Reaching Heights April 2018

Heights Christian Church Icon of Two Followers Lifting a CrossReaching Heights
April 2018 

Links to this month’s news:
Worship – Radical Faith
Second Hour – Sermon Talk Back series with Pastor Roger
Along the Path – Thoughts from Pastor Roger
Renewal Works Update
News from CEIRS – Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies
Kate’s Cogitations
Special Report from Minister Moreland – A Bet Away
Thrift Shop News – Spring is Coming

Eastertide Worship – Radical Faith

“What if we saw in every person a radical invitation to love sent to us by the “Other” Himself–or Herself, depending on just how radical you want to be.” ~Maisie Sparks, “Spend Time with Others”

4/8 – Radical Forgiveness – John 20:19-23

4/15 – Radical Ethics – 1 John 3:1-7

4/22 – Radical Service – 1 John 3:16-24

4/29 – Radical Family – Acts 8:26-40 – Family service

5/6 – Radical Peace – John 14:22-27

5/13 – Radical Justice – Jeremiah 22:1-5 – Mother’s Day

Second Hour – Sermon Talk Back Series

The subject of Radical Faith should give us something to think and talk about.  So for the season of Eastertide Pastor Roger will delve deeper into the issues raised in his sermons.  This will be a combined bible and topic study as we explore these issues together through scripture and conversation.

Along the Path

One of the things that I most appreciate about our congregation is its dedication to children and youth.  There are some church activities where we struggle to have enough people participate, but if a call goes out for something involving children and youth there are always plenty of HCC folks ready to step up and see that it gets done. Whether it is Sunday school teachers, Godspell audience members, Easter egg fillers and cookie bakers, setting aside building space for a youth drop in center or a youth dance group, or spending funds to get our youth to camp, the overwhelming response is “what do we need to do?”

A few years ago we began having “Family Fifth Sundays.”  These once a quarter family friendly services were designed so that children stayed in worship.  This meant that our traditional adult-focused services had to be modified somewhat, but this was met with almost universally positive comments.  Last year, at Kate’s suggestion, we expanded this to monthly Family Sundays so that the children of HCC would grow up with a sense that worship was not just for grownups but for them as well.

This increase to monthly family friendly services has provided some challenges and I will admit that we have had some mixed results.  Some family services have not been particularly family friendly, and others have resulted in some not so positive comments from adult worshippers.

But that’s okay.  We will continue to tweak what we’ve done and explore new ways of worshipping God that welcomes the full range of God’s people.  As part of that welcome we have added a card in each of the pew pockets that gives some helpful advice to parents. But, just as importantly, they are also a reminder to us as members of this community that children and families are integral to our community of faith, and that God delights in having them a part of God’s worship.

So next time you are in worship, look for the cards in the pew pockets, read the message, and celebrate the diversity and inclusiveness of our worship together.

Peace, Pastor Roger

RenewalWorks Update

Your RenewalWorks Workshop Team has been hard at work! We have met twice and have two more meetings to go. First we reflected on our own spiritual journeys as we considered a Spiritual Life continuum and various catalysts to further spiritual development. At our second meeting, we considered some of the results of the Spiritual Life Inventory the congregation took in January and explored some trends for the congregation and surrounding community. At our third and fourth meetings we will continue to unpack the results of the Spiritual Life Inventory and consider which Best Practices for spiritual development might be most useful to HCC. Our goal is to make a preliminary report to the May elders meeting and a fuller report to the entire congregation at the Annual Meeting in June. Please continue to keep this process and the Workshop Team in your prayers.

RenewalWorks Workshop Team: Jane Troha, Lynda Ackerman, Donita Singerman, Rosalind Powell, Bernadete LaGuardia, Michele Moreland, Val McMillan, Scott Phelps, Roger Osgood, Kate Gillooly.

Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies

CEIRS – offers amazing opportunities for learning and growth! This spring they have classes on Counter-Narratives in the Bible: Women, The Conquest of the Land of Israel, and Job, taught by Rabbi Roger Klein on six Wednesday evenings, and a class on Being Spiritual in a Secular Society taught by Rev. Donald Cozzens on for Tuesdays. In addition, Wayne Simsic leads a retreat on Writing as a Spiritual Practice on April 21 and Brian McLaren will be in town on April 28th. Several HCC folks are planning to attend the day with Brian McLaren. Join us! Bernadette LaGuardia is the registrar and can answer your questions. More information available at

The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian – a retreat led by Brian D. McLaren.  Saturday, April 28 from 9 am – 5 pm at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights. Register through or 216-932-5815. Cost is $75 for the day, includes lunch and snack breaks. Co-sponsored by St. Paul’s, CEIRS and River’s Edge Retreat Center.  Several HCC members plan to attend. Consider joining us!

Kate’s Cogitations

The web site for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination uses a wonderful phrase to identify what being a Disciple is all about:
“A movement for wholeness in a fragmented world – as part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to the Lord’s table as God has welcomed us.”

This identity statement contains key words worth exploring more deeply – words like movement and wholeness and welcome and even table. The web site offers videos to share a variety of people’s perspectives on this, and it might be worth our own exploration as well. I don’t know when the denomination first articulated this identity statement, but it feels to me to be very timely for us right now. Given the increasing polarization and isolation we feel, the mission of the Christian Church feels relevant and hopeful.

I am honored to be part of a church (both congregation and denomination) that strives towards unity in the face of polarization, that celebrates diversity and honors individuality, while building bridges and community. Together we worship and praise, together we learn and grow, together we are transformed and change the world. How are you able to be part of the movement for wholeness in this fragmented world?


Special Report from Minister Michele Moreland on the special grant

Greetings Everyone,
On March 14, 2018 at the Sheraton Cleveland Airport Hotel, I gave a presentation about Heights Christian Church’s new project:  A Bet Away. In September 2017, I wrote a proposal for a grant from the Disciples Home Mission ministry, National Benevolent Association (NBA) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I proposed to design faith-based, non-clinical solutions to problem gambling among seniors. We (HCC) got the grant.

As a little background, you may already know that northeast Ohio has three large casinos which feature incentives to attract the senior population. You should also know that gambling is now classified as a stand-alone illness in the DSM-V diagnostic reference used by psychiatrists and addiction counselors. Currently, clinicians are treating problem gamblers who otherwise are active, functional, sometimes retired church people or other religious believers. From a pastoral perspective compassionate solutions must be created and considered as options for problem gamblers. This is a great opportunity for us to start here for Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

The cause for my presentation came from an exclusive invitation from the NBA for me to meet the new General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Rev. Dr. Terri Hord-Owens. Dr. Owens and delegation traveled to three states where NBA grants were received from the September proposals: Ohio, Texas, and California. Our project, A Bet Away is one of the three grants awarded in Northeast Ohio. From the invitation, it seemed that the meeting would be an informal roundtable discussion. Nope! It was in a room with 80-100 of who’s-who at the Ohio regional level, ministers, and about five of us representing the three new NBA grants; and a couple of Ohio CEOs who have received large NBA grants in the past. Accompanying the Rev. Dr. Owens from NBA were the national president, vice president, a couple of other senior officers and a publicist. Accompanying me was Rev. Osgood.

You would have been proud, Church! A Bet Away was the only of the three grantees which came prepared with customized folder, business card, and written presentation usable for HCC history and history of this unprecedented tour by a Disciples of Christ General Minister and President and NBA. Among other great legacies, HCC will be known for A Bet Away, a project which will create non-clinical, faith-based solutions for seniors and others who have problems caused by their gambling.

We may become known as “the church with the Gambling program” . . . Own it!  Say YES to it! Become familiar with the name: A Bet Away. Above is our Logo. We hope it will become identified with the church creating faith based alternatives for those who are A Bet Away from problem gambling. Below are some ways to use the name:

Slogan:            Be More Than A Bet Away From Problem Gambling!

Mission:           A Bet Away aims to create the best spiritual solutions
for seniors  and other problem gamblers.

Proverb:           Every gambler is A Bet Away from winning or losing.
Frequency of either outcome can lead to problem gambling.
(By Michele Moreland, March, 2018)

That’s it for now, friends. I will advise you of future events and how you might easily help this social service ministry for seniors. Keep enjoying your leisure, and always “be more than A Bet Away from problem gambling!” – Michele

Spring is Coming to the Thrift Shop

Thrift Shop fall/winter sales have been a huge success and now we’re getting ready for spring.  Ratt Ford has used her designing skills to showcase Easter and Spring merchandise—come on down and take a look!

Merchandise is always changing, and spring clothing is showing up on our racks.  You’ll be delighted at what you find, and are sure to find a treasure to take home.

As a reminder, the Thrift Shop is now open three days—Thursday from 10 AM to 1 PM and Friday and Saturday from 10 AM to 5 PM.  Many thanks to all the volunteers who continue to keep the shop running.  Of course, more volunteers are always needed in the Thrift Shop on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays to help put out and organize merchandise and to assist customers.  If you have a few hours, please consider helping out with this worthwhile and fun mission.

And, donations are always accepted, including clothing, jewelry, shoes, household goods, books, puzzles and games.  Holiday decorations are also needed.  Memorial Day and Independence Day are coming up and we’re hoping to have lots of red, white and blue items to sell. Remember—the more things you donate the more room you have for new stuff!!  Clothing must be in good condition and clean.  Household goods must also be in good condition and clean.  We’ve received some wonderful donations recently and they have just flown off the shelves so take a look and see if you find something or several things or lots of things to contribute!  Remember—all sales go to further the missions of the CWF and Heights Christian Church.