Our Communion Offering this Sunday will support Operation 20/20. Based at Emmanuel UMC the volunteers take our old glasses and sunglasses, clean, repair, and grade them so they can be sent out with international mission teams. Then the miracles happen. One of the missionary opticians told about one person they were able to help. A blind 2-year-old boy and his mother walked many miles to reach the mission. An examination determined what the little boy needed. The right prescription for the child was among the donations, but the donated glasses were adult-sized and the frames were so large that the eyeglasses fell from the child’s face.

Also among the donations were some child-sized frames, and the opticians managed to fit the optics from the donated adult’s glasses into the smaller frame. When the missionaries put the glasses on the child, he looked around, unable to recognize anything or anyone. Then his mother called to him, and his face lit up with a big smile and he ran straight to her. The child giggled and the mother cried, because this was the first time that the child had seen his mother’s face. Miracles happen! Please bring your donations and unneeded glasses and sunglasses to support Operation 20/20 this Sunday February 3rd. 

Love and Grace, The Missions Team 

Also in February: UMC’s Called General Conference 

If you research news agencies covering the topic of our General Conference later this month, you could read or watch broadcasts from the Bible Belt through America’s Heartland, from sea to shining sea. It doesn’t even touch on the hundreds of articles in religious-type publications and faith-based media, or the tens of thousands of blog posts, Facebook posts, and emails that say, “Forward this to ten friends or you will suffer a bout of nausea later today.” 

One of the hardest parts of this issue is that it’s almost impossible to know whether the person speaking in the article, post or broadcast is worth listening to. The truth is sometimes our media writes “news” in a way that not only reports but stirs conflict (conflict news still sells). Sometimes the person speaking is glad to speak about a conflict in a church, or denomination, because it makes their church, denomination or non-denomination look and sound better. Sometimes, the person has spent much more time speaking than doing good, honest-to-God research so they really understand the issues at hand. At the end of the day, voices that do any of these things are doing little more than making noise. 

So over the next three Sundays (Feb. 3—Session 1, Feb 10—Session 2, Feb. 17— Session 1 for those who missed it the first time), Will, Ed and a couple of our Delegates to Annual Conference will guide us through a conversation about this General Conference. We will not pretend to have all the answers, because this conversation—from the overall issue to the three, maybe four alternative plans— has too many moving parts. But you can rest assured that they want nothing more than to faithfully serve Christ and the Church Jesus called into being as an agent of healing and wholeness for a broken world. They hope that by the end of this conversation, every one of us better understands the issues, can readily discuss it, and in the event that someone is criticizing our church or denomination, we can remain confident in who we are as those followers of Jesus called Methodist. 

We know that some Sunday School classes have already chosen curriculum for February, so there is no obligation to attend. But we do hope to see you in some Sunday School class in the coming weeks and especially in worship Sunday mornings. And please pray for this important conversation because the world is watching not only what we do but how we do it. 

Sincerely in Christ’s service: Ed, Will and the First UMC Family 

The Missions Team