Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Notes From My Knapsack -- Feb. 2003 "The Church Window"
Hebron Christian Church

Thanks to your very kind and much appreciated gift on Christmas Sunday, the Gill household was able to replace a washer and dryer that dated to the Reagan administration, and chose the end of 2002 to enter retirement. 14 years is a goodly time for such appliances, we guess, although some have told us of their own lasting longer – but that was some years back, too.

We also said goodbye to the last of a pair of cars that started well, but quickly revealed that they weren’t designed to last much past 75,000, and I was raised to expect a good 100,000 miles and more from an automobile; Ken George tells me that Detroit is engineering again for that kind of endurance, and we’re going to put that to the test!

How long should things last? I like shirts and suit jackets to wear long enough to get “comfortable”, which Joyce tells me is the same as “unsightly”, and I still remember the first youth minister job I had when, on our introductions, a kid asked, “How old are those sneakers,” and when I said “about 10 years,” he gave them a look of utter amazement.

But what really lasts? Even modern plastics and resins have “life spans”, atomic elements have “half-lives” no matter how long, and scientists guess and test at the age of the universe. . .and its end. And after what seems like three long nasty colds in a row since Thanksgiving, it looks like even the human body has its limits (or at least that’s what my nose is telling me).

Then there are the things we call “ephemeral”, that “are for a time.” A child’s smile, a touch of a hand while waiting on an ER gurney, laughter echoing out of a house as you walk up the steps to enter. They happen, they pass, and . . .

In this time between Christmas and Easter, our faith can guide us to a greater sense of what truly endures, what lasts, and a better awareness of what’s really ephemeral and passes away. Washers, dryers, head colds; of these is not the kingdom of heaven! Let’s think on the things that are, and act on the decisions which lead to what endures forever.

In Grace & Peace,
Pastor Jeff

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Pastoral Care Notes

Two reminders, which you’ve probably heard before and likely would help to hear again!

The hospitals, especially LMH, often ask if you would like your church/pastor to be informed. For myriad reasons, to complicated to go into here, you need to know that this system often doesn’t work! Our folks have had visits from very nice strangers who weren’t sure who they were, either; the church office often gets calls for Hebron UMC, Central Christian, etc., which Pastor Jeff reroutes as well as he can.

Anyhow, please let Jeff or someone know, because he’d rather hear it four times than not at all, and LMH will just have to keep working on their system. . .

The other note is tied to something you may note from the annual report; when it comes to worship attendance, only a relatively small number had five absences or less, while almost 250 made multiple appearances in worship through 2002. So missing church a few times doesn’t ring the same bell for pew mates, friends, or the pastor that it once did.

If you’re laid up at home and feeling lonely, give the church a call at 928-4066 or Pastor Jeff at 928-2576, and then we’ll all feel better!

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Interim Regional Pastor
Visits Hebron

On Thursday, Feb. 13, our building will host the monthly meeting of the clergy in District 10/11 (Licking, Muskingum, Coshocton, Guernsey, Jefferson, Noble, Washington Co.’s). Our guest at this meeting is Rev. Suzanne Webb, the interim regional pastor for the Christian Church in Ohio, and part of the Futuring Task Force for the region that Pastor Jeff is a part of.

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Statehood Day in Licking County

Saturday, March 1st, is both the kickoff for the State of Ohio bicentennial celebrations and a significant day for Licking County. That morning, at Hopewell Hall on the OSU-N campus, a pancake breakfast will begin at 8 am, continuing through the morning with a break at 10:00 am for all of us to go out and literally form the outline of Ohio. Our picture will be taken from above, and this picture will be part of the historical record of this day and year. Donna Braig and Kim Halter are part of the County Bicentennial Commission, and they’ve got Pastor Jeff roped in on some further events which will pass through Hebron this summer – but the first thing is for all of you to join the Commission, Hebron Village council, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, bands and choirs, as we start this bicentennial celebration on March 1. Come join us, and have some pancakes while you wait!

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Hebron Crossroads 2-02-03
By Jeff Gill

Before the sun rises Tuesday morning, your fellow citizens in the Lakewood School District will be heading off to their polling places for the special election on the operating levy.
And before that, God bless ‘em, pollworkers who are also your friends and neighbors will have gotten up at oh-dark-thirty to set up the election equipment and be ready for those of us who vote at 6:30 am on the way into our day. Some of them hang in there right through the 7:30 pm closing on Feb. 4. Could we have a quick round of applause for those folks? Hear, hear. . .

Anyhow, we’re coming up on ten years with the same budget for Lakewood, and there are precious few households or organizations who are working with the same budget they had in 1993. With the recent arrival of the assessment letter and tax tickets (yep, I got mine too, and it went up), we’re reminded of reason number 367 why we need to change the state funding system for education; even though we are each paying more in taxes, the “rollback” provisions that give us each a lighter load on paying for bond issues also impact the contribution of the state to operating expenses, meaning that our schools can’t end up with more money than we voted for in 1993 until we vote otherwise.
That’s right, folks: when our assessments go up and we personally pay more, the law says that our work to make a better community is rewarded by cutting our state portion of the budget (paid for out of the sales tax and fees), leaving us where we started from minus inflation and wear-and-tear. Does this sound crazy to everybody, or is it just me?
So Superintendent Phil Herman, our school board, and hundreds of volunteers who are parents, grandparents, or just motivated citizens have to mobilize to ask for the money to pay the basic bills. . .the bills as they cost in 2003, not 1993. They’ve been working their way through the 9000 some registered voters in the district, calling, explaining, and communicating the need for a new levy. We’re currently paying near the absolute minimum in property taxes, and we’re barely making ends meet even without high school busing and all-day kindergarten and pay-to-participate.
Please get out and vote on Tuesday! I’m convinced that Lakewood is spending our money as carefully as they can, and they’ve convinced me that all-day kindergarten is vitally needed to set kids on the right learning track from the start. As for those who say half the high schoolers wouldn’t ride the bus if it were offered, my response is “but the half that would, would.” And pay-to-participate is just sad; I know my parents with four active kids would never have been able to pay per activity for all that us Gill kids did before and after school, and removing those activities creates a very real gap in our community where all manner of influences can enter in.
One more badgering point, and then I’ll move on (I promise); when people say “my kids are out of school, I’ve already paid my share,” among myriad other facts, the main point here is “no, you didn’t.” Virtually no one “pays their share” for their kids education, in large part because virtually no one could (yes, even way back when). While you were helping pay part of your kids education, whether through your own property tax on indirectly through your rent, others whose kids had already finished school were covering the rest. Schools are a community investment like roads and public safety, and we all pay what we can when we can; even churches and non-profits like the Masonic Lodge pay property taxes (my own congregation pays nearly $3000 a year, for instance) so this institution can continue to support and maintain democracy and literacy.
Meanwhile, we’ve gotta change this funding system: send your ideas to or call 928-4066! Let’s get the public conversation going on this subject, but in the meantime, we need to give a modest bump to the the school budget for the next five years (which is as long as this levy would last, anyhow); maybe by 2008 we’ll have come up with an answer for this funding formula riddle. ‘Til then, see you at the polls on Tuesday!