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November Message

ALL SAINTS DAY: what is it? Why do Christians celebrate it just about the same time of “Halloween?”                   

 32 What more can I say? I would run out of time if I told you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33 Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured and refused to be released so they could gain a better resurrection. (Hebrews 11:32-40CEB)

Traditionally, both secular culture and some Church traditions associate “All Saints Day” with November 1 and often celebrate it on the first Sunday of November every year. Racine 1st  UM Congregation is among  those Churches that honor and celebrate “All Saints Day Sunday”  on the First Sunday of November of each year.  Let’s a take a few minutes to briefly reflect on what All Saints Day is and why it does comes just about the same time when you are preparing for “Halloween?  

Well, the following is a brief history:  originally known as All Hallows (hallows = saints) or Hallowmas (mas = Mass), with Halloween (een-evening before or eve), All Hallows Eve (October 31). Initially, many believers rejected “All Hallows” as a Holy Day because of modern associations with witches, ghouls, the macabre, and a preoccupation with death that began to grow up around the Holy Day in the medieval period. Also, Protestants have generally tended to be uncomfortable with this day in its association in Roman Catholic tradition with the doctrine of

 

Purgatory and praying for the dead.  Historically, “All Souls Day” began in the third century to honor martyrs of the Christian Faith.  By the seventh and eighth centuries it developed as a way to honor any of the saints of the Church who had attained the full status of heaven.  Moreover, during the early medieval period in the eleventh century, the following day, November 2, came to be observed as All Souls Day to remember those who had died but had not yet achieved the “beatific vision”(blissful, happy life) of heaven, or who were still in Purgatory.  This became a time to pray and intercede for these departed saints. This being the Roman Catholic doctrine, Protestant objected to it.  

However, due to lots of curiousness during the medieval period, these two days “All Hallows Day” and “All Souls Day”  began to accrue a lot of popular mythology and became overlaid with kinds of superstition.  Now, most of what concerns modern Christians actually developed in Ireland and England from pagan Celtic festivals and was imported into the United States by immigrants in the middle 19th century.  It was not until the late 19th century that “Halloween” emerged in its modern Western version, which was then exported to other countries.  Such syncretism of Christianity with pagan beliefs in Halloween that lends a bad reputation to All Saints Day in both Western and other nationals’ Protestant thinking.

Above those issues, traditionally in the Church the two days of All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2) were valued as times to celebrate heritage and those Christians of the past who faithfully transmitted the Faith to succeeding generations. For instance, Martin Luther actually chose All Saints Eve to send his Ninety Five Theses to the Archbishop.  His challenge to the Church and its leaders to reform was set against the background of the heritage of that Church.  After the Reformation, both Lutheran and Anglican traditions retained the celebration of All Saints Day as a time to honor those who had been faithful.

Today, many Protestant churches combine the two traditional days (All Souls and All Saints) into the observance of All Saints Day.  The day focuses not only on honoring departed members of the Church and local congregations, but also those still living who have contributed to the work and ministry of the Church in significant ways.  Since most years November 1 falls on a weekday and most Protestant churches do not have weekday services, we usually celebrate “All Saints Day” the first Sunday of November.

In summary, “All Saints Day” is a Christian Holiday to remember and honor the faith heritage of those who have and continue to help nurture us in our faith!

Join us Sunday 3rd November 2019 @ 10:a.m for “All Saints Day Worship service” at Racine 1st U M Church for a celebration of the lives and legacies of those faithful believers.  

Blessings,

Rev. Jakes 

 

October Message from Pastor

“TROUBLED, BUT NOT DESTROYED!”

8We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair                 (2 Corinthians 4:8 - NRSV)

 

Fellow believers gathered at Racine 1st UM Congregation, greetings and a warmed welcome to the new season of the year in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. I don’t know what your summer was like, but leaving each passing season with an attitude of gratitude and approaching the new with a heart of hope for the future can be very rewarding! I prayerfully encourage us to exhibit such attitudes at all times on our Faith Journey.

 

 

Happy and a very Blessed Fall!!

 

In light of the above, I am tempted to reflect on the topic: “Troubled, but not Destroyed,” as asserted and proclaimed by one of the heroes and giants of our Faith, the “Apostle Paul.” In Paul’s letter to the Christians at Corinth, he records his personal relationship with the Church and the hardships he had to endure on this second mission trip and field. He goes through all kinds of trials and turbulence because of the Apostle’s passion and commitment to seeing Christ’s Mission and salvific Message to the Corinthian Christians grounded and fruitful. Therefore, the Apostle refuses to give in to those hardships and difficulties, instead focuses solely

 

 

 

on his faith in the Master and Lord Jesus Christ, who is the author and finishers of his as well as our faith. (Heb. 12: 2-KJV).

 

Can you relate to the narratives of the Apostle Paul’s struggles and difficulties he had to go through for the sake of his Mission in the ancient city of Corinth? 

 

Well, one might rightly argue that the difficulties and hardships 1st Century Christians and preachers faced are not the same as those we face in 21st Century Church, including here at Racine 1st UM congregation. However, it is also true that those obstacles and barriers to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ such as: bureaucratic structures, doctrinal crisis, reluctance to accepting the gospel, envy, prejudices, blasphemies, and all other forms of difficulties and hardships that negatively affected the first century Christian Brothers and Sisters are pretty much alive today and active in the life of the 21st Century Church.

 

The evidence of the presence of the those first century vices that worked against the spreading of Jesus Christ’s message of salvation in today’s Church are overwhelming. For instance, the issues of the interpretations and authority of the Holy Bible was and still a major cause of conflict and division among many denominations including our own United Methodist Church. It is no secret that the United Methodist Church it’s on the verge of splitting due to disagreement over the ordination of  homosexuals and clergy officiating at such relationships. This is an issue that has been in the United Methodist Church since 1968. Unfortunately, not much has been done by the Church’s highest and only legislative decision making body, the “General Conference” up to now.

 

Consequently, this half a century unresolved issue resurfaced at the seat of the 2016 General Conference.  The Judicial Council of the General Conference was mandated to seek a way forward. At the seat of the February 2019 Special Session of the General Conference, the denomination reaffirmed its half a century old position on homosexuals by a vote of 54% in favor to 38% against. Since then, churches in the United Methodist Jurisdictional, Annual and Districts Conferences, specifically in the United States, are divided over the reaffirmed decision.

 

 As the saying goes, “When two elephants fight, the grass suffers!” As the results of this doctrinal disagreement at the top, the local congregations including ours, Racine 1st UM Congregation, is presently going through intense pressures and difficulties as some families have already withdrawn their membership.

Indeed, these are challenging times not only for us, but for all faithful and should be lifelong members of United Methodist Church and Local Congregations.

 

In the words of the Apostle Paul, Yes, we are hard pressed on every side in every way, but thank God, we not destroy!!

 

In the midst of all of these, we need to draw courage and strength from the Apostle Paul’s comforting words to the Church at Philippi, today’s Church and even ours as follow:

13  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do : forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-15-(AMP)!

Key among our challenges includes but not limited to difficulties with attracting new members into our congregation. However, we remain focus on our goals and continue to develop new ways for effective ministry and mission among ourselves and the larger community. Over the last several months we have developed new ministry and mission strategies guided by simple, yet effective, vision and mission statements as seen on this postal:

 

Our VISION: Inspire all to live faithfully in Jesus Christ.” MISSION: Gather (Heb. 10:25); Equip ourselves (2Tim. 2:2), and to Serve (Matt. 25: 40).

 

My friends, taking the message of the Gospel through ministry and mission events that express Christ-like love and fellowship in our community with prayerful hope of making new disciples of Jesus Christ is very central to our call and is our goal.

 The following are photos of one of our summer outreach events known as” First United and Neighbors Fest” (FUN FEST), held second Saturday of September every year.  This year’s FUN Fest brought together a cross-session of community members including children, parents/grandparents, the homeless, Police and Fire Departments as well as members of our congregation.

  

 

   

Kids’ face painting and Bouncy House

 

   

Fire Dept. & K9 Unit / Meals’ Time

 

   

Table Prize Raffle Draw of donated items

 

Furthermore, we recently employed a Coordinator for our Family Education and Nurture Ministries. The new Coordinator is Rev. Jennifer White. Rev. Jennifer is an ordained Minister of the AME Church/ second year student of Garrett Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL.  This is another important step toward effective ministry/mission efforts among our members and the larger community.

 

My friends, indeed we are pressed hard on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair. In these difficult times, our congregation needs everyone’s collective prayer, gift and grace in order to continue the wonderful ministries and mission endeavors among ourselves and the community in the name of Jesus Christ.

 

Thanks, for all you are, all you do and all you continue to be and do for the sake of Jesus Christ.

YOU ALL HAVE A VERY BLESSED AND A HAPPY FALL SEASON!

 

In His service together,

Rev. Jakes 

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<<<<<Welcome Back To Church>>>>

It’s almost unbelievable that the summer weather is slipping away so fast without notice!  With just barely three weeks, where is summer heading? What next?

Well, this kind of reminds me of one Jesus’ Kingdom Parables, “The three servants and the Master,” in Matthew’s Gospel. In this story the wealthy man entrusts portions of his wealth to his three servants with no specific conditions. He leaves and stays away for a long time. While he was away, two of the three servants made the decision to invest their shares of the master’s wealth; they did and gained profits. Unfortunately, the other servant didn’t invest his share of the wealth, and thus did not generate any profit. After a long time away, the wealthy man returns unexpectedly and begins to settle account with the three servants. The first two that had invested their shares of the master’s wealth in preparation for his return, reported their entrusted shares with along the profits. The master not only commends them saying: “Well done, Good and Faithful Servants,” but also promises to put them in charge of even greater things as well as offers them shares in his happiness. (Matthew 25: 14-30).  

 

My friends, I don’t know what your summer has been, but the one thing I do know is that one way or the other; it’s been a journey through times. For some a time to visit with families and friends to share fun, joy and happiness, yet for others, it’s been a journey through rough and turbulent times including struggles with either one’s own or a family members’ health issues.  Still for others, it’s been a time of struggles to make ends meet in terms of daily sustenance. The good news is, we’ve either made it, or are making it through no matter what our journey experience this summer.  In the midst of our diverse journey experiences this summer, remember our

Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s invitation as he stands with arms stretched out and saying:

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest!” (Matt.11:28).

The Racine First United Methodist Church loins our Lord and Savior in extending a very warmed “WELCOME BACK TO CHURCH”  to you, your  family and friends with opened arms, opened hearts and opened minds of Jesus Christ!

 

As you may remember, September is the month when both normal and new exciting activities that were halted for the summer are resumed. You are Welcome to join any of our various Spiritual Formation groups including the Choir, Praise Team, Church (Sunday) School for all ages, United Methodist Women and You/Young Adults Groups. You are invited to join us on the first Sunday of every month from 9:00 a.m. -9:45 a.m. for the recognition and celebration any milestones over potluck breakfast. The event is known as the “ Fellowship of Friends, Relatives,  Acquaintances, Neighbors and Co-workers, (FFRANC) Sunday.  Another popular community outreach event held each year here is the First United and Neighbors Fest, (FUN-Fest). This is coming up Saturday 14th 2019. Time: 12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. We offer many other Faith Formation and Spiritual growth opportunities that you can’t afford to miss!!!

 

Again, Welcome to the “Prefect Church for Imperfect People” that intentionally Gather to seek God in order to Equip themselves for faithfully Serve God through services to their community and the world in the name of Jesus Christ.  

 

Finally, I prayerfully you enjoy the rest of your summer time and the Labor Day, but don’t forget the Greatest and lasting enjoyment is with your church’s family in Jesus Christ!

 

 Grace alone,

Rev. Jakes Voker

Pastor

August 2019 Message From Pastor

Friends and Families in the Lord, greetings in the name of Jesus, the Christ! I prayerfully hope you are enjoying all the moments and fun activities we often missed during the cold winter season. The summer weather should afford us opportunities such as gathering outdoors, road trips and flights to visit distant families, friends and favorite sites, getting “vitamin D” from the sunlight, but yet being mindful to stay safe and cool in the event of heat waves. Knowing that there are two sides to every event in life, I don’t mean to say that life is all rosy for everyone during the summer.  No, not at all! Unfortunately, life events can take a turn and trend in unexpected, even uncontrollable, directions at times. My heart and prayers go out to all of you whose lives and joy have been negatively impacted by any adverse circumstances this summer. Rest assured, you are not alone as a member of God’s House hold of believers! You are the apple of God’s eyes.  ( Zechariah 2:8). 

There’s always been and continues to be a special place in God’s heart for you, you and me! Why is that so? One may rightly ask!

 

The simple answer is, as a member of the human family amongst all of God’s wonderfully marvelous and gigantic creations, you are the ONLY ONE CREATED IN AND BEAR THE IMAGE of your CREATOR!  You are very special and do have a special place in God’s Kingdoms Work!  You and all humans possible an inherently unique nature known as the “SOUL” that God can not afford to lose or see it destroyed. When satan attempted at taking control of the human soul, God took the form of a human being and was born in person of Jesus Christ to redeem our soul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                   

Consequently, as redeemed and disciples of Jesus Christ, God’s WORK of redemption through the message of the Good news of Salvation has been committed into “OUR HANDS!”  On one occasion Jesus reminded his first disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit--fruit that will last--and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15: 16 –NIV).

I believe the Lord’s reminder was not meant only for his first century disciples, but includes the contemporary, you and me, as well as the would be ones.

 

I have said all of the above to remind and invite us all to recommit ourselves to boldly and fearlessly take GOD’s WORK in OUR HANDS” with us at all times and in all places so that others might hear the “Good news of Salvation as found only in and through Jesus Christ. As the church, let us take this soul and lifesaving message into our community at any given opportunities. Remember, the church is not called to sit only in air-cooled sanctuaries and in cushioned pews, but to reach out to neighborhood picnics, workplaces, grocery stores, shopping centers, sporting events, on face book, formation group meetings and everywhere! Let’s not give the devil an inch of foothold in our lives! We have the message that would save the world, but will never accomplish such noble mission until you and I can deliver it!

 

Finally, remember we are called to Gather, Equip and to Serve in ways that inspires and transforms lives, one life at a time, in the name of Jesus Christ! “GOD’S WORK, YOURS AND MY  HANDS!”

 

Blessings,

Rev. Jakes