First Notes – March 2017

The purpose of this month’s front page is three-fold:  the first is a reminder of the midweek events that will be held during the upcoming Lenten season; the second is to extend the invitation to discuss an upcoming Wisconsin Conference resolution that will be voted upon at the 2017 annual meeting; the third is to sign post an update on the “Five Practices” initiative that Salem will be participating in.

As most of you are already aware, the Lenten journey begins on Wednesday, March 1st—Ash Wednesday.  Our worship, with Communion and the imposition of ashes, will be held at 7:00 p.m.  Over the next five Wednesdays, we will be gathering for worship at 7:00 p.m., as has been the custom at Salem.  The theme of this year’s midweek services will be “The Final Week,” which will look at the important days in the last week of Jesus’ life.  The schedule of topics for each of the five sessions is, as follows:  March 8th — Sunday:  A Day of Triumph; March 15th (Sticky Faith) — Monday:  A Day of Bold Action; March 22nd — Tuesday:  A Day of Confrontation; March 29th — Thursday:  A Day of Remembrance; April 5th — Friday:  A Day of Suffering.  In addition to the worship services, we will hold our Soup and Sandwich meals on those days beginning at 5:30 p.m. and there will be opportunities for study between supper and worship.  I hope that a good number of you will be able to participate in these events over the next several weeks.

Following up with the reminder of the upcoming Lenten activities, I want to extend the invitation to participate in a special study scheduled for March 29th.  Back in 2016, a resolution was passed at the Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting that invited local churches to study a resolution to make the Wisconsin Conference an Immigrant Welcoming Conference.  After a year of study, a vote will be taken at the 2017 Conference Annual Meeting to ratify that status (again, a reminder:  resolutions passed at the Association, Conference, or General Synod level are not binding at the local church level).  Our study on March 29th will look at how scripture speaks to the issue of immigration and the ways that Christian communities may respond to it.  It is my hope that our time together will help us to approach this issue through the insights our faith can give us.

Finally, I want to sign post Marsha Meyer’s article about the “Five Practices” initiative that Salem is currently undertaking. According to United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase, thriving congregations embody five practices:  radical hospitality, passionate worship, extravagant generosity, risk-taking mission and stewardship, and intentional faith development.  It is our hope that Salem will learn how to better carry out those practices and discover what it is that God is calling us to become as a congregation.  What we are looking for isn’t one person or group’s agenda on what the church should become, but what God wants us to become.  It is an exciting time for our congregation and I strongly encourage you to read Marsha’s update and the other updates that will come in the months ahead.

Your servant in Christ,

Rev. Jim Hoppert

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