Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Book Recommendation - A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions that are Transforming the Faith

Recommended by Rev. Lee Anderson-Harris

Brian McLaren has written books, delivered presentations and led discussions that have helped form the faith of Christians around the world. He wrote the book that began my journey to understanding Jesus in a whole new way, thus reviving my faith. I was privileged to hear him speak at an Annual Conference — yes, our own Rocky Mountain Annual Conference held each June. And in this book, he has once again breathed new life into a faith that is so dear to many, but so often misunderstood.

Don’t let the title mislead you: McLaren is not creating a new kind of Christianity, but I would say he is going back to the roots of it to help modern Christians understand it in a way that is new to us, perhaps the way it was originally intended to be understood all along. He unpacks the long-held (but not necessarily original) and commonly understood meaning of the overarching message of the Christian Bible, showing readers where this may be in error and the consequences of that misunderstanding. He presents another interpretation, one that I believe is life-giving. It is a thorough book, exploring questions such as “Is God violent?” “Who is Jesus and why is he important?” “Can we find a way to address human sexuality without fighting about it?” and more. As a faith leader who loves the Bible and seeks to be faithful to the teachings of Jesus Christ, I appreciate McLaren’s knowledge, pastoral guidance and support, and experience shared in this book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

AMANDA WILLIAMS AWARDED BARNES SCHOLARSHIP

By Julia Williams


Amanda Williams was awarded the 2017 James E. and Mary H. Barnes Scholarship of $5,000 given annually to a deserving high school student who is a member of Trinity. Amanda is a 2017 graduate of Golden High School in Golden and has been selected as a full-time student at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana, where she plans to pursue a degree in civil engineering. With Amanda’s permission I quote her: “I have chosen civil engineering because of my experiences with a Trinity Youth Mission Trip to Guatemala. It created a passion and a vision within me to serve others with love and understanding. I might not have come to that conclusion about service if it were not for the time I spent in Guatemala.” While attending university she desires to participate in “Engineers Without Borders,” which sends engineering students to developing countries to build water filtration systems and other necessities like bridges. After university she would like to serve with the Peace Corps to continue to help others around the world.

During her high school years she participated in various projects, clubs and organizations which included “Senior Seminar,” a program for seniors to visit different religious institutions to interact with those in attendance; “Link Leader,” a program at her high school which challenged juniors and seniors to mentor freshmen; the “Rotary Youth Leadership Awards,” a full-scholarship camp which taught high school students team building, leadership and confidence skills; and the “Mentor Program,” which enabled her to mentor a blind student who taught her how to read braille. Her time with him made her realize she should never determine her opinion of someone based on a disability.

The Barnes Scholarship was created in 2009 by the Pioneer Fund, a private foundation funded by the late Helen McLoraine, a former member of Trinity, a community philanthropist and a close friend of
Reverend and Mrs. Barnes. The scholarship was established to honor their lives and ministries at Trinity.

The application process for the annual scholarship recipient considers essay questions about the applicant’s chosen field of study, grade point average, test scores, recommendations, honors and awards in high school, church activities and how the scholarship will benefit the recipient.

Congratulations, Amanda, and God’s richest blessings from your Trinity family!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Welcome, Donna!

Bishop Karen Oliveto of the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference announced last month the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Donna Dempewolf to serve as Executive Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church. Donna is a spiritual and executive leader who is passionate about following Jesus and building up the reign of God. She has experience in pastoral and organizational leadership, and has served both urban and suburban congregations. Most recently, she was the lead pastor for seven years at Living Spirit United Methodist Church, a multicultural, multiracial congregation in south Minneapolis that became younger and more diverse during her pastorate.

Before entering ministry, Donna worked at 3M Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, and in Cergy, France. She has extensive experience in finance, business development, and strategic planning, including staff supervision. She has an MBA from the University of Minnesota, an M.Div. from Boston University, an M.A. in religion from United Theological Seminary in Ohio, and a D. Min. from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. She is an ordained elder in the Minnesota Conference where she has served on the Board of Ordained Ministry and co-chaired the Commission on Religion and Race.

Donna writes: “I envision a church that shares the love of Jesus with all generations by being welcoming, inclusive and engaged in its local community; a church that dreams about its future, and then collaborates with the Spirit to put stepping stones in place to guide them there.”

“I enjoy working with all generations, and especially developing, equipping and mentoring staff and lay leaders for fruitful ministry. I value spirituality that touches the heart and engages the head, and organizational effectiveness and efficiency. I look forward to serving as Trinity’s new Executive Pastor, which blends organizational leadership and pastoral responsibilities. I am excited to join the Trinity team, and to partner with you to share the love of Jesus in downtown Denver.”

Donna will arrive in Denver in mid-June, in time to attend and be welcomed at the Rocky Mountain Annual Conference June 15–18. She will be in worship leadership on June 25. The Staff-Parish Relations Committee is planning an event to formally welcome Donna later in the summer.

Senior Pastor Mike Dent says, “We are pleased to welcome Donna to our congregation, staff and pastoral team. She brings significant secular and sacred work experience to our ministry team, and a track record of effective leadership. I look forward to you meeting and welcoming her to Trinity, Denver and Colorado.” She plans to live downtown. Watch for invitations to get acquainted with Donna. Thanks to the SPRC and Chair Susan Turman for their vision, support and engagement to restore this vital position to our staff.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The King Cake

From Brian Lee, Trinity Lay Leader

This year, February 26th was the last Sunday before the start of Lent. At Trinity, we marked this last Sunday before Lent with a “Dimanche Gras” party. In other parts of the US (particularly New Orleans) and the world, there are large celebrations before the start of Lent, most notably Mardi Gras. This year, we were blessed to have homemade King Cake as part of the celebration.

The tradition of King Cake in New Orleans is believed to have started in the 1870s. There is a lot of symbolism with King Cake. Its oval shape symbolizes the unity faiths. Each King Cake is decorated in the traditional Mardi Gras colors - purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold representing power. Usually, a small baby, symbolizing the baby Jesus, is hidden inside the King Cake. At Trinity, dark jelly beans were placed inside after the King Cake was baked.

In New Orleans, King Cake parties are held throughout the Mardi Gras season. In offices, classrooms, and homes throughout the city, King Cakes are sliced and enjoyed by all. Like the Biblical story, the "search for the baby" adds excitement, as each person waits to see in which slice of cake the baby will be discovered. While custom holds that the person who "finds" the baby will be rewarded with good luck, that person is also traditionally responsible for bringing the King Cake to the next party or gathering.

For those who found the jelly bean “babies", here’s the recipe that Myrt Dorroh used for her King Cake! Myrt recommends planning ahead as this recipe takes a fair amount of time.

KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE AND FRUIT FILLING RECIPE

DOUGH
·         1 envelope of dry yeast
·         1/4 c. warm water (not hot)
·         1/2 c. milk
·         1 c. (2 sticks) butter
·         1/2 c. sugar
·         2 egg yolks
·         2 whole eggs
·         4 c. (approximately), unbleached flour

Mix the yeast with the warm water. Stir 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the flour into the yeast and set aside. By the time you have measured the other ingredients, the yeast should be beginning to bubble and show signs of life.

Bring the milk to a boil and stir in the butter and the sugar. Pour into a large bowl; the mixture should be lukewarm. Beat in the egg yolks, whole eggs and the yeast.

Beat in approximately 2 cups of flour, until the dough is fairly smooth, then gradually add enough additional flour to make a soft dough that you can form into a ball. Kneed it, by hand or machine, until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a bowl, turn the dough once or twice in it to grease it lightly all over, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Pat the dough down and cover the bowl with a damp towel, plastic film over that and refrigerate until the next day. This recipe makes enough dough for two king cakes. Extra dough may be frozen, or make two king cakes and freeze one. (If you are going to add a filling the recipe is below.) Thaw frozen cake and reheat 10 minutes in a 375 degree oven.

FILLING
·         1/2 recipe king cake (above)
·         1 (16 oz.) can cherry, apple or apricot pie filling
·         8 ounces cream cheese
·         1/4 c. sugar
·         2 T. flour
·         2 egg yolks
·         1 tsp. vanilla
·         1 plastic baby Jesus (or a dark colored jelly bean)

Colored sugars (purple, yellow and green); or these same colors of food coloring if you want to just make colored icing.

Remove dough from refrigerator and with well-floured hands, while it's firm and cold, shape it into a long sausage shape. Using a floured roller on a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 30-by-9-inch rectangle as thin as pie crust. Let dough rest.

If necessary, drain extra juice from pie filling. Mix the cream cheese with the sugar, flour, egg yolks and vanilla. Spoon an inch-wide strip of the fruit filling the length of the dough, about 3 inches from one edge. Spoon the cream cheese mixture alongside the fruit, about 3 inches from the other edge. Brush both sides of dough with egg wash.

Fold on edge of dough over the cream cheese and fruit, then fold the other edge over. Gently place on end of the filled roll onto a greased pizza pan or large cookie sheet. Ease the rest of the roll onto the pan, joining the ends to form a circle or oval. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Brush again with egg wash and cut deep vents into the cake. Sprinkle with colored sugar at this time if you are only using colored sugar. If you want to brush a light icing of mixed powdered sugar, water & a little vanilla after baked and cooled, then wait and sprinkle colored sugar last.

Bake 40-45 minutes to 1 hour, or until cake is well risen and golden. Time depends on how thick of a cake you have created. The thinner you roll out the dough, the less time it takes to bake. Watch it and take note of the smell. It smells wonderful when is done, also when it is golden brown it is done.

If you are icing it, cool before icing. Mix confectioner's sugar with enough water to make a spreadable paste and a little vanilla for flavor. You can make 3 small bowls of the icing and color one purple, one green and one yellow; or if using just white icing, brush over the cake and sprinkle the three colors of sugar over top. Slice the cake into serving sizes and insert the dark jelly bean or plastic baby Jesus. You can either insert it from the bottom of the cake or into one of the slices of the cake. Be sure to put the slices back close together so it is not evident where you have hidden it.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas for All People

By Brian Lee, Trinity Member and Lay Leader

One of my father’s first memories of Christmas was a fire truck. In the mid-1960s, my father’s family immigrated to the United States from China and settled in New York City’s Chinatown. The local police station had a program to give toys to immigrant kids in the neighborhood. My father fondly recalls receiving a fire truck from a police officer for his first ever Christmas. Although times were tough for my father’s family as they struggled to make a new life in the U.S., Christmas was always a time for joy and chance for him to be a kid.

Growing up, I was not raised in the church. However, we did have Christmas. At the nudging of some family friends, my parents bought an artificial Christmas tree and we celebrated Christmas. One of my father’s friends told him that Christmas was for everyone. Like all children, my siblings and I grew up being excited this time of year at the prospect of cookies and presents. As I became older and learned the Christmas story, it puzzled me. At the time, it was strange to think that God would take on human form. It was not until I was a college student that I fully understood the significance of the Incarnation.


I share my father’s story as well as mine because it shows the invitation that Advent and Christmas presents us. As Christians, we are invited to share with the world the joy we have found in Jesus and to invite everyone to celebrate with us whether they believe or not. Jesus’s arrival was not for any particular group of people, but for all people. We believe that God’s grace is always at work and is working in all people. During this holy time, please take this chance to invite the people around you to celebrate the birth of Christ– whether it’s attending an organ concert, sharing a plate of delicious cookies, or smiling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Preparing the Manger of the Heart

By Rev. Lee Anderson-Harris, Minister of Care

I often speak of self-care during the holidays, and one of the ways in which we care for ourselves is to focus on our spiritual journey during Advent.  Rather than getting caught up in the chaos of the secular season, we can enjoy all the season has to offer while remaining anchored in love, joy, peace, and hope of the coming of Christ.  And yes, we are caring for our own souls this way, but we are also caring for the world around us as well when we do this! 
My husband, a fellow pastor, wrote and preached a sermon that speaks to the spiritual journey of Advent.  I was touched and inspired by his words, so I wanted to share them with you.  Below is his sermon.  Trust me, it’s worth the brief time it takes to read through it!

Preparing the Manger of the Heart
As we observe the first Sunday in Advent, we might think about this time between now and Christmas as a journey.  As Christians we have the opportunity to begin on a journey of the heart to receive the light of Christ in the world…or we can get run over by the secular hype of consumerism and the holidays.  We have the choice to consciously move toward Christmas seeking a personal spiritual transformation.  Here is the GOOD NEWS: we have the ability to control our own holiday stress!
With the imagery of a journey in mind, we first need to determine our direction.  Directions are important; if we dive in without taking enough time to think about where we are going, we might get disoriented.  The Boy Scouts of America was a program that my dad valued as a youth.  In later years he greatly supported my own goals in becoming and Eagle Scout.  One of his stories that has stuck with me reminds of the value of having a grounding direction.  When he was a scout, a group of boys went on a campout in the hills where there were some old mine shafts. The boys went off to explore the mines.  The first tunnel they went in was a big cavern, but they soon discovered that the wall at the back of the cave ended about a foot below the ceiling, so the boys helped each other over this wall.  That then led them into the cave network. After an hour or so of exploring the network of tunnels, someone asked how they would find their way back out.  At this point they began to panic as each tunnel looked the same as the last, and with very little light they got disoriented.  There was one young scout who claimed he knew the way, yet the older boys had been paying little attention to him.  After finally getting their full attention, they asked how he knew where to go.  He said he knew that they had been walking past the wall they climbed over because on their way over, he had undone his neckerchief and placed it on top of the wall with a rock holding it down. 
Isn’t it interesting that the least experienced or likely among the group had not gotten so caught up in the excitement of the adventure that he forgot his grounding?
We Christians can dive in head first and put up all the lights, buy all the gifts, make it to all the parties, bake all the cookies, and so on…and become disoriented, missing the spirit and the potential spiritual growth in our own lives.  If it is our goal to experience something spiritual this season, we must seek actions to move us toward that direction.
A goal I held at one time in my life was to thru-hike the Colorado trail from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango, a mere distance of 486 miles.  A hiker traversing the entire length of the trail will gain 89,000 feet in elevation. It takes most hikers 4-6 weeks to complete the journey, although a distance runner holds the record for completing the trail in 10 days, 19 hours and 5 minutes.  The biggest obstacle for through hikes is how to carry enough food for the journey.  Most hikers make preparations to mail food to post offices in small towns along the route so that they might pick up extra rations along the way.  With weight being a critical issue due to every ounce counting, some make it a practice to remove all of the labels from their clothing. Proper preparation means make-it-or- break-it on this journey. I know of two gentlemen in the state that tried to undertake this journey with only the equipment that would have been available in the 1860’s.  Though they undertook this journey in the summer months, they quickly found that leather-soled shoes and wool blankets, along with state forest fire-bans, made it impossible to keep warm and complete the journey.
Like this illustration, spiritual preparation for our journey might begin with a personal inventory, noting what things give you life, or draw you closer to God, while also noting what seems to drain life and add stress.  
Take note if adding extra commitments to the calendar makes you feel anxious.  For example, if there are friends who have waited all year to get together, would it be better to schedule a gathering after the holidays?  Allow yourself the grace to make boundaries and limit what you choose to do if you feel that you are becoming overcommitted.  There is actually scriptural evidence of this.  In the book of Luke it reads, “But the news about Jesus spread all the more, and great crowds came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses.  Yet He frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray.”  If the Son of God allowed himself time to care for his spirit and         recharge, you certainly can too!!
If we have taken the time to discern where we are going, and we prepare ourselves, our next step is to begin the journey or to take action toward receiving Christ.  In fact, one of the things I like about the notion of journeying through Advent is that it implies motion, or action.  Advent is a season of waiting.  However, even if we just seem to be waiting for Christ’s birth, there is a difference between active waiting and passive waiting.  There are passages in Scripture that imply a sense of urgency about preparing ourselves for the coming kingdom. Personally, I don’t expect Jesus’ second coming to happen this Christmas but there is, nevertheless, a real truth to this urgency.
The first and practical reason why we should be urgent in preparing our hearts for Christ this Christmas is that with the other distractions of the season, it all passes too quickly.  I have always celebrated the 12 days of Christmas rather than just Christmas day.  This helps me continue to spend time focusing of the coming of Christ’s light into a dark world, and I don’t feel that all the buildup has suddenly vanished.
The second reason why we should be urgent in preparing our hearts to receive or renew Christ is because we live in a broken and hurting world that needs action from those who have experienced the light of Christ.  Our own personal spiritual relationships will become even more fulfilling when we take the love of Christ into the world.  In a letter to the United Methodist Church, released on November 22, 2016, Bishop Bruce R. Ough expressed such urgency in his call that we are to
“remember who we are” in this time of tension and anxiety and work to overcome hatred and discrimination….and “We, the bishops of The United Methodist Church, feel compelled to renew our commitment to work to become the beloved community of Christ. We, as a Council, desire to deal with the crucial issues of racism and the sacredness of every human being. Therefore, as the spiritual and administrative leaders of the church, we issue an urgent call to the whole people of God, lay and clergy: to speak the truth in love in public and private discourse, to act with compassion, and to work for peace with justice in the world…In order to transform the world, in faithfulness to Christ’s command, we must model respect and kindness and extinguish the fires of animosity. And thus, we call on all churches to engage in genuinely honest dialogue and respectful conversation, such that others who observe the action in our lives might declare, ‘See how they love each other!’”
As Christians this call to action is nothing new, and I know that many of you already strive to live lives that imitate Christ, but what the Bishop is expressing is that the world needs our love now…more as much as ever.
Where I see the urgency during this time is that during this season, we have the chance to touch lives, which might be closer than at other times to receiving the love of Christ, because there are many outside the church who are hoping to receive something meaningful. 
In this season of Good will, there is the potential for glimpses of the Kingdom of God.  Here’s what I would like to propose in making our hearts mangers to receive Christ: That we visualize the Kingdom. Not just talk about it in the sense like “Oh wouldn’t that be nice.”  But strive to invasion it as a reality.
U.S. freestyle Olympic skier Emily Cook says that prior to beginning her run, she visuals not just how she would like to perform, but all of her body’s senses, from the cheering of the crowd and ringing of bells, to the buzz of lights and the feeling of the muscles.  This mental visualization then flows right into the action of the run itself.  This is where I offer the final advice for preparing the manger of your heart…visualize finding, receiving, and personally knowing Christ this Advent, and then let that visualization become a real action.
I’ll leave you with one final image.  My Dad was never one to serve the homeless, or get involved in Christian action that could be uncomfortable.  This was not to say that he wasn’t a great man of faith, but he served his faith through being on the Trustees or working spiritual retreats like the walk to Emmaus…places where he felt good to be in Christian action.  Three years ago the church he attended hosted homeless individuals over the week of Christmas, and on the night of the Christmas Eve services the homeless were housed on cots in the halls of the church.  As can happen when there are things outside our comfort zones, there were some that commented that this was not appealing to those coming to enjoy the worship service.  Yet of all people, my Dad really got into helping these people.  He even helped an intoxicated man pass out onto a cot.  On Christmas Day as he told me about this experience I could tell just what an impact it had made on him.  He got it; he experienced Christ in a very real way.  He found the spirit of Christ…not in a worship service or a book study…but in helping a man who hadn’t showered and was reeking of Jim Beam into a safe, warm place for the night.

My prayer for this season is to get past the glitz and glam and begin on a journey that prepares me to experience the love of Christ in a real way. Amen.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Our Good Friend, Trinity


 - by Erick Scheminske, Trinity Finance Committee Chair, from his witness during November 6, 2016 worship

So, before today, the last time I stood near the front of this particular room and said anything anybody really wanted to hear, it was January 8, 2000, and the only two words anybody cared to hear from me then were “I” and “do.”  And I only had to talk to one person, not several hundred! 
Thinking about that day has got me thinking about a friend I’d like to introduce you to. My wife, Sharon, and I met this friend around the time of our wedding and we liked her pretty well at the time. But we really didn’t start to get to know her until a couple of years after that, when we accepted an invitation to celebrate Easter with her. We were so charmed, we decided to keep scheduling get-togethers with her. 
Almost immediately, she took us in as if we were family. She knew a lot of people, and introduced us to a few of them who have now become some of our most trusted friends. 
She’s been with us through some difficult times of loss, sickness, and sadness. But she’s also been present at some of the most joyous times of our lives – our wedding, the baptisms of our two children (Reagan and Parker), and so many other moments of growth and discovery. 
She has challenged us in so many ways. She’s asked us to be teachers, and she’s helped us learn how to do it effectively. She’s asked us to be leaders, and she’s given us the space to make mistakes as we’ve grown in that capacity. She’s asked us to think about God, and about Christ, and about mission in different ways than we did when we were younger. 
She’s a mighty forgiving friend. As happens with all friendships, sometimes we get too busy to reach out and touch base with her. In fact, over the years, we will sometimes go for long periods without visiting with her at all (this happens mostly during ski season). No matter what, though, every time we see her she greets us with the same warmth and compassion as the first day we met her. 
Over the last few years, our friend has had some health issues, and has undergone several surgeries. We tried to support her as best we could through those times, and we rejoiced with her last year as she seemed to come through the last of those surgeries somehow stronger, in spite of her advancing age. 
Then, in June, she tripped and fell, and injured the lower part of her body again. This has been a tough injury for her – she’s had a much harder time than normal getting around and welcoming her wide body of friends into her presence, and we’ve heard from some that she doesn’t seem quite as kind as she used to. 
Well, I’m happy to say that our friend is almost completely healed, and I can tell you with certainty that she’s back to her old self! In fact, she might be even better than her old self, and I’m excited to so see what she has in store for us next!
Our friend, Trinity, has been there for us for the entirety of our almost 17 years of marriage, and for the entirety of both of our children’s lives. She’s been a truly remarkable friend to our family, just as I’m sure she’s been a friend to each and every person in this room, even if you’re meeting her for the first time today. 
I am a better person because of my friendship with Trinity. And for that reason alone, I consider it a great, great privilege to share a little bit of my time and treasure with her. She’s a strong and thriving old woman, but she depends on all of us to keep her that way. 
So, as you contemplate making or renewing your commitment to our friend, Trinity, I hope you take some time to consider how she has made a difference your life, and how you can best make a difference in hers. 

And thanks to all of you for your friendship.