Between Grief and Joy

Kindred in Christ,

After missing a couple of weeks due to being sick, and then recovering just in time for my week-long family vacation in Hawaii (see some photos above), I am excited to be back with you and preaching this Sunday! A big thank you to all who stepped in and stepped up while I was away. I am thankful in particular to Rev. Judy Schultz, Leo Pacheco, Chris Vincent, Graham Whitehouse, and Dave Campbell for helping our worship services continue in meaningful ways.

This Sunday we will reflect on the transitional spaces that we often find ourselves in, especially during this pandemic, between grief and joy, between losing the things that used to ground us and embracing the new thing that God is bringing about in our lives. By considering Mary Madelene’s encounter with the resurrected Christ (John 20:11-18), we will explore the importance of mourning the past while welcoming the future—a pattern central to the disciple’s encounter with the resurrected Christ. I hope you will join us as we continue in our series Made New.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz

Active Renewal

Kindred in Christ,

I feel as though I have come back to life. I am beyond grateful for this community that has been supportive, generous, and understanding as my wife, Kim, and myself have been out of commission for the last couple weeks after contracting Covid. Thankfully, at this point, we have both tested negative and are regaining strength. In the midst of taking it easy, I have been very excited for a collaboration that is emerging with University Gathering UMC and Michelle Lang-Raymond and Sam Townsend from Acts on Stage (pictured meeting with our worship team above).

After a fruitful conversation with Rev. Dr. Leroy Barber on Church Innovation in March during Enrichment Hour, Leroy connected me with Michelle to begin exploring what a collaboration around worship and change would look like in our setting. One of the things Leroy heard that arose from the conversation in our Enrichment Hour session was the need to expand worship to include new elements to better match the time and context we live in and the folks we are presently trying to reach—a struggle for many mainline protestant churches.

Thus, we have been dreaming and planning with Michelle and Sam about ways that they could help us begin to infuse new elements into our Sunday morning worship gatherings. While Acts on Stage has worked and coached other UMC congregations seeking renewal in worship before, this will be the most elaborate partnership they have ever had. In fact, our vision is to record segments of the worship sessions, interview participants and congregants, and create a video resource for our conference and any church seeking renewal. Indeed, other local churches in our conference already look to us as an example for church renewal in the urban setting, because of the moves we have made with our building renovation, updating our name, and our vision to reach and include more diverse people. We view this collaboration with Acts on Stage not only as bringing innovation to our single congregation, but as a process that could be adapted and hosted by other churches.

The worship partnership will kick off during the four weeks of June. Throughout each Sunday morning in June, you can expect to see some of the Acts on Stage folks alongside our worship team working to mix new ingredients into our familiar worship experience. We are still working on promotional materials and an official description for social media, newsletter, and other outlets. We will share more info here and in other spaces, including what our partnership will look life after the four weeks. I am very excited for this collaboration and move of the Spirit! I hope you will join us during the weeks in June and into the future we are collectively being empowered into.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz

Made New

Kindred in Christ,

I am still running off the high of how good it felt to gather in-person, worship, and host our egg hunt last Easter Sunday! A BIG thank you to all who worked hard to help make these community events happen. We had over 80 folks attend worship and over 20 folks join us on the playground of U Heights for egg hunt, chalking, and photo opportunity with one very special Easter bunny! It was fun to see long time members as well as new folks and new families at all our Easter events!

We hope you will join us in continuing this momentum as we begin gathering for worship once per month, on the first Sunday of the month (sign up / RSVP information below). We will observe closely trends regarding the pandemic and will explore adding more monthly gatherings soon. We also have more intergenerational community events with U Heights in the works.

And to help us continue in the Easter season of regathering and renewal, this Sunday we will start a new worship series titled Made New. Join us on Sundays as we explore Biblical stories of renewal and the ways that God is making us new as individuals and as a collective today.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz

Easter Sunday Worship Services and Egg Hunt

Join us in celebrating the resurrection and the use of our new name (University Gathering UMC) for the first time! We plan to host two in-person and identical services on Easter Sunday, 4/17, 9am and 10:30am, at the University Mason Lodge (4338 University Way NE). By facilitating two in-person gatherings, we hope to be able to host everyone that would like to attend, while providing socially distant seating. You are welcome to sign up below to attend one of the gatherings in person or plan to join us online at 10:30am.

RSVP for Easter Sunday 9:00am Service

RSVP for Easter Sunday 10:30am Service

Also, we ask that you read our safety protocols before attendingthanks!

Parking Instructions
If you are driving, feel free to park for free at the University Bookstore parking lot (entrance on the corner of 15 Ave NE & NE 43rd St.). The entrance of the Mason Lodge is about half a block north of 43rd St on University Way. If you would like or need assistance walking from the parking lot before service starts, please let office@utemple.org know, and we will connect you with a greeter that will escort you to the building.

Easter Egg Hunt
Join us at 12:30pm on Easter Sunday, 4/17, on the Lawn of U Heights (5031 University Way NE) as we host an Easter Egg Hunt! There will be a group of us that will walk over after the end of our second worship service.

Confessing the Sin of Racism

Kindred in Christ,

Last Sunday we began our Lenten sermon series, Unraveling Racism, and I shared the above quote by activist and leading scholar on discriminatory policies in America, Ibram X. Kendi. While not a theologian, Kendi, raised in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, points us to a logic that is central to the Lenten season: denial of sin leads to further pain and oppression while confession of sin leads to change and our collective liberation.

Join us this week as we continue exploring what it means to follow Jesus in the face of systemic racism and work together to repent and seek change in our city and in ourselves.

Alongside you,

Rev. Paul Ortiz