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St. Paul UMC is a Steward of Holy Currencies

The Cycle of Blessings of Holy Currencies

Excerpted from Holy Currencies, a book by Eric H.F. Law, published by Chalice Press, 2013.

...money was not the only currency at work....there are at least five other currencies that flow through a sustainable missional ministry. In addition to money, these currencies are time and place, gracious leadership, relationship, truth and wellness.... These currencies "flow" through the ministry, exchanging themselves for other currencies, forming what I call the "Cycle of Blessings." The sequence of exchanges rejuvenates that which was spent initially, recirculating resources, and regenerating more currencies, thereby growing and expanding the ministry.

These are not the only currencies....these are the essential ones that a sustainable and missional ministry must have circulating through its operation, interacting not only within the membership of the organization but also with the wider environment and community.

Gracious Leadership

Gracious leaders know how to build relationships with and among diverse populations and to discern the truth together.

Grace is a gift. We do not work for it or earn it. Like the abundance of God's creation, we do not own it. Grace is the belief that God loves us first, and this love is not a currency to be traded or exchanged conditionally. It is something we accept and share. In our gratefulness for this unearned love, we accept and share. In our gratefulness for this unearned love, we then have the courage to follow the way of Jesus, to act and speak the truth.

Relationship

Social networks have value precisely because they help us to achieve what we could not achieve on our own.

  • We shape our network
  • Our network shapes us
  • Our friends affect us
  • Our friends' friends' friends affect us
  • The network has a life of its own

Truth

Currency of truth is what ignites the passion behind the justice work in which church must engage in order for the church to be relevant in restoring the spiritual, economical and social wellness in our communities. In order to move our church members toward thinking and being missional, we need to implement ways to help our community to notice, acknowledge and value truth as a currency.

Wellness

The currency of wellness is the state of being healthy—physically, socially, economically, ecologically and spiritually; both within your church or ministry, as well as in your neighborhood, town or city, nation, and the earth itself, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Sustainable wellness requires a regenerative and recirculatory flow of material, human, financial and natural resources.

Money

It only has value when we exchange it for something else. When we lose sight of the original purpose of money and decide to accumulate it as a commodity rather than keeping it moving as a medium of exchange, we create economic problems.

Time and Place

Churches are poor only when they do not utilize these two currencies effectively and faithfully. Creative use of space and time brings members of the community to your place. If you prepare your church members to be present and listen to the experiences and stories of those who come, you are expanding your external relationship network.

Become Involved

St. Paul invites you to stop by for a personal tour to learn more of its ministries and its challenges.

Please read a recent observation by Pastor Steve Gill regarding the work of St. Paul UMC.

What is a church?

Grace Space

St. Paul is a grace space. Every day the doors open to a dynamic exchange of blessings circulating throughout the building, East Dayton, and beyond. The St. Paul experience includes 140 people showing up for a hot breakfast; scrappers (people who collect scrap metal) stopping by for restrooms, water, and conversation; and a constant stream of people partaking of free bread and bakery goods donated by local stores and delivered to the church several times a week by dedicated volunteers.

Our worshiping congregations gather on Tuesday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings, creating a flow of diverse people sharing the love of Christ in their own unique way. Those who come to St. Paul bring a variety of needs, talents, and capabilities that are respected and connected to ministries such as our choice food pantry and Stuff Shoppe that are open three days a week. Twice a week, partnering churches come to prepare and serve hot meals. Fall brings after-school and Hispanic ministries, including Bible study, ESOL and Zumba.

The Huffman Neighborhood Association, now meeting at the church, recently hosted the mayor of Dayton, WEP (Work Experience Program) workers, and refugees supported by Catholic Social Services. A team of volunteer workers with big hearts, along with our small staff, all join together to help keep the doors open and the blessings flowing. Each encounter has a uniquely human exchange equal to or surpassing the sharing of goods and meals.

Rarely is money exchanged. One of our primary currencies is our building located in the heart of a 1880-1900 neighborhood. It is here that dynamic relationships are encouraged to grow between people of this historic neighborhood. These include those in recovery, prostitutes, addicts and their families, and homeowners, so that all are known by name. St. Paul itself has benefited from the practices being taught around Holy Currencies.

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DEFINITIONS OF THE SIX CURRENCIES FOR THE CYCLE OF BLESSINGS

Excerpted from Holy Currencies by Eric Law

Currency of Time and Place: Paid and volunteer time that leaders and members offer to the church or ministry. Properties from which a church and ministry operates, and other properties owned or which can be accessed by the church and ministry.

Currency of Gracious Leadership: The ability to use skills, tools, models, and processes to create gracious environments (Grace Margin) within which mutually respectful "relationships" and the discernment of the "truth" across differences can be built internally, among existing members, and externally, with non-members. Differences can be racial/ethnic, age, gender, sexual orientation, class, political affiliation, or simply those existing between church members and other folks in the neighborhood.

Currency of Relationship: The internal and external networks of mutually respectful connections that leaders and members of a church and ministry have. Internal connections include constructive relationships among members and leaders, area churches or ministries of the same affiliation, area denominational organizations, and national and international denominational structures.

External connections include constructional relationships with non-members, different racial, cultural, and ethnic groups in the neighborhood, people with resources and people in need in the community, civic community leaders, ecumenical and interfaith partners, community and civic organizations, and local businesses.

Currency of Truth: The ability to articulate individually and corporately the global and holistic truth, both internally—the experiences of different individuals and groups within the church or ministry—and externally—the experiences of different individuals and groups in the community, the neighborhood, the city or town, the nation, and the earth.

Currency of Wellness: The state of being healthy physically, socially, economically, ecologically, and spiritually within a church or ministry, the neighborhood, the town and city, nation, or the earth, especially as the result of deliberate effort. Sustainable wellness requires regenerative and circulatory flow of material, human, financial, and natural resources.

Currency of Money: Something generally accepted as a medium of exchange, a measure of value, or as a means of payment.

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A REMNANT......

Steve Gill

My wife and I have been married 42 years this summer and each of us has things that we hold onto. I have a thousand books and she has remnants of fabric from things that she has sewn over the decades. Regularly she asks me to go through my closets and bookcases to pare down my things. I always react by suggesting she go through her boxes of fabric. A few months ago one of our sisters-in-law told her of a project of sewing simple dresses for girls in Africa. These dresses come in all sizes, and finally Elaine has taken remnants of fabric and cut out and sewn dresses for these girls. The really cool thing is that she has used this project as a way of enlisting and teaching our twelve-year-old granddaughter to sew and to be interested in international missions. This is an example of being repurposed.

I tell this because I have heard some reference of St. Paul being a remnant. I sense that it sounds negative and devaluing. But from a Biblical view the remnant was the faithful who had remained or returned and served as the rebirth of the Jewish nation.

St. Paul has remained while so many churches have closed and left, and like the others who have remained they have struggled to find identity and sustainability. St. Paul’s story is one of perseverance and has

benefited from those who are tenacious enough to not give up. I believe that in God’s timing this is a season of repurposing St. Paul and maybe the missional thrust of the broader church. This is happening in concert with other leaders, congregations and sectors of the city. Simultaneously I am experiencing my own sense of being repurposed. Over the past 40 years I have served and helped hospitals, a university, community missions, churches and not-for-profits to see a larger, comprehensive vision for the future. Today the work is primarily about transforming lives.

Over the last several months God made it very clear to me and others that St. Paul UMC is strategically located to be part of a transformational work in the heart of a community that has been largely deserted and left to deteriorate. Is this not where Jesus is most likely to be seen at work? Is this not where the majesty and manifestation of God’s power can be revealed? Is this not where the church is both called to the essence of mission and able to lead in discipling those who have been discounted and left behind?

It seems that St. Paul’s faithfulness is now only to be surpassed by God’s.