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eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin June 16, 2011

I left yesterday, along with Floris' other pastors and lay delegates, to attend the Virginia Annual Conferencein Roanoke. This is an annual gathering of pastors and laity in Virginia, and this year is especially important because we will be voting on delegates to next year'sUnited Methodist General Conference. The General Conference is the meeting of the worldwide UMC, which convenes every four years and considers changes to the Book of Discipline, the governing document of the United Methodist Church. I would ask you to pray for Bishop Kammerer, our resident Bishop, who will not be able to preside over our meeting this year due to illness. Please pray for a speedy recovery from what appears to be either a reaction to typhoid medication or a serious case of food poisoning.

CRC Golf Tournament

One of the events I am grateful for every year is the Child Rescue Centre (CRC) Golf Tournament. It saved the Child Rescue Centre in its early years and has been a significant source of funding to this ministry every year since. Tournament volunteers have changed the lives of children at the CRC with their dedication to this event. The 10th Annual Helping Children Worldwide Child Rescue Centre Benefit Golf Tournamentwill be held September 26 at the 1757 Golf Club. This tournament raises awareness about the work of the CRC and it raises a significant part of the CRC budget. Opportunities are available for corporate sponsors, underwriting and donation of silent auction items. It is a great day for everyone, filled with fun and fellowship. Contact Sarah Newmanwith questions.

Sunday School and Student Ministry Update

Your response to the opportunity to help our children and students learn about Jesus has been heartwarming. We have volunteers to cover summer Sunday School through most of July. We also have about 60% of the needs for fall met. In student ministries, we have filled about 50% of the volunteer needs. Surely the Lord rejoices to see us take the Great Commission to heart and agree to teach our children about Jesus. There are still opportunities available:

  • Children's Ministries – we still need help in August and the first two weeks of September, along with 40% of the remainingteaching spots for the fall. We are also looking for a few more Buddies for children with special needs.
  • StudentMinistries – we need additional High School leaders, Middle School leaders and High School small group leaders.

Please consider offering your talents to serve our children. If you have questions or to sign up, contact Jan Masseyabout Children's Ministries or Donita Dickersonabout Student Ministries.

Stone's Cove Promotion Continues

I am pleased to announce that our friends at Stone's Cove have opened up the "Sow a Seed" promotion to all Sundays. Visit Stone's Cove, located in the clock tower shopping center, on any Sunday and 10% of your total bill will go to support Connections for Hope. Be sure to tell your server that you are there to "sow-a-seed".

This Week in Worship

Join us this Father's Day. Our theme this week is gratitude. Come hear a relevant sermon that will give us the opportunity to consider what God has done in our daily lives as well as the ways we are called to use the gifts that God has given us. I think you are going to find this to be a very helpful and relevant message.

In Christ,

– Tom

The post eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin – June 16, 2011 appeared first on Today I Saw God.

Sofa Bed or Honeymoon suite?

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What do you do when you requested the honeymoon suite and all you get is a fold out couch?

The sofa bed of life

Is the sofa bed of life as good as it gets?"

Complain to the management, of course.Just like the Isrealites."Moses, manna, again?! Come on. God promised us milk and honey."

God took mercy on Moses, telling him to bring 70 elders into the tent of meeting so He might dispense the Spirit among them. Sixty eight came. They focused on the presence of God in their midst, forgotthemselvesand "prophesied." No one is quite sure what this means but, apparently, started acting weird. Theyresponded to God, each in their own 'language' byengaging in unrestrained worship.

Frankly, my favorite characters are the two who didn't come. "Eldad and Medad remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders but they did not go out to the Tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp." Num 11:26

These two guys 'didn't get the memo," according to Tom Berlin. Did they not know? Or were they were afraid to come that close to God? Yet, God's Spirit rested on them, too. And they prophesied. This is a comfort to me. I love the thought that even when I am too timid or inhibited or even when I turn down theinvitation, God's Spirit can unleash me — right where I am.

When we enter the sparsely appointed sitting room of the honeymoon suite, will we check out?

Or will we open the door to what God has provided? Sofa bed or honeymoon suite…the door's open.

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eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin June 9, 2011

I just spent some time in our Vacation Bible School morning assembly. If you want to have your spirits lifted, just come watch a group of preschoolers surrounded by joyful volunteers and led by the dynamic "Captain Kendall." There is some serious energy in the room when everyone is singing and dancing. The ability of this group to teach Bible lessons while having a great time is a real blessing to the kids.

Last weekend I spoke about the importance of children and student ministry in our church and I asked you to begin praying about your willingness to serve in Summer Sunday School or to become active in these ministries in the 2011-2012 school year. It may seem premature to ask for fall commitments but we find that if people are able to make this commitment in the spring, it helps them align their calendars for the summer and fall. I feel very strongly about our willingness to serve our children and teenagers and to disciple them in their Christian faith. When a church focuses itself on the next generation, we experience greater unity in the body of Christ because we are truly loving each other's kids and families. The inclusion of children with special needs through the buddy program enables them to participate in Sunday School and Confirmation in ways that work for the child, ensuring that all our children are loved fully and equally. What we teach and encourage in these young people at this season of life will bless the course of their lives.

I am very grateful to those of you who taught Sunday School, served as buddies to our children with special needs and volunteered as student ministry leaders during the past school year. I want to thank the 60 people who committed to teaching Fall Sunday School and the 36 who committed to serving in student ministry. Here is where our vacancies were filled and where there are still opportunities to serve:

9:15 AM Sunday School:
We have 7 positions filled for preschool and 22 positions filled for elementary.
We have 6 buddies currently signed up for this hour.
We still need: 8 in preschool, 13 in elementary and 6 more buddies.

11 AM Sunday School:
We have 5 positions filled for the preschool and 19 filled for elementary.
We only have 2 buddies currently signed up for this hour.
We still need: 10 in preschool, 20 in elementary and 10 more buddies.

Student Ministry:
We have 12 middle school leaders, 15 high school leaders and 9 high school small group leaders.
We still need: 12 middle school leaders, 9 high school leaders and 6 high school small group leaders.

If you would like additional information or to sign up to volunteer, please take a look at descriptions of each ministry related to children and students in our church and see where you might be able to serve. There will be tables with volunteers and staff in our Gathering Space again this Sunday at all services so that you may talk to someone in person. Please pray about your involvement in this important part of the life of our church.

Handbell Concert Next Week
The Wesley Bell Ringers, a group of 28 high school students from Christ UMC in Salt Lake City, Utah, will perform a concert here in Floris' sanctuary next Thursday, June 16, at 7:30 PM. Their nearly 200 precision tuned handbells will make for a wonderful concert and the program contains both sacred and secular music. Be sure to join us as we welcome these talented students. A reception will follow the concert and no RSVP is necessary.

Short-term Opportunities at HCWHelping Children Worldwide (HCW), the non-profit that supports key Floris outreach ministries, is looking for some volunteers to assist with some short-term projects. Specifically we need 2-3 persons who have experience in Human Resources as well as someone in commerical law with experience in contract design and implementation. Contact Pam Broadus if you are interested and we can tell you more.

Church Council Update
Steve Salvatore, who serves as our Council Chairperson, has provided a summary of the May Church Council meeting. That document, along with ministry reports, can be found on our website on the Leadership Resources page. Read the May Church Council documents.

Financial Statements
This past Sunday, I mentioned that there might be an error on some of the recently mailed financial statements. The statements have been reviewed. There was an error on approximately 260 of the statements that were issued. We have isolated the error and know that it occurred primarily on the statements of members who provided a 2011 estimate of giving card which indicated contributions were to be made on a monthly basis. A corrected financial statement will be sent by mail this week. I'm sorry for any inconvenience this error may have caused related to your planned giving to Floris this year. For any questions regarding financial statements, please contact Tim Wells. As always, I remain grateful for your generosity and the sacrificial giving that enables our ministries to happen.

Hutchison ANGEL Book Drive Update
As I mentioned in my last eNote, after two weeks of collecting books we were far short of our goal of several books per student. In the past week, about 2,500 books were donated for a total of 3,146 books. This will allow each student to select multiple books. What an amazing outpouring of generosity from the Floris community. Once again you have blessed these children with great summer reading.

This Week in Worship
This weekend we will celebrate Pentecost, the day that is considered to be the birthday of the church. In the second chapter of the book of Acts, the first Pentecost is described. The Holy Spirit brought power to the first disciples to enable them to be servants of the Reign of God after Jesus' ascension into heaven. We will be looking at two passages where the Holy Spirit comes into the lives of God's people. We will talk about the role of the Holy Spirit in the church and in the lives of believers. When I asked for sermon topic suggestions several weeks ago many of you shared a desire to learn more about the Holy Spirit. I look forward to seeing you Sunday. Scripture: Numbers 11:24-30, John 20:19-23.

In Christ,
– Tom

The post eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin – June 9, 2011 appeared first on Today I Saw God.

Is it Worth Paying More for Organic?

I don't know about you, but I look at the pictures of those kids

  • at the mall
  • texting and online
  • with alcohol
  • on the magazine covers

and I'd like to think it isn't true. That thought lasts about as long as it takes me to glance at the front page of the Washington Post. They live in the same world that I do. I have a hard time fending it off. How can they?

Scripture tell us,"When (Jesus) saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt 9: 36

We need a shepherd like never before. Where will our kids come to know that shepherd? The one that feeds our bodies, minds and souls with what is healthy and wholesome and what prepares us for life. Tom Berlin said we are meant to be the "organic milk of their lives."

In my experience, kids don't come running to things that are good for them.This reminds me of the old commercial for Life cereal…where the kids won't eat it because it's "good for you." Remember, they gave it to Mikey. "He won't eat it. He hates everything…Hey Mikey!" The trick is, getting someone to try it to see how good it is.

I wonder how Life cereal tastes with organic milk.


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eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin June 2, 2011

Last night the Disciple Bible Study group that I have been co-leading had its final session. We began the evening by sharing a great potluck dinner together. Looking around at the various tables, I could see how well people had come to know each other over the last year. They had studied the scripture, shared insights, wrestled with questions and encouraged one another. I have participated in two groups this year and have found it to be an essential part of my spiritual growth. Through the insights of other group members and the joy of their fellowship, Christ has been revealed to me in new ways. I have gained new insights about my faith and life. As I was driving home after our time together, I thought about all the small groups in our church where people have developed friendships and grown deeper in their faith. So much of the community that we seek when we join a church is found in groups like these. I am very grateful to all of the small group leaders who give their time to preparing for their weekly sessions, following up with group members, and encouraging our church to grow deeper in our faith in Christ.

Congregational Care

I was amazed at the response to our Congregational Care card on Sunday. We had about 50% of the volunteers that were needed in each area of Congregational Care prior to Memorial Day. I was hesitant to share this opportunity to serve on a holiday weekend, knowing that many of you would be out of town, but your response was fantastic. We are now have a sufficient number of volunteers in each area. There is still an opportunity for administrative coordination in some of the areas, including our Respite Volunteers who serve children with special needs. I want to thank everyone who provided ongoing care to our congregation in the form of meals, cards, errands, rides and other acts of compassion and kindness last year and to those who signed up for the year ahead. You make all the difference in the lives of those who can use an encouraging word or helping hand. If you wanted to volunteer but did not have a chance to do so, you can still sign uptoday.

Hutchison ANGEL Book Drive and Hygiene Kit Collections

Every spring Floris has a book drive for the students at Hutchison Elementary. The ANGEL (A Novel to Grow Excitement in Literature) book drive provides new or gently used books to students in grades K-6. In the past, each child received 2 – 3 books to take home over the summer. There are over 700 students at Hutchison, and so far we have not collected enough books to allow each student to receive one book. I want to encourage you to consider donating new or gently used books to the Hutchison kids. Your donation will bless these students throughout the summer. It is also a great opportunity to clean off your child's book shelves and be a blessing to another child at the same time. Collection bins will be on the second and third floors this Sunday.

We have also been collecting hygiene kits for the 5th and 6th grade students to use in their Health classes next year. We can use about 50 more kits. Find out moreabout our collections for Hutchison. Contact Jake McGlothinwith questions.

Thank You for your Generosity

In recent weeks, the Floris family has responded with generosity in the wake of our country's recent tornados and spring storms. As of today, we have collected over $15,400.00 to benefit theUnited Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). UMCOR is often one of the first organizations on the ground when disasters occur, and 100% of the funds collected will go to assist the victims of these violent storms.

This Week in Worship

Jesus saw that the Kingdom of God was breaking into the world, creating infinite opportunities for people to be transformed by God's love. Lives were going to be changed. In Matthew 9:35-38, he tells his disciples to pray for workers to assist in the harvest. This Sunday I will be talking about the difference people make when they answer Christ's call to join him in the work of the harvest. All of us have people in our lives who have had a huge impact on who we have become and who we were along the course of our journey. I am praying that Floris is a church that wants to bless others in our journey of faith. Scripture: Matthew 9:35-38.

In Christ,

– Tom

The post eNote from Rev. Tom Berlin – June 2, 2011 appeared first on Today I Saw God.

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