The Sweet Spirit


 Olive Branch United Methodist Church                                               


August, 2013



Cross and...



Just a thought

Is Our Church a Monument or Mission Station?

As I drove past this church one evening recently, I anticipated the lights to be on and someone doing something.  But, the church was darkened but for a few lights in the front window.  Driving on, I realized that most churches I know are like that—dark, dimly lit and quiet during the week.  It reminds me of some local monuments in my home town which are—dark, dimly lit and quiet.

This begs all sorts of questions when contemplating what a church building is for and how members see the function of their building.  Have our churches become monuments instead of mission stations? 

…..Has our church become a monument to ourselves and those who have died instead of a hustling, bustling mission station always looking out for the living and lost? 

How can we tell if our church is operating more like a monument than a mission station?

Here are characteristics of monuments and mission stations. Can you can apply these to our church? How do we stack up?

We know from experience that monuments are:

Immovable - In monument cultures can’t conceive of doing what they do anywhere else but on the site the monument was erected.

Visited infrequently - Monuments don’t usually get a lot of activity, but are only visited on special occasions.  Those who engage in this infrequency usually feel that once the visit is over, they have done their duty.  The doors are locked until next time. Let’s see. Oh, yes every Sunday at 11:15am!  Be finished by 12:15!

Sacredness of the object emphasized - Those who are in a monument culture are often heard emphasizing that it has been dedicated and how sacred it is.  Sacredness is not in the bricks and mortar, but in the people who go there and in Jesus Christ.

Looking back focus - Monument thinkers mostly look back to how things used to be or how things were done back when.  It is more to do with preservation than innovation.

Honors the dead - Monuments are usually about honoring the fallen and dead.  In monument cultures, there may be plaques on the walls dedicated to members who have passed on or to honor those who were once “with us.”  Those who are unknown to many active in the church today!

Unchangeable - Adding or removing something from a monument is akin to a criminal offense. The monument itself has become a personal object of worship who are attached to it in some familial or historical way. 

Narrow in focus - Monuments are erected for a specific cause or reason. Stray outside that cause and you will land yourself in hot water.  Other kinds of ceremonies or even other traditions are not tolerated in a monument culture.  Don’t change worship.  Sing only the old hymns.  Take Communion only once a month no matter what Jesus said!

Doesn’t perform any other function - A monument is just that—a monument.  There is no function other than a place to come, remember, do one's duty and walk away.  It remains an icon of what was and will always be. 

Mission stations, on the other hand, are known for these characteristics:

Can be moved - A mission station is not bound to any place or time.  It can even be mobile and sees the horizon as its only obstacle. 

Visited very frequently - Because of its nature, a mission station will be frequently used because it is not seen as a part of one’s lifestyle, but as a lifestyle.  The frequency of use is based on real needs.

Has no sacred objects - There are no sacred cows in a mission station.  Everything is sacrificed—money, time, objects, space—all are dispensable to its guiding principle, which is the sacredness of life. 

Looking forward with anticipation - If you are a part of a mission station culture, you will quickly realize that they don’t do a lot of dwelling on the past. You will soon learn that it’s all about now and the future. Plans are always around this focus.

Surrounded by common sense and what works - Nothing is off the table in a mission station culture.  Adaptability and change is what they are about.  There are no special rites of passage for relatives or the popular—if you have gifts, they will be used no matter what your status.

Honors the living - Mission stations are all about the living.  They recognize there is nothing that can be done for the dead and move on to the living.  The fact that people are dying at a rapid rate inspires mission station thinkers to move with haste and urgency to their task. 

Embraces change - A mission station will change, adapt and offend if necessary for what it believes in if that means positive long term outcomes.  It is versatile and has the needs of the many, which outweigh the needs of the few, as its basis.

Broad in its focus - Mission stations are based on the needs of others, and so this necessitates that it be broad in focus.  It cannot afford to be a stingy, penny-pinching or conservative culture when it comes to meeting needs.  Where there is a need, it must be met—end of story. 

Can perform many different functions - Adaptability and a willingness to relook or rethink the way things are done is a hallmark of the mission station.  Mission stations are not bound by time, resources or space.  They seek to breach the gap between those who have and those who do not have what they are offering.

So here we are at the end of the world.  What better time to reassess our church and see if we are up to the task of transforming into mission stations from a monument culture.  I’m a big believer in holding ground, but that’s only part of the Gospel direction given to us by Jesus.

Take a drive past our church at night this week and ask yourself, “Do I belong to a monument or mission station? Thanks to Rev Danny Bell for his words that lead to this article.





I have heard many arguments going on in Church about the need for Outreach and to tell you the truth, I am very upset about it.  I feel like many of you just don’t understand what we do as the Outreach Committee.


So let me explain it to you.  The Outreach Committee provides meals from our food bank for 10 – 12 families.  We deliver food on the second Tuesday and the fourth Friday of each month.  We help with bills and doctor’s fees, including driving some to the doctor.  We do the Give-Away every year, which helps clothe people and provides them with other items to make life a little easier.  We also provide school supplies for children in need.  And we send out the Prayer Gram to approximately 35 people monthly and more as needed.  We are also responsible for planning for Homecoming. 


Now if you think all of this goes to people outside of the church, you need to think again. We have several families within our church who are in need of our help.  You should also consider that were you in need, you would not want everyone to know; so we do not give out names or tell people who gets what.  We simply provide.


I feel like I need to be doing something as a disciple of Christ.  I need to serve his people.  I know that most of us have more than enough in this Church but there are still those who don’t have the necessary basics:  a roof over your head; food on your table; clothes to wear.  We have people who wonder where their next meal will come from or how they will provide the basics for their children.


And yet many of you continue to complain about how much money we spend on these endeavors.  Our church is called to reach out to the least of our community and church family.  If it means we spend money to bring God and good to people who are in need then that is what we are supposed to do.   Can you turn your head when you look at someone in need and not feel God pushing you to help?


Outreach should be the primary function of our Church.  Yes, we need to take care of our basic requirements including the Pastor and the church building, but beyond that, we need to be using our money to do God’s work.  Jesus said, “If you do this to the least of these, you have done it to me.”  Would you tell Jesus no if he was hungry?


All we should be asked is how we spend our money.  It is not necessary for us to deliver an itemized accounting of every dime we use.  We are well within our budget and we have been in the past.  We are not given a lump sum at the beginning of the year and when the budget is tight we do not even get our allotted amount.  We work effectively with what we have, but we cannot do it without money.  We need your support.


So, I ask you…..Do you want us to continue to do Outreach?  Instead of complaining about what we do or don’t do, why not come to a meeting, or help with the food delivery etc?  These are church functions and do not happen without help.  You might even find that you are blessed through the process.


Lisa DiStefano,

Outreach Committee Chairperson



The Great Giveaway

On Saturday, August 10th we will once again have our annual give away! Please empty the closets, attics, and storage rooms of items and clothing that can help others.  Bring them to the church before the 9th and join us on the 10th at 10 am as we begin to give it away!  The committee needs lots of help Mon – Fri Aug 5-9, from 6:00 – 9:00 PM to sort all the donations.


Fishers of Men to Continue Through August

Catherine Minks, as part of our Outreach Committee, is asking that we continue our “Coins for God's Ministry,” calling us to be “Fishers of Men”.  The committee has requested that we should continue to save coins by either placing them in a container that you keep at home or placing them in the container in the Narthex.  We will collect the coins again in late August.  Please save all your loose change and give it to this ministry.  Let’s try to beat our last collection of $600.00 plus.


Church Pantry and Food Distribution

Please don't forget our Church pantry.  We, currently serve 10 families on the second Tuesday and Fourth Friday of each month.  Our brothers and sisters in the greater community are suffering and need help.  Help keep our pantry stocked with your donations and God bless.  We still have a need for canned goods and I know you will open your hearts.


Administrative Council Meeting

Our Administrative Council will meet this month on the 13th at 7:00pm.  Remember this is our church and we each have a stake in it.  These meetings are open to all church members.  We welcome Vicki Evans as our new council chairperson and look forward to her leadership for the rest of the year. Everyone is needed to help us grow.  If you have an idea of how we can make OBUMC better, bring your ideas to the council and let’s talk about them. We can only be as good as our participation in the way we do things! Council meetings are for each member of our church to be heard.   

 United Methodist Women

The United Methodist Women presented a service of honor and remembrance on July 21.  A candle was lit for those we honor in life and remember in salvation.  It was a beautiful service as each candle was lit a person’s name was called out.  The altar rail was ablaze with the light of 50 plus candles. It was a moving service. The UMW will meet this month on the 14th  at 2:00pm.  All women of the church are invited to take part in the mission activities of the UMW.


United Methodist Men

 The United Methodist Men will meet on Saturday, August 17th at 8:00 am.  Breakfast will be provided for all by our own B.J. Griggs and Mike Fross. There will be a devotional and a meeting after breakfast. All men of the church are invited to join us as we continue our year of reaching out.  This past month the group decided to help one of our own.  An air conditioner was bought and loaned to a person who was suffering in the heat.  This is just the beginning of our service to the community.  We call on all men of the church to join us.


Sunday School  

Sunday School is available each Sunday morning.  The importance of Sunday School is that, though you may think hearing the word during the worship service will suffice for you, you really need to be in attendance at Sunday School to gather all the information that you can in an open discussion classroom.  Jesus’ word cannot be totally understood just by listening to a sermon.  You have to interact with it and with other Christians to learn what He was saying to us.  This is a life long study and you should take part.  Please plan on joining us to learn more about our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Word.  We are currently doing a study on prayer using “Pray the Price” by Rev. Terry Teykl.  We will be studying Revelation by Dr. James “Mickey” Efird starting in mid August.  We have a full calendar and look forward to all joining us on this journey of study and thought as we try to understand why we are Christians and what God’s Word means for us.  Sunday School begins at 10:00 AM


Save Your Empty Ink Cartridges

A continuing mission project headed by Matte Bersch is to gather empty ink cartridges and send them away. The company that they are sent to then sends the church a check.  Sooo, please save them and put them in the box in the fellowship hall. All funds go to continuing our outreach. Thank you Mattie!




Celebrating birthdays this month:


Matte Bersch 90 yrs young, Sandra Stephenson, Kenneth Baird,

Pat Grigg, Nancy Maguire, Lauren Stephenson,

Polly Burger, Ed Maguire, Cathy Mihoc  

Happy Birthday from your church family.


Make a Joyful Noise


Yeah that’s the name of our choir. We will begin practicing in late August and are looking for volunteers who would like to make a joyful noise at our worship services.  If would like to join us let Ed DiStefano know.  252-537-5705




This is our newsletter. It is meant to be a way to communicate what your church is doing and what all the organizations are doing both in the congregation and the community.  I will be sending this electronically via email and copies will be made available for those who need a printed copy. 


There are many organizations within our church and I hope they would like to have their achievements, plans, and meetings made known to the entire church. It is my hope that they will ask one of their members to drop a short note as to what they doing each month. The line of communication in the church needs to be open and full of what we are doing at Olive Branch to make disciples in our area.


If you would like to send us something, please bring it to church or send me an email ( and we will see that it gets published.  Please, let’s keep our church informed on what we are doing. See you at church and God bless.


Ed DiStefano