JULY 2019
Open hears. Open minds. Open doors.
The people of The United Methodist Church
Dear friends,

My article is based on a title called, How Many People Can God Love? by Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Oxford. The ideal limit on friends is 150. More than that and we limited humans simply can't keep track. It doesn't matter if the 150 are all in your neighborhood and you see them every day, or if you have connections with friends, neighbors and relatives across the globe. If the number exceeds 150, relationships will start to suffer, and meaningful contact will become more sporadic. Gradually, the connection will fade away and that person will no longer be counted among our "friends." This will happen over and over until we naturally whittle our true friend list to -- guess what? 150 people. Humans seem to be hard-wired to maintain a certain number of meaningful relationships at one time. Dunbar has researched this so thoroughly that the phrase "Dunbar's number" refers to these 150 people who make the inner circle of meaningful friends.

We can know more people than 150, of course. In fact, scientists estimate that humans can recognize and remember up to 1,500 people. They just can't maintain a relationship with that many. The quality of friendship suffers if we try to maintain a meaningful relationship with too many people at one time. We don't have the time, the memory or the resources to engage on a deep level with more than a limited number of people at one time. The answer is not to have an ever-increasing number of friends on Facebook. Less may indeed be more when it comes to quality, deep understanding, and in-depth relationships.

God's number?

The good news? There is no limit to God's love.

There is no limit on the number of children in the family of God. The astonishing thing is that God receives us -- just as we are -- and embraces us as family!

God does not place a cap on how many people can come into God's presence. Facebook caps at 5,000. God doesn't cap. We may stumble, choose a path that is more crooked than straight and narrow, or at times be deeply disappointing to God. But when we search for God and call on God for forgiveness and new life, God's door is open. There's always a welcome waiting.

God knows us by name, as it were. God really knows us. In a world where more and more relationships are "virtual" instead of personal, we hear the heartening news that God knows each of us by name. We are not a number or a screen name. We are identified as children of God.

Imago Dei. God embraces us as a child made in the image of God. John writes: "Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. The astounding news is that this verse points to some sort of divine DNA that's within us, that slowly is transforming us into the likeness of God. As a maturing child takes on the physical likeness of the parent, so we take on more of the divine likeness as children of God.

Here's the deal: Sometimes, like all children, we behave like brats. Children can be selfish, snotty, snooty, whining, complaining, irritating malcontents. Especially other people's children. Let's face it: Sometimes we're sort of like that as children of God, and when we are, the Bible calls it "sin." A parent would call it "acting out," or "inappropriate behavior," "expressing oneself," "a tantrum" and so on. Fine.

Love without limits

God is of course capable of anything. If the Scriptures say that God loves without limits, then we need to take that blessing on faith. The challenge of unconditional love therefore lies not with God but with our imperfect ability to conceive and then believe such a possibility. The notion that we are both loved and lovable is perhaps the most challenging one that God places before us. This idea dares us not only to accept ourselves as a beloved child of God, but also to view every person that we encounter along our life's path as another brother or sister in Christ.

God's family is indeed that large -- there's room for everyone at the table. We are called to treat each one with the respect that God first offers to us.

Rev Tom

Dear friends,

What a joy to be appointed to the Chugwater/Wheatland United Methodist Church Parish. This is my first appointment in 20 months. My wife Cindy was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer. We moved to Arizona to be associated with the Barrow Neurological Institute. I left my appointment as Chaplain in the new South Dakota Veterans Retirement Home in Hot Springs South Dakota. While treatment with Barrow was very beneficial, it did not prevent her death. We were married 34 ½ years.

Following her death, I remained in Arizona 10 months to care for myself. I decided to move back to Hot Springs, South Dakota. I purchased a home and moved in on April 2nd. Since April I have been moving into my home while making improvements.

In June I contacted my conference and talked with Jeff Rainwater. I reported to Jeff that I was ready to return to parish work. I completed the necessary paperwork to be appointed out of retirement.

As it happened, I was called to come to Wheatland, Wyoming for an appointment interview. It was a joyful meeting filled with expectation and hope. I became pastor of the parish July 14th.

I’m excited to be here as your pastor. Together, we will enliven the spiritual life of the churches. With new vigor, we shall learn to love God with fullness of heart, mind, and strength. I would like to focus on the life of our churches and their ministries within the community they are planted.

May God bless us in our spiritual endeavor

owann & Gene S.; Ann C.; Kathy W.'s brother, Paul R.; Emily, Julie M.'s
granddaughter; Pastor Tom; our church members; our community; our
teachers and students as they go back to school; Wyoming Thunder,
(Wyoming National Guard) as they begin deployment to the Middle East;
and the Red Bird Mission in Kentucky.

Darlene T; Clay F; Chris S; Larry F; and the Chugwater community and school.

Please let us know if you would like a name added to, or removed from,
our prayer list.

Don’t forget, we have Safeway cards. You can get them after church during
Fellowship Hour. They come in $20, $50, and $100, denominations. They are
good at our Safeway here in Wheatland as well as other Safeway’s and Albertson’s
throughout the region. A portion of the cost comes back to the church. This is a
great way to support our church.

United Methodist Women

The sole UMW event scheduled for July was the summer picnic luncheon slated
for noon on July 11 at Lewis Park. Thanks to Myrna K. for offering us the
chance to meet at her home, instead. The weather forecast called for temps above
97 degrees, so we were delighted to take Myrna up on her offer. We each brought
our own lunch, but Myrna provided iced tea and lemonade. Eight of us gathered
for a fun time. Karyl W. was able to attend our event, for the first time since her
fall. She has progressed to using a walker, so she can finally get out and about.

Project Patricia is still one of our UMW mission activities. The first Project Pat
meeting for the fall season will be held on Sept. 3 at 9:30 a.m. in the Fellowship
Hall. We need help to pack up the cut pieces that have been done over the summer
and to assemble new take-home kits for the Cut-Ups to pick up at church, take
home, cut out, and return. If you can wield a pair of scissors or help pack boxes,
please consider helping us with this worthwhile cause. We also appreciate donations
of toweling, all-cotton sheet materials, or flannels. If you have any questions about
Project Patricia, see Rowann S. or Kathy W.

The next UMW lunch and business meeting will be held on September 12, 2019, at
noon—a carry-in lunch. We’ll be finalizing plans for the rest of 2019, as well as
planning the next Harvest potato bar supper fund-raiser, so we value everyone’s
input. Please mark your calendars!

All ladies of the church are invited to attend any of these events. We need all the help
we can get to carry out the activities UMW does at WUMC and in our community.
If you need a ride to any of these activities, please call Kathy Wilson at 322-1623.