Author's details

Name: FivePractices
Date registered: April 9, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Five Practices: MissionCast Celebrates Six Seasons — January 30, 2013
  2. Five Practices: UMCOR Disaster Response Information: Hurricane Sandy — November 6, 2012
  3. Five Practices: Saint Paul’s UMC moves into new worship center — October 5, 2012
  4. Five Practices: Hundreds of youth go to work in Joplin — August 21, 2012
  5. Five Practices: 202. Returning Home — July 24, 2012

Author's posts listings

Jan 30 2013

Five Practices: MissionCast Celebrates Six Seasons

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MissionCast Celebrates Six Seasons

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Nov 06 2012

Five Practices: UMCOR Disaster Response Information: Hurricane Sandy

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UMCOR Disaster Response Information: Hurricane Sandy

Click here to download the Windows file (wmv 70mb; right-click and download)

Click to download Mac file (mov 70mb; right-click and download)

UMCOR is in contact with our Caribbean partners as well as those on the East Coast of the U.S. to stay aprised of damage and needs. Current need is funding for response: Text “Response” to 80888 to donate $10 now or Donate Online to Advance #901670, which will also cover needs in the Caribbean region. Be sure to choose “Hurricanes 2012” from the drop-down menu.

For up-to-date Hurricane response information check the Creative Ministries site at or contact our Disaster Response staff person, Dan Steska.

United Methodist Communications has partnered with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) to create a bulletin insert for churches in your annual conferences. Two files are attached (full color and grayscale). Please share as needed.

Color (pdf)
Black and White (pdf)


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Oct 05 2012

Five Practices: Saint Paul’s UMC moves into new worship center

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As members of Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church filed out of the 10 a.m. service Sunday, the familiar strains of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” started up from the musicians on the stage.

But the lyrics had been modified to welcome church-goers to their “sweet home Saint Paul’s,” which was host for Sunday morning services in a brand-new worship center for the first time since the building at 2423 W. 26th Saint was destroyed in the May 22,
2011, tornado.

“It’s definitely a celebration,” said Denise Steele, a 10-year member of the church, as she left the service. “It’s definitely a ‘welcome home’ for all of us.” Lead pastor Aaron Brown
echoed those sentiments. “It’s coming home,” he said during a brief tour of the new worship center on Friday. “I imagine it’s like folks who’ve had their home destroyed. It’s just a sign of hope, a sign of rebirth.”

Just a building
It’s a rebirth that, like much of Joplin, has its roots in the destruction caused by the 2011 tornado.

One person was in the church building on May 22, cutting strawberries in the kitchen. She
was unhurt; the tornado ripped apart the worship center and

heavily damaged much of the rest of the building, which includes a gymnasium, offices, classrooms and a children’s area.

Later that evening, Brown worked his way through the devastated neighborhood to the church. “‘It’s just a building,’ that’s exactly what I said,” he said of his arrival to the ruined worship center. “It’s just stuff. The church is not a building. The church is people on a mission doing their best to follow Jesus.”

Brown said the less damaged part of the building became a triage center that night as residents from the neighborhood were transported there to get their cuts stitched and their broken bones set. The tables that had been used for children’s crafts during Sunday school earlier that day were being used as makeshift stretchers and surgical props for injured survivors, he said.

The congregation, which averages between 800 and 1,000 people each Sunday, held worship services at The Bridge in southeast Joplin on the Sunday after the tornado and then moved to Ozark Christian College for the following five months. Since last October, church members have held their services inside their repaired and remodeled gymnasium,
even as the reconstruction of their worship center continued just a few feet to the south.

Steele, of Carl Junction, said seeing the ruined building had been “devastating,” but in worshiping with her church family elsewhere, she never felt displaced. “We knew it wasn’t the end” of Saint Paul’s, she said.

Cleanup and rebuilding

Other churches and volunteers from the community turned out to help clean up debris and salvage items from the rubble. Members of Saint Paul’s, meanwhile, also rallied, working after the tornado with groups such as Joplin Area Habitat for Humanity and Restore
Joplin and logging about 10,000 volunteer hours per month, Brown

“Our mission is to love God, love others and serve the world,” he said. “They (church members) just knew they needed to work through their small groups to start connecting people. They just did what they always do: They go out and serve the world.”
The congregation also had to work through the loss of six of their own: Glenn and Lorie
Holland, who had just celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary at Walt Disney World; Will Norton, who had just graduated from Joplin High School; Judy Smith, who had owned the Second Hand Rose Consignment Store; Nancy Douthitt, who had owned Douthitt Grocery Store until 1987; and Wendy Istas, who was involved with the Stained Glass Theatre.
Brown said his congregation has supported the victims’ families  and friends since the tornado and taken special care to recognize the lives lost at various points during the past 15 months, including the one-year anniversary.

A time for everything

Today, the new 650-seat worship center is similar in design to the former, with the addition of a balcony, Brown said. The lobby just outside is slightly larger. In addition to volunteers forming a “brigade of vacuum cleaners, Swiffers and dust rags” over the past few days to spruce up the church, construction crews on Friday were working to put the finishing touches on the building.

At the front of the worship center is the metal cross and waterlogged Bible that were dug out of the former building. The Bible, still stuck with small pieces of shingle and insulation, is open to the page as it was found in the rubble: Ecclesiastes 3, which talks about “a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.”
Ryan Meier, of Webb City, said he, his wife and two young children knew they had found a home at Saint Paul’s when they first visited the church about four years ago. The devastation of the building by the tornado was difficult to see but not impossible to mend, he said after Sunday’s 10 a.m. service.

“Basically there was a hole in my heart for the church, but we believed that we were strong enough to overcome that,” he said. “Coming back and worshiping in
this section of the building does feel like coming home, in a way.
I mean, I had tears coming to my eyes.”

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Aug 21 2012

Five Practices: Hundreds of youth go to work in Joplin

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This summer Joplin may be the busiest place in the state. There is no summertime slow- down there, as the town is a bee hive of activity from teams of volunteers come to assist with tornado recovery. A significant part of that effort is Missouri Conference United Methodist youth summer work camps, which are contributing about 750 volunteers to the effort this summer.

The youth are descending on Joplin for four weeks. They are staying primarily at Byers Avenue UMC, but some are also staying at First UMC and Christ Community UMC.

St. Stephen in Troy, Wellsville/ Almond and Open Hearts joined together to make the trip down to Joplin. Mark Spence, pastor at Wellsville, has been on several mission trips like this, but this was his first as pastor. His youth had been building access ramps, staining decks, roofing and interior work.

“There’s definitely a lot of need here everywhere we go,” he said.

The days begin early, and involve jobs ranging from painting and debris clean-up to finish carpentry work. The job assignments come from the Missouri Conference VIM office, Americorps or Rebuild Joplin. Americorps has been working with as many as 1,000 volunteers a week this summer in Joplin.

“It’s very much a cooperative effort,” said Missouri Conference Youth Director Beverly Boehmer. She has had youth teams working at 20 different sites all over Joplin. Some of the projects involve rehabbing houses that were not damaged by the tornado.

“Some people who lost their homes in the tornado have had to move into other houses in Joplin that weren’t in the path of the tornado, but are in bad condition due to lack of maintenance,” Boehmer said. “We’re helping get those houses in better condition.”

Kate Fox, a volunteer youth worker from Salem in Ladue, has been moved by the plight of Joplin. “It’s been amazing to hear first-hand the stories from people who experienced and survived the tornado,” she said. “We’ve prayed with them, and they’ve expressed such hope and gratitude. It gives us some perspectives on our own lives.”

Abby Addleman was in Joplin with her youth group from Centenary UMC in Cape Girardeau. She had been to Joplin last fall with other volunteer teams. She was impressed with how the town has been cleaned up. “Last fall there was still stuff everywhere,” she said.

Alex Gentle was part of Addleman’s group. It was his first time in Joplin.

“After having seen all of the pictures from Joplin, I expected things here to look worse than they are,” he said. “They’ve made great progress. There is still a lot of work to do, though.”

Eric Peters, a youth from Salem-in-Ladue on his fourth mission trip, agreed. “I’ve seen pictures of the rubble, so it’s great to see everything being rebuilt now,” he said as he worked to frame in a new window on a house. “Joplin is going to be a new town with a bright future.”

This was the first mission trip for Mitch Elliot from Salem-in- Ladue. He spent the week scraping and then painting a house. “It’s been fun,” he said. “I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my friends than I normally would at home.”

Missy Nance, Joplin Volunteers In Mission Coordinator for the Missouri Conference, said she is booked with teams through the second week of August, and things start getting back to normal after that. “I do have teams scheduled for every month except November and December,” she said. “Some have already scheduled for the summer of 2013.”

An Americorp representative expressed that as summer begins to wind down, there is a need for smaller teams of skilled workers. There were also Missouri Conference youth work camps in Colorado and Oklahoma, bringing the total number of participants (youth plus adult sponsors) to about 1,200.

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Jul 24 2012

Five Practices: 202. Returning Home

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My family and I were delighted to receive the news late on Friday night of our assignment to serve the Missouri Conference for the next four years.   It’s a privilege to work with the laity, pastors, and congregations of Missouri.  We’ve explored new approaches to ministry during these last several years, and I pray that these next four allow us the time to deepen and ripen many of our most fruitful initiatives.   I hope our work together serves God and serves the mission of the church given us in Christ.  I hope our time together strengthens congregations, and helps reach more of our neighbors with the gift and demand of God’s grace.    With two sons attending the University of Missouri and Esther working in the library at the University, our whole family is thrilled with news of this assignment.  Thank you for your prayerful support and encouragement during these weeks of anticipation by us all and of discernment by the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee which determined this assignment.

I want to express my deep appreciation for the delegation that represented the Missouri Conference laity and clergy during Jurisdictional Conference.  Their positive spirit, clarity of purpose, and focus on the mission of the church fostered an atmosphere of collaboration and discernment during the election of bishops as well as during the periods marked by difficult issues and hard decisions.  My gratitude to Cody Collier and Brian Hammons for their conscientious leadership of the team.

I’m particularly proud of Rev. Bob Farr, and for his offering of his leadership for the Episcopacy.  Three fine leaders were elected to the Episcopacy.  It’s easy to imagine Bob among them bringing his excellent gifts, passions, and insights, but that did not happen.  He represented the Missouri Conference well, and he did it with energy, clarity of purpose, good-humor, and graciousness.  We gladly welcome him home as we work together on the next steps in our journey as a conference as we seek to lead congregations to lead people to active faith in Jesus Christ.

I’m also deeply grateful for the fine work and wise leadership of Cody Collier and Larry Fagan who represented the Missouri Conference on the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee.  This year more than most, their service on this committee has demanded immense amounts of time, work, and prayer, and I give God thanks for their love of the church and for their unwavering commitment to Christ.

I’ll be taking some time for rest and renewal during the weeks to come, and then I look forward to our renewed work together as we organize our new leadership teams in the fall as we take on the task given us in Christ, the work of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Yours in Christ,

Robert Schnase

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Apr 25 2012

Five Practices: Remember the Future: Praying for the Church and Change

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By Bishop Robert Schnase

Coming mid-May

Buy it from Cokesbury

Bishop Schnase’s 30-day Remember the Future series inspired you as we counted down to General Conference. Now as Annual Conference season draws close, share the insights in a paperback volume perfect for reading together as leadership teams, boards and covenant groups to understand more clearly the “why” of congregational ministry and the internal resistances and external challenges to the mission of the church.


Explore together how congregations can change to become more fruitful for the purposes of Christ. Remember the Future:  Praying for the Church and Change prepares leaders of congregations and conferences for courageous new conversations with readings that draw us toward renewed vision, cultivate hope and keep us attentive to the mission of Christ.




“Bishop Schnase helps us to embrace change with faith, vision, hope and grace. I intend to make wide use of this book in my ministry with congregational leaders.”

— Gregory V. Palmer, Resident Bishop, Illinois Episcopal Area


“The biggest issue facing local churches, annual conferences and the national church is whether we love Jesus enough to change. We must remember the changes our ancestors made and make similar changes to remain faithful in the future. Robert Schnase has given us significant help on that journey.”

— Scott Jones, Resident Bishop, Kansas Episcopal Area

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