A Time of Transition

Three years ago we bought a home in Peoria and began new ministries: Carrie in Peoria and Scott in Hudson.  We were welcomed into those congregations and we have loved them, both.  It is with deeply conflicted emotions, therefore, that we share some news with our congregations, communities, family, and friends.

Bishop Frank Beard has prayerfully discerned that we will both be reappointed to new churches beginning July 1, 2017.  We will move to Collinsville, Illinois where Scott will serve as the pastor at First United Methodist Church and Carrie will be leading The Journey, a new church start of Belleville Union United Methodist Church.  She will be the associate pastor of Union United Methodist Church in Belleville primarily to be the pastor of the Journey in Freeburg.

We will be pleased to be so near to Carrie’s family in Saint Louis and we are fortunate to be a bit closer to Scott’s family in Pittsfield, but we have never been far from family and the drive has always been worth it…to do great ministry with amazing people.  Other the past seven years we have been in loving congregations doing vital ministry wherever the bishop has sent us.

Our hearts will break to say goodbye to our congregations in June.  We must pack our home and move to a new community and, certainly, we leave things behind: our hearts, prayers, and the fruits of labor (born of us and our current churches).  Though, we will also take some things with us: We take the love of our congregations, the lessons learned, and the experiences gained.  Most importantly, though, we take cherished memories and Christ-filled hearts

We mourn our losses and treasure our past experiences, but we also look forward to the ministry that lies ahead.  We know that wonderful people and experiences await us in Collinsville and Freeburg/Belleville.

Why do United Methodist pastors move?

We realize that lots of questions arise when news of pastoral moves come up.  First of all, whether you are in one of our churches or any other United Methodist Church, feel free to sit down with your pastor to learn more about why we do this and the benefits of our system.  In the meantime, click here to learn more about where this strange practice comes from and how it works.

A Life-Changing Experience | The Philippines

It may shock people to learn that Carrie left me…for two weeks.  She had her eye on another love…mission and traveling so she went out on mission to the Philippines and is having a great time (though I can’t wait until she gets home)!

She left on March 2, but how crazy is it that we are able to communicate moment-by-moment via texting on our cell phones?  That is, however, made difficult by the fourteen hour time difference.  There really aren’t all that many hours when we are both awake to talk, sadly.

She is really enjoying this  trip.  They are staying on the island of Leyte where there is a University.  One of the problems that the people of the Philippines face is that few women are able to get an education in agriculture and they need to feed their country, so Carrie is with a team of people who are working to build a women’s dormitory at the University.

A mission team started the dormitory 20 years go, finishing two rooms.  In a recent disaster, the roof failed and a mission team was needed to repair it: it re-ignited the dream that began two decades before.  Carrie is very excited to be part of the team that is working to take the project further (with local construction crews, too, of course).  Carrie has been loving this project and feels passionate about the need.

It’s not just construction, though. Her team also collected books and clothes, shipping them in advance of their trip.  The United Methodist Church is finding great success in the Philippines and they have many people who want to be trained as clergy, but there is little education for pastors.  They need help educating pastors, so Carrie is also part of a group providing training for licensed local pastors who have not had the benefit of a seminary education.  Carrie also surprised me the other day when she  suggested that we should plan, in the future, to go to the Philippines to teach.  How fun would that be?

It was a long journey to get to the Philippines.  Her car was making some noise so I decided that we should keep her car here so I could get it to the mechanic (and so that she wasn’t driving an unreliable vehicle, of course).  We both had Ash Wednesday services so we couldn’t go up the night before like many people on the team.  We got up early on Thursday morning so I could get her to Chicago O’Hare Airport by 9 o’clock to meet the group.  We left the house at 5:30am and I got her there at 8:45am to meet the rest of the group, but, then, I rushed back to Hudson for a 12:30pm meeting at my church.  It was a really long day for me, but that was nothing compared to poor Carrie.  She traveled continuously for 52 hours straight!!!  I can’t imagine how miserable that must have been with flights, drives, and the seemingly endless layovers at airports.

It was a crazy-long journey for her, but I think the trip, so far, has been worth it.  Based on the photos she is posting on Facebook the food has been one of the most exciting aspects of the trip for her.  Is anyone really surprised?  I, on the other hand, am not very excited about the food I am eating while she is gone.  I’m going to appreciate her culinary skills all-the-more when she returns!

PS: Check out Carrie’s Instagram and Facebook pages to see more!

 

Family Death:  Aunt Darlene

We received news on Sunday that Scott’s great-aunt Darlene died.  She was a vivacious woman.  Even at 98 years old she enlivened a room when she entered.

Here is the obituary, published in the Quincy Herald Whig January 2-4:

GOLDEN, Ill. — Darlene P. “Mema” Myers, 98, of Golden, died at 11:50 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017, at Golden Good Shepherd Home in Golden. She was born Jan. 8, 1918, in Bowen, to Clarence Edmund and Bessie Enid Powell Phillips. She married Evans W. Myers on June 29, 1946, in Galesburg. He preceded her in death on March 3, 1997. Darlene was a homemaker and also had worked as a telephone operator in the old switchboard days in Bowen and later worked for the Crossland Locker in Bowen. She also was the special baby-sitter for the Rick Ramsey family. She was a 1935 graduate of Bowen High School and a charter member of the Bowen United Methodist Church, now the Living Faith United Methodist Church in Bowen. Mema enjoyed sewing quilts, reading, gardening, doing find-a-word puzzles, baking and cooking, with homemade noodles being her specialty. She loved watching harness racing at the summer fairs.

The Phillips Sisters at a family gathering in 1956.

She is survived by a daughter, Maureen Leenerts of Linn Creek, Mo.; two grandchildren, Jeffrey (Madchen) Leenerts of Tulsa, Okla., and Wendy Leenerts of Arthur; a great-granddaughter, Emma Leenerts; a brother, Lee Phillips of Coatsburg; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her son-in-law, Roger Leenerts; three brothers, Donald, George and Lawrence Phillips; and three sisters, Marjorie Warner, Alice Barnes and Doris Hemphill.

SERVICES: 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 6, at Living Faith United Methodist Church in Bowen with the Rev. Dr. David Bigley conducting. Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery in Augusta.

VISITATION: 9:30 a.m. until the time of services Friday at the church.

MEMORIALS: Living Faith United Methodist Church or Golden Good Shepherd Home.

ARRANGEMENTS: Hamilton Funeral Home in Augusta. Condolences may be expressed online at whig.com.

Our Holiday Letter

This has been a year of extreme highs and terrible lows for our family.  This year began with illness and surgery.  Scott was experiencing terrible pain and the doctors misdiagnosed it.  He walked around with appendicitis for almost four weeks before a specialist rushed him into a successful surgery.  We cannot say enough about the care he received at BroMenn Medical Center in Bloomington, and will remain silent in regards to another facility.

Scott’s recovery was swift and we were able to travel to Israel-Palestine in February.  In 2014 the conference graciously allowed Scott to defer his ordination trip so that we could, instead, travel as a couple on the 2016 Ordinand Trip to the Holy Land.  It was an incredible trip not just because of the sights and sounds, but also because of the many colleagues and friends who were on the trip with us.  Not only that, but Carrie’s sister decided to join the trip.  We were blessed to be part of such an incredible experience with such amazing people!

While we were on the extension trip in Ammon, Jordan we received a call from our foster care agency that they had a placement for us.  We, obviously, were not available to take the placement and we were crushed that after such a long wait we were unable to become parents.  Just days after our arrival home we received another call for a 10 year old girl to be placed with us.  We were overjoyed (and nervous)!  She moved in the next day on March 10.  “A” would stay with us for the next five months.  The situation was not what we or the agency expected and our home quickly became unsafe.  She was moved to a more appropriate placement in August.

During that summer Scott completed his second residency (set of summer classes) in the ACTS Doctor of Ministry program.  We are blessed that his church has given him extra time for continuing education and provided him with financial support that makes this possible.  He has one more assigned sermon and an integrative paper this year, one more residency and then begins his thesis writing.  He is almost there!

Carrie also worked hard this year to grow professionally.  She completed her certificate in nonprofit management from Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University) this year.  She also traveled to Chicago for the Mediation Skills Training Institute at Lombard-Mennonite Peace Center which got her interested in a Clergy Clinic process which she began in the fall.

This fall we cancelled our membership with our TaeKwonDo (Korean martial arts) Dojang (gym).  We really enjoyed Master Soo Kim and the other students at Soo Kim Martial Arts, but the times didn’t work with our schedules and the expense was great.  Instead we have gotten a membership at the Riverplex downtown.  Between exercise, healthy eating, and better sleep (and our Fitbit tracking) 2016 has been a year of increasing health for us as a family.

Despite our busy-ness we were able to get away for some days away.  In April we took “A” to Pere Marquette.  It was especially fun to see a little girl’s face light up the first time she stayed in a motel room.  We enjoyed hiking trails and seeing beautiful river scenes as well as a ferry boat ride and an afternoon at the Saint Louis Zoo.  In late April we took “A” to the Mark Twain cave and sights in Hannibal, Missouri and went down to the Berry family lake house in Saint Genevieve, Missouri in June for the twins’ birthday.  Carrie and “A” also got to spend a few days in late June in Saint Louis with family and, then, got to go to the Lincoln sites in Springfield.

In August, after “A” moved out, Carrie took a few days off to hike the Ozark trail.  Then, in September we spent two days in Chicago on a spur-of-the-moment trip.  We also dropped off our wedding rings for resizing (and added some bling to Carrie’s ring) and we enjoyed a day at Shedd’s Aquarium.

This Thanksgiving was spent with Carrie’s family, but at the home of…Carrie’s sister’s husband’s family (confusing? Not really, we’ll take them as full-on family any time)!Thanksgiving Day, itself, was wonderful overlooking downtown Saint Louis, but we also enjoyed several days visiting with Carrie’s family in Town and Country.  Christmas is expected to be with Scott’s family at his childhood home.  We are especially looking forward to seeing Scott’s sister and her husband who will be down from Wisconsin, so Christmas is looking to be just as wonderful as our recent Thanksgiving!

As we move into the holidays we reflect on a crazy year and we realize that we have received many blessings.  We look forward to Christmas celebrations at our churches and we hope that you and yours can count as many blessings in your lives as we do in ours!

Blessings & Peace,

A Change in Family

Our family has undergone a major change.  Our foster child has moved out of our home.  We, simply, were not able to provide the level of care which she needed.  It has been heartbreaking to watch a child struggle so much and endure such pain.  We will take a break from foster care for the next few months as we set some more careful parameters with the agency, in which we have a great deal of disappointment right now.  We believe we have much to share and we believe there are children who need our home.  Please be in prayer for us as we process this change.

Although we have experienced a traumatic few months we are still very committed to foster care and pray that others will remain hopeful, with us.  If you would like to learn more about foster care and the successes that can and do come or to learn about other ways to help children in Central Illinois, click here!

A New Little Girl

After paper work, classes, and paper work, lots of waiting, and…more paperwork, we became licensed to provide foster care last November. We’re excited to share that we got the phone call we’ve been waiting for! It seems as though we will be welcoming a 10 year old girl to our home tomorrow! Her room is ready and waiting!!!

This has been a long process and a long-term dream.  This is how we want family to look, for us.  We believe that every child deserves to have a safe, caring place to call home and people to call a family.  Providing this, for Carrie and I, is part of our Christian calling as a family and we hope others will join us in this work.  You can learn more about foster care here.

Also a quick note:  Unfortunately, it is not possible for us to post details about foster children or their photos on-line and it is important that others in our life will honor that legal requirement as well.

Holy Land Tour: Jerusalem

Over the past three days we have toured Jerusalem.  We toured the old city. We went on the Via Dolorosa (The way of the cross), the traditional path taken by Jesus to his death.  The path winds through the city ending at the Church of The Holy Sepulcher the traditional place of Jesus’ death and burial.  I’m including some photos (below) of sites throughout the Church:

We also went to the Western Wall to share prayers.  Katie, Carrie and I spent one day on our own at the  Mahane Yehudi Market where we shopped and enjoyed lunch.

On the last full day in Jerusalem we visited the Dome of the Rock (a shared holy site by Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), Ruins and the Teaching Steps, the Church of St. John the Baptist, the Holocaust Museum and the Garden Tomb.  It was really full but wonderful day.

Hope this post finds you well.  Now, we’re off to Jordan!

Holy Land Tour: Day Four

 

Jewish Cemetery

After breakfast at the Olive Tree Hotel we traveled beyond the Kidron Valley and we were able to look back over the valley and see this view of the Old City.  It was breathtaking.  We first visited the Jewish cemetery overlooking the Kidron Valley.

We walked down to the Dominus Flevit Church which marks Jesus’ weeping over the city where we had a brief time of reflection.  We went to the Garden of Gethsemane where there were Olive Trees that stood there long before even the time of Christ.

Church of All Nations

Next to the existing garden was the Church of All Nations which was built in 1924 around the rock over which Jesus agonized.

We left Jerusalem and went to Bethlehem.  Where we went to the Church of the Nativity and St. Catharine’s.  The church is administered jointly by Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic and the Syriac orthodox churches and there are often fights over its use and maintenance.

Church of the Nativity

Sadly, for those of us visiting, much of the church is under renovation which changed the experience.

Visitors to this church are not the only people who seek Jesus.  Two thousand years go there were Shepherds in the fields near Bethlehem that hear the news of a child born in a manger.  The visitation of these shepherd is remembered with a chapel and preservation of the fields around it.

 

We also visited the Herodium which is a remarkable archaeological site and then we went to a shop that makes a sells olive wood carvings.

 

 

 

Holy Land Tour: Day Three

Today the landscape looked much more like what I imagined when I envisioned the middle east.  All of our stops were taking us toward Jerusalem.  We stopped in Jericho which was underwhelming.  It was mostly a shopping / souvenir trap.  We saw a tree that is celebrated as the tree that Zacheaus climbed.

Then we spent quite a while at Qumran which was fascinating.  They think they have found evidence in the past year that John the Baptist might have spent time here.  Could it be that the Essene ritual baths would make way for John the Baptist’s famous baptism of Jesus?

Ending our day at our destination: Jerusalem.  We stopped at an overlook and got some photos.

I really didn’t have another stop in me and just wanted to come to the hotel, but we had one more place: Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu. It is built upon the site which is celebrated as the home of Caiaphas the high priest and the dungeon found below it may just be the place where Jesus spent the night before he was put to death!

I know I haven’t written much on these blog posts, especially today, but by the time I get to the room each night, I am completely exhausted. This is all I have in me!  Check out my Facebook timeline for a more interesting tour.  On Facebook I upload throughout the day!

www.facebook.com/scotteugene79

Holy Land Tour: Day Two

This is the scene that greeted us early on day two.  We left our hotel and drove to where a boat met us to take us across the sea of Galilee.  It was beautiful and, surprisingly, moving.  The stories began to come to live in my mind and my eyes were transfixed upon the water.

I am also lucky enough to be experiencing this with my best friend and the love of my life, which makes the scenery all-the-better 🙂

We got off the boat and went to a site that was my favorite church, so far: the Church of the Beatitudes.  This is thought to be the site of the sermon on the mount where Jesus proclaimed the beatitudes.  It is celebrated that, on this hill, Jesus fed the multitudes.

Not too far away was a beautiful greek orthodox church: The church of the Seven Apostles.  Though I don’t have great photos, we also stopped at Tabgha and the Chapel of the Primacy.

The highlight of the day, though was Capernaum.  Something happened to me as a stood over this ancient town.  I think I felt closer to God in that moment as I considered a God that would choose a home and live among his friends.

“When he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many gathered around that there was no longer room for them, not even in front of the door; and he was speaking the word to them”. -Mark 2:1-2 (nrsv)

Jesus was born in Bethlehem & his family was from Nazareth but capernaum was the place he chose as home…the place at the center of his ministry.

After Capernaum, we went to the River Jordan and had a renewal of our baptismal vows where we could touch the water.

And our day ended with trip up to the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights where one can see minefields.

blessings,