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Free Methodists Stand Against Family Separation

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The history of the Free Methodist Church is rooted in the biblical command to live in holy love. This love comes from God and is available to all. Receiving this love from our Lord gives us a renewed love for people who are marginalized, poor and disenfranchised. Our vision is to disciple every believer with the expectation that they would deliver the whole gospel to every man and woman, regardless of station, race or class (2015 Free Methodist Church Book of Discipline, ¶112).

Free Methodists are proud to be a part of the Evangelical Immigration Table, as their beliefs align with our own. The Evangelical Immigration Table explains “National immigration laws have created a moral, economic and political crisis in America. Initiatives to remedy this crisis have led to polarization and name calling in which opponents have misrepresented each other’s positions as open borders and amnesty versus deportations of millions. As evangelical Christian leaders, we call for a solution on immigration that: Respects the God-given dignity of every person, protects the unity of the immediate family, respects the rule of law, guarantees secure national borders, ensures fairness to taxpayers, and establishes a path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and who wish to become permanent residents.”

The Board of Bishops, along with hundreds of other evangelical leaders, have signed a letter to President Trump that embodies the above beliefs. To read the letter, click here. To view the list of influential signatories, click here.

We invite you to join us in bringing awareness to this important and controversial topic.

Read more about our stance on immigration and how our churches are engaging with migrant communities.

Free Methodist Conversations

LIGHT + LIFE MAGAZINE

Women Clergy Revive in the Rockies

FMWHWCRevivegroup2More than 100 Free Methodists were among the 300 participants in the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy’s Revive conference April 12–15 at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The Free Methodist Church –USA had the largest denominational delegation at the conference, which the FMCUSA co-sponsored with the Brethren in Christ, Church of God (Anderson, Indiana), Church of the Nazarene, and the Wesleyan Church.

Julie Gray, the senior pastor of Aldersgate Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis, became the new president of the organization that supports women in ministry.

“We are about empowering, engaging and equipping women to lead in the church at every level,” said Gray, who is being succeeded by Soo Ji Alvarez — a lead pastor of California Avenue Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California — as the Free Methodist representative to the organization’s board.

Superintendent Alma Thompson gives the Revive conference’s opening message. | Photo by Jeffrey Purganan

Superintendent Alma Thompson gives the Revive conference’s opening message. | Photo by Jeffrey Purganan

Superintendent Alma Thompson gave the conference’s opening message and reminded the women clergy that “we are good figs” (Jeremiah 24) who are loved and called by Jesus.

“I have come to understand that I cannot afford to have a thought in my mind about me that is not in the mind of Christ,” said Thompson, who oversees the Ohio and New South conferences with her husband, Brent, who also participated in Revive.

FM Gathering

Revive allowed many opportunities for Free Methodists to connect with members of other denominations, but for two hours April 13, Free Methodists held their own gathering with lunch, an icebreaker activity that led to the sharing of hilarious stories, and a panel discussion that focused on serious challenges that women clergy face.

Superintendent Pam Braman (second from right) shares in a lighter moment on the Free Methodist Revive panel with Superintendent Alma Thompson (left), Free Methodist World Missions Latin America Area Director Delia Nüesch-Olver (second from left) and Superintendent-elect Amelia Cleveland-Traylor (right). | Photo by Jeff Finley

Superintendent Pam Braman (second from right) shares in a lighter moment on the Free Methodist Revive panel with Superintendent Alma Thompson (left), Free Methodist World Missions Latin America Area Director Delia Nüesch-Olver (second from left) and Superintendent-elect Amelia Cleveland-Traylor (right). | Photo by Jeff Finley

Thompson, Free Methodist World Missions Latin America Area Director Delia Nüesch-Olver, Genesis Conference Superintendent Pam Braman and River Conference Superintendent-elect Amelia Cleveland-Traylor shared their experiences as women in ministry.

Thompson said she was a pastor’s wife in a church that wanted to start children’s ministries and named her the director. As the children’s ministries grew, she eventually received a paid position and developed her leadership skills.

“It was in that role that I realized that I was called to pastoral ministry, because what I really wanted to do more than anything was to talk to people about Jesus,” Thompson said.

Nüesch-Olver got an unexpected start to pastoral ministry. “When I was single, I accidentally planted a church,” said Nüesch-Olver, who has since served in lead and associate pastoral roles, as a university professor, and in national and international denominational positions.

Braman grew up in a denomination that didn’t ordain women, but she attended seminary. She worked on staff at a large nondenominational church for 11 years, wrestled with her call to pastoral ministry, became a Free Methodist pastor and then was elected as a superintendent.

“The Lord has been so gracious at times when I wanted to pitch it all,” Braman said. “There have been people who have come alongside with words of encouragement — often not knowing how much I needed that.”

Cleveland-Traylor led Bible studies in high school and earned the nickname “Reverend,” but she didn’t see herself in a pastoral role at that time. She pursued a medical career and became an obstetrician-gynecologist.

“I held a lot of leadership positions in medicine,” Cleveland-Traylor said. “I was very comfortable leading there, but at church, I would always shrink back.”

After her husband and fellow medical doctor, Michael, became a pastor, she volunteered to be his associate pastor. “In spite of carrying the weight of the ministry with him, I continued to be his associate for a while, and then when I decided I was ready to be his co-pastor, that’s when we started running into trouble,” she said.

Opposition hasn’t stopped Cleveland-Traylor from realizing she does not have to serve as her husband’s associate, and she will begin serving this month alongside Michael as co-superintendent of the River Conference.

Workshops

Several Free Methodists led workshops or appeared on workshop panel discussions. Alvarez led an interactive workshop for pastors and worship leaders on the “Worship Toolbox” that helped participants overcome obstacles in their “current area of ministry as well as learn how to cultivate a thriving worship and creative arts ministry that both touches the heart of God and develops and equips future generations of worship leaders to come.”

Deborah Somerville, the lead pastor of the Greenville (Illinois) Free Methodist Church, was one of three pastors offering different perspectives on a passage in the “Preaching Panel Discussion.”

Free Methodist Elder Rita Nussli, the associate director of Soul Formation — a nonprofit organization committed to the spiritual and emotional health of Christian ministry leaders — led the “Soul Care” workshop that helped participants listen together “to God, discerning the Trinity’s invitation for us and those we serve to make space for God’s grace to transform us.”

Gray; Joanna DeWolf, an elder in the East Michigan Conference; and Gloria Roorda, the pastor of family ministry at Northgate Free Methodist Church in Batavia, New York, were three of the four panelists in the “Mentoring” workshop.

Free Methodist educator Karen Longman, the Ph.D. program director and a professor of higher education at Azusa Pacific University and a senior fellow and former vice president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, led the “Sticky Floors? Stained Glass-Ceilings?” workshop that drew upon her experiences as a woman in executive leadership.

“Anybody that knows the research about organizational effectiveness knows that the more voices age-wise, gender-wise, internationally at the top, the smarter organizations are,” Longman said.

Nüesch-Olver and Pastor Randi Shepherd of Every Day Church in Toledo, Ohio, were two of the four panelists in the “Church Planting” workshop. Nüesch-Olver, who grew up in Argentina, gave more details about her accidental church plant that resulted from connecting with a Cuban woman while serving an internship in Rochester, New York. Nüesch-Olver led the woman and family members to Christ, and they began leading others to Christ. “When we had some 60 new believers, we rented a storefront,” Nüesch-Olver said. “They started calling me pastor.”

Shepherd shared how she and her husband left stable jobs at a church in California to become church planters in Ohio even though she previously had a negative view of church planting.

“We see God’s miracles,” Shepherd said. “If you want to see God do miracles, put yourself in a place where God can do miracles, and put yourself at the end of your rope, or put yourself in a new place where you just say, ‘God, this is all about you.’”

Lived Experience

The conference included a screening of the new 37-minute documentary film, “Lived Experience: Female Pastors in the Free Methodist Church.” The documentary is based on the doctoral dissertation of Roberta Mosier-Peterson, the senior pastor of the Oakdale Free Methodist Church in Jackson, Kentucky. The Study Commission on Doctrine commissioned the documentary, which was funded through contributions from the Board of Bishops and other Free Methodist leaders. To protect the identity of women pastors who shared their sometimes painful experiences, filmmakers used actors to share the true stories of female pastors.

After the screening, Mosier-Peterson answered questions from the enthusiastic and appreciative audience. She expressed encouragement about the response from the Free Methodist Global Overseers Team that had watched the film earlier in the week, and she told the audience members — many who serve in other denominations — to share their voices. Questions included the impact of the #metoo movement on women in ministry.

“Your voice will be heard. I think that there are enough men in authority that are actually listening that we have a window of opportunity, and part of it is because of these cultural things that are happening now,” Mosier-Peterson said.

Visit new.fmcusa.org/conversations/lived-experience-of-female-free-methodist-pastors to watch the documentary for free online.

New Leaders

Julie Gray, the senior pastor of Aldersgate Free Methodist Church, is the new president of the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy. | Photo by Jeffrey Purganan

Julie Gray, the senior pastor of Aldersgate Free Methodist Church, is the new president of the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy. | Photo by Jeffrey Purganan

Along with Gray now leading the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy, other denominational elders are playing key roles. Free Methodists on the Revive Conference Planning Committee included Communications Liaison Beth Cullison, the missionary personnel administrator for Free Methodist World Missions, and Worship Arts Liaison Diana Endicott, an assistant pastor of Northside Community Church in Newberg, Oregon.

But as excited as they are to see Free Methodists taking leadership posts within the clergy organization, Revive participants said they’re even more excited about the increased gender and racial diversity within denominational leader posts as demonstrated at the recent Global Overseers Team meetings in Indiana.

“Something in the atmosphere has changed,” Braman said.

Jim Caviezel to Headline Adoption Fundraiser

jim caviezel, james faulkner © 2017 ctmg. all rights reserved

BY DIERDRE MCCOOL WITH MICHAEL CONRAD

Most people know Jim Caviezel as Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ.” At Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoptionwe know him as an adoptive dad.

Caviezel and his wife, Kerri, are strongly committed to representing Christ well. The Caviezels have adopted three children (all with special needs) putting their pro-life stance into action. At the 11th annual Angels of Destiny dinner, Jim Caviezel will share his personal adoption story along with his powerful testimony regarding his role in the filming of “The Passion of the Christ.”

This Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption fundraiser will be held Thursday, Aug. 30, at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. Doors will open at 6 p.m. for  the mystery pull and auction. The program begins at 7 p.m. Dinner will be provided by the Petroleum Club.

DPA-logoReservation pricing is $125 for an individual and $200 for a couple. Click here to make reservations online. All of the money raised by the Angels of Destiny event will provide life-transforming services to children, women and families in the Oklahoma City community.

Sponsorships ranging from $500 to $50,000 are available for the Angels of Destiny event. For more information, contact Debbie Davis at 405-949-4200 or ddavis@deaconessadoption.org.

Along with “The Passion of the Christ,” Caviezel’s notable roles include Private Witt in “The Thin Red Line,” Detective John Sullivan in “Frequency,” Jim McCormick in “Madison,” Johannes in “I Am David,” Edmond Dantès in “The Count of Monte Cristo,” golfer Bobby Jones in “Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius” and Carroll Oerstadt in “Déjà Vu.” From 2011 to 2016, he starred as John Reese on the CBS television series “Person of Interest.”

Caviezel’s latest role is Luke in “Paul, Apostle of Christ,” which premiered in theaters March 28 and arrives June 12 at digital outlets and June 19 on Blu-ray and DVD. From the studio of “Risen” and “War Room,” the movie tells the story of Paul who transformed from the most infamous persecutor of Christians to one of Christ’s most influential apostles. In this biblical epic from Affirm Films and Sony Pictures, Caviezel plays Luke who risks his life to visit Paul (James Faulkner, “Downton Abbey”) who is held captive in a Roman prison under Emperor Nero’s rule.

But before Paul’s death sentence can be enacted, Luke resolves to write another book, one that details the beginnings of “The Way” and the birth of what will come to be known as the Christian church. “Paul, Apostle of Christ” also features Olivier Martinez (“The Physician”) as the Roman guard Mauritius Gallas, John Lynch (“The Secret Garden”) as Aquila, and Joanne Whalley (“Willow,” “A.D. The Bible Continues”) as Priscilla.

Dierdre McCool is the executive director of Deaconess Pregnancy & Adoption. Michael Conrad is the media specialist for Lovell-Fairchild Communications, which handles publicity efforts for “Paul, Apostle of Christ.”

Top photo credit: Luke (Jim Caviezel, left) and Paul (James Faulkner, right) discuss recording Paul’s teachings in “Paul: Apostle of Christ.” © 2018 CTMG; all rights reserved.

 

Central Christian College of Kansas Announces Presidential Transition

Hal Hoxie

The Board of Trustees of Central Christian College of Kansas is pleased to announce an exciting new opportunity for President Hal Hoxie (pictured at right). Retired Col. Hoxie will be transitioning into the role of president of the Butterfield Memorial Foundation located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Board of Trustees greatly appreciates the strong, dedicated service President and Mrs. Hoxie have provided Central Christian College.

Hoxie has served as president of Central Christian College of Kansas for over eight exciting years. Under his leadership, the college has continued to focus on a Christ-centered education for character, while continuing to execute a long-term strategic plan to ensure campus sustainability. Additionally, President Hoxie has been instrumental in developing an online division that facilitated enrollment growth to over 1,000 students.

During his tenure, President Hoxie has successfully presided over two accreditation visits and has significantly improved the college’s overall financial position. He implemented the College Work Program (CWP), which has had the dual effect of reducing operational costs and allowing students to work while attending college with little to no debt. In correlation with the CWP, and with full support of the board, President Hoxie initiated several small auxiliary businesses that provided job opportunities for students.  These businesses, which include Kids’ Kampus Daycare, Kansas Certification Testing Center, Two Tigers and a Truck, and Heartbeat Coffee, provide 40 student jobs and also supplemental fiscal resources for the college.

Board Chair Dr. Gary Anderson said, “It is with sincere regret, along with a sense of excitement, that we accepted President Hoxie’s resignation. We as the Board of Trustees are very pleased with the progress that has been made under his leadership. We are also excited that he will continue to support our college in his role as president of the Butterfield Foundation. The trustees celebrate President Hoxie’s sense of God’s calling and look forward to a continued relationship in his new role. He and his wife, Kathy, will be sincerely missed.”

As part of its transition plan, the board has appointed the Rev. Dr. Leonard Favara (pictured at left) as interim president. Favara has served the college for over 18 years and has full support of the board to execute the strategic mission of the college during the transition. Anderson said, “Dr. Favara has served extremely well during his tenure as our provost, and we anticipate the same in his role as interim president of Central Christian College.”

Venice Celebrates 40 Years of Miyabe Ministry

IMG_9317BY CHERI SAKAI

The Venice Free Methodist Church in Los Angeles, California, recently celebrated Senior Pastor Jim and Suzanne Miyabe’s four decades of service.

The Miyabes have led a fruitful period of ministry for this resilient congregation, which started out way before World War II but then had to regroup and start from scratch to minister to the many lost and confused but hardworking farm families that moved back to the Venice-Santa Monica area after they left the Japanese-American internment camps following the end of the war.

For this festive occasion with a Hawaiian theme, the church changed from its usually sedate atmosphere to a sanctuary alive with palm trees, a little grass hut, beautiful flowers of many colors and everyone dressed in casual Hawaiian wear. During the festivities, church members reflected on how the couple’s 40-year ministry has helped so many get over the rocky places in their lives.

Angela Meadows began the program by playing her ukulele and singing Pastor Jim’s favorite hymn, which states, “The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell.”

Denise Suzuki Tang shared the many positive experiences she had while growing up at Venice Church with Pastor Jim, Suzanne and the inspirational teachers that convinced her to follow Jesus. Denise and her husband, Rob, left their comfortable lifestyle in Los Angeles to spend the past nine years in Thailand protecting street children from being sold into sex slavery.

Larrow Kaufman told how Pastor Jim officiated at his father’s funeral while he was personally struggling with growing up with a father who was never there for him. Jim simply said to him, “Grace, Larrow, grace.” Growing up at Venice Church, Larrow knew that meant “forgiveness and love.”

It is now “politically correct” to have friends of all backgrounds and races, but Jim’s multiethnic ministry started with him, his wife and his family more than 40 years ago.

Kiku Kubo shared how much it meant to her for Jim to visit her and her husband when he was terminally ill with cancer and then tragically and more recently with her daughter.

I could identify because my husband went through a major heart attack when I flew to Dallas to care for my terminally ill cousin Jill. That was followed by 13 bouts of congestive heart failure over the next nine years and then a major stroke. Pastor Jim was always there to talk and pray with my husband. No matter how sick he was, his hands became very strong as he grabbed Pastor Jim’s hands when he entered the room. They both laughed when Jim said, “What’s going on here, Richard? Even cats have only nine lives.” Somehow my husband sensed Pastor Jim’s spiritual strength and love as he held my husband’s hands and prayed with him and for him.

Thanks to Jim and Suzanne Miyabe, many people at Venice have taken on the ministry of healing, compassion and love.

Cheri Sakai is a longtime member of the Venice Free Methodist Church. Her writing has appeared in The Rafu Shimpo, the nation’s leading Japanese American newspaper.