Dear Members and Friends of Chilmark Community United Methodist Church, Grace and peace to you and yours, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we worship and serve as members of his Body, the Church! My name is Ernest Belisle. I was appointed to be your new pastor as of July 1, 2019, by the Rev’d. Sudarahana Devadhar, our presiding Bishop. Last Tuesday, March 19, I was taken to meet your Pastor Parish Relationship Committee by our District Superintendent, the Rev’d. Dr. Andrew Foster III. We had a very good meeting! I am a native of the country of Belize (in Central America). Before I entered full time ministry I served as a grade school teacher. I am a graduate of Drew School of Theology in Madison, New Jersey, United Theological Seminary of the West Indies in Mona, Jamaica, Belize Teachers, Belize City, Belize. I specialized in Christian Education and Church History. My wife Michelle is a preschool teacher. There are seven children and three grandchildren in our family. Our youngest child, Ezra (6 years old), is the only one still at home with us. We enjoy visiting and vacationing with the children, which includes walking on the beaches of Cape Cod and exploring the mountains and valleys of Vermont and New Hampshire. I enjoy music from different ages, places and varieties. I love lively singing and interactive worship and preaching. I am a soccer fan and follow European and North and South American leagues. Michelle loves walking on the beach and Ezra loves model trains and John Deere tractors and farm equipment. I am a people person and enjoy friendships. I have a passion for Evangelism and Outreach Ministries. I have worked in both suburban and inner city ministries. I began full time ministry serving two island and three mainland congregations in a circuit of churches in Bocas del Tore, Panama. I enjoy fellowship with other churches and denominations. From 1995 to 1997, I served and chaired the National Council of Churches in Guyana (South America) that included both Roman Catholics and Pentecostals. While a student at Drew, I served United Methodist churches in East Orange, New Jersey and Brooklyn, New York. I have served Methodist churches in the Republic of Panama (1976-1981), Jamaica (1981-1990), Belize (1990-1993, teacher at Wesley College), and Guyana, in South America (1993-2000, District Superintendent). Here in New England, I have served churches in Oxford (2000-2005) and Framingham (2005-2011), Massachusetts and St. Paul’s in Manchester, New Hampshire 2011-2015). I am presently serving our church in South Yarmouth, Massachusetts. At the District and Conference levels I served on the Central Massachusetts District Committee on Superintendency (2005 to 2011), co-chaired the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (2004 to 2012), and was a member of the New Hampshire District Building and Locations Committee (2012- 2015). Presently I am one of the co-chairs of the Rhode Island Southern Massachusetts District Committee on Ministry. Michelle, Ezra and I look forward to meeting and working with you. Grace and peace to you and yours, Very sincerely, Ernest Belisle
May 2019 – The Price of Pride
Read Together: He who ignores discipline despises himself, but whoever heeds correction gains understanding. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor. Proverbs 15:32-33
The story is told of a frog who wanted to travel over the top of a tall mountain from a pond he’d grown up in and learned to hate to be a beautiful lake on the other side of the peak. One day as the frog watched an eagle soar high above the clouds; the frog had a brilliant idea. “If I could just get that eagle to hold a piece of string in his talons, I can hold the other end of the string in my mouth. He could fly me to the other side.” The eagle agreed to the frog’s plan. Away they went, hundreds of feet above the Rocky Mountain slopes, soaring to the other side where the big, sparkling lake lay just a few hundred yards away. As the frog hung on to the string by his teeth for the last minute of his ride, he heard someone below exclaim, “Wow, look at that. What a great idea! I wonder who thought of that.”
The prideful frog couldn’t resist the opportunity to brag and opened his mouth to boast, “I diiiiiiid. Splat!
Poor frog. He just couldn’t resist telling people how smart he was. Reminds me of myself sometimes and I want to kick myself for it. How about you? Is pride ever a problem? If so, today’s devotion study may be just what the doctor ordered.
Discussion Starters: When you’re complimented or commended for something you did well, how does it make you feel? Who really deserves the credit for any good we do here on earth.
Lifeline: Next time someone tells you what a great job you did, give the glory to God. You’ll feel wonderful!
Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)
Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.
March 1, 2019
Beloved in Christ:
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
On Ash Wednesday, we are reminded of God’s call: “Gather the people,
consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast …” — Joel 2:16
In other words, gather everyone.
“A 2016 study from the nonprofit Public Religion Research Institute found that 39 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 29) are ‘religious unaffiliated.’ That has nearly quadrupled since 1986, when only 10 percent of young adults identified that way.” (USA Today, Feb. 28, 2019)
Though there are many reasons for the increase in the number of young adults who are staying away from the church, J.J. Warren, who many of you likely saw speaking so passionately on the floor of General Conference, traveled with me with on a Mission of Peace journey years ago. I think his words give insight into what young people in the church are seeking:
“For me and the younger generation that is the church now among you, and who want to be the church together with you for the future as well, we desire a church that seeks the justice of God.” (If interested, please see here for a video of J.J. Warren’s full speech)
Let us begin our Lenten journey, earnest in our desire to be God’s prayer, to gather all the children of God, and to surrender ourselves to be transformed through love.
Let us take time to write in our Lenten journals each day, to compose our own prayers for justice, and to examine how our actions give witness to God’s justice.
Let us pray that we will become what the prophet Joel calls, an “assembly of God,” and a community that is the Sermon on the Mount.
As a conference may we pray this prayer together every day during Lent:
remind me again today that
you are Love;
that Loving is always expressed in action
Remind me again today
that your love was made visible
in the Church, the body of Christ.
Remind me again today
that it is through love, not
right vs wrong,
good vs evil, that
we are saved.
Remind me again today that you
gather us all,
love us all,
sanctify us all,
call us all,
to be one —
with each other,
in ministry to
all the world.
Prema and I wish you and your loved ones a blessed Lenten season.
in Christ’s love,
Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar
A message from Bishop Devadhar: General Conference 2019
March 2019 – A Gentle Tongue
Read Together: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
When Gideon headed into battle, he took with him only one hundred men-a meager group compared with the vast army of the Midianites they were up against. But God was in control, and he caused the Midianites to turn against one another. Gideon’s army simply sat back and watched as their enemy defeated themselves. Not one of the one hundred men had to draw their sword. As the remainder of the Midianite army fled, Gideon called warriors from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim for help in finishing the job. They cut off the Midianites’ escape route, and Israel defeated its enemy.
But after the fighting stopped, the Ephraimites came to Gideon and angrily demanded to know why they had not been called in the first place to help in the battle. “Why have you treated us like this?” they whined. “And they criticized him sharply” (Judges 8:1).
It would have been easy for Gideon to respond harshly to their criticism. When we feel attacked or criticized, its human nature to feel defensive and lash back at those who make us feel that way.
But responding harshly to strong words is a sure way to escalate a conflict. Instead of adding fuel to the fire, Gideon chose to douse the flame with soothing, soft words: “What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren’t the gleanings of Ephraim’s grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?’ At this, their resentment against him subsided” (Judges 8:2-3). Maybe people skills came naturally to Gideon. Perhaps he know the only way to calm the Ephraimites’ anger was to give them credit for the positive things their participation had accomplished. Gideon wasn’t buttering them up or even weaseling his way out of a tight spot; he was merely being a good leader by acknowledging their frustration and their contribution to his success and dealing with their complaints. He took the focus off of what he had accomplished without their help and showed them that he valued and appreciated them.
A kind response is much more effective than a harsh one. Next time you’re tempted to let loose verbally and really give someone a piece of your mind, hold your tongue. Speak gently and with kindness instead. Make it your goal to soothe the conflict instead of inflaming it by defending yourself or retaliating. You just might gain (or keep) a friend!
Discussion Starters: How do you deal with people who speak to you harshly? Based on today’s proverb, how can you improve your reaction? What steps will you take to make those improvements?
Lifeline: Watch for ways you can deal kindly with others. Bless those around you with kind words of encouragement
lease mark your calendars. ↓
UPCOMING EVENTS IN THE RISEM DISTRICT
- March 2nd [GIVING[[JESUS]]GENEROSITY] Resource Day at Osterville UMC, Osterville, Ma
- March 2nd and March 16th RISEM Lay Academy at Memorial UMC Taunton, Ma
- March 7th Courageous Conversation Meeting at Wesley UMC, Lincoln, RI 6:00 pm
- March 30th RISEM Clay Workshop on Committee Guidelines at Memorial UMC, Taunton, Ma
- May 18th Pre-Conference gathering-East Greenwich UMC 10:00 am – 11:30 am
- May 18th Transition Workshop for incoming pastors. East Greenwich UMC 11:30 am-1:00 pm
Remember to visit the RISEM District WEBSITE for all the latest updates!!! Go to www.neumc.org/risem
February 2019 – Slow To Anger
Read Together: “He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.” Proverbs 14:29
Playing in and coaching Division 1 college football as a defensive lineman didn’t exactly give me a passive personality. Every time the center would snap the ball to the quarterback, I was tin the middle of a major gang war! If I didn’t move quickly and take the fight to the offensive lineman who was trying to demolish me, I would get run over by a stampede of wild horses. I learned to fight and to fight hard.
That was on the football field!
Off the football field was a different story. Last year I spoke at a college event at the University of Colorado where I built a 14-foot cross in front of several hundred college students and shared with them God’s amazing gift of love and grace. Hundreds responded to the invitation and gave their hearts to Christ. But one student was outraged! As I leaned against the side wall of the theater, listening to the band play praise and worship music, he approached me in a fury. He got in my face and called me every dirty word ever written on a bathroom wall!
Yeah, I probably could have taken him to the floor. Yeah, he probably deserved it. Yeah, something inside of me would have enjoyed making him eat his words. Yeah, once upon a time, years ago, I probably would have taken issue with him. But when I left football and grew up a little, I left it all on the field. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for them.” Jesus said, “Be slow to anger.” Jesus said, “Be patient with people.” Jesus said, “Vengeance belongs to God.” As the students’ stormed out of the theater, I prayed for him and still pray for him today, that someday our paths will cross again-hopefully in heaven when his anger will be calmed forever.
Discussion Starters: Name three people who “provoke you to anger.” Compare how you want to react with how you really react. Compare your reaction to the way God wants you to react? In reality, why is God’s way best? Why is it best to be “slow to anger?” What does today’s verse mean when it says those who are slow to anger have “great understanding?” What do they understand?
Lifeline: Ask God to give you the understanding needed to keep your anger in check.
Blessings Always, (Numbers 6:24-26)
Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III.