The Sweet Spirit


         Olive Branch United Methodist Church                                               


February 2013



Cross and...



Just a thought

Stagnant Bottoms by Ed DiStefano

     I recently read a story about Bishop, Lindsey Davis of the North Georgia Conference.  He is an avid golfer, so much so in fact that when he went to Augusta for a Conference meeting they gave him a green jacket – I’m not sure why – I’m kidding I do know the significance of a green jacket in Augusta. Anyway, Bishop Davis liked to think of himself as a natural golfer.  He didn’t need lessons or anyone to help him with his game.

      Until this last year; this past summer he said his game had gone south so he gave in and signed up for lessons. When he arrived at the club for the lessons he was greeted by what he thought was a young boy only it turned out to be the golf pro. Then this young boy took him out to teach him golf. The golf pro began setting up all this video equipment. By this point Bishop Davis was beginning to become a little frustrated. He had humbled himself and come up to improve his golf game and this young wippersnapper was busy taking videos. The golf pro instructed him to take a couple of swings at the ball. Bishop Davis had taken what he thought was a pretty good swing,

     The golf pro took him inside to a computer screen. By this time Bishop Davis was becoming frustrated, beginning to think he had wasted a lot of time and money. The young golf pro pulled Bishop Davis and his swing up on the computer screen and then split the screen and placed a video of Tiger Woods and his swing on the other side of the screen. Slowly and painfully Bishop Davis said the golf pro went through and compared Bishop Davis’ swing to Tiger Woods swing – pointing out all of Bishop Davis’ flaws in his execution.
     When all was said and done, Bishop Davis asked the pro what was the root of his problem and the young pro hemmed and hawed a bit before he told the Bishop, “you have a stagnant bottom, sir.”
     A stagnant bottom! The Bishop said he expected a dropped shoulder, a lazy hand grip, or wrong placement of the club but a stagnant bottom! The pro went on to say “Yes sir, you see when you execute your swing your back side, if you will, just kind of sits there and does nothing and if you really want to experience the full power of your swing then you have to get your back side, your whole body into the swing.

     Bishop Davis said he began to ponder that a lot and began to wonder if part of our problem in the church was that our pulpits and pews might be afflicted with stagnant bottoms. He began to wonder what it would be like if the church, the whole church – every member in every church, the whole body of Christ, got  into the swing of things; what it would be like if we experienced the full power, full spirit, the full being of the Body of Christ.

     I wonder if someone was to take a video of Olive Branch and lay it on a screen next to an image of Jesus Christ, our example and head of the church, on the other side – I wonder if they would find we too have stagnant bottoms.

     Paul spoke to the church at Corinth. The city of Corinth was a very difficult place for ministry, so much so that Paul stayed in Corinth eighteen months working and strengthening the church for ministry. He left and goes on to new places, new ministries and he hears the Corinth church is in trouble!

     Some of its members had begun to think they were not needed in the church. Some have begun just to sit in the pews, they had quit working - thinking their job was done or not necessary.

     Others thought their job was the most important and that nobody else in the church mattered or had anything important to say or add to what they were doing. .The church had become divided in it purpose and activity, rendering itself ineffective – lacking the full power of the Holy Spirit in their work.

     Paul’s response was encouraged, inspire the members to get up and get moving – all the members of the church that they might know the full power of God.
     When we choose to accept Christ, when we choose to accept his grace, his love and lordship in our life we were baptized, immersed into the Holy Spirit, united together into one church, one body of Christ. Not just OBUMC but the whole church, the kingdom of God here on earth the universal church. We are the body of Christ – his hands; his feet, his heart, his eyes, his mouth, his body living and breathing in this world.

     Paul was describing one of the main debilitating attitudes in the church at Corinth. One of the main debilitating attitudes in our churches of today - the attitude of insignificance, a sense of not being needed or wanted in the church, a sense of having “already done my time” and I don’t need, don’t want to do anything else attitude.

      Youth are asked why they don’t come to church. Their answer “We feel that the church as a whole, the old people don’t want them there.” They feel they don’t need to give anything back to the church. The church is merely there to entertain them.

     Many newcomers to a church get the feeling that even while people are shaking your hand and smiling at you that you’re really not wanted nor needed in their church.

     Each and every person in this church, in God’s church, in the kingdom of God has a purpose, has a place ordained, designed uniquely for just them by God.

     Did you know that? Did you know that God wants you here at OBUMC? You are here, at this time, at this place for a purpose. It doesn’t matter whether you were born into this church, lived here all your life, or a “laker” come lately. It doesn’t matter that you are a visitor for the first time. You have been placed here, at this time, at this moment in history by God. Pretty awesome thought isn’t it! That God has placed you here now. You are needed, valuable and necessary to the ministry of this church. If we, OBUMC, are part of the universal church, if we are ever going to experience the full power of God then we, all of us, each and every person in this church, each and every part of Christ’s church must work together to fulfill his purpose. That’s not to say that you are or are not working as God has ordained you too. Only you and God know that.

     What I am saying is that you need to stop and assess your activity, your efforts in this church to see if you are really doing what God wants, NEEDS you to do, both physically and financially.

     I was talking to friend of mine this week and the discussion turned to this church. This person has been active here for quite awhile. He said to me “He didn’t understand why a church with this much going for it couldn’t reach the people in our community.” He said Sunday was like watching the dry bones in the valley in the book of Ezekeil just lie there.

   I ask you, have you had the breath of life blown into you as did these bones or are you one of the members of the church at Corinth who have quote-un-quote “Done all I can!”  Do you have a stagnant bottom? Are you keeping the church from experiencing the full power, the full glory of God in its ministry and work? Are you trying to find your place, your ministry? Or are you confident you are doing what God has ordained, commanded for you, you alone to do,
   If you are not sure, talk to God, listen to God; let him guide you, let him lead you in knowing your purpose, your place.





A Letter from Bishop Cho


We United Methodists are called to a new future. We feel the need to change. But change is not always pleasant. Change can bring pain, risk and anxiety. Change brings pain because it will break the present. Change is risky because we do not know whether the change will bring a better future or not. No matter how carefully we plan, change is always a challenge and requires our courage. Change means getting out of our comfort zones. But we, God’s children, are not alone in this journey of change. The Lord who calls us into a new future will lead and guide this change process. Because He lives, we can face change and dream a new dream. The Lord will give us hope, strength and guidance. If we humbly open ourselves to God, and seek and rely on God’s wisdom, we will be able to overcome fear and reluctance for change and bring a better future to our churches. I read an interesting article in a book one of my seminary classmates edited (The Letter of Christ II). It is called Twelve Ways to Kill a Good Idea, and lists the following responses to change:

 1. “It will cost too much!”

 2. “We tried that before!”

 3. “It is not our responsibility!”

 4. “We do not have the time!”

 5. “It’s too much of a change!”

 6. “Someone will object!”

 7. “We have never done that before!”

 8. “Why change? It’s working OK!”

 9. “We did all right without it!”

 10. “Let’s give it some more thought!”

 11. “Has anyone ever tried it?”

 12. “It just won’t work here!”


My prayer is that 2013 will be filled with many meaningful changes and signs of new life.

Bishop Young Jin Cho




Lenten Season is Upon Us


Our church will come together on February 13 to start our Lenten journey with the application of ashes. It is a time to take a look at your life in Christ as we stride to Easter Sunday. Services will be at 7:00pm at Rock UMC.  Please join us as we begin this time of reflection. Rev Jeff will bring the message and we will celebrate communion and the application of ashes. Please join as we reflect on the journey we take and the one that Jesus took! _________________________________________________________________


Reaching the least of us


The Outreach Committee, with the help of members of the church, help the least of our community each month. Currently they collect food from our local Food Lion and from gifts brought to the church to take meals to 11 families in Virginia and North Carolina. These are families that are elderly, out of work and with children. Their homes are not in the greatest condition, in fact, some have not enough of room for the family to live together and others use plastic bags to insulate their doors and windows from the cold. It is quite an experience to see the look of gratitude when they receive food that can help supplement their meager government allowances. The delivery is done once a month and takes about 3-3.5 hours. It is a wonderful time. If you would like to participate contact Bev Noland or Lily Loher.



Administrative Council to Meet


Our Administrative Council will meet this month on the 12th at 7:00pm. Remember this is our church and we each have a stake in it.  These meetings are open to all church members. If you want to know the status of our church and its programs please join us. Your voice 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! At the last meeting it was decided to do a new directory for Olive Branch.

**Special Note** Don’t be afraid when you see Kathy Dyer with a camera in the narthex. She is taking your picture for the new directory. Please give her your best smile. 



Outreach Committee to Meet in February


Outreach Committee will resume their regular meeting on February 12th at 6:00 pm Lisa DiStefano asks that all members be in attendance as the committee will continue planning for the new year.  See Communications at the end of this newsletter and join in!



Rev. Jeff’s Bible Study


Rev Jeff is conducting an in depth study of the Bible continuing in Genesis on Thursdays at 7:00pm. For those who arrive early, refreshments (cookies and coffee) will be available.  We will be meeting in the fellowship hall at OBUMC. If you think you want to learn more about the Bible join us and grow with us as we look at different interpretations of God’s word. Quick question: Why are there two creation stories in Genesis? If you had been there at our first meeting you would have found out! Answer at the end of the newsletter.



United Methodist Women to meet


The UMW will meet on Tuesday, the 12th of February for their business meeting which convenes at 2:00 pm.  If you would like to help in their different mission programs please join them in the fellowship hall at 2:00 PM.


On Feb 10th the UMW will be sponsoring their "Annual Souper Bowl Luncheon Fundraiser". The soup and chili’s will be excellent so join us Sunday after the Worship Services for a time of fellowship.


In 2012 the ladies collectively made 377 phone calls to the elderly, sick, and shut ins; 190 cards were sent; 90 visits were made, 53 food items delivered, and 5 memorial donations were made. This is your UMW at work.



United Methodist Men


 The United Methodist Men will meet on February 16th at 8:00 am. Breakfast will be provided for all by our own Jim Noland and Steve Johnson. There will be a devotional and a meeting after breakfast. All men of the church are invited to join us as we begin our year of reaching out.  Look to hearing about a stew in the near future.



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. The current study is on the Prophets of the Old Testament.  Sunday School begins at 10:00 AM




Olive Branch Outreach Committee.




Call someone

Offer to help or visit

Man or woman

Make the call

Up to you and me

Never too late to start

I can do it!

Count on me for

Acts of kindness

The time to start is now

Each of us can make it happen.


Communication is a vital part of any thriving church and it takes each and every one of us to participate.  Outreach involves all of us, not just a person on a committee.  Please  REACH OUT  to our shut-ins and our neighbors.  If you know anyone who needs help, a ride, or a visit please call someone. 


   * Rev. Jeff Clemens, Pastor       434-577-2343    parsonage

      Lisa DiStefano,    Chair Outreach Comm.     252-537-1227

      Catherine Minks    434-577-3062

      Lilly Loher             434-577-3146

      Steve Johnson      434-577-9596

      Bev Noland   252-537-5956 -- Vickie Evans  252-535-3632 



SOUPER BOWL (don’t care who won!)

OOP’s spelling wrong again!


Sunday, February 10th After Services


Benefitting the United Methodist Women

Donations accepted but have a good time eating soup!





Celebrating birthdays this month:


                                Lisa Horoszewski          Linda Dennis    



Happy birthday from your church family.



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.  If you know someone who needs a printed copy, they are being made available. 


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



Answer To Bible Question: The first chapter is the youngest of the creation stories. It was written during the exile in Babylon. The Hebrews were being assimilated into the Babylonian culture and worshiping false gods. The priests decided to write a newer version of the creation story in order to bring the Hebrews back to God’s word. The second creation story is based in the passing down of the story generation to generation for God’s people. A professor I had said “You make your choices and take your chances”. So pick the one you want!