By Rev. Don Dewey and Rev. Susan Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Perhaps the month of February could boast of having the fourth or fifth most recognized holiday of the year; giving way to Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween and Mother’s Day! Valentines Day, celebrated on February 14th is noted for its focus on LOVE.

This holiday, named after St. Valentine who was beheaded for secretly helping couples wed, celebrates that universal experience. Like most holidays, Hallmark, candy companies and floral companies garner a huge business with endless ways to say, “I love you” to someone we care about.

While love is a universal experience for all humanity, it is also at the very heart of our Christian experience. St. Paul perhaps has captured it best in that famous 13TH chapter in 1 Corinthians. A passage that is often read at weddings and other such occasions where loves ideal is lifted up.

In the late 1980s, Lieserl Einstein, the daughter of the famous genius, donated 1,400 letters, written by Einstein, to the Hebrew University, with orders not to publish their contents until two decades after his death. This is one of them that he had written to her on The Universal Force of Love.

“When I proposed the theory of relativity, very few understood me, and what I will reveal now to transmit to mankind will also collide with the misunderstanding and prejudice in the world.

I ask you to guard the letters as long as necessary, years, decades, until society is advanced enough to accept what I will explain below.

There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. This universal force is LOVE.

When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force. Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness. Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love.

This force explains everything and gives meaning to life. This is the variable that we have ignored for too long, maybe because we are afraid of love because it is the only energy in the universe that man has not learned to drive at will.

To give visibility to love, I made a simple substitution in my most famous equation. If instead of E = mc2, we accept that the energy to heal the world can be obtained through love multiplied by the speed of light squared, we arrive at the conclusion that love is the most powerful force there is, because it has no limits.

After the failure of humanity in the use and control of the other forces of the universe that have turned against us, it is urgent that we nourish ourselves with another kind of energy… If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.

Perhaps we are not yet ready to make a bomb of love, a device powerful enough to entirely destroy the hate, selfishness and greed that devastate the planet.

However, each individual carries within them a small but powerful generator of love whose energy is waiting to be released.

When we learn to give and receive this universal energy, dear Lieserl, we will have affirmed that love conquers all, is able to transcend everything and anything, because love is the quintessence of life.

I deeply regret not having been able to express what is in my heart, which has quietly beaten for you all my life. Maybe it’s too late to apologize, but as time is relative, I need to tell you that I love you and thanks to you I have reached the ultimate answer!”
- Your father, Albert Einstein

Sometimes today it can feel like hate, bigotry, fear, greed and all kinds of destructive behavior and attitudes are “winning.” However, it is important to remember that no matter how dim the light nor how deep the darkness, the light of love is in the world and no amount of darkness can extinguish it. Each human being carries within them this universal spark of divine love and our task is to fan its flame.

Einstein wrote, “If we want our species to survive, if we are to find meaning in life, if we want to save the world and every sentient being that inhabits it, love is the one and only answer.” St. Paul reminds us that “Love never ends.” I pray that we begin with ourselves to tap into the energy of that Universal Force of Love, which we know to be our God, and trust is redemptive and transformative power to change us and our world.

Together on the journey,
Don and Susan

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AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt

Hi Everyone,

As you know, we have been preparing to start our winter cohort shortly. We want to take this time to quickly inform you that the date has been pushed back to Thursday, February 14th.

If you are interested in joining us there is still time! We would love to have you!

A few things:
• Questions? Want to chat with someone from our team? Click here to grab a slot!
• Want to learn more on your own? Click here to read about the course!
• Ready to sign up? Click here to get started!
• PSWR Pastor or lay leader? We have scholarships! Interested in coming as a team? Let us know!
• Want to watch our latest webinar? https://www.hatcheryla.com/pl/64727
• Looking to fulfill your annual PSWR CEUs? This counts.

We have had amazing experiences journeying with our students and have included sentiments from some of them below!

The Hatchery LA Team

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AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt

We have a working, permitted elevator. Hallelujah!

Staff offices are up and running on the second floor. We still have a few boxes to unpack and we are taking our time as we purchase new desks and furniture. But you are welcome anytime. We may ask you to unpack a box or take home a parting gift but come on by.

First Christian Church, Fullerton members will tour the renovated facility this Sunday, January 6th, following worship. We look forward to sharing the results with the congregation whose gift initiated the opportunity to relocate our Regional ministries to Fullerton.  Their outreach ministries, sharing a hot meal ministry and providing hospitality to a large 12-step group, continue weekly. FCCF anticipates providing Worship and Wonder experiences to their own community and to the broader Regional congregations.

Casa de Oracion, Fullerton will begin the new year worshipping in the Fellowship Hall and providing children’s ministries in the renovated first floor of the West Wing. These dedicated spaces will be available to the entire Region during Regional Assemblies and Gatherings.  

Our phone transition has taken much longer than we expected. Good news: we will retain our long-standing phone number (626 296 0385). Bad news: AT&T, despite four months prior notice, will not be able to complete that connection until January 14th. In the meantime, please use our temporary number: (714) 459 0970. If you receive a busy signal, please bear with us and call back.

January’s calendar is a busy one. The Disciples Ministry Center will host a two-day retreat for the Committee on Ministry and several one-day retreats for the Regional Ministry Search Committee, Regional Board, and Regional Staff.

If you are planning Regional ministry events, please contact Janelle Vannoy atassist@disciplespswr.org to submit a calendar request.

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AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt

Ryan Pryor, Pastor at Mission Hills Christian Church, was a graduate in the first cohort who took our twelve-week Certificate Course in Spiritual Entrepreneurship. We talked with him recently his ministry and how the program impacted the work he is doing.

Ryan, a graduate of Fuller Seminary, was seeking to bring fresh things to his community and had a lot of vision, hopes and dreams for long term revitalization of both his church and the community they serve.

Ryan started his ministry, which he calls ‘essentially a re-plant,” a little over two years ago. He started from scratch, and has had to figure most things out on the job. His focus was on spiritual innovation, asking the question, What do people in general in the 21st century need spiritually and in particular what did the Mission Hills community need? And along with that he is asking larger questions about the future of Christianity in the U.S. What will it look like? Putting those questions into practice in real people’s lives has been the focus in the two years he has been at Mission Hills.

It was his desire to explore the implications of these questions that drew him to our program. The Certificate in Spiritual Entrepreneurship is designed to help people think through questions like these in a focused and practical way, giving not only the necessary tools to explore theological innovation, but also adding models for working through change in a congregation, community or venture in ways that lead to transformative outcomes. Ryan said that one of the helpful concepts he gained from the program was the MVB, or Minimum Viable Benefit, which is one of the tools we offer our students as a means of focusing their energies, enabling them to determine potential outcomes and risks and achieve desired goals in effective ways. “There are so many people all over Los Angeles who are interested in issues of spirituality, who have come to Mission Hills because they are finding that what we are talking about and the kind of community we are creating resonates with their hopes and needs,” Ryan said. The class has helped Ryan refine his vision, take the risks and learn how to make necessary adjustments while things are in motion.

“The questions that you are asking right now are the questions that are going to innovate the future of Christianity in church communities wherever you are. For those who are burned out, there are places you can go and there is a way forward, there is a place for you and Hatchery and its programs are one of those places.” (Click below to view video interview)

 

If like Ryan, you are asking questions about what the future of your community looks like, or you are wrestling through how to effect transformation and change, or you want to learn how to ask new theological questions, we invite you to check out our course and the other offerings we have on our website: https://www.hatcheryla.com. A new cohort starts end of January!

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AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt

by Ted Oden, Member of First Christian Church, Torrance

At our Regional Assembly last month, I asked Susan [Gonzales Dewey, Co-Regional Minister] if our region or even our entire national Disciples ministry had any, or supported any mental health programs. Her answer was that there may be local community activities, but no, there was nothing that she knew of at the regional or national level.

My interest came from participating in an ecumenical faith community panel where we were asked to provide input as to what we are doing to support and educate those affected, and address the skyrocketing rate of suicide in our culture's youth. 

The request came from the Volunteer Center in Torrance, a non-profit with access to funding and a mission to effectively meet the needs of our local community. 

During our session, we were told that in 2012 sociologists noticed that the teen suicide rate began increasing significantly. Also significant is the fact that although smart phones were introduced earlier, 2012 was the year that the United States became saturated with smart phones. This saturation includes our youth. 

Along with smart phone saturation came isolation, cyber bullying, and other historically anti-social behaviors. While there is no direct causality, there is a definite correlation between smart phone use and increased mental health problems such as suicide. 

According to Dr Jean Twenge, author of the book iGen, teens on average log 6 to 9 hours of non-education smart phone use PER DAY. She challenges parents to limit their children's non-educational smart phone use to one hour per day and to replace it with healthy alternatives such as family time outdoors, or reading a book. Of course in order to be effective, parents must be willing to limit their own smart phone use to one hour per day. 

So what can we do? Is there anything we can do together as regional Disciples? As national Disciples?

Here are a few possibilities:

1. Start small – Compile a list of local congregation resources across the Pacific Southwest Region.

2. Increase awareness – Educate our faith community and local families. 

3. Step out in faith – Embrace this situation as the opportunity that it is, to serve our local faith and secular communities in a very real and tangible way. 

Taking these steps can make us more relevant to our communities and that can only be good for the viability of our faith communities, and can help us reach more people with the good news of the love of God in Jesus Christ.

For further information, please check the following resources:
The Volunteer Center https://www.volcenter.org/youth-mental-health
The book iGen, by Dr. Jean Twenge CSUSD

 To express interest in forming or supporting a PSWR action group, please contact the PSWR Office at admin@disciplespswr.org.

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AuthorAlisa Mittelstaedt