The Incredible Power of Small

It seems impossible, but there is incredible power in small things.

As we go about our business, as we watch the news, and as we experience life, most of us have accepted the reality that those things that are big will be the winners.  Billionaires will win out over millionaires, a 300-pound football linebacker is a good bet in a barfight, the state will win over a township in a legal dispute, and so on.  Face it, when David faces Goliath, Goliath usually wins.

But increasingly, I am being reminded of the enormous power of the small.

We know this almost unconsciously, but we are prone to ignore it in our conscious decision making.  Here’s what I mean:  Elephants and whales are huge, but there aren’t huge piles of dead elephants or whales anywhere.  Why? Because as soon as the large animals die, the small animals get to work.  Lions, sharks and other predators take their turn, then buzzards, fish, and smaller creatures, and then, beetles and tiny fishes, and finally bacteria and other microscopic creatures set to work.  And in this system, the web of life, each time the creatures get smaller, they grow greater in numbers.  And while a handful of lions may feast on the carcass of a dead elephant, the number of bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic creatures number in the millions and tens of millions.  We take them all for granted, but without them our planet would be overrun with dead things.

Change is like that too.

Sometimes change seems impossible.  The task is simply too hard, or too big, or too expensive, and so change is left untried.

But small is powerful.

When great ships set sail from one continent to another, the most important person on the ship is the navigator.  Over and over, history demonstrates that a tiny error in navigation, an error of one degree, or even a fraction of a degree, multiplied by a voyage of a hundred or a thousand miles, and the ship arrives far from its intended destination.  In our era, as scientists consider how to protect our planet from potentially devastating, city-sized asteroids that may come our way in the future, the answer isn’t enormous rockets with powerful nuclear weapons, but early detection.  If we can discover the danger early enough, small rockets, with tiny nudges, can redirect planet killing asteroids by a fraction, even hundredths, or thousandths of a degree and, over the course of millions of miles, the asteroid never even comes close to us.

As we approach the end of one year and the beginning of another, we often think of what we can do to make the next year better than the last.  But change is intimidating.  Our problems seem to be too big, too powerful, too expensive, or too difficult.

But remember the incredible power of the small.

Losing weight can seem impossible, but what about a pound a week?  Even a half a pound per week means a loss of twenty-five pounds by this time next year.  Drastic changes aren’t needed.  A half a pound per week can be done, gradually, by eating just a little bit less and walking a little more each day and even then, you might have to work up to it a little at a time.  Making big changes is hard, but don’t be afraid to make a little change today, and then a little more next month.

Saving for retirement sounds impossible.  But don’t let the size of the goal scare you from starting small.  Maybe you can’t afford to save hundreds of dollars a month.  But can you, occasionally, give up your morning coffee?  Or pack a lunch instead of going out to eat?  Giving up a stop for a ($2.00) coffee, twenty days each month and banking that, produces almost $50,000 over thirty years at 7 percent interest.  Packing your lunch two days each week and saving another $20 pushes that number to almost $150,000.  That still won’t get you to a comfortable retirement, but one small change can motivate you to make another, and then another, and so on.

Growing our church and adding a hundred new members sounds impossible.  But, like we saw in the previous examples, it’s our focus on the big things that often prevents us from seeing the power of the small things.  No, we can’t plan a single event, or offer any kind of training that will allow us to instantly add a hundred people on Sunday morning.  But, could you find the time to invite one person to have coffee with you this month?  Could you join a new club, or commit to making one new friend in the next year?  How hard would it be to do something nice for a neighbor or someone you know?  Could you make some hot soup for a neighbor when they’re sick?  There are thousands of ways that we can invest ourselves in the lives of the people around us.

But those small acts, done consistently, are incredibly powerful.

If each member of our church reaches just one person this year, we will touch the lives of more than a hundred people in deep and meaningful ways.  And if only ten percent of those people choose to join our church, we will add ten new families.

Most likely, none of us will run for a national political office, or write a best-seller, or have millions of followers on social media.  But just the same, we have the power to transform our church… even change the world.

We have at our disposal the incredible power of the small.

Join me.

Make this year, a year of slow and steady progress.

We can change the world.

One cup of coffee at a time.

 

_____________

Blessings,

Pastor John

 

 


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Fake News and Faded Glory

Fake News and Faded Glory

November 10, 2019*

By Pastor John Partridge

 

Haggai 1:15b-2:9                   2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17                        Luke 20:27-38

 

Are our best days behind us?

As a nation, the language we use suggests that many of us think so.  We throw around terms like “Greatest Generation” and suggest that other generations don’t measure up. “Make America Great Again” suggests that it isn’t great now, rival politicians say that they want to get our country “back on track” and implying we are already off-course. 

But what about the church?  It seems undeniable that Christ Church was built to seat many hundreds of people while today we would think that one hundred would be a banner day.  Our denomination, and almost every denomination in the United States, has been declining in both membership and attendance for decades.  And, with that in mind, we ask ourselves whether the best days of our church, or even Christianity, might be behind us.

But it certainly wouldn’t be the first time in history that such a question has been asked.  In 538 B.C., the emperor of the Persian empire, known as Cyrus, or Darius, allowed the people of Israel to end their exile in Babylon and return to their homeland.  But those who were old enough to remember the glories of Solomon’s Temple, wept at how far their nation had fallen and how little they had in comparison to what was once theirs.  (Haggai 1:15b-2:9)

1:15b In the second year of King Darius,

2:1 on the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, ‘Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? But now be strong, Zerubbabel,’ declares the Lord. ‘Be strong, Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.’

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the Lord Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place, I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”

About 50,000 Jews returned to Israel with Zerubbabel, and for two years they labored to build a temple on the temple mount.  But, for the people who had seen what was there before and had been witnesses to the glory of the past, what they built seemed to be as if it were nothing when compared to what had been there before.  They had not only lost fifty or more years of their lives, but it seemed as if they would never be able to restore what they had once had.  The campaign to “Make Israel Great Again” seemed to be a horrible failure.

But God.

The way that we see the world around us is often nothing at all the way that God sees things.  And that was exactly the case here.  The temple that Zerubbabel and the people had built was a pale shadow of Solomon’s Temple, but that didn’t matter to God.  Although the people couldn’t see it, God knew that this humble temple would become the home of his Son, the Messiah Jesus.  God knew that the temple would be improved and expanded by Herod the Great and he also knew all the things that would happen in that place and how those things would change the world.

While the new temple appeared to be sad in comparison to the glory of the temple that once stood in the same place, God declares that the glory of the new would be greater than the old.  Where Solomon’s temple had been the center of controversy and warfare, the new one would be where God finally brings peace on earth.  When the power of their nation and of their church seemed to be in terrible decline, God’s message was, “Don’t be afraid.  Trust me.”

It seems as if, in the story of scripture, and throughout history, the people of God like to worry about the wrong things.  That was what we saw in the message of Haggai, and we see it repeated in the questions that the Sadducees directed at Jesus in Luke 20:27-38 where we hear these words:

27 Some of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus with a question. 28 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first one married a woman and died childless. 30 The second 31 and then the third married her, and in the same way the seven died, leaving no children. 32 Finally, the woman died too. 33 Now then, at the resurrection whose wife will she be, since the seven were married to her?”

34 Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. 35 But those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, 36 and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection. 37 But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’  38 He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

It is worthwhile to remember that the Sadducees didn’t like Jesus and, like the Pharisees, often came to him and tried to trip him up with trick questions.  Luke even points out that they are asking Jesus a question about resurrection and an afterlife because they didn’t believe in an afterlife.  The question that they bring is deliberately crafted to trap Jesus into saying something that sounds stupid or foolish because he believes in, and is teaching about, an afterlife. 

But all that aside, Jesus refuses to fall for their trap.  In answer to their question, Jesus restates his belief in an afterlife by explaining that all those who have died in this world remain alive in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus says that God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”  Jesus says that the dead are not really dead and that the question of the Sadducees is irrelevant because the future is different than the present.  The rules in the Kingdom of God will be different than the rules in the kingdoms of men.  

Asking who will be married to whom is worrying about the wrong thing.  Instead of worrying about the wrong things, Jesus essentially says, “Don’t be afraid.  Trust me.”

And finally, in a world where we can change the channel and hear different versions of the truth, and where we constantly hear accusations of “fake news,” it is helpful to be reminded that we are not alone, and that none of this is new.  As Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica, he is concerned that other people are inventing news stories, writing to the church, and pretending to be him.  (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17)

2:1 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you, I used to tell you these things?

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Paul knows that others have written to the church, pretending to be him, or others on his team, saying that Jesus had already returned and, two thousand years ago, he is compelled to combat the effects of “fake news” so that the church would not be deceived.  Paul encourages the church to hold on to what they know is true, and to “stand firm and hold fast” to what they had personally heard him preach or had personally written to them.  Paul prays that Jesus Christ would encourage their hearts and strengthen them in all the good things that they would do and say.

In other words, in a world where the latest information might be “fake news” and where people pretended to be something that they weren’t, Paul reminds the church to remember what they had been taught.  He reminds them, and us, of the same message that we heard from Haggai and from Jesus, “Don’t be afraid.  Trust me.”

The world that we live in isn’t so very different than the world of the Old and New Testaments.  When it seems as if our nation or our church are in decline, remember that God is in control.  When people twist your words and try to get you to say something stupid, or distract you from what’s really important, don’t allow yourself to worry about the wrong things.  When the world is uncertain, when people pretend to be something they are not, and when we are bombarded by “fake news” designed to distract us from the truth, we would do well to remember the message that God has been sending to his people for thousands of years.

“Don’t be afraid.”

“Trust me.”

 

 

 

 

 


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*You have been reading a message presented at Christ United Methodist Church on the date noted at the top of the first page.  Rev. John Partridge is the pastor at Christ UMC in Alliance, Ohio.  Duplication of this message is a part of our Media ministry, if you have received a blessing in this way, we would love to hear from you.  Letters and donations in support of the Media ministry or any of our other projects may be sent to Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Street, Alliance, Ohio 44601. These messages are available to any interested persons regardless of membership.  You may subscribe to these messages, in print or electronic formats, by writing to the address noted, or by contacting us at secretary@CUMCAlliance.org  These messages can also be found online at https://pastorpartridge.com/. All Scripture references are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

Pastor’s Report – 2019

Pastor’s Report – 2019

Note:  Each year I write a Pastor’s Report for our annual Charge Conference.  The following is my report for this year:


As I reflect on the past year, there are several things that I remember.  While there are no single, earth-shattering, monumental achievement to report, there are many small, sometimes incremental, changes that are building a sense of excitement and hope for the future.  Some of these are things that Christ Church has been doing for a long time but sometimes in a new way, others are new altogether, some are growing, and some are happening again after a long absence.

A class of confirmands graduated and joined the church and there have been two new member classes that have, so far, resulted in two new members, in addition to those from confirmation and transfer.  Among these were also two baptisms and a wedding.  We have trained and certified several of our members for the UMVIM Early Response Team disaster response mission opportunities that may arise in the future.  And several of our Sunday school classes have been discussing the call of scripture, and the command of Jesus Christ, to be invitational as well as how we can overcome our fear of inviting others to meet Jesus.

Our United Methodist Women continue to be a strong, positive, and missional influence on our church, our community, and beyond as they reach out in many ways and in many places with the love of Jesus.  Not least of these efforts is their continuing Cooking for the Soul mission, in which they are teaching the women of our community the basics on how to cook at home and save money by cooking from scratch instead of buying prepared foods.  These classes continue to be filled to capacity and often have a waiting list to get in.  It is my hope that, with a little encouragement, these classes might be expanded to include other subjects such as basic sewing, or home/auto maintenance and repair.

Likewise, the meetings of our church trustees have taken on a new tone as we are no longer just discussing issues of church maintenance and repair, but ways that we can make our church more inviting, friendly, useful, and available to new and emerging ministry opportunities.  Among these discussions are facility upgrades like expanding the areas served by air conditioning, new interior and exterior signage, electronic defibrillators, and upgrades to our electrical service to more easily facilitate our plan to once again prepare and serve over one thousand Thanksgiving dinners to the people of our community (which was a new ministry which we took over from another church last year).

The support of our entire church for mission, of all types, local, national, and international continues to be strong and passionate.  The people of Christ Church are often asking how we can do more and contribute to ongoing projects in unexpected ways without being asked.  We continue to support, both financially and with many volunteer hours, the Alliance Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army, and other community missions, support Red Bird Mission and its outreach centers in Kentucky, provide scholarships to school children in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as contribute to the construction of a new high school in Harrisburg, Liberia through our conference Farmer to Farmer mission.  And extensive as it is, this is certainly not a comprehensive list.  Christ Church and its people are doing the work of Jesus Christ in so many places, in so many ways, that it’s often difficult to keep track of them all.

There is an old question that I have heard in various places, from church conferences, to district superintendents, to books, to internet memes that asks, “If your church were to close tomorrow, would anybody notice?”  Christ Church can answer that question with a resounding “YES!”  As I reflect on our activities of the last year, I can say with confidence that we are here, we are active, and that Christ Church is making a difference in Alliance, in Stark County, and around the world.

Eulogy and Obituary for Tim Barnhouse

Eulogy for Thomas “Tim” E. Barnhouse

September 20, 2019

by Pastor John Partridge

 

I met with Tim’s family yesterday afternoon and, as I often do, I let them tell me stories.  And for an hour or more, the stories, much like the stories that Tim often told, just kept coming.  I’m not sure that I have time to share all their stories with you today, but I’m sure that all of you will be sharing stories of your own over dinner later.  And some of us will be telling, and retelling, stories about Tim for years to come.  But as I was thinking about all that had been said, and after I returned to my office and started looking over my notes, there was one thing that I noticed above everything else.  Usually, when I talk to families and prepare to write a eulogy like this one, what I end up with is a story about that person’s life, when they were born, where they went to school, where they lived, and a few stories that give us snapshots of who they were and what they represented to their families.

 

But Tim’s stories are almost all the same.

 

Almost every one of the stories that I heard yesterday, including the ones that I told, boil down to one consistent theme.  Tim genuinely cared about people.  He was regularly asking the people around him, “Are you alright?”  And he continued asking, even after it was obvious that he wasn’t okay.  The way that his family explained it was that Tim was passionate, and almost obsessive, about making sure that things (meaning the people he cared about, and that was almost everyone) were okay.  It started as soon as you met him.  Tim didn’t just say hello, he had to touch you and make a tangible and personal connection with you, when he said hello.  If you were at all familiar, his “hello” probably also came with a hug, and if you were family, you almost certainly got a kiss too.  With Tim, there were no strangers.  You started off as a friend, and quickly became family.  The way that Tim’s priorities were explained to me yesterday is that Tim always put family first.  After that, there were his friends, then Mount Union, and after that came everything else.  After he lost Doris, he began to refer to all of his female neighbors and friends as his “girlfriends.”  Maybe it was for the humor that he found in saying it, and maybe it was an effort to tell his family that he was doing okay and wasn’t as lonely as they feared he might be.

 

But he was a little lonely.  Tim always missed his mom and he missed Doris enormously.  Adjusting to being single again was hard.  Recently, at church, several folks noticed that Tim was even more isolated and lonely after we lost his friends Elvin and Jack Madison in the span of barely more than two months.  But Tim would never say anything about his own pain.  He did, however, confess that he was happier in Florida than he was here, and everyone knew that it was because he was constantly surrounded by his family while he was there.

 

And the word ‘family’ is a little difficult to define for Tim.  For most of us it’s our parents or our kids, but Tim’s family was, and is, bigger than that.  You all know that Tim was open-hearted and generous and was always there whenever anyone needed anything, but what you might not know is how that generosity, and his sense of what it meant to be a family, played out in his personal life.  Long ago, Tim’s brother took off, just disappeared, and left a wife and several small children behind.  So, Tim, being who he was, just took over as the father figure to his nieces and nephews and functionally became their “Dad” along with his own two girls.  For the younger ones, Tim was the only father that they ever knew.  And there were others that got adopted into Tim’s family circle along the way as well.  For all of these children, nieces, nephews, as well as their children, I’m just going to call them grandkids, all of them, rather than try to explain it all each time, for all of these grandkids, Tim showed up.  He was there for all the basketball games, football games, cheerleader competitions, band concerts, birthdays, and everything else.  If the kids were in it, Tim was there.  And Tim was there so often, that other parents knew who he was, even if they didn’t know his name because he was the guy that was always there.

 

That was sort of a hallmark of the Tim Barnhouse that we all knew.  He was there.  He was there for his family, he was there for his church, he was there for his school, he was there for his community, he was there for everyone.  If Tim saw someone in need, he was there.  If Tim saw something that needed done, he did it.  And no matter what else he was doing, he always had time for you (unless the timer on his dryer ‘dinged’ and then that had to be done before anything else).  Tim liked to talk…, but you probably knew that.  Tim would sit and talk forever.  Many of his stories would begin with “Well…” and then he would tell you the history of all the characters in the story, and all the places in the story, and then he’d finally get around to telling you the story.  He was the kind of a guy that could take an hour to tell a ten-minute story.

 

From the people who knew them both, I heard that Tim had his mother’s heart.  He was always loving, always non-judgmental, and he even adopted his mother’s habit of sending cards to everyone that he knew for birthday’s, anniversaries, and for other significant events.  It was so important to Tim that these cards went out, that in the last couple of weeks, when he wasn’t physically able to do it, he asked others to go out, and buy cards for some of his family that had birthdays coming up, and, although his hands were shaky, he signed them himself, and made sure that there was money inside, so that there would be card to open when those birthday’s arrived.

 

There are so many more things that just made Tim, Tim.  If Tim rode in the car with you, you were free to listen to whatever music you wanted to, but if you rode in the car with Tim, the only things that you would ever hear on the radio were the Indians game, or the news.  Tim wanted, needed, to focus on what he was doing when he was behind the wheel.  He was anxious about getting to where he was going.  Even when he wasn’t driving, he not only wanted to know where you were going, but how you planned on getting there.  Tim always wanted lots of information.  Tim was the guy, no matter where he was, that if the National Anthem was played…, he sang along…, at the top of his lungs…, even if no one else was singing.  He asked everyone if they had checked Consumer Reports, no matter whether the planned purchase was large or small.  He was a guy who loved his Mount Union Raiders but if he couldn’t be in town to see them play, he made sure to give his tickets to someone who could.  Tim was the man who visited everyone that he knew who was in a nursing home.  He was the guy who regularly paid for the altar flowers at church, even when he couldn’t be here to see them.  And whenever he paid for those flowers, he would take them to someone who was in a nursing home or in the hospital, and if he wasn’t here, he left instructions for one of us to take them to someone for him.

 

Tim was a big hugger, and he was a rule follower to the point of occasionally annoying the daylights out of his family, if there was a sign at the side of the road, he insisted that it be followed.  Except speed limits, which Tim often reminded his kids were, “The maximum speed that you can travel, but not the required speed.”  Tim always drove at, or below, the posted speed limit.  The only time that Susan thinks that he didn’t, was the day that she got her drivers’ license and totaled the car while she and Doris were going somewhere.  And, as often and Susan and Tim were at loggerheads with one another, she sat there, at the hospital, fully expecting to be ripped up one side and down the other, as well as hearing story after story about how expensive cars were and how their insurance rates would go up.  But none of that ever happened.  There was never an argument, never a single discussion, and not one mention, ever, of how much it cost.  Tim knew what was really important, and the car, and the money, weren’t it.

 

Tim was the guy who would go to Urgent Care for the sniffles or a sore throat because he wanted to be sure that he wouldn’t miss one of his grandkids’ events and so we know that his health had to be a concern.  Toward the end, it became apparent that although Tim worried about his health, he never shared his worry with anyone else because he didn’t want us to worry.  But, at some point, as he shared with his family, he knew that he wasn’t going to recover and it was at that point that he shared with one of the grandkids that, “The next few months are going to be hard.”

 

In his last days, Tim’s family was engulfed in an overwhelming outpouring of support because of all the lives, from Alliance, to Columbus, to Zanesville, to Florida, that had been touched by Tim Barnhouse.  And at the end, for the man who had lived by the rules, and who always drove at or under the speed limit, and who insisted in always being on time, died exactly on the hour at ten o’clock.  No matter what, no matter how much he was worrying, or suffering, Tim’s ever-present sense of humor endured all the way to the end.  Even at the very end, after everyone thought that Tim was no longer even conscious, as the family talked about Tim’s mom, and her wonderful chocolate chip cookies, cookies that were always available no matter when you visited, suddenly Tim began to struggle, he roused himself and seemed to be in considerable pain, but he did so just so that he could say three important words.  These were simultaneously words of remembrance, words of looking forward, and a reflection of his sense of humor, as Tim struggled with all the strength that he had left to say… “Chocolate chip cookies.”

 

Today, we know that Tim is finally healed.  He is finally at rest.  He has finally rejoined his mom, and God has restored to him a Doris that remembers who he is.  While we grieve, we remember that Tim has finally stopped worrying because the world in which Jesus has invited him, is, at last, perfect.

 

So, you see, in the end, the thing that was consistent and obvious to everyone, was that Tim Barnhouse… cared.  He sent cards because he cared, he visited because he cared, he got involved, he went to games and birthday parties, he told stories, he touched, he hugged, he talked, he was there, he loved… because he cared.  And as I wrote this story about Tim’s life, I was reminded of the words of Jesus from John 14:12.  Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  Earlier, I mentioned that one of the family said that Tim had his mother’s heart, but I also think, that in a lot of ways, Tim was who he was… because Tim also had the heart of Jesus.  And I have no doubt, that also has much to do with why Tim Barnhouse will be remembered as a man… who cared.

 


 

Obituary for Tim Barnhouse

 

Tim BarnhouseThomas “Tim” E. Barnhouse, age 79, of Alliance, passed away at 10:10 p.m., Thursday, September 12, 2019 with his family by his side.

He was born April 24, 1940 in Alliance, Ohio to Elmer E. and Helen E. (Hurford) Barnhouse.

Tim was a 1958 graduate of Alliance High School and a graduate of Mount Union College with a Bachelor’s Degree in math. He was employed by the former Cunningham and Pickett for ten years and The Hoover Company in finance for 35 years before retiring in 2002.

He was a member of Christ United Methodist Church for more than fifty years, serving as chairman on various committees. Tim was a former member of the Board of Directors of the former Family Services of Stark County, served on the Alumni Council of the University of Mount Union, and was formerly treasurer of the Sheep and Swine Committee for the Stark County 4H Club.

Survivors include two daughters; Susan E. Barnhouse and Katharine A. (Lawrence II) Pack both of Etna, Ohio; four grandchildren, Benjamin, Rebecca, Lydia and Samantha; many nieces and nephews; many grand-nieces and grand-nephews; as well as the many close friends who along the way became family members.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Doris J. Barnhouse whom he married November 5, 1966 and died April 13, 2016; and brother, David Barnhouse.

Services will be held at 10 a.m., Friday, September 20, 2019 at Christ United Methodist Church with Pastor John Partridge officiating. Visitation will be held from 4 to 8 p.m., Thursday, September 19 at Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home.

Entombment will be at University of Mount Union Victoria’s Garden Columbarium.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Helen E. Barnhouse Trust at Christ United Methodist Church, 470 East Broadway Alliance, Ohio 44601 or to the University of Mount Union Barnhouse Education Scholarship Fund, 1972 Clark Avenue Alliance, Ohio 44601.

Arrangements are by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home.

 

One Year In

CalendarAs you probably noticed, the end of June and the beginning of July mark the end of our first year here in Alliance.  Time flies.  Sometime the entire year feels like one giant blur.  But a year ago our home was full of boxes, a lot of things had gone into storage (some of them are still there) and we were worrying over the logistics of moving.  This year we’re fussing over flowerbeds, preparing my brother’s house for sale, and thinking about strategy for mission and ministry.

So how are we doing?

That’s a conversation that I hope to have with a number of people will be having in the days ahead.  Sara Sherer and I have already begun that conversation, it’s a regular part of our monthly (less often in the summer) staff meetings, and it’s a conversation that I welcome with any of our church family.  What are your thoughts, what strategies, mission, and ministries should we pursue, what’s working, what has gone well, and what could we do better?

As for me, I am often struck by the willingness, and the passion, with which our Christ Church family are reaching out to our community.  We are in mission through food pantries, participation in, and financial support of, the Habitat for Humanity Apostle Build, weekly community dinners, Cooking for the Soul classes, support for the work of the Alliance of Churches, as well as for mission and outreach outside of Alliance.  Christ Church’s support of Red Bird Mission, The Joy Center in Big Creek, Kentucky, schools in Sierra Leone, the work of Farmer to Farmer in Liberia, and many others.  Patti and I have been staggered (and truly blessed) by the interest, support, and encouragement that we have received regarding the things in which we are participate. 

Thank you. 

We couldn’t be more grateful.

In some ways, we are still learning about one another.  We haven’t always hit the right notes.  Everything hasn’t gone perfectly.  There are lessons to be learned and things that we can do better.  But in total, I am very pleased with where we are.  It seems as if the more things I learn about the people of Christ Church, the more impressed I have become, I am excited about the future, excited about our ministry together, and I am truly looking forward to the year ahead.

 

Blessings,

Pastor John

 

 


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Shirley Carberry – Eulogy and Obituary

Eulogy for Shirley Carberry

May 16, 2019

by Pastor John Partridge

 

Shirley Carberry was one of those people that, behind the scenes and out of the public eye, made the world go ‘round.  She was one of those people who aren’t out to get the attention and adulation of the world but who saw what needed to be done and just put her head down and got it done.  Shirley was born on May 17th, 1927 to Robert and Muriel Crum.  This being the year that began the Great Depression, it wasn’t an easy time to be born and, in a way, that sort of set the tone for Shirley’s life.  It often wasn’t easy, but every time that life got hard, Shirley just put her head down, and got it done anyway.

Early on, Shirley’s father, without announcement or explanation, just up and left his family.  And so, Shirley, Maxine, and Robert took care of one another and, at the same time, took care of their mom.  Robert went to work early in the morning before school assisting a dairy man in his morning deliveries.  At the end of their morning route, the dairyman would drop Bob off near Mount Union and Shirley would ride her bike there to pick him up and ride them both to school.  At the age of 18, Shirley went to work at the West Ely Street Market and a few years later, when the owner retired, she took it over, eventually bought it, and her husband learned to be a butcher and joined her there.

Shirley married Bob’s best friend Milton, at the age of 22, on September 3rd, 1949 after he had returned to Alliance after the end of his service in World War II.  At the time they were married, Shirley lived with, and cared for, her mom, and upon their marriage, Milton just moved in with the two of them and helped Shirley.  Milton and Shirley lived there together for more than 37 years until Milton died in 1987.  After that, Shirley continued to care for her mother alone.  It was only after her mother’s death, that Shirley finally moved out and got her own place.

But we’ve skipped too far ahead.  Shirley and Milton had 37 years together and during that time they had many adventures.  They worked together at the West Ely Street Market, for a while Shirley worked in the offices of Judge Tangi, they attended church, bowled in a bowling league, played cards (Shirley loved to play cards), volunteered with Boy Scout Troop 50, kept a garden (Shirley was known around town for her beautiful flowers), traveled together, and even took a trip to Europe together.  Shirley kept a scrapbook of their travels in Europe that included something from every place that they had visited.  And they had a cottage at Berlin Lake where there was always a crowd of friends with skiing, and swimming, and card games, fun and laughter.

Shirley was well-known at Christ Church.  She became a member when it was the First Methodist Episcopal Church and stayed as the denomination merged with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to become the United Methodist Church, and she just faithfully kept coming no matter what.  Although she and Milton never had any of their own, Shirley loved children and you could find her volunteering with the Boy Scouts and the Cub Scouts, and with the church youth and anywhere else that she was needed.  Shirley could often be found helping in the kitchen for church dinners.  She came to church every Sunday with her mom, and after her mom passed away, then she came every Sunday with her sister Maxine and with her niece Sheryl and Sheryl’s husband Jeff.

Shirley not only attended regularly, but everyone knew that she just hated to miss church.  Even after she moved to Danbury Senior Living, and could no longer get out, Shirley still loved to hear all the news about Christ Church, it’s people, it’s missionary outreach and ministries, and she always had questions about the latest church news, as well as the happenings around town, about the Alliance High School Alumni, the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, and Christ Church’s Cooking for the Soul classes whenever Susan and Dick Diser would come for a visit.  Many years ago, Shirley belonged to the Protheon Sunday school class, and she kept in tough with many of her friends from that time and many of them were the founding group that regularly attended our church’s 8:30 am worship service until it ended a few years ago.

Shirley was known for the things that she loved.  She loved her garden, she loved riding her bicycle, she loved trips to Las Vegas, she loved a cold beer (even if it often took her most of the day to drink one), and she loved raisin pie.  Boy I wish I had known that.  Nobody else in my family (except me) likes raisin pie, if I had known this sooner, I would have used that as an excuse to go and buy some just so I could share it with her.  And Shirley loved to read.  And boy oh boy did she love to read.  If you had visited her, she had her favorite chair set up with her lamp and bookcases and piles of books and magazines surrounding her so that she could reach everything and just stay there for hours.  And right up until the end, Shirley subscribed to our church newsletter and our weekly Sunday sermons, and she read everything that we sent her.

Shirley spent much of her time helping others and contributing to her family, her church, and her community in any way that she could.  She was the secretary of the North End reunion for 25 years, a life member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, and active in many things as church.  She collected antique clocks, cuckoo clocks, hurricane lamps, most any kind of money that was dated prior to 1918, and, as her brother described it, “anything old.”  In her later years, Shirley became interested in the stock market.  Not surprisingly, she read books about it, she studied it, and then she tried her had at it and, as I understand it, she got pretty good at it.

But Shirley didn’t do things for the money.  Although she kept enough for herself to be comfortable, Shirley was just never motivated by money.  She was always generous with what she had no matter how much, or how little, she had herself.  She was a giving person who was known for her generosity.  When her sister Maxine passed away and left Shirley a fair amount of money from her IRA, Shirley simply said that she didn’t need any more than what she already had, so she gave it all away to worthy causes.  Even now, with her passing, Shirley is blessing her church and several other charitable organizations with what she had.

Shirley was not only a sister to her siblings but the three of them were close, if not the closest of friends.  She was known as a woman who was always willing to share her opinion, on any subject, but she was also known for her gentle spirit, her unselfish attitude, and a good, even wonderful, woman.  It has been said that everyone who knew Shirley, liked her.

And so, before we conclude, I want you to hear some of the adjectives that seemed to repeat themselves in this eulogy, and in all the conversations that I’ve had with people about Shirley Carberry.  They were words like, gentle, persistent, reliable, undemanding, faithful, unselfish, helpful, generous, and giving.  Shirley was not the kind of person that tried to be the center of attention, but she was always there, in the background in the office, or in the kitchen, doing the things that needed to be done.  Her life wasn’t always easy, and maybe that’s why she spent so much of her time trying to make the lives of others easier.  She spent her life trying to help people and, in the process, she made our community, and the world, a better place to live.

Not only do we all owe Shirley Carberry a debt, we need more people like her.

My prayer is that those of us who knew Shirley Carberry would learn from her example and become the kind of giving, faithful, and loving person that she was so that we too can make the world a better place.

 

 

 

Obituary for Shirley Carberry

Shirley Carberry

Shirley A. Carberry, age 91, of Alliance, passed away at 3:20 a.m., Saturday, May 11, 2019 at Danbury Senior Living of Alliance.

She was born May 17, 1927 in Alliance, Ohio to Robert L. and Muriel (Elder) Crum.

Shirley was a 1945 graduate of Alliance High School in the class of 1945 and was co-owner of the former West Ely Market and had worked in Judge Tangi’s office for five years.

A 70 plus year member of Christ United Methodist Church, Shirley was a member of the Protheon Sunday school class and also a life member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary No. 1076.

Survivors include brother, Robert G. Crum, of Alliance: and two nieces, Sheryl (Jeff) Lain of Alliance and Carol Tallman of Boardman.

Preceding her in death were her parents: husband, Milton Carberry whom she married September 3, 1949; sister, Maxine Lastivka and a niece, Joni Mastriacovo.

Services will be held at 2 p.m., Thursday, May 17, 2019 at Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home with Pastor John Partridge officiating. Friends may call one hour prior to the service. Interment will be at Highland Memorial Park.

Memorial contributions may be made to Christ United Methodist Church 470 E. Broadway Ave., Alliance, OH 44601.

Arrangements are by Cassaday-Turkle-Christian Funeral Home 75 S. Union Ave., Alliance, OH 44601.

Fear

Special General Conference

Fear

This is it.

As I write this, the Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church will begin its session at the end of this week.  Delegates from around the world have already begun their journeys to St. Louis for their deliberations.  This appears to be a great watershed moment and the future of the United Methodist Church will be forever changed.

We worry.

Some of us may even experience fear.

I admit to being concerned.  Many of the proposals specifically designed to hold our church together will instead drive the church apart or accelerate its decline. 

So, what will we do?

My advice, to those who have asked me, is to relax (a little).  There are many proposals that the General Conference will consider but they are not obligated to pass any of them.  They might choose one, but it is more likely that they will craft something new from pieces taken from among the various proposals or, at the very least, modify one of those proposals before passing it.  There is also a reasonable chance that they won’t pass anything at all and decide that the best way to keep us together, however unhappily, is not to change anything.  And finally, there is a chance that some elements of whatever may get “kicked down the road” for debate at the regular General Conference in 2020.

But, assuming that the General Conference passes something, then what?

Still, my advice is that we should still not get excited too quickly.

Some proposed changes may require ratification by the annual conferences and that would take a year before the results were known.  But even if a major change were to be passed by the Special General Conference, many of those changes would require Annual Conference action.  And, since our Annual Conference doesn’t meet until June, nothing could happen until then, and understanding the difficulty of preparing that legislation for the Annual Conference, there is a fair chance that we wouldn’t take any action as a conference until June of 2020.  Other actions that are being proposed would open a window for churches to decide and in most cases, we would have a year or so to choose a path forward.

Are you confused?  Of course, you are.

At this point the road ahead looks like a bowl of spaghetti, or a road map of the Los Angeles freeways.  That is precisely why I have been advising folks not to get too excited.  The path ahead, for now, is confusing and unknown.  But, once the General Conference passes something, whether that is next month or in 2020, then the path ahead, and our options, will become much clearer.

And until it does, we will continue to be in ministry to the people around us as Christ Church has for over a hundred years.  For now, we should continue to pray for all of the General Conference delegates.

Trust that God knows what is going to happen.

Have faith that God is in control.

Try not to worry.

And fear not.

 

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

– Isaiah 41:10

 


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