as well.
During Lent I will be teaching a mini-study that is focused on how to read and study the Bible.  The study will be two sessions and each session will last 90 minutes.  The classes will be on two Wednesdays, March 8 & 15.  The class will give lots of tips and direction for how to read the Bible and stay with it.
During the season of Lent I will be preaching a sermon series that will take us through the    entire book of 2 Peter.  The series is entitled “The Discipleship Handbook” and it will focus on gleaning as many truths as possible to help us live out our discipleship in Jesus Christ.  We are also focusing on a book of the Bible for Lent because one of the themes for Lent is to begin the process of reading and studying the Bible.

In keeping with the theme of reading the Bible, soon after the course that teaches on how to read and study the Bible we will be forming Life Transformation Groups that will focus on reading and discussing the Bible.  These are small groups that will have as their objective life transformation through learning and living the truth of the Bible.  There will be a Bible reading plan given to all the groups and the hope is that each group will follow the plan and use the readings for each week as the basis for the group discussion.  I hope you will consider joining one of these groups.
These groups and the Bible reading plan will take the place of the weekly prayer journals.  The last prayer journal will be issued on Sunday, February 26.
My prayer is that many of you will take advantage of at least one of these ways that you can grow your relationship with Jesus Christ during the season of Lent and Easter.

In Christ’s Abundant Love,
Pastor Mark


The Upper Sand Mountain Mission Trip to Alabama is June 18 -24, 2017.  It is time to meet and discuss your interest in attending this trip.  In order to ensure you receive necessary and  accurate trip information, we invite all involved adults, youth and their parents to attend an  orientation session March 7, 2017.   This will also give us the opportunity to meet as a team and to address questions with answers everyone will want to hear.  Join us at 7:00 p.m. in the Gathering Place at church.

All are welcome to attend the mission trip.  Skills like painting, plumbing, hammering,    sweeping, replacing flooring, sorting items for the food pantry and clothing store,  and moving paint cans are a few of the jobs we have done in the past.  All skill levels are needed and youth and those who are new to the trip will be mentored by other adult leaders.

The $175 fee per participant is paid by the church’s Faith Promise contributions.  We encourage everyone to continue giving to Faith Promise so that not only the mission trip but all of our outreach and mission ministries are funded.   This opportunity for second mile giving is open to everyone.

Also, for those planning to attend in 2017, you can start now by donating to your personal account at the church towards your fee of $100 which covers food and gas costs.  This could be a monthly or weekly donation in an amount that will add up to the trip cost by the June 4 due date.  It is an easy process.   First, notify Brandon Collins our church treasurer that you plan to do this. Then make your check out to SUMC or contribute electronically, and note Upper Sand Mountain Fund.

Information regarding youth participants:  It is essential to have a parent/guardian on job sites with each youth age 12 and under.  Their well-being is of upmost importance and we will    continue to address safety and liability issues. Originally the Upper Sand trip was a family activity and over time it has grown with many youth attending and occasionally without a parent.  In all cases youth must have a parent or another adult on the trip who agrees to be responsible for that youth. We are excited to have youth with a passion for mission. 

USM Leadership Team
Jim Smith
Sandy Tilton
Suzy Heilman

Food Drive News

Way to go SUMC… You did an outstanding job collecting canned fruit for the month of February.  532 pounds of canned fruit was delivered to Hunger, Inc.

Our Fletcher Place Food Drive Starts Soon.

From March 12-April 9, Southport United Methodist Church will be collecting food for Fletcher Place’s food pantry.  We at SUMC are the major contributor for this Methodist based food pantry during these months.  And for that reason, we will not be collecting for Hunger, Inc. Our Hunger, Inc. collection will resume in May with canned vegetables.

In Indianapolis, 1 in 5 children go hungry on a daily basis.  In the Fletcher Place neighborhood, the number is closer to 4 out of 5 children will experience hunger every day.  Therefore, the need to support Fletcher Place with our Food Drive is critical.  Fletcher Place is a center that services the South side of Indianapolis. The center is located in the Fountain Square area. 

Our collection site will be in the space between the restroom doors in the Gathering Place.  Watch for the Food Drive sign, lists, and bags in that area beginning March 8.
Be sure to write your name down on the notebook provided so we can again celebrate our participation.

Fletcher Place Food Pantry List
(Items in BOLD are in desperate need)

      Beans and Rice                                            Pasta and Spaghetti Sauce
      Peanut Butter and Jelly                                  Old Fashioned Oats
      15 Bean Soup Bag                                         Fresh Apples
      Fresh Potatoes, Onions & Carrots                 Canned Tuna
      Mac & Cheese                                              Toilet Paper
     Variety of Canned Fruit (in own juice or no sugar added)
     Variety of Canned Veggies (low sodium or no salt added)
     Canned tomatoes (diced, sauce, stewed, etc. no salt added)

Thank you in advance for your donation!  This is a short list yet it is the quality staples the clients really appreciate.  The families that come to the food pantry are in extreme need and especially appreciate the new fresh items now included.


Our guest speaker is columnist Tim Swarens from the Indianapolis Star. The session begins at 9:00 a.m. with refreshments immediately preceding. This is a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge, have discussion, and address questions on how to combat this growing crime.

Spring is a great time to clean closets and drawers and donate gently used clothing items to IHN.  Bring your donations to church starting Saturday, March 4. Please use white trash bags (clothes only, no shoes) and place the bags in the hallway closet area, under the coat racks. All donations will be taken to the IHN Center. Goodwill exchanges these for vouchers so the families can shop for the sizes they need. 

UPPER SAND MOUNTAIN MISSION TRIP Information Session – Tuesday, March 7
Join the USM Leadership Team for an information and question and answer session about the 2017 mission trip June 18-24.  We will meet at 7:00 p.m. in the Gathering Place.

Our annual food drive to benefit the Fletcher Place community in the Fountain Square area near downtown begins March 9. Needed food items are listed in this newsletter or pick up a list at the Food Drive table in the Gathering Place.

Would you like to make Southport your church home? Join Pastor Mark as he shares the mission and vision of Southport United Methodist Church and the importance of following Jesus and living your life as He lived His. Please plan to attend the next “UNITING WITH THE CHURCH” session Monday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. 


April 6 to 9 – Men serve at the Plainfield Correctional Facility

April 23 – Blood Drive

May 7 to 21 – Interfaith Hospitality Families are our guests

June 13, 14, 15 – Vacation Bible School

June 18 to 24 – Mission Trip to Upper Sand Mountain Alabama

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Letter from Pastor Mark - February

Dear Friends,

I know we have just finished the Advent and Christmas season, but I looked at the calendar and I realized that before you receive the March newsletter, we will be observing Ash Wednesday. March 1 begins the season of Lent and we will have a service on that day that marks the beginning of a 40-day preparation period for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter.  This year we will celebrate Easter on April 16.
During the season of Lent we are going to focus worship on how we can grow deeper in our walk with Jesus.  The sermon series is entitled “The Discipleship Handbook.”  It will be based on the book of 2nd Peter, and we will go through the entire book during the Lenten series.
During Lent we will also be offering a two-week course on “Reading the Bible without Getting Lost.” This two-week course will give people guidelines and hints on how to read the Bible and be able to stick with it.  During Lent we are going to focus on a book of the Bible in     worship, and we are also going to encourage each of you to begin a Bible reading plan that will take you through the entire Bible in one year.  This two-week Bible reading course will help prepare you to be successful in fulfilling the commitment of reading through the Bible in a year.

This year I would like to suggest that you take the challenge to read the Bible in a year.  I also want to suggest that you invite someone who you know doesn’t know much about the Bible to take that challenge with you.  This person could be a family member, a co-worker, a neighbor or a friend.  Then check with each other from time to time to see how you are doing.  This way you can encourage each other, and both of you will be spending more time in the Word of God.  I believe that if you do this and you and your partner stay with the reading plan, you will be surprised at what effect being in the Word of God on a regular basis will have on you and your Bible reading partner.
I believe this could be a very productive Lent if many of us simply begin a regular regimen of Bible reading.  You will be hearing more about these opportunities in the coming month so be looking for announcements in the church bulletin and verbal announcement during the worship services.

In Christ’s Abundant Love,

Pastor Mark

Are You On the JOURNEY Of Your Discipleship?

Last month we talked about how each disciple, each follower of Jesus, needs to assess where they are in their own discipleship and find the next step to keep on the journey of their discipleship.  Periodically over the next couple of months, the Weekly (the insert to the bulletin you receive for worship), will have various questions you might consider as you determine and assess where you are in your discipleship.

Also, in a few months, everyone will have an opportunity to complete a discipleship      assessment that will help each person assess your own discipleship and will help the church as a whole determine where we are in our collective discipleship of Jesus and therefore, where we need to go next as a church.

Here are a few other steps that you can take  right now to help you keep on the discipleship journey.

· Participate in Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday March 1.
· On Wednesday, March 8, and Wednesday, March 15, we will have two sessions to help us better understand how to study the Bible.  Be watching for more information as those dates approach.
· Commit to reading the Bible in one year.  As a church, we will start this process around Easter as we journey together, continuing to understand God’s story.  Be watching for more information so that you can participate with your brothers and sisters in Christ in this opportunity.
· Form a small group of your friends and family that will encourage you in your discipleship as well as lovingly hold you accountable to stay on the journey. In other words, “keep your eyes on Jesus” as we heard in a recent sermon.

Let’s continue the discipleship journey together!

Kairos Prison Ministry

On February 23 and 26 members of our Prison Ministry Teams will be at a Next Steps table to share how you can be part of Kairos Prison Ministry. As well as choosing to serve inside the prison walls, there are many additional ways to make this spiritual retreat a success.

The first is prayer.  It is an extremely emotional moment when the participants see a long   prayer chain with thousands of names of people are are praying for them.  You can sign up for a time to pray.

Another way to help is to bake cookies.  If this is your talent, be sure to pick up the specific chocolate chip cookie recipe at the table.  The cookies make a statement in ways hard to imagine.  They show love from those who bake them, and they are a powerful instrument for forgiveness within the walls of the correctional facility.
A third way is to give financially.  A single gift of $10 for a meal ticket can provide two  separate meals during the weekend and is a charitable contribution for our income taxes.

You may choose to attend a closing at the prison facility on the last date of the retreat weekend.  This is an overwhelming experience for the men or women who see that others care enough to attend the closing session.  It also is a remarkable experience for those from outside the prison walls to hear the testimonies of the inmates.  Attending a closing is another way to discover whether you might be interested in working a weekend retreat in the future. 

Information on all of the above opportunities will be at the Next Steps table February 23 and 26.

The Men’s Team will be serving at the Plainfield facility April 6-9.
The Women’s Team will have two opportunities to serve at the Indianapolis Women’s Prison, June 1-4 and October 19-22.


There is never a dull moment when you serve in Jesus’ name.  

Recently our Ronald McDonald House team members were serving dinner to families in Riley Hospital and the unusual happened.  Dinner had been prepared, and people were eating at tables trying to relax for a few minutes before they returned to their child’s room.  An unspoken misunderstanding arose between two adults, possibly more like a version of a grade school  cafeteria dispute.  Only stares and a few comments were exchanged, nothing serious. However, this resulted in the hospital security police stopping by to see what was going on and asking one of our team members to give a statement of what had happened. She never thought her first police statement would be over dinner.

A little excitement, yes.  But a lot more to the story.

Our ministry’s responsibility is to provide a meal that is nourishing, free, and in a location where parents are not too far from their seriously ill child.  Our goal is to interact with families sharing Jesus’ love and grace at a time when they may need to feel it the most. These are the things we hope will be remembered from this day:
Caring conversations that were not rushed
Prayers for the children and the families
Willing listeners and shared stories
Opportunities to be served and rest
A willingness to connect

Understanding - we never know what a parent has learned or heard before they left their child’s room and the effect it has on their family’s life
God is present in ALL situations and circumstances

We are blessed to serve with two Ronald McDonald House Ministries, one at the House and one in Riley Hospital.