xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' The Mid-Week Message: February 2012

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fire Recovery Update - 2/29/12

February 29, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Here are some of the latest updates regarding our recovery from last Sunday’s fire.

We will be moving Sunday morning worship to the upper level auditorium of the Cherokee Community Center for the next four Sundays (basically the month of March). While the sanctuary escaped major damage, there is a thin layer of soot on all the surfaces that will require extensive cleaning. In addition, before we feel comfortable resuming services in there, we need to make sure that the support system beneath the sanctuary is structurally sound, and that the electrical, lighting, and computer systems are all in working order. We anticipate that we will be back in our own sanctuary to worship on April 1, for Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week.

We will be in the Community Center, rather than the high school auditorium, which was previously reported, since that facility allows easier access for those with accessibility needs. For that reason, we invite those who are most able to park further away to consider leaving the closer spots in the south parking lot available for those who need to use them. We are working on having a team of youth available to assist the elderly in accessing the building.

We will be suspending Sunday school during the month of March as well, including Confirmation. The classrooms were largely untouched by smoke, but there is some soot on the surfaces in the Education Wing, particularly in the nursery. Sunday school teachers are welcome to come in and survey their materials by the end of next week, to help us determine what can be cleaned and what needs to be thrown out. All materials, including personal materials, should be inventoried for damage and can be replaced under our policy. Our arrangement with Service Master is that our own folks can come clean classrooms if they wish, but please help us keep track of the hours you volunteer to do so.

I am thoroughly amazed and inspired by the overwhelming number of offers from church members to come in, get dirty, and do whatever it takes to help in the recovery. At this point, we are following the recommendations of both our insurance company and our Service Master agents, who strongly advise that our people refrain from being in the kitchen and dining hall for the foreseeable future. This is so that they can make sure that the areas are of no structural or electrical danger, and so that professional people can handle the difficult initial waves of debris removal. All of this work is covered by our excellent insurance policy.

Thanks for your prayers and support throughout this significant moment in our history. Our Trustees, as well as our lay leader and chair persons of the Administrative Board and Building Committee, will be meeting tomorrow night to be apprised of the latest developments and lay the groundwork for moving forward. We encourage you to come to worship this Sunday at the Community Center to hear the latest updates.

Now, more than ever, it is great to be the church together.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA 51012
Ph: 712-225-3955
Email: mdevega@sp-umc.org

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Eulogy for a Kitchen

February 28, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Last Sunday afternoon, I received the kind of phone call a minister never wants to get. A woman walking by the church campus called to tell me that the building was on fire.

After speeding over, I opened the west door and was immediately smothered by a dense, searing smoke. The fire department arrived within minutes, as did several alarmed church members. Within an hour, fire fighters had doused the flames and evacuated the smoke, and we were able to enter in and see the devastation for ourselves. The kitchen was a smoldering, melted mass of charred appliances and countertops, and the dining hall was scarred with burns from the infernal heat.

I’ve never written a eulogy for a kitchen before, let alone a room of any kind. But after surveying the damage, my immediate thoughts turned to the innumerable instances that these sacred spaces had served the kingdom of God throughout their lifetimes. The kitchen and dining hall were first built in 1917, when the current sanctuary was built, and then they went through a full renovation in 1979. There’s no way to gauge how many individuals, families, and community groups have passed through those doors, for countless funerals, fellowship dinners, after worship coffees, wedding receptions, fundraisers, and charitable events.

You and I will always have our favorite memories of that space. Among mine will be our annual fall tradition of watching the church “Pie Ladies” (and select “Pie Men!”) turn the kitchen into a three-week pie-making factory, churning out apple pies and crisps with the efficiency of a GM assembly line, along with the comical levity of Lucy and Ethel. I think especially about Esther Bleakly, our long-time funeral luncheon coordinator and pie lady emeritus, whose life we celebrated last October. And I think of the many lovely, committed church members whose faithful stewardship of that space has allowed it to put God’s love into action for nearly one hundred years.

The last official event in our kitchen and dining hall was last Tuesday, when we served hundreds of people at our annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. Following yet another grand, successful pancake race and worship service, the community gathered together, hungrily devouring stacks of delicious pancakes, and hearty helpings of sausage and scrambled eggs. In all, Cherokee raised $1,105, one of the biggest totals ever, for the two local food pantries. I have to say, if I’m going to live as long as our 95-year old kitchen, I hope to go out making a difference like that!

The kitchen will be a total loss. The dining hall has been severely damaged by heat and smoke, and will require extensive renovation. The Feller Lounge was largely spared, as was the sanctuary. However, there is clear evidence of smoke damage in both of those areas due to the invisible layer of soot that covers every surface. The fire marshall completed his work yesterday, and our insurance adjuster will be coming today, and between them we’ll have a better idea of the exact cause of the fire. For now, the official word is that the cause is “under investigation,” but we can safely say that the fire started in the kitchen, and that foul play is not a suspect.

Even in the midst of our grief, we claim signs of hope. The seasons of Lent and Easter remind us that new life can emerge from the ashes, and we can therefore be grateful for many reasons.

  • We give thanks for Amber Harper, a regular attendee of St. Paul’s, who happened to be walking past the church campus and noticed the unusual smoke from the kitchen. Had the fire gone even one more hour unreported, we may have lost the sanctuary, too.

  • We give thanks for the amazing work of our Cherokee Fire Department. They responded quickly and responsibly, putting the fire out and removing the smoke. They also related to those of us observing helplessly on the sidelines with both concern for our safety and an attentiveness to our feelings. Keith Willis would be proud. And, in a way, I believe he is.

  • We give thanks that no one was in the church when the fire started, and that no one was injured in putting it out.

  • We give thanks that you all maintain the discipline of shutting all the doors to all the rooms when you leave for the day. That prevented more oxygen from feeding the fire and spreading it to other rooms throughout the campus.

  • We give thanks that we are fully insured, with church member Ken Slater serving as our local agent. He was on the ball first thing Monday morning, clicking the insurance process into gear for us to move quickly toward assessment and recovery.

  • We give thanks that this wonderful Cherokee community has already expressed its concern and support for St. Paul’s. Dr. John Chalstrom has offered the Washington High School auditorium for our use should we deem it necessary to worship there while the soot is cleaned from the sanctuary. And Rev. Ethan Sayler has offered the use of Memorial Presbyterian’s kitchen and fellowship hall whenever we need it, especially for funeral luncheons.

  • We give thanks that this congregation has already agreed on a clear path toward what the new kitchen and dining hall will look like. As part of our recent capital campaign, we went through a comprehensive process working with our architect to draw up plans for a new kitchen, with state-of-the-art appliances, along with a new beverage service area and dish return / washing station. We will revisit those plans and make necessary adjustments, buoyed by the knowledge that our insurance money will allow us to make those drawings an imminent reality. “The vision awaits the time,” the prophet Habakkuk says. And now is the time to give future generations of this church a kitchen and dining hall that will put God’s love into action for decades to come.

One of the first pieces that the fire fighters recovered was a picture of Rev. and Mrs. Schuldt. Victor was the pastor of this church during the 1960s, and is as cherished a pastor in the collective memory of this congregation as J.E. Feller, his predecessor. It is in his memory that the Schuldt Dining Hall was renamed during its renovation in 1979.

I spent some time looking at that picture of the Shuldts yesterday. The glass is broken, the matte singed, but the picture is essentially preserved, save for a few soot marks. I said to the picture, “Well, Victor, I never knew you. But I’m sure privileged to follow in your footsteps. And guess what? You’re going to get a new dining hall soon!”

Do you want to know the thing I’m grateful for the most coming out of Sunday? It’s the unbridled spirit of optimism and grit that so many of you have displayed over the past 24 hours. So many of you have called and stopped by, ready to work, itchy to clear out the debris, and ready to put the tragedy behind us. In due time, we’ll get to work. The Trustees and Building Committee will meet very soon to craft a strategy for moving forward. And when we do, I know we’ll all be in lock-step together, claiming God’s promise to us in Isaiah 43:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA 51012
Ph: 712-225-3955
Email: mdevega@sp-umc.org

As part of the sermon this Sunday, I would like to share many of your favorite memories of the kitchen and dining hall. Your stories will help us grieve our loss, and anticipate brighter days ahead. Please email them to me at mdevega@sp-umc.org.

We hope to hear word by Wednesday from Service Masters whether or not our sanctuary will be cleaned and ready for worship this Sunday. If not, we will be worshipping in the high school auditorium at our regular time. Should we make that change, we will announce it via email, radio, and voicemail recording on the church office phone. We will make that determination by late Thursday morning.

Because the smoke was channeled through the education wing in order to evacuate it from the building, the classrooms have soot on the surfaces. There will therefore be no Sunday school this Sunday, for the safety of our children.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Start Your Frying Pans!

February 21, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Ladies, start your frying pans!

Today, in the grand, 567 year old tradition from Olney, England, Cherokee will be hosting its fourth annual Great Cherokee Pancake Day Race and Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper. At 5:30, in front of City Hall, dozens of women dressed in kerchiefs, dresses, and aprons will be flipping their pancakes and starting the 415-yard dash up Piety Hill to the doors of the church.

You might remember that last year I shared with you this poetic history of the pancake race, including some theological reflection on the start of Lent:

Let’s whisk off in time, and let’s be on our way
To a time long ago, to a land far away

Five centuries before, in 1455
We land in old England, before we were alive

We’re here in a humble old town called Olney
With cobblestone streets just outside Coventry

At the end of the street, with a door open wide,
Is a warm, simple house, so we all go inside

And there, in the kitchen, in a buzz and a swirl
Is a busy old woman, cooking quite a whirl

We ask her what’s happening, and why all the fuss,
And she talks up a storm without looking at us.

“I’m busy, you see, for tomorrow is Lent
And I have to make sure all this food is all spent

“No fat in our pantries, no lard in our house
It all must be gone so that we stay devout

“Are you going to throw it away?” We all ask?
For we never have heard of this fat-cleansing task.

“No, no,” she says now, she now grunts as she gruffs.
“We can’t waste all this food, we can’t waste all this stuff.”

“I’m cooking it up, all the milk and the butter.
All the eggs, and the flour, and even all the sugar,

“So’s not to waste any, I’m cooking a storm,
A tall stack of pancakes! So rich and so warm.

We are all quite hungry; the smell is so yummy!
We hope there’s enough to fill all of our tummies!

“Don’t worry, the woman says, “This stack will be tall.
I’m cooking enough to feed all of you all.”

Then suddenly, out of the blue, good and loud
We hear a shrill sound, of a bell clanging proud.

“Oh, dear!” says the woman, “Where did the time go?”
“I’m late for the Shrove Tuesday service! Oh, no!”

“The Shrove Tuesday what?” we say, all in a rush,
We sense in her panic, her face is all blush.

“It’s the service where we come confessing our sins
So that we can start Lent with a clean slate again.”

“But what do I do? Oh, no, look how I’m dressed!”
“I’m wearing my apron, I don’t look my best!”

“I’m covered with flour, and with eggs, and with butter,
“I don’t look too churchy, I look like a pauper.”

“And what of these pancakes? Oh, what will I do?
“I can’t let them burn, oh, that just wouldn’t do!”

Just then, she decides, there’s no time to get clean.
She takes off for church, just the way that she’s been.

All the grime of her work, and her imperfect flaws
She ran off to church just the way that she was.

No hiding or pretense, and no saintly veneer
No false churchy tone, and no plastic good cheer

She ran off to church with her tattered apron
While flipping her pancake, so that it wouldn’t burn.

We race along side her, she’s old, but she’s fast
415 yards later, and we’re about out of gas

But she gets there, in time for the priest to begin
This most sacred time, for us to confess sin.

We sit in the pew, and we look all around
At the women and men from this grand little town.

They’ve come to confess, but to hear some good news
Of one who draws near, to save me, to save you

And there, sitting next to us, make no mistake
Was our new England friend, and her perfect pancake

And so, long ago, in a town far away,
A woman marked Lent in her own special way.

By teaching us how we might all come to God
Just as we were, with no boasting out loud.

Not dressed in fine fabric, fragrant like a rose
Not fancy white linens, but with everyday clothes

Clothes that speak of our wrongs, and our past, and our sins,
And our yearning desire to begin clean again.

Clothes that prompt us to ask for God’s grace and God’s love
For forgiveness that only comes down from above.

When you go to your church over Lent’s forty days,
I hope that you just will not miss a Sunday

For this is a time for a great, brand new start
To create in you now a clean, brand new heart.

Just come as you are, with your apron and all
All the busyness, sadness, and hear now God’s call

To start a new journey to dark Calvary
A place where your sins will be nailed to a tree

And then, three days later, when you think all is lost,
When you think all your sins will remain on that cross,

We’ll join in great glory, and in triumph newborn
As we shout resurrection on a great Easter morn.

In the name of our God who created the Heavens
Who saved us, sustains us, we all say, Amen.

So, join us this evening for another wonderful, action-packed race, all for a good cause. We’ll then gather in the sanctuary for a very brief worship service (including some special surprises) as well as some awards for best costume, best pancake flip, best team race, best congregational support, and, of course, an award to the winner (who gets a copy of the Upper Room Disciplines and a smooch from yours truly, “The Supervising Vicar.”)

Then, be sure to stick around for the pancake dinner in the Fellowship Hall (and for those who need to eat sooner, we will start serving at 4:30pm.) All of your free-will offering will support the two local food pantries (Mid-Sioux and the Christian Action Program). I love the idea that a tradition that started with the cleaning out of one’s food pantry will help fill the pantry of those in our community who need it most.

See you at the Starting Line!


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA 51012
Ph: 712-225-3955
Email: mdevega@sp-umc.org

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of our 40-day journey through Lent. The Cherokee Ministerial Association is pleased to continue the long tradition of “Sermons a la Carte” at Memorial Presbyterian Church. Rev. Ethan Sayler will provide the service tomorrow, which begins at 12:05, with a luncheon in their dining hall at 12:30.

Join us this Sunday for the start of our new sermon series, called “Symbols of the Passion.” We’ll begin with the first significant event of Holy Week, which was Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Each week, we’ll hear another story from the week that changed the world.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Valentine's Day Prayer

February 14, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Given the timely connection of today’s message with St. Valentine’s Day, here’s a prayer I wrote asking blessing upon you and those you love. Happy Valentine’s Day.


Eternal God of Love and Grace,

In your very being we discover the essence of relational, triune love. For you are the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that Flows Between Them. As one created in your image, empower me today to be a person of deeper love, with heart, soul, mind, and strength, both for you and for those around me.

On this day commercialized by chocolates, flowers, and candy hearts, grant me an authentic love, stripped free of selfish desire and plastic facade, forged from a view of myself as you see me.

Enable me to forgive and to ask for forgiveness, that I may share in the reconciling work of Jesus throughout creation. Teach me to harbor no ill will or resentment for wrongs done to me. And may the fixed presence of hurtful memories wane in their effects.

Give me sober judgment in the way I practice love with those dearest to me. For with them I can be at my most vulnerable, but also my most guarded. Empower me and those I love to rebuild trust where it is broken, and openness where there is self-protection.

Help me to deepen the friendships I have with those who are most concerned for my well-being. Guide me in the development of relationships with those to whom I can be best accountable for my actions, who can offer me godly advice, who love me unconditionally, and who can speak the truth to me without judgment or reserve.

Grant to me a heightened awareness of those within my sphere of influence who feel both unloved and unlovable. Make me an agent of loving hospitality, embodying the warm, welcoming embrace of your love for them. Give me opportunities to reach out to those who are lonely, frightened, confused, and distraught, that I might be for them what others have been for me.

May you continue a love for me that is both tenacious and patient. Work past the harboring barriers that I have erected in my spirit, that prevent me from experiencing the free flow of your love in my life. See past my self-assuredness, work through my doubt and disbelief, be not deceived by my pride, and love me through my guilt and shame. For in your grace I can find my truest and best self, as one created in your very same relational, triune image.

I pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Your Love Made Real,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA 51012
Ph: 712-225-3955
Email: mdevega@sp-umc.org

We are excited to host the fourth annual Great Cherokee Pancake Day Race and Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, on February 21, 2012. The race starts at 5:30pm, with the brief worship service and pancake supper following. All proceeds will benefit the two local food pantries, to which we have given approximately $3,500 to date. To register by next Monday, visit pancakerace.com or pick up forms at the church or City Hall.

We finish our Ecclesiastes series this Sunday with an observance of Transfiguration Sunday. Come hear the conclusions of the author of Ecclesiastes, and experience the transformative power of Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration. This Sunday will serve as an important transition point into our Lenten journey, so you won’t want to miss it.

To view past editions of the Mid-Week Message, visit http://mdevega.blogspot.com
To unsubscribe from this e-mail distribution list, please reply to this e-mail and write "UNSUBSCRIBE" in the subject line.
Visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/cherokeespumc.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hope for the United Methodist Church

February 7, 2012,

Dear St. Paul's Family,

For many years we have witnessed the steady decline of our beloved United Methodist Church. Like every other mainline denomination, the statistical trends are as indisputable as they are sobering. At this rate, over the next four decades, total membership will shrink from its present 8.2 million to under one million, and approximately two-thirds of our congregations will be closed. [1] Our presence in the world's spiritual arena, as well as our influence on culture at large, is waning toward extinction. It is easy to imagine how the Church that nurtured me in the faith and called me into ministry will be a shadow of its former self by the time I retire, thirty years from now.


But even in the most dire moments, I still feel a tenacious hope that rights my despair and convinces me of a brighter future. It is a hope grounded in the vitality and health of any local congregation that accomplishes its mission of “making disciples for the transformation of the world.” And I am proud to say that over the past five years as your pastor, St. Paul’s has buoyed me with evidence for that hope, time and time again.

Here’s just one of many examples. Last fall, we started offering monthly "Meet the Methodist" classes: 90-minute introductions to the history, doctrine, and practice of the United Methodist Church, as well as the mission and vision of St. Paul's. Every session has been attended by a mixture of first-time seekers and long-time members, who come wanting a deeper understanding of what makes Methodism unique among the plethora of religious options in the world today. (The next session, by the way, is this Thursday night at 6:30 in the Feller Lounge.)

Part of these sessions include an overview of what it means for us to be a "People in the Center," as our core values state. This characteristic is rooted in the beliefs of John, Charles, and Susannah Wesley, and simply states that when faced with two polarizing options, we look for an creative third way, or via media, in the center. In short, we look for the best of both options, and forge an effective synthesis of the two. Then I give a few examples:

· Rather than choosing between a doctrine that intellectually satisfies or a faith that stirs the heart, we believe in the hybrid of "two so long divided - knowledge and vital piety."

· Rather than choosing to define salvation as either "getting into heaven" or social justice for us here and now, we find a way into the center, embodying both a passion for truth and a compassion for people.

· Rather than having to choose between a God who directs human destiny or a limited God who allows for free will, we believe in a God whose grace persuades us toward salvation and grants us the ability to choose.

· Rather than being defined by any one political or ideological agenda, we remain centered in our task of "spreading scriptural holiness across the land." We are a church filled with both Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, (and even Hawkeyes and Cyclones!), yet we are united in our core beliefs about Jesus Christ and the Bible.

It's amazing. As soon as I lay this out for people for the class, light bulbs go off and heads nod in approval. I see in their eyes a deep satisfaction, as if a polarizing fog is beginning to lift. Inevitably, people respond with words like, "I finally know why I love being United Methodist." Or, "Where has this been all my life?" Or, “This makes so much sense to me!”

I've heard these statements from people more often now than I can possibly count, and it convinces me that United Methodism offers something that the world desperately craves, even if it can’t name it as such. It is a reasonable, balanced, centerfield faith, and an open-minded approach to a God whose love can be “shed abroad in human hearts.”

That's the only good way I have of explaining what has happened here at St. Paul's over the past five years. By the grace of God, you have created a spirit of openness, warmth, and genuine joy, welcoming a variety of people into the inclusive, empowering fellowship of God’s grace. Fifty new members last year alone, a seven percent growth in membership, most of whom by profession of faith, is evidence of your good work. As a people in the center, we are right where people can find a God they have longed for all their lives.

That's why, in the face of sobering statistics and dire projections, I can have hope. When local churches like us do our job, and make disciples for the transformation of the world, we see resurrection.


But there's additional good news. There are people in the United Methodist Church who, for the past three years, have been formulating a plan to stem the tide of decline and recommend sweeping change to the denominational structure. When the General Conference meets in a few months in Tampa, Florida, it will consider a wide range of changes, from streamlining national boards and agencies to revising guaranteed appointments for clergy. The impact will stretch from the highest echelons of our polity (establishing a new role for the President of the Council of Bishops) to the very grass roots of our denomination (setting ministry goals for local congregations.)

I would recommend that you read the brief, 25-page Call to Action study guide for yourself, found on the website below. [2] And for a well-written endorsement of these recommendations. read this article by Jim Harnish, a friend and senior pastor at my previous church. [3]


One of the pieces of the Call to Action I am most interested in is the list of "best practices" for congregations to consider. If the hope of our denomination is to be found in the local church - which I have come to believe, now more than ever - then here are qualities that define a healthy, vital church. Read through these, and see how many you think apply to St. Paul's:

Children and Youth:
1 Vital churches have more small groups for all ages.
2 Vital churches have more programs for children.
3 Vital churches have more programs for youth.

Lay leadership
4 Vital churches focus on increasing the effectiveness of lay leaders. (Laity understand their role and carry these roles out effectively.)
5 Vital churches have lay leaders who demonstrate a vital personal faith. (This faith includes regular worship, intentional spiritual growth, personal devotional life, and giving of financial resources.)
6 Vital churches place an emphasis on rotating lay leadership in order to involve more people over time.
7 Vital churches call, equip, use, and support more lay leaders than non-vital churches. (Twenty percent or more of their worship attendees describe themselves as current or past leaders in their church.)

8 Vital pastors coach and mentor lay leadership.
9 Vital pastors use their influence to increase the participation of others in order to accomplish changes
10 Vital pastors motivate the congregation to set and achieve significant goals through effective leadership.
11 Vital pastors inspire the congregation through motivational preaching.
12 Vital pastors, when they are serving effectively, stay for a longer period of time.

13 Vital churches offer a mix of contemporary (newer forms and styles of worship) and traditional services.
14 Vital churches have preachers who tend to use more topical sermon series in traditional services.
15 Vital churches use more con- temporary music (less blended music that includes traditional tunes) in contemporary services.
16 Vital churches use more multi-media in contemporary services (multi-media may not be as important as it is in some cultures).

Now, rather than give you my analysis of how we measure up to these drivers, I'd like to hear from you. I would be very interested in hearing from you which of these you think we do well. And eventually, we'll have a more structured conversation about how we can do better. For now, let me simply say that I think that the 20/20 Vision Plan you all adopted in 2008 goes a long way in echoing many of these priorities, which puts us well on the right track.


I don't think it's any coincidence that my reflection on the Call to Action report coincides with this Sunday's scripture from Ecclesiastes. What would happen if we read this passage and see the United Methodist Church as the "little city" in this parable?

There was a little city with few people in it. A great king came against it and besieged it, building great siege-works against it. Now there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. So I said, "Wisdom is better than might; yet the poor man's wisdom is despised, and his words are not heeded." The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one bungler destroys much good. (Ecclesiastes 9:13-18)

Indeed, it seems that dire statistics seem to be a "great king" that lays siege with forecasts of doom and despair around us. And there are many “rulers among fools” who speak out of fear and angst. But among is a quiet word, wisdom from an inconspicuous source, at the very heart of what it means for us to be a People Called Methodist. When we silence all other voices, and remove the barriers that prevent us from hearing those quiet words, we will find a “wisdom that is better than might,” a courage to change, and a chance to see resurrection among us.

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey R. deVega
St. Paul's United Methodist Church
531 W. Main St.
Cherokee, IA 51012
Ph: 712-225-3955
Email: mdevega@sp-umc.org

[1] Here is an excellent article by Adam Hamilton, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City: http://www.ministrymatters.com/all/article/entry/2305/four-steps-toward-vitality

[2] The “Call to Action Study Guide” can be found online and downloaded from http://www.umccalltoaction.org/wp-content/uploads/resources/CallToActionSG.pdf

[3] http://floridaconferenceconnection.info/conversations/detail/38

We are excited to host the fourth annual Great Cherokee Pancake Day Race and Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper, on February 21, 2012. The race starts at 5:30pm, with the brief worship service and pancake supper following. All proceeds will benefit the two local food pantries, to which we have given approximately $3,500 to date. To register, visit pancakerace.com or pick up forms at the church or City Hall.