Memorial Day

Written by Pastor Tony Alstott

Memorial Day is when we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.  Since 2013, Wesley Chapel has used the occasion to remember veterans and civilians of the Wesley Chapel family.

 

Roy Wolfe:

          Roy proposed to his wife, Patty, with a ring inside of a Cracker Jack Box. He served during the Korean War and on the New Albany Police Department for 30 years. Roy held every rank during his time at the police department. Along with his career at the department he worked the night shift as security for what is now known as Baptist Floyd. On behalf of the people of Wesley Chapel, the city of New Albany, and this great country, we remember this great servant who lived his life to protect and serve others.

 

Christine Adams:

          Christine had a love for traveling, photography, and going to yard sales. She was married to Don for 25 years and had two children, Michelle and Anthony. It was a joy to baptize her grandson, Jacob, here at our 150 campus. Christine is known by her family as a mother and grandmother that showed the love of Jesus, God’s unconditional love.

 

Elizabeth Sammy Slider:

            Sammy was married to Warren and they had a daughter, Beth. She was a member of Tri Kappa and Pi Beta Phi at Indiana University. Warren and Sammy were faithful in their worship until her health prevented them from attending.  When she needed nursing home care her husband joined her there at Wedgewood.  When I would visit her she would always end our conversation with “Thank you for taking the time to come see me.”  

 

Jason Roehm:

          Jason met his wife, Janice, while cruising on January 1, 1969. They married and had three children: Julie, Jennifer, and Justin. He was a tool and dye maker for General Electric Company for 37 years. Jason loved serving Jesus and went to Guatemala twice to serve at La Senda. He delivered worship DVDs to shut-ins. He made it clear to me that if I said anything about him to say this: All Glory to God.

 

Jim Rutherford:

            Jim grew up on Blackiston Mill Road, the same road his mother grew up on. He married Neva in 1973, and they had two children: Eric and Travis. Jim’s love language was gift giving and he showered Neva with gifts. He always had a Band-Aid with him in case anyone would need it. He said, “When I look back on life I realize how blessed I’ve been.  I didn’t always realize it at the time.  And I can say that even today, four months past a cancer diagnosis, I’m blessed.  I have family and friends who love me and show it.  I have people praying for me that don’t even know me.  Each day I pray for a good day.  Each night I thank God for giving me a good day.  If it has been a bad day, I try to find the good in it and thank God for the good in the day that I have had.  When I go to bed at night I thank God for a blessed life and for his protection tomorrow.”

 

Helen Collins:

          Helen loved to eat cheeseburgers at Duffy’s on Main Street. She spent hours playing marbles, jacks, and hopscotch. She and her sister were known for their whistling. She had one son, Larry, and two daughters, Lynn and Diane. She was a lifelong member of Wesley Chapel and participated in the Mary Martha circle. I will remember her hearty laugh.

 

Hazel White:

          Hazel was the oldest member of Wesley Chapel when she passed away earlier this year. Her special relationship with her grandfather became the model of what kind of mother and grandmother she wanted to be to her son, David, and her grandsons, David and Andy.  Hazel was a faithful member of Wesley Chapel.  She attended Tuesday Bible Study and the Mary Martha Circle. She also put together bus trips for the people of Wesley Chapel with the greatest trip being a trip to the Holy Land where she got to walk where Jesus walked.  Today she is walking the streets of heaven with Jesus. 

 

Earl Balmer:

          Earl was a young 80 year old when he repented of his sins, professed his faith in Jesus, and was baptized before the congregation of Wesley Chapel. He was married to Mary and they had a daughter, Bonita. During a Wesley Wednesday dinner, Earl’s daughter Bonita told me it was her son, Chase, who suggested that the family start attending church.  Their plan was to look around for the right church.  The first church they came to was Wesley Chapel and they never “looked” anywhere else.  When he died, he was welcomed by Jesus to eternal life.

 

Dick Webster:

Richard “Dick” Webster was the oldest of three children. He spent summers on the farm of his aunt and uncle in Iowa. Dick was grateful for godly parents who took him to church and introduced him to Jesus Christ. In 1997, Dick went on an Emmaus Walk that deepened his faith. Later that year, he married Beth. They moved to New Albany to be closer to his daughter, Betsy, when his health started to decline. Dick and Beth joined Wesley Chapel the year we celebrated our 200th birthday. As Dick’s health continued to decline he expressed one regret, that he did not say, “I love you” more often.  Ironically, Dick’s last words were, “I love you, too.”  Today we remember Dick Webster.

 

Rosemary Denison:

            Rosemary grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same school as her husband Russ. They were high school sweethearts and married in the parsonage of Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church on Spring Street. Russ and Rosemary had two sons, Rusty, Scott, and a daughter, Connie. They joined Wesley Chapel in 1950 and were faithful members.

Juli Hardy:

            When Juli was born she was diagnosed with a soft bone condition. She avoided high contact sports and games, but that didn’t stop her from being involved in school. She had many friends and loved to be with them. Juli met her husband Clete in a Target parking lot. He proposed on the top of a mountain. They had four sons: Christopher, Cameron, Jack, and Grayson. Jack inherited the soft bone disorder and together they were advocates for the organization known as the Soft Bones Community.  Upon Julie’s death, they put out the following statement: “Juli Kimbrough-Hardy was a long-standing and treasured member of our Soft Bones Community.  Juli was a real Champion of Soft Bones and one of the first people to support our efforts when we were a fledgling advocacy organization. We will miss her kindness and willingness to help others.” She was faithful in her attendance and a loving supporter from the background, writing notes of encouragement to so many people. Because of the loss of her child, Christopher, she was special to those in our congregation and in our community because she reached out to the loss momma’s to give them comfort and hope.

 

Each of these loved ones put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, believed that Jesus died on the cross for their sins, and believed in the resurrection.  Jesus promises us that he is preparing a place for each of us and that when it is time, he will come and get us and take us to the place he has prepared for us.  Today, we celebrate God’s promise in Jesus Christ that our loved ones continue to live in God’s presence and in our memory.


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Graduation Gifts for Seniors That are Actually Meaningful (and Don’t Break the Bank!)

Written by

Every year, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and faith leaders face the same question:

How do I celebrate my seniors (and stay on budget)?

I mean, sure a coffee mug or a bulk crate of Ramen Noodles is a great gift and much appreciated, but is there something we can do that carries a little more hope or encouragement or celebration?

Never has this question felt more pressing than this year. There’s no question, the class of 2020 has gotten a raw deal.

Prom? Cancelled.
Senior Night? Gone.
Graduation? On . . . Zoom.

In light of everything that has been lost, it’s never felt more important to celebrate seniors (yes, with gifts!) in a way that is personal and meaningful. I feel that, too. That’s why I’ve put together a list[1] of senior gifts that can make a student feel celebrated and encourage them all year long.

1. Starting Now: A 30 Day Devotional for becoming who you want to be in College

Of course this is my first pick. I wrote this 30 day devotional (along with my friend, Gerald Fadayomi) because we believe, at a time when students may feel most lost, we want them to have something tangible to point them the right direction. Starting Now is an interactive journal that helps graduates figure out who they want to be in six few key areas: Community, Identity, Faith, Integrity, Freedom and Service. You can find Starting Now on our Parent Cue Store.

2. Before You Go by Gerald Fadayomi

A perfect read for the summer after senior year when a student is not quite gone, but thinking about what the next phase of life could look like. Find Before You Go, here.

3. A gift made BY seniors and FOR seniors

Carry117 is changing Ethiopia by providing women with a sustainable job and skill which allows them to provide for themselves and their family. These earrings, specifically are made by high school seniors who have aged out of the orphanage system but haven’t finished high school yet. Proceeds provide for the girls so that they can finish high school and get on with changing the world.

4. Words to take with them

Words always matter, but they matter more when we are in uncertain situations. Ask family members, coaches, teachers and mentors to write a short note of encouragement to your seniors and put them in a beautiful box to take with them into the next phase of life.

And since sometimes the budget is a big flat zero, here are a few COMPLETELY FREE ideas for great senior gifts.

5. A team to cheer them on!

Research shows a key indicator of success for young people is the number of mentors and trusted adults in their lives. Why not give your graduate the gift of a team? Ask them to choose five adults who they trust to encourage them, cheer for them and advise them for the first semester after high school. Those adults can sign up at OnMyTeam.org. You can even print out these FREE POSTCARDS to make the ask! FREE Devotionals for College Orientation:

6. FREE devotionals for college orientation:

College orientation is supposed to be exciting, hopeful and fun, but for many graduates it can be an apprehensive time with too many unknowns. As seniors go off for their first college experience, it can be helpful to give them words to anchor them. That’s why we wrote devos just for college orientation. If you want to be fancy, have them printed and put them in a nice envelope along with a Starbucks gift card or their favorite snack.

[1] This list is completely and totally biased and represents what I want for the small group of seniors I’m currently leading. It is not an exhaustive list (but who wants to read that much anyway?)


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Not in My Backyard

Written by Jim Moon, pastor of Park Memorial in Jeffersonville.

 

I would like to address the spiritual implications of this conversation. I’d like to say that I have no right, nor am I attempting to force my religious convictions on people who do not follow Jesus Christ. I am speaking strictly to those who would call themselves a follower of Christ and who have a church that they call home. Jesus’s existence as the Messiah was intended to “bring good news to the poor” (Is. 61:1). Jesus would never utter the mantra “Not in My Backyard” out of his mouth. The idea that any group of Christians would say, “We don’t want them here,” in reference to any group of vulnerable people indicates the group might not know what it means to be a follower of Christ. 

 

Matthew 25:31-46 should be one of the most informative parables to our Christian conscience. This passage speaks to the way the King will recognize his followers when he returns to take them to be with him where he is. The King will recognize his followers by the way they feed the hungry, the way they give water to the thirsty, the way they invite strangers into their homes, the way they clothe the naked, the way they look after the sick, and the way they visit those who are in prison. The bottom line is that the way the King will recognize his followers is by the way they treat the “least of these.”

 

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Ever since God gave us the context of the whole world in which to work, Christians have been trying to limit its scope. They think to themselves, “God cannot mean that he wants me to reach the person I don’t like. God cannot mean that he wants me to broker forgiveness for the murderer, for the drug addicts, or even for people that don’t look like me, smell like me, and act like me.” Exclusion of people is not a Christian concept.

 

If you have made it your mission to exclude others, then the question that Jesus asked Peter applies to you, “Do you love me?” If you know of Jesus’ love for you, then you know Jesus’ love has no bounds (John 21:15-17). Jesus is always invitational. Jesus would be inviting people into his neighborhood because he values people more than property. Jesus would minister to the needs of the vulnerable and do everything in his power to protect public safety at the same time. Jesus always invites the stranger into his presence. If our faith isn’t in alignment with Christ’s teachings in this matter, then we need to question whether we are really the disciples we think we are. 

#graceprevails #homelesspeoplematter #followJesusexample #pleaseshare


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May 17 Worship Reservation and Re-entry Plan

Dear Friends,

I pray this finds you healthy as we navigate the pandemic. As disciples of Jesus we are called to follow Him through uncertain times. We are sustained by the hope of the Gospel, which tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:38-39).

 

I am writing to you today to inform you of

  1. Our Sustainability during the stay-at-home order and
  2. Our plan to begin Phase 1 of the Re-entry plan to have physical assembly

 

Sustainability

  1. We are making disciples. Two people made a profession of faith last week and were baptized. Five people will become members of Wesley Chapel this month.
  2. On-line worship is reaching over 1000 people each Sunday.
  3. Sunday School continues to be offered through ZOOM.
  4. Youth and Children’s ministry continues to happen with electronics and social media. Our youth and children’s leaders are doing a great job.
  5. We continue to maintain sustainability through on-line giving and USPS mail. You may give online by following this link: https://onrealm.org/wesleychapel/-/give/now or by mailing a check to Wesley Chapel, 2100 Highway 150, Floyds Knobs, Indiana, 47119.
  6. We have applied and been notified that we will receive a loan under the Payroll Protection Program. The loan can be forgiven if we apply 75% of the loan to payroll. This will help us keep all our employees at their current status for eight weeks.

 

Re-entry: Phase 1

We hope to implement Phase 1 of the Wesley Chapel Re-entry plan on May 17 provided that Governor Holcomb, Bishop Trimble, and the Wesley Chapel leadership team maintain the current timetable for implementation.

 

  1. Phase 1 Protocol
      1. Vulnerable individuals should continue to abide by the stay-at-home protocol. CDC guidelines consider vulnerable individuals as people “with serious underlying health conditions, including high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, asthma, and those whose immune system is compromised such as by chemotherapy for cancer and other conditions requiring such therapy.” (whitehouse.gov)
      2. Masks will be required. Wesley Chapel will have masks at the door.
      3. Practice good hygiene, wash your hands, and minimize contact with surfaces.
      4. Individuals who are sick or have a fever of 100.3 or higher need to stay home.
  1. Phase 1 Worship
      1. Physical assembly worship will start May 17: Traditional at 8:30 am, Modern at 9:45 and 11:00 am.
          • Worship capacity under social guidelines is 100 plus servants.
          • Reservations must be made through REALM or by calling 812.944.2570 by 2:00 pm by the Wednesday prior to service.
          • Reservations will be taken one week at a time.  To make reservations click here.
          • Groups of chairs will be six feet apart to allow couples and families to sit together while maintaining social distancing.
          • Physical contact will be limited.
          • Bulletins will not be available.
          • Offering baskets will be place near the exits.Chairs will be sanitized between services.
      2. Kid’s rock for Kindergarten through 4th grade at 11:00 am in Room 118
      3. Online worship through YouTube and Facebook Live at 8:30 and 11:00 am. You may find us online at the following link: youtube.com/c/WesleyChapelUMC.
      4. Online Kid’s Rock for all 4th graders and younger on Facebook. Find us on Wesley Chapel Kids of Southern Indiana at 11:00 am. Send a request to join the page.
      5. Youth and children are invited to worship with parents.
      6. No nursery will be available during worship.
      7. Only the first floor will be open. Enter through south entrance and follow flow pattern.

 

  1. Phase 1 Sunday School
      1. Sunday School will continue by ZOOM after 1:00 pm. Each class sets its own time.
      2.   Youth and children will continue Facebook Live and ZOOM. Check with your leaders.

 

  1. Phase 1 Activities
      1. All events scheduled for May have been cancelled. New events can be scheduled but event planners must consider new protocol of social distancing.

 

  1. Vacation Bible School
      1. Our Children’s Outreach team is looking to offer a virtual VBS in June. More details will be coming from the team.

 

The leadership team will continue to monitor the situation and will make decisions for future Wesley Chapel gatherings and events on a weekly basis. The Wesley Chapel Church property has been, and will continue to be, thoroughly cleaned and sanitized regularly. We are committed to providing a safe environment for everyone who uses this facility. Doors, handrails, windows, and all surfaces will be regularly cleaned. For anyone using the facility hand sanitizer has been placed throughout the building. Please continue to pray for our church, for our leaders, for the people in our communities, and for the world.

 

Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Tony Alstott


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Graduation in Light of a Pandemic

Written by Rhonda Alstott

There’s been a lump that sits in the back of my throat these days. You know the kind that if you don’t swallow back hard enough the tears will just flow? Yesterday was one of those days I couldn’t keep it down.  It was graduation cap and gown pickup for my son Caleb. My Man-child. My Thing #4.  Caleb, the one child I struggled with years of infertility for and the one who we were blessed with after many years of prayers. The craziest toddler I’ve ever raised. My sweet, sweet boy is now 18, and it’s his time to walk the stage.  He welcomed Tony and I to go alongside him to get his drive thru package of cap and gown, along with his beautiful graduation announcements, complete with May 31st date.   We join the cars lined up outside in the school parking lot, the rain pouring, the wind blowing, and I can’t swallow it down anymore.  The tears flow as NAHS staff hand Caleb his items through the window with masks on.  I sit the yard sign next to me in the back seat and sigh and exclaim “This is so crazy. I still can’t believe this is all happening. I’m sorry Caleb, this isn’t how I ever thought your last month of school would look like.”  He gently pats my leg… “It’s ok mom.”  So true to sweet Caleb’s personality. We arrive home and Tony says, “Don’t put the yard sign out in this storm.  It won’t stand a chance in this wind.  Wait.”
 

“Wow. Ain’t that the truth” is all I can think… what a storm we are living through right now.  It affects our minds, emotions and our physical stamina.  Caleb was born just 3 months after another storm, 9-11.  He was born into a country at war with terrorism. His life has been lived differently than my older three children this side of the towers falling. The current pandemic will serve as the towers falling for a new generation.  The storm we find ourselves in at this point will change our landscape. So many metaphors…what buildings will be left standing? What trees will fall? How long will power be out? Can we face this new reality with a renewed faith and hope in Jesus?  Has our house been built upon the rock or sand? 

 

 My preparation for leading my classes this week via Zoom has led me to two familiar instances when the disciples encountered storms and how Jesus met them in the midst. (Mark 4:35-41, Matthew 14:24-33).

 

 In Mark, their fear was met with Jesus asking them “Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?”.  The antidote to fear is faith in Jesus.  There are times where my fear grows greater than the presence of God in my life, but in the end, I hope, like the disciples, I ask the question “Who then is this man?”, and in answering find my fear no match for Jesus and the presence He brings in my life.  In Matthew, when I feel myself sinking in the storm, as Peter did, when he took his eyes off of Jesus, may I remember that when my faith finds me sinking, I can always cry out “Jesus save me”, and regardless of my momentary faith, Jesus will pull me out of the winds and the waves.  

 

It’s been said we are all in the same storm, but different boats.  That rings true with me.  We are not in control of as much as we thought we were.  We are all having to adapt and change.  We all are having our resources stretched whether it is money, time, energy, or space.  I realize my tears yesterday were tears of grief. Of expectations not met.  My tears were about the future and the plans I had made.  All the unanswered questions…the “what abouts?”

 

In Proverbs 16:9 it says, “We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it” – The Message.  As all of us are learning that the way we want to live is totally out of our control, may God give us His grace and peace and the ability to let His presence be larger than our fears in this pandemic storm.
 

 


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Burning Heart

The heart of John Wesley was strangely warmed at Aldersgate. Read 2 Peter 1:4. John Wesley was a pastor without faith.  He had been an expert on religion and ritual.  When he was faced with a near death experience on the open sea he feared for his life.  A group of Moravians sang hymns and prayed.  He was faced with the contrast of the Moravian faith and his own lack of faith.  Moravian pastor, Peter Böhler, was teaching Wesley about Moravian spirituality, which included the belief that Christians have an assurance of faith experienced as love, peace, and joy. Those emotions were in short supply for both John and his brother Charles.  John poured through the Bible for evidence of Böhler’s claims.  John came across 2 Peter 1:4 about God’s promises and other passages about faith.  Charles was first to have an encounter with the Holy Spirit that gave him the faith that John knew he lacked.  John Wesley was really struggling. Three days after Charles’ conversion experience, John records in his journal what happened to him on May 24, 1738:

 

“In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading [Martin] Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”

 

John Wesley would later organize what became the “Methodist” movement.  Wesley Chapel is named after John Wesley.  It is not enough to just go through the motions of religion.  We must put our faith in Jesus Christ.  When we do, God gives us a passion, a burning heart, that rejoices with the assurance of being saved from our sins and having hope for eternal life.
 
Dear God, give me a burning heart.  Give me a faith and an assurance that you are the resurrection and the life.  Send your Holy Spirit to fill me and lead me.  Amen.
 
Pastor Tony Alsott

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