Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A Letter from Pastor Mark - October

Dear Friends,
I know that this might seem like jumping the gun but I want to give the church a heads up on the upcoming Advent and Christmas season calendar.  Since Christmas day falls on Sunday I want to let the congregation and the community know what the plans are as soon as possible.

First of all, the schedule for the Advent sermon series is as follows:

November 17 & 20: Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas/Jesus Reconciles
November 23 & 27: Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas/Jesus Sets Us Free
December 1 & 4: Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas/Jesus Is God with Us
December 8 & 11: Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas/Jesus Brings New Life
December 15 & 18: Sent: Delivering the Gift of Hope at Christmas/Jesus Changes Everything

I am starting the series a bit early because it is five weeks long.  So we will start the week     before Thanksgiving.
The Christmas Eve and Christmas worship schedule is as follows:
Thursday, December 22 at 7:00 p.m. (note the change of time from our usual Thursday service)  Pre-Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Saturday, December 24
5:00 p.m. Children & Family Service (30-35 minutes and no candlelight)
7:00 & 8:30 p.m. Contemporary Candlelight Service
11:00 p.m. Traditional Candlelight Service
Sunday, December 25
9:30-11:00 am Open communion served continuously during that time.  Families can come and go any time during the 90 minute period.
New Year’s Day Worship Schedule
One service only at 10:00 a.m.
Child care will be provided at all the services except for the open communion on Sunday, December 25.

Let me say a few words about this schedule.  The December 22 Thursday evening service will be held at 7:00 p.m. and it will be a candlelight service.  This will give those who might be out of town the weekend of Christmas an opportunity to participate in one of the church’s candlelight services.
Since Christmas falls on Sunday instead of having the usual services (since we will have had four opportunities to worship the evening before) we will have open communion from 9:30 to 11:00 am.  Families can come and go to receive communion.  I will be present during that time and will facilitate serving communion to those who wish to come.
Since New Year’s Day falls on Sunday we will have one joint service at 10:00 am.  We will have the Thursday service at 6:00 p.m. on December 29.
I hope putting this Advent and Christmas schedule out helps you to more fully plan your personal celebrations of Christmas.
In Christ’s Abundant Love,
Pastor Mark


Now is a great time to clean out our closets and pass on to others clothes that no longer fit and yet are in good condition. Collect gently used clothing (all sizes), place these items in white kitchen trash bags and bring them to church October 2 through October 9.  Your donations (no shoes or household items please) will be delivered to the INTERFAITH HOSPITALITY NETWORK Day Center. Based on the number of bags received, Goodwill will donate clothing vouchers so that IHN guests may choose the clothing sizes their families need. Please place your donations in the closet hallway under the coat racks.


Through Family Promise’s Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), homeless families find safe places to stay while they recover from their current living situation. Congregations throughout the city open their doors to serve families offering a warm, safe environment.

Beginning Sunday, October 30, we become the people these families can count on. During their two week stay, we provide transportation to and from the IHN Day Center. We prepare family dinners and join our guests in eating together. At the end of the day, we stay overnight so that the families know someone is available for emergencies. In the morning we have breakfast    before the families leave to return to the Day Center. We have so many opportunities to serve our guest families and an even greater opportunity to be present, sharing Jesus’ love.

Consider serving as someone our guest families can count on. The IHN Team leaders will answer your questions and welcome your involvement. Stop at their Next Steps table Thursday and Sunday, October 20/23 and 27/30. You may also contact the church office for more information, 784-9508.


Jubilee Christmas Day is December 10…
Thanks to the Homecroft social workers we have 20 families from our community who will be invited to experience Jubilee Day with us.
We are grateful for the individuals and families from church who are hosting a Homecroft  family and working together to provide a “Jubilee Christmas.”
On October 23 the hosts and families will meet for the first time at church for a social   gathering.  This event will provide an opportunity to get to know one another, enjoy refreshments, and discuss the Jubilee process. 

We share the joys of the season because we share the experience.  Gifts, toys, personal care items, clothing, and a holiday dinner are made possible because of your generosity. When you give to the Faith Promise Fund, expenses for much of the above needs are covered. When you take a tag from the Jubilee boards starting November 10 and return the specified item, you have fulfilled a child’s need or request.  We all share the expense and address the needs for families who otherwise would not have the joy of this part of the holiday.
If you are also a hands-on person, consider yourself invited to serve in one of the following ways:
Come to shopping day at Burlington’s on December 3 and help hosts and the Jubilee parents find clothing items for their children (cost covered by Faith Promise)

Assist the Jubilee Team at church on December 3 in dividing gifts and preparing for Jubilee Day
Join the Jubilee Team on Friday, December 9 to prepare and set up the Gathering Place for    Jubilee Day
Bake cookies and goodies for the Jubilee refreshment table
Be a willing helper on Jubilee Day, December 10 with different tasks (final prep, greeting guests, serving refreshments, wrapping gifts, cleaning up)

With any and each activity you are involved in, be prepared to GIVE. Give your best smile, your warmest greeting, your willing hands, and our Jubilee families will experience how much Jesus’ loves and cares for them….because you demonstrated it.


FLU SHOTS – Tuesday, October 11
Flu shots will be given in the Gathering Place at church from 9:00 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, October 11 by the Marion County Health Department.  For cost please contact the church office, 784-9508.

UNITING WITH THE CHURCH – Monday, October 17
Would you like to make Southport your church home? Pastor Mark shares the mission and    vision of Southport United Methodist Church and how Jesus calls us to be His disciples. Please plan to attend the next “UNITING WITH THE CHURCH” session on Monday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m.  Child care will be provided by calling the church office, 784-9508, or when noted on your worship registration card. 

INTERFAITH HOSPITALITY NETWORK - October 30 through November 13
Families who are in a homeless circumstance will be our guests starting Sunday, October 30 for a two week period ending November 13.  We will minister with them in a variety of ways with opportunities for individuals and families to serve.

November 10 and 13 – Jubilee Christmas begins as a Next Step
November 20 - Blood Drive 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


The UMW Circles are meeting this month for our special World Thank Offering Program.  The meeting for this program is on Tuesday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m.   The Program will include a discussion on the book, The Bible and Human Sexuality, Claiming God's Good Gift.  Rebekah Circle will host the program and provide yummy desserts and drinks.  Come join us for this program and get to know all the ministries the UMW serves.

Regular Meeting dates are:
    Rebekah Circle---the 2nd Tuesday, November 8 at 7:00 p.m. at the church
    Leah Circle---the 3rd Tuesday, November 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the church in room W103
    Anna Circle--  October 18 at 1:00 p.m. at Rosegate

Many things have changed since the first UMW circles were formed in 1859, but the     PURPOSE is still the same:
     To Know God
     To Experience Freedom as Whole Persons through Jesus Christ
     To Develop a Creative, Supportive Fellowship
     To Expand Concepts of Mission through Participation in the Global Ministries of the church.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Letter from Pastor Mark - September

Dear Friends,
Over the fifteen years of being the pastor at Southport United Methodist Church, I have never shared any personal projects in which I am involved.  I am going to make an exception to that in my September pastoral letter. 
I am presently training to participate in a 10 K race.  For those of you who regularly participate in half or full marathons you might wonder why a 10 K race takes any preparation.  Just let it suffice to say that if I didn’t train for this race I am sure I wouldn’t make it.  However, the race itself is not really the point.  I am participating in this race to raise money for the organization Autism Speaks.  Autism Speaks is one of the main organizations that promotes research regarding the condition of autism.  This organization also actively funds the quest for a cure and provides support for individuals and families who are dealing with the issue of autism.
Many of you probably know that my wife has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis for the past twelve years.  You might wonder why I am not participating in an activity that benefits victims of MS.  Susan and I have both decided that we do not want her malady to become our one focus.  We want to participate in projects that help people who suffer from other medical problems.
Additionally, I have personally witnessed individuals and families who have been affected by autism.  I know this presents incredible challenges, and I never cease to be amazed by the  courage and perseverance displayed by individuals and families who are dealing with autism.  Since I have witnessed the need, I have become personally compelled to do what I can to help.

So, on Friday, January 6, I will participate in a 10 K race to benefit Autism Speaks.  I have set a goal of raising $1500 for this organization.  I want to invite each of you to support my efforts on behalf of this organization.  If you would be willing to pledge a contribution toward my goal, you can fill out the form below or you can sign up on a pledge list at the church.  If you want to e-mail me (mark@sumc.org) with the amount you want to pledge that is fine as well.  When I receive your pledges I will contact you and let you know how you can remit your pledge to Autism Speaks.
Thanks so much for your support.
In Christ’s Abundant Love,
Pastor Mark

I will pledge $________________ toward Pastor Mark’s running of a 10 K race on January 6 2017.
This pledge will go toward support of the Autism Speaks organization.
Please return to Pastor Mark and he will share how you can remit your pledge to the Autism Speaks organization.


 Hunger Inc. Food Collection

WOW!!!  Our August food collection of cereal was amazing!!  Cereal is not really heavy, but you helped collect 116 pounds of cereal!  That was an impressive amount of food.  Someone described it as a “Wall of Cereal.”  The Hunger Inc. pantry was almost bare and the cereal was warmly welcomed.   The variety of cereal was well received since Corn Flakes was the only type of cereal left on the shelf.  We even had several participants helping to unload all that cereal.    Thank you so much for your willingness to help others.  You are working for Jesus!!!

Collections for the rest of the year are the following:
   September 8 – 11 Soups
   September 29 - October 2 Pork and Beans
   November 3 - 6  Beans for Soup and Crackers
   December 1 - 4 Canned Pasta Meals

We will also support Hunger Inc. with the Fall Meijer Simply Give Campaign. Last year we helped raise a record amount of money (some $53,000), and we believe we can surpass that amount  this year. 

The information below explains the Campaign.  Please note that September 1-3 are double match dates. Donation cards will be at the Guest Services Desk until we run out. Thank you to all who can help. 



The Southport Meijer Store has chosen Hunger Inc. to be the recipient of money raised through the 2016 Fall Meijer Simply Give Campaign. For every dollar donated Meijer will match this. If you donate $10, Meijer will match that $10 for a total donation of $20.
Donation cards at church have a bar code that helps Meijer track and identify that Hunger Inc. is an exemplary food pantry partner. The more of these cards we use, the stronger our relationship will be with the Meijer Simply Give Campaigns. 

There are also cards at the Southport Meijer Store with a different bar code and identify as being purchased at the store. Donations with these cards are divided between Hunger Inc. and other food pantries.

The campaign offers the much appreciated double match days September 1 through September 3. During these days Meijer will double match every customer’s $10 Simply Give donation and for every $10 donation card purchased, Meijer will give $20 to the program, resulting in a total donation of $30. 

Please invite others to join you in supporting Hunger Inc.’s mission to help those who are hungry. Thank you! 

Upper Sand Mountain Ministry Team News

The 2016 mission trip to Upper Sand Mountain in Alabama offered many opportunities to be involved in the lives of the area residents.  When our team arrives we are given a list of jobs and needs to address while we are there for the week.  However, things happen and trees fall and a new immediate need arises.  The flexibility of participants is one reason this mission trip is so well attended and so appreciated by the people of Upper Sand. What a joy to hear all the good things that happened this year!  Ask a team member, adult or youth to share their stories with you.  

At their recent evaluation session, the ministry team leaders highlighted a few items that  require some changes and would like to share this information that applies to the 2017 trip next June. 

Through Faith Promise contributions, the USM trip is funded covering the participant fee to USM of $175 for each person.  The fees cover the supplies and resources needed for the team to do their work. As long as we have sufficient Faith Promise contributions, these fees are   covered in support of the team making their individual cost of $80 each to cover food and gas.  

The $80 per person can be paid in one payment prior to the trip or by donating to your personal church account when possible.  You would make your check out to SUMC, or contribute electronically, and note Upper Sand Mountain Fund.

We have been blessed to have many youth participants each year.  The benefits are numerous. The youth learn new skills, are valuable members of the mission team, and interact with USM residents showing Jesus’ love and compassion.  Originally the USM trip was a family activity and over time it has grown with as many youth attending as adults.  For liability and safety issues it is essential to have a parent/guardian on job sites with each youth age 12 and under. 

Start planning your vacation time and join the mission trip team for June 2017.  We are always in need of additional drivers for the trip and workers when we arrive. All adults, youth, and  parents are asked to attend the orientation session in the spring. This will be our first opportunity to meet as a team, receive valuable information, and address questions.
The USM Leadership Team
Jim Smith
Sandy Tilton
Suzy Heilman