By Rick Strunk

Nurturing has always been an important part of how OrangeUMC operates.

In fact, it is part of what makes this church special and is even delineated in the OrangeUMC mission statement, that “Orange will develop fully devoted followers of Christ by welcoming, proclaiming, encouraging, nurturing, serving and sending.”

The Nurturing ministry team at OrangeUMC takes this seriously, and the vision for the team is “for every person who is a part of OUMC to feel connected, supported and loved well.”

That can be more challenging for a larger church that has multiple worship services, but one effort that the team undertook during September is what it has been calling its “telecare” ministry.

Associate pastor Wallace Johnson explains the origin of this sort of ministry. “I began to feel frustrated with the number of conversations I had with people who shared with me their deep hurt of not feeling supported by their Orange family during their time of need,” Wallace said. “I heard multiple times in varying words, ‘my loved one died and I never heard one word from my church family asking about me.’ These are the sorts of comments that haunt a pastor’s dreams at night. When I mentioned my experiences to our OrangeUMC Nurture Team, the group agreed we must work to make every person at Orange feel loved.”

After some brief conversation, the team noticed that it was largely people who are not connected to a Life Group who have the greatest potential for feeling disconnected from life at Orange. Wallace noted, “A few people on the Nurture team identified every person in our database who is not actually involved in a Life Group. We then divided up names and called to check in with people to let them know we really do care deeply for them.”

Again, the purpose was simple— just to check in, perhaps answer any questions people might have about the church or its programs, provide an encouraging word and then pass along any prayer requests if the person offered any.

There were some cases that members of the team just had to leave a message if a couple of efforts to call did not result in anyone picking up.  And there were some folks that were just really surprised to get such a call.

“I talked to one member of the church that seemed to be a little hesitant,” said one member of the nurturing team who participated in the calling, “as though she was wondering what I was going to ask her to do or mention giving or something like that.  I finally said, ‘You may be waiting for the other shoe to drop but there isn’t one!’ We are just calling to check in, make sure folks are doing well and respond to any needs or questions you might want to share.  After that, the conversation changed and she didn’t seem worried about what she ‘might have to do’.”

The idea for this kind of ministry has been around for a while. “ ‘Telecare’ was an idea we received from a long-time Orange member who had led a similar event many years ago,” said Wallace. “Telecare is simple: it is a contact from one of the people on our Nurture team at OrangeUMC with the purpose of checking in on you and your family. There is no hidden agenda or long term plan. We simply want to know how you are doing and let you know this is a place to be loved and nurtured in times of need.”

The Nurturing team is discussing plans to do this again sometime next year.

Angie & Van Haywood Returning to Orange for Heritage Weekend

Heritage Weekend at Orange United Methodist Church is a time to celebrate the great history of this church, founded in 1832.

It’s also a chance for former members to return, recalling good times and seeing old friends— a homecoming.  And that is exactly what it will be for Dr. Van Haywood and his wife Angie, who will provide special music during the tent worship service on Sunday, October 1.

Long-time members of Orange fondly remember the Haywoods, who lived in Chapel Hill from 1983 to ‘93 and were stalwart members of the church during that tenure.

Angie actually helped to start the highly successful Orange Church preschool program and served as its first director for several years, while Van was a gifted Sunday school teacher.  Their musical abilities were also evident as they both sang in the chancel choir and often provided music on special occasions.

The Haywoods will be coming to Orange from Augusta, Georgia, where they are now active members at Trinity-On-The-Hill UMC in Augusta. Trinity is the church where Van grew up, and they both currently sing in the choir while Angie directs a children’s and youth choir.

Music has been important to the Haywood family for a long time. In fact, many years ago Van put together a book for teaching beginning guitar, entitled Learning To Play The Guitar With Christian Songs.  Back during his Orange days, Van often made it available to youngsters at the church to help them learn to play.

It wasn’t lost on his own family, either, as there is great musical talent among their children as well.  The Haywoods’ three children, Lisa, Dave and Michael, are now grown and married, although important formative years were in Chapel Hill and at Orange.

Lisa once was a member of the well-known Junaluska Singers and has taught music in the public schools. Dave is now one of the stars of the hit musical group Lady Antebellum and can be seen performing all over the country.  It also explains where there is a loyal enclave of Lady Antebellum fans among long-time members of Orange!

Currently Van is a professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences at the Dental College of Georgia at Augusta University. He had formerly taught at the dental school at the University of North Carolina, where in 1989 he co-authored the first publication in the world on Nightguard vital bleaching (at-home teeth bleaching) with Dr. Harald Heymann, who at that time was also a member of Orange. Van’s work has led him to lecture in over 30 countries and 30 states.

So many members of the church will enjoy reconnecting with the Haywoods and look forward to seeing them again. But everyone at the special Heritage Weekend worship service will have an opportunity to be blessed by their musical abilities and dedicated service to God.


By Rick Strunk

When I retired from my full-time job with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, one thing that I thought would be fun to do would be to research, design and edit Bible studies on my own.  I’ve led small groups and Sunday school classes for many, many years and used all sorts of different curriculum, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

With my background in athletics, I’ve always enjoyed making the connection between the Christian faith and sports— and there are lots of athletic references in Scripture, too. So the first one I considered was using baseball phrases and seeing how Scripture informs them, things like “out of left field” and “three strikes, you’re out” or “threw me a curve.”  Thus, “From the Ball Park to the Bible” was born, a six-week series that the Cornerstone Sunday school class used in May and June of 2016.

After we finished, I posted a little bit about it on Facebook, and got a surprising volume of responses. Some of those were from pastors whom I know who were curious to see the lesson plans, so I was glad to share them via email.

What I didn’t know at the time was that the Bible study series would turn into a sermon series by the Rev. Kirk Hatherly, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Hayesville, NC.  Hayesville is in the Western North Carolina Conference but about as far west as you can get, in Clay County. It’s just a couple miles from the Georgia state line and about 10 miles from Murphy (as in “from Murphy to Manteo”).

Some of you may remember, too, that some years ago Kirk served as an associate pastor at Orange, where we first met.  Since that time he has had several appointments; Kirk has been senior pastor at Hayesville First since 2005 after a stint in Rockingham County, near Reidsville. I was thrilled but surprised that Kirk thought the lessons were worthy of sermons, and that certainly wasn’t the intent when I created them. But I was excited when I read the manuscripts and saw what he did.

Kirk called me in the spring and asked if I had thought about doing another sports-related Bible study series, maybe using football.  I told him I’d thought about it but hadn’t done much with it, since this idea is more difficult to execute and baseball phrases are more ubiquitous in regular vocabulary.

But we discussed it and so OrangeUMC and First Church in Hayesville are collaborating on “From the Gridiron to the Gospel,” a five-week Bible study.  We talked about some football phrases and I put together some thoughts and verses for study as a point of departure. Kirk reacted, adding some helpful ideas and examples, and so we are working together for something we’ll roll out in September.

This one I’ll plan to use with our men’s Bible study that meets on Thursday mornings, the Band of Brothers, while the Hayesville church will use the same information in a sermon series that month.

This is another example of how the “Methodist connection” can work, although it’s made we wonder if I should have posted anything on Facebook in the first place!

And Kirk has already suggested another possibility for collaboration in the future. We will see where God takes this.

Stephen Ministers Are Available To Help

By Rick Strunk

Orange United Methodist Church has a number of important ministries available for its members, but there is one very helpful one that may be under utilized.

For many years, Orange UMC has offered its Stephen Ministry to members, providing confidential  care, support and encouragement to people whose lives may have been disrupted. Those circumstances can include most anything— divorce, death, grief, loss of a job or retirement, health problems, loneliness, discouragement, childbirth, questions about God and faith, and so forth.

“Stephen Ministry assistance can be really useful,” says Ginny Kendell, a long-time member of OrangeUMC and a Stephen Minister leader for a number of years. “But there are times we might wonder how many people are aware of this ministry and how it can be helpful.”

The ministry is named for Stephen in the New Testament, considered to be the first Christian martyr. In the book of Acts, Stephen was chosen to provide caring ministry to those in need. Since the time of the Apostles, caring ministry has been considered a hallmark of the Christian faith community.

Stephen Ministers go through some extensive training, a minimum of 50 hours, and these lay caregivers then are equipped to provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care to people in and around our church. Men meet with men and women meet with women.

“Some people may be hesitant to move forward in this kind of formal relationship or accept this kind of help,” says Ginny.  “The model is to meet with the person every week, but sometimes that may be hard or unrealistic.  We are looking at different ways to be able to assist people who want help.”

For instance, a Stephen Minister can serve a person facing hospitalization or the uncertainty of a diagnosis or even a terminal illness.  He or she can assist a person experiencing a personal, family or job crisis or someone who just is in need of a listening friend. The care givers clearly understand they are not licensed therapists or counselors.

Stephen Ministry information states, “Through one-to-one caring and confidential relationships, those who are hurting receive the love and care they need for support through particularly challenging times.”

“It’s not our ministry but God’s ministry,” Ginny notes. “We want to equip people to serve as Stephen Ministers and to help people who want help, to make Orange to truly be a caring congregation.”

Those who receive care from a Stephen Minister need someone to walk beside them, to encourage them, to pray with them and for them, and to help bear their burdens with them. The Stephen Minister offers his or her support through attentive, active listening and a caring presence.

What are some of the challenges that a Stephen Minister faces?  Ginny says, “For me, the biggest challenge personally is trying not to fix the situation for the person, but allowing them to come up with their own solutions and ideas as we discuss.  It’s hard when somebody is in pain to just be there—it’s a great honor, but it’s not easy.  We have to rely on the Holy Spirit.”

Ginny says that the rewards for serving in this capacity are great. “It’s very rewarding but challenging,” she says. “Being in a caring relationship, getting to know someone at perhaps a deeper level, it’s a process that not only helps the care receiver but helps you experience God yourself in a powerful way.”

How can you request a Stephen Minister? You can contact a member of the pastoral staff or a Stephen Leader through the church office at 919-942-2825. You may discuss with them the need for a Stephen Minister for yourself or for someone you know. A Stephen Minister will only be assigned with the permission of the person in need, and under conditions of strictest confidence.

And then, perhaps, the Stephen Ministers at OrangeUMC will be more involved than ever providing the blessings of this kind of care giving.

Singing In Choir Can Have Health, Spiritual Benefits, Says United Methodist Communications Feature

by Rick Strunk

Have you ever thought about the   fact that singing in the Chancel Choir at Orange UMC may have both health and spiritual benefits?

Some of those are elaborated upon in a recent feature story distributed by United Methodist Communications. In fact, you can even read some of them in the United Methodist Hymnal found in the pew racks in the OrangeUMC sanctuary.

There they are, on the seventh page of the hymnal, “Directions for Singing” from John Wesley, the founder of Methodism: “Sing all… Sing lustily and with good courage… Sing in time… Above all, sing spiritually. Have an eye to God in every word you sing… So shall your singing be such as the Lord will approve here, and reward you when he cometh in the clouds of heaven.”

Rewards in heaven? Sounds like a good enough reason to sing in a church choir.

According to the feature written by Christopher Finaglio, what is it about singing that seems to be part of our Wesleyan DNA? How does singing help choir members enjoy a greater understanding of how and why we worship our God, a deeper connection with one’s church and community, and even better health?

“It’s natural for Methodists to sing in harmony. They are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When singing in the key of C and they slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of them, it’s an emotionally fulfilling moment. By joining in harmony, they somehow promise that they will not forsake each other.” – Attributed to Garrison Keillor

Better Worship

A common statement about singing in church is “To sing is to pray twice.” Although the statement is often attributed to Augustine, the actual author is unknown. Still, the sentiment is true. Music is an art form that lifts up ordinary text to another level that inspires us and nurtures our souls.

“Music is an integral part of how we relate to God,” says the Rev. Laura Jaquith Bartlett, program director of the United Methodist Alton L. Collins Retreat Center in Eagle Creek, Oregon, and leader of the Great Hymns of Faith Retreat. “It is how we understand at a deeper level what goes beyond words, what our relationship is with the Divine, and how we are shaped together as a community of faith.”

Of all the art forms, “music is one of the most easily accessible type of art in worship,” says Bartlett. “There’s nearly always an opportunity to open your mouth and make music together with the rest of the people in that service. Right there you’ve got an opportunity to experience the Divine in a different way than just to listen to someone read about God,” she says.

“Christianity is not a solitary religion,” says the Rev. Karen Westerfield Tucker, professor of worship at Boston University School of Theology, “John Wesley certainly made the case that it is a ‘social’ religion — both in its worship and in its concern for the care of the neighbor,” says Tucker.

Better Community

The benefit of singing with and caring for others goes beyond church walls, as many community choirs will attest. In these days of an increasingly polarized culture, music can be a common bond between peoples.

“Through music, we can build community,” says Dr. Jonathan Palant, Minister of Music at Kessler Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Palant is also the founder and director of Credo Choir and Dallas Street Choir.

“We bring people together in peace and harmony. I know it sounds trite, but it’s exactly what we do. In a choral setting, not only are we creating friendships with each other, but the audience can see, between the Dallas Street Choir and Credo, people in different socio-economic groups, skin colors, sexual orientations and religious affiliations,” he says.

“By singing in a choir, regardless where (church, community, university, secondary school, etc.), music becomes the conduit that brings us together in a very safe and equal environment,” says Palant. “We come together in song; everything else (about individual choir members) is irrelevant. We come together in worship, in song, in prayer, to learn and to be better citizens of this world.

Better Health

“We believe singing in a choir and other creative arts can promote healthy aging,” says Dr. Julene Johnson, a University of California at San Francisco professor and founder and director of the Community of Voices study. “We were looking for a way for older people to remain independent and engaged. We knew that to have an effect the activity had to be meaningful, engaging and challenging. The creative arts do that.”

A similar study on the health benefits of singing for older adults is being conducted in Finland. Preliminary results suggest that community choral singing does indeed provide a better quality of life for participants.

Increased lung capacity and greater oxygenation of the blood resulting in improved alertness are all associated with singing. Singing is also good for the brain, especially when memorization is involved. “Singing is of great interest to neuroscientists as it would seem that there is more of the brain given over to the processing of music than almost any other activity,” says Dr. Graham Welch, professor at the Institute of Education in London.

One of his studies involved four- to five-year-old children and found that those with musical training showed enhanced language abilities and memory for words. There was also evidence that taking part in singing and other musical activities improves certain aspects of non-verbal reasoning, literacy and working with numbers. So with this evidence that one’s health is improved through singing, how important is singing to our faith as United Methodists?

“It all goes back to Wesley’s words ‘Do all the good you can,’” says Palant. “This is the outlet that singers choose to act upon those words. Choir members find their spirituality and their faith through song and through the choral community.”

And you might even find that to be true at OrangeUMC! Join us for our Christmas Cantata rehearsals, beginning 9am Saturday, September 16th at Union Grove UMC or at regular Wednesday rehearsals in the Sanctuary.

All Geared Up – Vacation Bible School 2017

The Maker Fun Factory is running full steam ahead with 95 children in grades Kindergarten – 5.  Here are a few scenes from the Big Room over the last 3 days.

Vacation Bible School 2017

OrangeUMC Honors Graduates

by Brad Inman

During Pathways we took time out this past weekend to honor the accomplishments of our High School and College Graduates. As tradition dictates, there was a video montage of pictures throughout the lives of each of our grads, which can be seen here as well as a special bulletin outlining each grad’s school highlights, future plans and significant Bible verse.

Our 2017 graduates are:

Cedar Ridge High School: Madalyn Cappelletti, Kaylee Herbst, Shemar Miles, Griffin Ross, and Ali Sapp

Chapel Hill High School: Taylor Cox, Molly Palmer, and Alexis Tammi

Durham School of the Arts: Zachary Crewse

East Chapel Hill High School: Rebecca Zuo

Orange High School: Mitchell Lopeman

Riverside High School: Matthew James

Trinity School: Josie Cranfill

Wakefield High School: Marcie Gira

Woods Charter School: Alexander Shannon

College Grads honored include:
Carly Collette – UNC Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School
Bronwyn Kircher – Trevecca Nazarene University
Maggie Palmer – UNC Wilmington

We’re so proud of all our graduates, and we will certainly miss them in our OrangeYouth activities. But we are incredibly excited to see all the things that God will do with them and through them in the coming years as they pursue the next chapter in their lives.

This Ministry Can Knit One, Pray Too

By Rick Strunk

You may not have seen them at work, but you may have seen the results of their work.

One interesting ministry that has operated for years at OrangeUMC is the Prayer Shawl Ministry, also known as Knit One, Pray Too (or K1,P2). This ministry, which has been led by Virginia Andrews, combines those who have the talent to knit or crochet along with an strong element of fellowship and prayer, and then benefits people in the Orange church family or far beyond.

The ministry, which includes several ladies participating from Orange and another that comes from a church in Hillsborough, meets on the second Tuesday of the month in the parlor, from September to May. A major item the group produces is a prayer shawl.

The shawls are knitted or crocheted and prayed over while they are produced by the team’s members. The recipient is often a person who may be going through a crisis of some sort, whether it be health related or a divorce or another kind of challenge.

When the shawls are finished, they are brought to an OrangeUMC worship service, placed on the altar and prayed over, and then placed in a bag with a note of encouragement.

Other items lovingly produced by the ministry are baby blankets, created for newborns in the OrangeUMC family or perhaps a baby in a crisis, whether he or she is at Orange or somewhere else. These blankets are also placed in bags with a note of encouragement for the parents and prayed over.

“We have a lot of fun together and enjoy one another,” says Virginia, “but we also believe we are involved in something that can really have an impact.”

It is a ministry that has borne fruit. Over the years the church has received a number of heartfelt thank you messages from recipients of these gifts, coming from both members of the church as well as non-members. They have often indicated how the blanket or shawl served as a tangible reminder both of God’s love and the love of a church family and has become a treasured gift.

There are several different ways to get involved with this ministry team. Virginia reports that the group can always use more people to help produce the blankets and shawls, and if you are interested you can simply contact the church office or use the online portal to indicate your interest.

There is always a need for additional funds to purchase yarn and bags for the ministry, and those donations are always welcome. The gifts can made in memory or honor of someone.

And there is one other interesting need that the ministry has– just to know who might need a prayer shawl or a baby blanket. Often there may be people, either at OrangeUMC or those with whom members of the church may have contact, that would appreciate this kind of gift but we are unaware of the need. So contacting the church office or letting Virginia know at 919-929-3452 who might be a recipient of a blanket or shawl is a great way to provide a valuable service.

You may not have seen them at work, but you may have seen the results of their work. And the next time we see these handmade shawls and blankets on the altar rail at church, perhaps we will have a deeper appreciation of this special OrangeUMC ministry.

Pentecost People

I remember one year as a kid riding the curvy back roads to Ocean Isle Beach from our home in Southwest Virginia. My dad was determined back roads were a more efficient way of traveling. Along the 2 lane 55 mph highway I noticed little blue signs with what I perceived as a burning cross scattered across the landscape of rural eastern North Carolina.

I grew up in a Baptist church. I didn’t know anything of the Methodist church. I didn’t quite care about denominations as a kid, other than the Catholics drank wine and we didn’t.

I asked my parents what the little blue signs with the burning cross meant. They thought it was the name of a church. I found it odd that there were so many signs for the same church in so many places. I didn’t like that their logo was a burning cross. I decided that was a church I would never want to attend.

Prevenient grace is sometimes quite comical.

You may have noticed similar signs scattered across your journeys. The Methodist cross and flame is a standard you’ll find all around the world. The logo is a reminder that we are at our core Pentecost People. We are people who know what it is to receive the fire of the Spirit. This Sunday, June 4th we celebrate the church festival of Pentecost. Check out the story here.

It seems appropriate that we wrap up our sermon series, Can We Talk, on a day when the church celebrates the work of the Holy Spirit. On that day of Pentecost, the people were able to communicate with difficult people. While we can learn techniques and skills for effective communication, I really believe it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that some of these very hard conversations can become a reality. Who are the people in your lives that you feel the Spirit urging you to initiate conversation? This Pentecost we remember the way the Holy Spirit invites groups of people, otherwise unable to understand one another, into communion.

By the power of this Pentecost Holy Spirit of God you can have that hard conversation!  Pentecost is still happening.

OrangeYouth Live Up, In, and Out

By Brad Inman

There’s a model that the staff at the church talks about a lot (and hopefully many of you have heard of it by now too!) called Up, In, and Out. The idea is that in order to live into the full calling of disciples of Jesus, we need to live and love in a way that reaches up, in, and out.

We reach up toward God when we worship, study, and pray. We reach in when we have fun with our church family and grow closer to one another. And we reach out when we serve those outside our church and share God’s love for them through our own.

The programs and events of the youth group are planned around this idea, and the summer is no different. We’ll reach up through continuing donut hour and our two weekly small groups (Catching Fire-Tuesdays, 11:30am-12:45pm, Hillsborough Bojangles; Hunger Gang-Wednesdays, 6:30-7:45pm, Pop’s Pizza).

We’ll grow inward through weekly game nights and special events like camping at Sliding Rock, visiting the Whitewater Rafting Center, Paintball, and more.

And we’ll reach out through mission trips to Miami, FL and Lexington, SC, plus serving at IFC, Book Harvest, TABLE, Anathoth Gardens, VBS, and One Day with God. We’re going to have one busy summer, and I hope, youth or child or adult, that you’ll take some time this summer to find your own ways to live up, in, and out.

Check the Youth Summer Newsletter for more information about all the ways OrangeYouth are living up, in and out!