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

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Toughest Questions

August 28, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Even after three years of formal seminary training and nearly fifteen years of church ministry, I still at times feel ill prepared to answer the deepest faith questions that people ask.  The tough questions aren’t the ones that emerge from casual dinner conversations or around coffee at the Copper Cup.  The difficult ones are those that keep us up at night, prompt long solitary walks, and make us stare silently into the glass darkly.

Such a question came to me after a worship service a few weeks ago, as I was greeting folks at the door.  One of our Sunday school kids, walking out with his family, shook my hand and then leaned in.

“Does God know when we are going to die?” he said.

Right out of the blue. He looked me squarely in the face for an answer as he walked in pace with the greeting line.  I had hardly a few seconds to digest his question, surmise his back story, and cough out an answer.  I would have wanted more time, of course.  I would have wanted to hear what prompted his question.  A nightmare?  A tragic news story?  The death of a loved one or a family pet?  Regardless, I knew that I couldn’t quite give him what he really wanted:  a succinctly packaged theological answer wrapped in a tidy catch phrase.

I did, in the end, fumble out a quick answer.  I wasn’t satisfied with it, but he seemed contented, given his smiling nod.  His question, however, has continued to linger, as most good questions seem to do.

This Sunday, we conclude our series on the Apostles’ Creed with the last two lines:  “I believe in the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”  Systematically, we understand why the Creed must end this way.  It begins with creation, after all, and therefore it must end with hope.  “Maker of heaven and earth,” concludes with “Life everlasting, Amen.”  Genesis, to Revelation.  But like this young boy’s question, these last two affirmations invite more mystery than finality.

        If we believe in the resurrection of the body, what kind of bodies will we have?
        What happens to our eternal bodies if we are cremated?
        What can I really know about heaven?  Will everyone I love be there?
        Do my deceased loved ones communicate with me?
        Will my pets be in heaven?
        And, of course, does God know when we will die?

These are the questions that will form the basis of my sermon on Sunday, and I will attempt to address them the best that I can.  Certainly, part of what prompts this message is the massive popularity of the bestselling book Heaven is for Real, a story of a four-year old boy’s experience of Heaven, which several of you have offered me to read.  I’ll reflect on his story a bit, along with N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope, one of my favorite books on the topic of resurrection and eternal life.  And, I would be very interested in hearing your own comments and questions on the matter.  Feel free to respond to this Mid-Week with your reflections, and I may want to address them during the sermon.

There is a timeliness to concluding our Apostles’ Creed series on Labor Day weekend.  On a holiday when we celebrate the gift of work, and our ability to fill our days with meaningful labor, we would do well to remember the advice of Marcus Aurelius, the standard bearer for stoic courage in the face of our mortality:  “To live each day as though one’s last, never flustered, never apathetic, never attitudinizing – here is perfection of character.”

I think therein lies the hidden gift of the Apostles’ Creed.  It is less a body of evidence about life’s unknowable mysteries, and more an invitation to belief.  Its intent is not to offer proof for the inexplicable, but a reminder that God steps in at the limits of our understanding.  It is a courageous conviction echoed by John Wesley on his deathbed, whose last words capture the joyful freedom that comes from a life anchored in faith:

"The best of all is, God is with us."

Grace, Peace, and Hope,


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 Corinthians 15:42-44, 51-57
42  So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.
43  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.
44  It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.
51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed,
52  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
53  For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality.
54  When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:
‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
55  ‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’
56  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
57  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

The Third Way

August 21, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

“I believe … in the forgiveness of sins.”

Many of us remember the heartbreaking headlines in 1994, when mass genocide claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the East African state of Rwanda.  In one hundred days, violence erupted between two distinct ethnic groups:  the Tutsi, the minority population who had controlled power for centuries until 1962, and the majority Hutu, who rose to power fifty years ago and controlled the government and the military.  In one hundred days, an estimated 500,000 Tutsis were murdered by Hutu Rwandans, and over ensuing months, the death toll rose to as many as 1,000,000 people.  

Today, eighteen years later, Rwanda is a country at peace.  The nation has stabilized, ethnic tensions diffused, and the economy has grown.  Average incomes have tripled, education levels are rising, and the health care system is so good that the Gates Foundation cites them as a model. [1]

Why such a dramatic turnaround?  There are a number of factors, but in the context of this Sunday’s sermon, I’d suggest a one-word reason:


In 2000, Rwandan President Paul Kagame assumed office, and was faced with the immediate challenge of rebuilding a country destroyed by brooding vengeance on the cusp of violent relapse.  Imprisoning the hundreds of thousands of murderers was not an option. “If we incarcerated everyone who committed a crime we wouldn’t have a country,” he said in an interview with CNN.  There were therefore two obvious courses of action:  allow the victims to exact revenge unchecked, or grant general amnesty to the perpetrators. Neither of those options were viable foundations for a more stable society.

So, Kagame led the country into a third way, the more difficult and painful path of truth-telling, soul-searching, empathetic listening, common understanding, and, ultimately, forgiveness and reconciliation.

He instituted the Gacaca, an experimental venue for communities ravaged by violence to come together in mutual concern.  In a public area in each village, survivors and victims’ families confronted the accused and listened as the killers confessed their sins.  What ensued was a bridge built between the anguish of the victims and the remorse of the killers, in an authentic, painful exchange that ultimately led to reconciliation.

The Gacaca was part court trial and part community council, born out of the necessity of a society fractured by violence.  But it can also be seen as a singularly important reason that Rwanda is flourishing today.

A few weeks ago, on June 18, 2012, President Kagame officially closed the Gacaca community court system.  Its work was completed, rendering its existence no longer necessary.  In an address to the Parliament, Kagame said,

       For us the lessons of Gacaca go beyond justice and embrace other facets of national life.  Gacaca has empowered Rwandans in ways few could have envisaged. It has illustrated the liberating value of truth. When truth came out in court, from both the perpetrators and survivors of genocide, from witnesses and the community, it set everyone free and prepared the ground for the restoration of social harmony.
       It was then possible to genuinely seek and be granted forgiveness. This has been at the heart of our unity and reconciliation efforts, and we are stronger as a nation as a result. Gacaca was an important end in itself, for justice and reconciliation – and in fact, it served a purpose far greater than that. With reconciliation – and peace, calm, and sense of purpose it brings – Rwanda has been able to make progress that is evident.
       The spirit of openness and readiness to break with the past and start afresh that has been embedded in everything we do will undoubtedly be one of the key legacies of Gacaca.  [2]


Naturally, one can argue that the success of the Gacaca court system is culturally and contextually specific.  And there are valid criticisms of this system of justice that was born more out of necessity than it was time-honored judicial philosophy.  But it does illustrate the power of the third way, marked neither by vengeance or blind denial, but of soul-searching, truth-telling, and recognition of our ultimate dependence on each other to survive.

In a political season where both political parties are quick to proof text the words of Jesus to support their own campaign agendas, we would do well to remember that one of Jesus’ favorite sermon topics was also his most controversial, along with his most difficult:

Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:21-22)

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
 (Luke 6:27-28)

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.  (Matthew 6:14-15)

Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’  (Luke 23:34)

Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.  (Luke 11:4)


The writers of the Apostles’ Creed, when reflecting on the work of the Holy Spirit, decided to include the forgiveness of sins in the final paragraph.  It is sandwiched between the formal ecclesiology of the church (“I believe in the holy, catholic church; the communion of saints”) and the hope of eschatology (“The resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting.”)  But even though it seems somewhat out of place, it serves as the critical lynchpin, the hinge on which all our Christian beliefs are set.  Without the forgiveness of sins, none of our other convictions about Jesus, the church, and Christian hope matter.

Most importantly, maybe the authors of the Creed included this statement because they knew how difficult it was to practice forgiveness in our daily lives, and that we would need a weekly reminder on the central role that forgiveness plays in our commitment to Christ.  Though we’d like to skirt the call to forgive, and seek either the easy way of revenge or the blind way of denial, we are called to the more difficult third way of truth telling and reconciliation.

So, join us this Sunday as we venture further into this third way, and discover the power of living forgiveness as a way of life.

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]  http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/07/17/zakaria.rwanda/index.html?iref=allsearch

[2] http://www.paulkagame.com/2010/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=691%3Aspeech-by-he-paul-kagame-president-of-the-republic-of-rwanda-at-the-official-closing-of-gacaca-courts&catid=34%3Aspeeches&Itemid=56&lang=en

The Worship Committee has decided to replace all of our hymnals due to our fire.  All of the dedications in the old hymnals will be transferred to the new ones once they arrive.  As a result, we are inviting all families who purchased hymnal dedications to take their hymnals as a gift or family keepsake at no charge.  In addition, all other hymnals will be available this Sunday after church for anyone who would like to have an old hymnal.  They will be available this Sunday, at the Community Center, after morning worship.

Craig and Monica Schmidt are once again hosting the Wednesday night high school Teen Time Bible Study. They will kick off the season with food and fellowship at 6:30 Wednesday August 29, at their home, and will begin their regular study on September 5. Feel free to bring friends and others that might be interested, and they are especially interested in getting under classmen to join them. For more information, contact Craig and Monica at 221-4243.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hearing Through the Holy Spirit

August 14, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

If you watched the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics two weeks ago, you may have seen Evelyn Glennie , the deaf drummer who played music simply by feeling the beat and hum of the music.  But you may not have heard of Austin Chapman, whose incredible personal story went viral online last week.

Austin was born almost totally deaf, and for his whole life he could not understand why people were so moved by music. When people cried during a particular song, or when they felt led to smile, laugh, or dance, Austin was totally mystified.  His hearing aids would never let him experience music as anything more than garbled cacophony.

And then, his whole world changed.  Six days ago, he posted his story on the social networking site reddit.com:

       I've never understood it.
       My whole life I've seen hearing people make a fool of themselves singing their favorite song or gyrating on the dance floor. I've also seen hearing people moved to tears by a single song. That was the hardest thing for me to wrap my head around. I was born profoundly deaf and all music sounded like trash through my hearing aids.
       That is until a couple days ago when I put on a new pair of hearing aids for the first time in years.
       The first thing I heard was my shoe scraping across the carpet; it startled me. I have never heard that before and out of ignorance, I assumed it was too quiet for anyone to hear.  I sat in the doctor's office frozen as a cacophony of sounds attacked me. The whir of the computer, the hum of the AC, the clacking of the keyboard, and when my best friend walked in I couldn't believe that he had a slight rasp to his voice. He joked that it was time to cut back on the cigarettes.
       That night, a group of close friends jump-started my musical education by playing Mozart, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Elvis, and several other popular legends of music.
       Being able to hear the music for the first time ever was unreal.
       I realized that my old hearing aids were giving me a distorted version of music. they were not capable of distributing higher frequencies with clarity, instead it was just garbled gibberish.
       When Mozart's Lacrimosa came on, I was blown away by the beauty of it. At one point of the song, it sounded like angels singing and I suddenly realized that this was the first time I was able to appreciate music. Tears rolled down my face and I tried to hide it. But when I looked over I saw that there wasn't a dry eye in the car.
       I finally understood the power of music.

Can you imagine what it had to be like to be Austin Chapman in that moment?  Instantly, a whole new world opened up for him, a world that had always been there but he could never grasp and appreciate fully.  More importantly, Austin had a brand new life. He was able to live the life he was created to live, but could never attain.


When I first read Austin’s story, I instinctively wanted to make a connection to this Sunday’s sermon.  As we move through our current series on the Apostles’ Creed, our attention turns to the phrase “I believe in the Holy Spirit.” Frankly, I can’t think of a better metaphor for how the Holy Spirit works in the life of a believer and in the community of faith than the story of Austin Chapman.

Prior to becoming a Christian, we engage the world with a distorted image of God within us, a result of the sinful nature that plagues all of creation.  As if wearing a deficient hearing aid, we experience life in garbled distortion, twisted with greedy selfishness, addictions to violence, and a reluctance to forgive.  It is a far cry from the melodies of peace, joy, and love that God intends for the world.

But God’s grace is always at work.  It moves in our lives from the moment we are born, even before we recognize it, and governed by the Holy Spirit, who functions just like a snazzy, brand new pair of hearing aids.  At the very moment we realize and accept God’s love for ourselves, we can hear the vibrant, joyful sounds of the “abundant life” Jesus promised for us in John 10:10.  The Spirit amplifies the pulse and hum of God’s grace, enabling us to sense the beautiful melodies of God’s love at work in and through the world.

In his sermon “The Witness of the Holy Spirit,” John Wesley describes the way that the Spirit’s brings us a stunning new realization of who we are in God:  The testimony of the Spirit is an inward impression on the soul, whereby the Spirit of God directly witnesses to my spirit, that I am a child of God; that Jesus Christ hath loved me, and given himself for me; and that all my sins are blotted out, and I, even I, am reconciled to God.

In case we ever forget the critical importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we need only look at the Apostles’ Creed for a reminder.  Though the Spirit receives just one line of description, it heads the final, grand paragraph of the Creed, reminding us of all the gifts that are possible because of the Holy Spirit.

Quiet your heart for a moment, and listen. Listen to this final paragraph of the Apostles’ Creed, and hear the glorious music of the faith:

I believe in the Holy Spirit.  (Therefore, I can hear the grand, symphonic sounds of) the holy, catholic church, (I can hear the choral companionship of) the communion of saints, (I am moved to tears by the) the forgiveness of sins, (I can sing Hallelujah with those who have claimed) the resurrection of the body, (And I can join in the joyful chorus with those who have attained) the life everlasting.



Shortly after his stunning discovery, Austin Chapman asked fellow social networkers to recommend selections of music that he needed to listen to.  Within days, 14,000 people offered their suggestions, amassing a list much longer than Austin could have imagined.

One person, pseudonymously named “GiraffeKiller,” responded with this advice:  "This is like introducing an Alien to the music of Earth. I wouldn't know where to start. Once you're through your kick on Classical, I might start with music from the 50's and progress through each decade. You can really see the growth of modern music like that."

Austin responded:  I think it's a wonderful idea, and will be blogging about my journey into the world of music. As many of you have pointed out; music didn't start in the 50's, so I'm going to start with the earliest written form of music… I'm going to start with Guillaume de Machaut's Agnus Dei. (Composed sometime between 1313 and 1365)

That’s the way the journey of Christian discipleship should work.  Slowly, steadily, the Spirit exposes us to the artistry of the Christian faith, from the grand traditions of centuries ago to the modern expressions of God’s love today. We never travel this journey alone.  Instead, we are surrounded by companions who guide us, advise us, comfort us, and strengthen us, and introduce us to beautiful music we never knew existed.

That’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

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

To read Austin Chapman’s site for yourself, visit http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/xufi3/i_can_hear_music_for_the_first_time_ever_what

Monday, August 6, 2012

The New Kitchen and Fellowship Hall

The new vaulted, sloped ceiling in the fellowship hall
August 7, 2012

Dear St. Paul’s Family,

Over five months since a devastating fire ravaged our campus, and after meeting nearly every other week with architects and engineers, the Building Committee and Board of Trustees are eager to present to you plans for renovating the kitchen and fellowship hall.  We believe that these plans more than adequately replace our damaged facilities, and improve the way we provide hospitality for future generations years from now.

For those unable to attend the information and feedback session last Wednesday, or were not in attendance to see the plans after the service last Sunday, I am devoting today’s Mid-Week Message to sharing a general overview with you.  More detailed plans are available at the church office or by contacting members of the Building Committee and Trustees.  And, of course, we welcome your feedback.  Here are the highlights:

A blueprint of the new kitchen and dining hall

We were surprised to learn that the eastern wall of the kitchen was not a load-bearing wall, which meant we were able to completely remove it during demolition.  As such, we can now enlarge the kitchen by moving the serving counter about six inches into the fellowship hall.  Though the expansion will barely cut into the seating capacity of the tables and chairs, it will provide significantly more space for cooks and servers behind the counter to move around.

We will be removing the southern door into the kitchen that leads in from the campus’ west entrance and moving it to the service counter wall.  That will create two doors connecting the kitchen to the fellowship hall, improving traffic flow between the two rooms.  That will also allow more usable wall space along the south wall of the kitchen to house two new cold storage units:  a large, triple-door refrigerator, and a double-door freezer. Those units, along with the residential refrigerator/freezer in the new beverage area in the fellowship hall, will more than adequately replace our prior freezers and refrigerators, and localize them in one convenient place.

The two electric stovetops that once occupied the kitchen island were only half usable, as four of the eight burners were not large enough to accommodate the 12-inch diameter soup pots often used by our cooks.  To replace them, we will be moving to a large commercial gas range, with ten burners.  The new stovetop will evenly distribute heat throughout the surface, so that pots can be placed in any configuration, rather than just directly over the burners.  Those concerned about switching to a gas stove can know that this state-of-the-art model utilizes an electric starter, without the use of a continuous pilot light.

Our old kitchen had six traditional ovens, which were used simultaneously during our peak cooking season.  Those units will now be replaced by two traditional ovens under our range top, along with a high capacity, energy efficient convection oven.  That oven will accommodate six large cookie sheets.  In addition, the new stove and ovens will be serviced by a large, Type II commercial hood that is required by code and will be covered by our insurance settlement.

The cold, dark storage area north of the kitchen has been completely gutted and will be much better utilized as our new dishwashing, sanitizing, and drying area.  Diners will present dirty dishes through the new dish return window, and on the other side will be a new counter-level dishwasher. Rather than bending down to load and unload dishes, the new unit receives trays directly from the adjacent counter, and maintains a constant water temperature for the 0.95 gallons of water required for each wash.  The new unit will be simple to operate, and will wash a load of dishes within a few minutes.  The dishwashing area will also include a deep, three-bowl sink  for the washing of large pots, as well as a drying area for cookware and wash towels.

The service counter will look similar to the past:  two large serving windows separated by a center post that will provide electrical service. Underneath the counter will be storage bays for rolling carts that will house plates, bowls, and flatware. The center island will now be totally flexible, with the use of three large stainless steel tables on lockable caster wheels.  Those tables can be configured for convenience, around a center support post that will provide both 120v and 220v electrical service.

The electrical service of the kitchen will be greatly improved, with multiple outlets along the long, northwest counter top for roasters and other appliances.  Storage capacity will also be significantly increased, with a new pantry in the kitchen and new cabinetry in the fellowship hall beverage area.

A view of the new beverage and dessert area
Among the more noticeable changes in the fellowship hall will be a new beverage service area, where the stage once stood. That area will now house a long countertop along the north wall, for dessert service.  Under the counter will be storage bays for rolling carts for coffee mugs and glasses.  And on the west end of that counter will be a brand new coffee brewing station, which can be used to fill thermal carafes, as well as for individual service.  It is also portable, so that coffee can be brewed and  then easily moved to points of service elsewhere on the church campus.

The most striking improvement to the fellowship hall will be the removal of the drop ceiling, in exchange for an open, vaulted, sloped ceiling.  The slant of the ceiling follows the incline of the sanctuary floor above, and will provide a stunning visual dynamic to the room.  More importantly, the ceiling will be reinforced with fire retardant material to protect the sanctuary from future kitchen fires.  As such, the Trustees deemed it unnecessary to pay for a drop ceiling as a “second” ceiling.  The new ceiling will feature beautiful trim work along an arc that connects the six sanctuary support posts in the fellowship hall, as well as a combination of recessed, accent, and posted lighting.

The fellowship hall will look dramatically updated in its styling and finishes.  Because the new vaulted ceiling creates an acoustic echo chamber, the Building Committee has opted to carpet the fellowship hall with a new, stain resistant carpet that will be installed (and can be replaced) with individual carpet squares.  The new carpet has a lifetime stain resistance warranty, and is highly suitable for commercial dining use.  (Note:  the colors in the 3D rendering above are not an accurate reflection of the pattern, texture, or colors of the carpet, walls, or ceiling.)  In addition, a new set of double doors will connect to the Feller Lounge, so that the lounge can be used for overflow seating for large gatherings without a traffic bottleneck through the current set of doors. And a new storage closet will be constructed adjacent to the old Parish Coordinator office next to the east stairwell to house the tables and chairs once stored in what will now be the dish return area.

Another great improvement to the area will be the ease of access from the Main Street loading sidewalk.  The northeast exterior door that accesses both the fellowship hall and the back sanctuary stairwell will be replaced, and the entrance into the fellowship hall will be brought down to ground level, so that persons bringing food and equipment into the kitchen can do so quickly and easily from their car into the building from the loading sidewalk, with no stairs and minimal doors.

Carey’s Electronics will also be installing new audio-visual equipment in the fellowship hall, which will include a projector screen, a digital projector, inputs for DVD players and laptop computers, and – most importantly – a live feed from the sanctuary cameras.  That means that the fellowship hall can then be used as suitable overflow for worship services and special events.  New speakers and wireless microphones will provide easy to use vocal projection, long absent from the fellowship hall.

Little did we know, when the Trustees decided to change insurance companies two years ago, that it would be such a critically beneficial decision.  Our insurance adjuster has been wonderful to work with, and has been working with us on all our design plans.  Insurance has thus far paid for fees associated with the designs, and is generally “upbeat” (according to our Chair of Trustees) about what we are planning.  Of course, we are not yet to the point of assigning dollar figures to the cost estimates, which we will secure once a contractor comes on board, and we are still working on a final settlement with the insurance company.  But we feel very good that paying for the new kitchen and dining hall will not become a financial hardship for the church. Thank you, by the way, for your continued fulfillment of the capital campaign pledge you made in 2010, which will help offset any future costs not covered by insurance.

We look forward to beginning construction in the kitchen and dining hall shortly after we move back into the sanctuary, around the first part of September, if not before.  We are meeting with the architect again this Thursday to review the latest plans, and we will be including in that conversation any comments or questions that you may have.  As such, please direct all of your feedback and questions to me, to Don Witcombe (Chair of Trustees), Gene Anderson (Chair of the Building Committee), or John Cook (Chair of Finance).

Let us give thanks to God for the amazing spirit of optimism and energy that continues to run in and through the St. Paul’s congregation, as we prepare for a bright new future ahead, in facilities that will service many generations to come.

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

Join us this Sunday as we continue our four-part series on the Apostles’ Creed with an in-depth look at the second section of the Creed.  The question of Jesus’ dual nature, his humanity and divinity, sparked the greatest controversy in the early church and prompted the church councils that eventually produced the creeds in the fourth century.  We’ll learn about the political drama, bitter division, and eventual bloodshed that marks the history of the creeds of the church.

We continue to be on track for an early September return to the sanctuary.  Last week, Curry’s Carpet and Flooring from South Sioux City began installing the new carpet, and we received word that our repaired pews will be installed around the first of September.