First United Methodist Church
Hughes Springs, Texas
Pastor Bill Laubenberg
Editor Debbie Kelley
One year ago, Dianna, Amy and I arrived in Hughes Springs not knowing what to expect. We were welcomed by Nita Clark and Billy Wayne McKinney and our journey together began. It has been a time of joys and sorrows. We have met many new friends and been made to feel very welcome. As Amy puts it, “It feels like home.”
Anniversary time is when it is important to look back over the year and see what we have done. It is also a time to look ahead at what is to come. And so here we go.
The first year has seen some good things happening. We have formed a church choir that continues through the year. Lay readers are now reading the first two readings each Sunday. There is a group of members who are serving as communion assistants. We have replaced one of the air-conditioners for the church, to help keep us cool during service. Each Sunday the service is uploaded to the internet so that members who cannot be here still are able to experience the service. We have started a new youth group for elementary age youth. There has been a continuing Bible Study through the year. We have solved the problem of people parking under the pavilion, by placing plants in large pots to block the way. The first plants did not fair too well, but their replacements are looking good. Our food pantry continues to serve the community around us and is about to go through a major transition this month. We have, as a church, reached out to Indian children at 2 different reservations and helped teachers here in town with midyear supplies. Our IWC has helped to serve meals at funerals through the year and fifth Sunday events at church. The Mission committee held a luncheon for the fair workers during the wildflower trails. The New Hope Sunday school class continues to bring services to the Springs Nursing home. These are many of the things we have done this year. My apologies to those activities that were left out, but I think these show that things were happening around the church this year.
As we look to the coming year, most of these activities will carry forward into the new year and may will be added. We are moving forward on creating a handicap accessible bathroom next to the nursery. Plans are still in the works to replace the carpet in the sanctuary and repaint the walls. We have started the Abide process which will have us examining what is going on in the church and looking at new ways to better serve our mission field. There are new programs in the wings getting ready to get started. You will hear more about them as we move forward. This fifth Sunday we will be experiencing a contemporary service. There is much to look ahead to.
As I typed this more and more things kept coming into my head, but I did not want this to be many pages long. We have much to be happy about and much to get ready for. The future of this congregation can be bright if we just work together on the mission God has given us, to spread His word and His love to the world around us. I am excited about the road ahead and happy to be here with you. May God watch over us, guide us, and surround us with his love.
God’s Grace be With You
Pastor Bill Laubenberg
On June 6, 2017, twenty men from across the area enjoyed a great Breakfast and were blessed by a message
We meet again on August 1, 2017at 6:30 am. Come on out and join this great fellowship. Bring a friend or more with you. You will truly be blessed!
This breakfast is open to all MEN from anywhere, any denomination and friends.
CHOIR MEMBERS ENJOY HEALTH and SPIRITUAL BENEFITS
By Christopher Fenoglio*
THERE THEY ARE… on the seventh page of the United Methodist Hymnal, “Directions for Singing” from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism:
“Sing all… Sing lustily and with good courage… Sing in time… Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing… So shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.”
Rewards in heaven?? Sounds like a good enough reason to sing in a church choir.
But what is it about singing that seems to be part of our Wesleyan DNA? How does singing help choir members enjoy a greater understanding of how and why we worship our God, a deeper connection with one’s church and community, and even better health?
“It’s natural for Methodists to sing in harmony. They are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When singing in the key of C and they slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of them, it’s an emotionally fulfilling moment. By joining in harmony, they somehow promise that they will not forsake each other.” – Attributed to Garrison Keillor
A common statement about singing in church is “To sing is to pray twice.” Although the statement is often attributed to Augustine, the actual author is unknown. Still, the sentiment is true. Music is an art form that lifts up ordinary text to another level that inspires us and nurtures our souls.
“Music is an integral part of how we relate to God,” (says the Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, program director of the United Methodist Alton L. Collins Retreat Center in Eagle Creek,) “It is how we understand at a deeper level what goes beyond words, what our relationship is with the Divine, and how we are shaped together as a community of faith.”
Of all the art forms, “music is one of the most easily accessible type of art in worship. There’s nearly always an opportunity to open your mouth and make music together with the rest of the people in that service. Right there you’ve got an opportunity to experience the Divine in a different way than just to listen to someone read about God,” she says.
“Christianity is not a solitary religion,” (says the Rev. Karen Westerfield Tucker, professor of worship at Boston University School of Theology,) “John Wesley certainly made the case that it is a ‘social’ religion — both in its worship and in its concern for the care of the neighbor.”
The benefit of singing with and caring for others goes beyond church walls, as many community choirs will attest. In these days of an increasingly polarized culture, music can be a common bond between peoples.
“Through music, we can build community,” (says Dr. Jonathan Palant, Minister of Music at Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas.) “We bring people together in peace and harmony. I know it sounds trite, but it’s exactly what we do. “By singing in a choir, regardless where (church, community, university, secondary school, etc.), music becomes the conduit that brings us together in a very safe and equal environment. “We come together in song; everything else about individual choir members is irrelevant. We come together in worship, in song, in prayer, to learn and to be better citizens of this world.
“We believe singing in a choir and other creative arts can promote healthy aging,” (says Dr. Julene Johnson, a University of California at San Francisco professor). “We were looking for a way for older people to remain independent and engaged. We knew that to have an effect the activity had to be meaningful, engaging and challenging. The creative arts do that.”
A similar study on the health benefits of singing for older adults is being conducted in Finland. Preliminary results suggest that community choral singing does indeed provide a better quality of life for participants.
Increased lung capacity and greater oxygenation of the blood resulting in improved alertness are all associated with singing. Singing is also good for the brain, especially when memorization is involved. “Singing is of great interest to neuroscientists as it would seem that there is more of the brain given over to the processing of music than almost any other activity,” (says Dr. Graham Welch, professor at the Institute of Education in London.) One of his studies involved four- to five-year-old children and found that those with musical training showed enhanced language abilities and memory for words. There was also evidence that taking part in singing and other musical activities improves certain aspects of non-verbal reasoning, literacy and working with numbers.
So with this evidence that one’s health is improved through singing, how important is singing to our faith as United Methodists?
It all goes back to Wesley’s words “Do all the good you can.” This is the outlet that singers choose to act upon those words. Choir members find their spirituality and their faith through song and through the choral community.
*Christopher Fenoglio works for UMC.org at United Methodist Communications. This feature was first published on June 8, 2017.
Submitted by Nita Clark
they are scary
If your organization or committee has an event to be held at or sponsored by the church, please call the secretary’s office at 903-639-2131, so it can be placed on the calendar, in the bulletin and in the newsletter.
This will help prevent double bookings at the church.
We will be glad to include a listing of your church meeting or activity in the newsletter, but remember that Debbie must have the information before the first of the month in order to have it in the newsletter.
The Mission Committee and our faithful volunteers have experienced an active spring. Committee member, Robyn Shelton, organized a luncheon for the carnival workers during the Wildflower Festival in April. We served over 35 folks and received many positive comments. Thanks to all who prepared food and served our guest.
Mavis Boyd is continuing to organize a shoe-box project for the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Our church family has generously contributed in the past and this should again be a successful endeavor. If we do not make a summer delivery to the Reservation children, we will make this a part of our Christmas mission this year.
Beginning in July 20, our mobile food pantry will become a stand-alone food pantry in partnership with the East Texas Food Bank. This partnership requires a specific board and name for our pantry. The Church Administrative Council appointed the Food Pantry Board. The Pantry Board conducted its first meeting in May and approved the name of our Pantry: “Shepherd’s Harvest.” We know that our first distribution under the new format could be a bit hectic, but our volunteers have proven faithful and hard working.
If you are scheduled to enter a hospital please let the church office know. Need name of hospital, city and date of check in. This will help Pastor Bill be able to be with you in your time of need.
If you or a family member is unexpectedly admitted to the hospital, please give the church office the same information.
We are on this journey together and communication is key.
The church office is not on the prayer phone chain. Because of this, sometimes we miss information about members’ prayer requests or joys to share.
If you have a prayer request or know of one, please call (903-639-2131) or email email@example.com, the church office. If you call after office hours, please leave a message on the voicemail.
This will help us to know when one of our church family has a special need.
If you have a Thank you to include in the newsletter, please send it to the church office. You may bring it by or email it to me.
Thank you, Deb Kelley
YOUNG CHRISTIAN METHODISTS
Our new young people’s youth group will continue to meet through the summer. We will be taking the 4th of July off so that everyone can take part in community celebrations. Then on the 17th I will be on vacation, so the group will not meet. We will have movie night/parents’ night out on the 11th and the 25th. The group is open to all elementary and pre-elementary youth. Come enjoy and bring friends. If you would like to help with refreshments, please let Dianna know.
The trip through Psalms will continue this month, although we will be taking three weeks off. We will not meet on the 5th due to my teeth getting replaced and on the 12th and 19th I will be on vacation. We will meet on the 26th. On that meeting, everyone should have plenty of time to get all the readings done before class meets. Meetings are still at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and of course they are open to all members of the congregation. Come explore the Bible with us.
Pastor Bill Laubenberg
Autopsy of a Deceased Church
On July 3rd at 6 p.m. we will be starting our 4-session book study on the book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 ways to keep yours alive by Thom S. Rainer. Mr. Rainer is a church consultant who has worked with many different churches in different denominations. Through the years, some of those churches have died. In this book, he looks at the characteristics of those churches that have died (does an autopsy) and offers ways to avoid their fates. The book is very well written and easy to read. The study is open to all members of the Abide Committee and other interested members of the congregation. You can get your copy of the book from the church office. The first session will deal with the first 4 chapters, so please read them before attending.
Pastor Bill Laubenberg