Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bill and Helen Lovelace GBGM Itineration schedule

Bill and Helen Lovelace GBGM Itineration schedule
(November 2, 2014-March 7, 2015)

November 2:                              Vilnius, Lithuania to New York

November 3-4:                           Global Ministries staff consultations

November 5:                              Travel to Ohio
November 6-12:                         East Ohio, Detroit, and Indiana Annual Conference 

November 13:                            Travel to Columbus, IN

November 14-15:                       Lithuania Round Table in Columbus, IN

November 16:                            Travel to Tennessee

November 17-23:                       Holston and Memphis Annual Conference 

November 24:                            Travel to Northern Virginia   

Nov 25-Dec 7                            Virginia Annual Conference itineration
December 8:                              Travel from Washington, DC to Savannah, GA
December 9-14:                         South Carolina Annual Conference itineration

December 14:                            Travel to Atlanta, GA 
December 15-20:                       Wellness medical exams

December 21-January 1:            Christmas break

January 2:                                   Travel to South Georgia

January 3-12:                              South Georgia Annual Conference 

January 13-16:                            North Georgia Annual Conference itineration
January 17:                                 Travel from Atlanta, GA to Dallas Fort Worth, TX
January 18-29:                            Central Texas Annual Conference itineration
January 30-February 2:               North Texas Annual Conference itineration
February 3:                                  Travel to San Antonio, TX

February 4-10:                             Southwest Texas (Rio Texas) Annual Conference 

February 11:                                Travel  to Boston, MA

February 12-16:                           New England Annual Conference itineration                                                                                                                                   

February 17:                                Travel to Pennsylvania
February 18-28:                           Susquehanna and Eastern Pennsylvania AC

March 1:                                      Travel to New York
March 2-6:                                   Mission Initiative Summit, NY, NY

March 7:                                       New York, NY to Vilnius, Lithuania

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lithuania Annual Conference 2014

The Lithuania District Annual Conference 2014 ended on a glorious note with the ordination of two persons, Jolita Piečiaitė-Erbele as Elder and Jelena Kask, as Deacon.   Jelena was the first Deacon ordained in Lithuania while Jolita had the privilege of being ordained in one of the church she pastors, Pilviškiai United Methodist Church.  Jelena serves with her husband Andrus in planting a new church in Vilnius.  Jolita and her husband Andrew Erbele, are co-pastors of both Pilviškiai and Kybartai United Methodist Churches.  Jolita and Andrew, along with the Pilviškiai United Methodist Church were wonderful hosts for the Annual Conference.  It is the first time since 2000 that the Annual Conference has been held outside Kaunas.   People were enthused and hope the tradition continues to move the location of Annual Conference around to the various churches of the district.  

Many said they felt the presence of the Holy Spirit in a tangible way during the ordination service.  After Bishop Christian Alsted’s sermon following the theme of the Conference, “…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”, (Joshua 24:15b), more than two thirds of the congregation present, which totalled around 100 people, came forward for prayer and rededication of their life to Christian service.   After the worship service, the day had a crowning finish as three white doves, representing the Holy Spirit and the Trinity, were released into the air and the community.

From left, Helen Lovelace, Bill Lovelace, new deacon Jelena Kask, new elder Jolita Piečiaitė-Erbele, Bishop Christian Alsted.

Helen with Jelena.  Helen was Jelena's mentor during her Deacon's candidacy.

Doves are released

Monday, July 15, 2013

Leadership Training and a Summer Visit.

Here are some of the last month’s activities in the UMC in Lithuania

One of the focus areas for the UMC in Lithuania is children and youth. Last weekend we had a special focus on leadership training for youth between 16 and 20 years of age.  The Children and youth board in the UMC in Norway shared their "Timothy" leadership school with us.

For this first weekend, three of the leaders from the UMC in Norway came to Lithuania and trained our youth in the first part of the leadership training education. The education contents of 3 weekends together with practical work and responsibilities in the local church – as helping with church coffee, cleaning the church, leading the worship service, being a member of one of the church boards and planning camps.

We hope and pray that this leadership training school will be the first of many schools to come.

The leaders and the youth who came to the first weekend.

A picture of the altar the youth made Friday evening.

 Earlier in June we had nine women from the Methodist Church in Porsgrunn Norway with us here in Kaunas. They have been quite diligent with yarn and knitting needles for some years and they have during the last 3 years been sending us lot of kilos of socks, gloves, scarves and hats, things we have been so lucky to give to elderly people, youth and children here in Lithuania.

Sock sorting.

In the beginning of June they came to Kaunas with a lot of new socks, hats, mittens and scarves and together with us the visited a hospital for premature children, a kindergarten for handicapped children, and a nursing home.   Together with a Family small group in one of our churches here in Kaunas, they went on an adventure tour to the Open Air Museum. 

Ah, the good old days.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Vasara! Summer!

Kite flying at the Eiguliai UMC family picnic.

Summer has finally arrived in Lithuania after a cool spring.  Lenten Season, Easter, and Annual Conference have come and gone and now we enter the summer season with children’s camps and family worship services outside.  During the coming days, I will share some highlights of our ministry in Lithuania these last six months:
This Easter was our first Easter to celebrate in Lithuania and celebrating Easter in a new country is always exciting.  What are the Easter traditions are here and what happens in the church in the Holy Week are some of the questions we asked ourselves during these days.
We lived 14 years in Ukraine and were familiar with the Orthodox Easter celebrations and here in Lithuania, it is the Catholic Easter celebration that is strong. It's interesting to see and experience how the different traditions are part of how our Methodist church celebrates Easter.

We began Holy Week with a Palm Sunday celebration in one of the Methodist Church’s  here in Kaunas. We started outside the church where we all had at one branch of a juniper tree, in Lithuania called a “verba”, (the lithuanian word means palm, but is use here in a liturgical sense)  and then processed in after various liturgical readings.  In Ukraine, a pussy willow branch is used, and is also use here sometimes.  When palm branches are not available, local fauna is used.
Getting ready to process inside
During the service branches were blessed and tradition says that the branches should be be taken home and dried. The needles are then saved and burned as incense when people meet tough and hard times and the branches are, when they are dry, hung behind a holy picture – as a reminder of God’s protection over us.
We were not the only ones with branches in our hands, everyone we saw on the street had them.  Near the Catholic churches, you can purchase a more elaborate artistic version of the “verba”, which , after being blessed in church, you take and put in a corner of your home also as a sign of God’s protection.   We decided to get one for our home:
All of these kinds are very nice. The juniper branch we used in the Methodist Church is in Helen's left hand.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Linksmų Kalėdų!       Merry Christmas from Lithuania! 

 The picture  is from the town square in Kaunas, where we live, with Europe’s first Eco Tree! And what is that you might ask ? The Christmas tree – is made of 40,000 recycled plastic bottles of Sprite! Nice? We are not sure, but it is a fun and huge tourist attraction and it did save a big fir tree from the beautiful Lithuanian forests. Every day new Christmas decorations and lights are added to the Christmas City here on the Kaunas main square– yes, it is soon Christmas, we see and feel it.

Moving to Lithuania after 14 years of ministry in Ukraine this September has been a time of adjustment and settling in. A new language needs to be learned, a new culture awaits to be discovered and it sometimes feels overwhelming to be back at the beginning of language and culture acquisition. But the joy of ministry and the grace of God gives us the inspiration for the challenge ahead. Here is a little of what we do:

 Bill is the District Superintendent of the Lithuania District of the Estonia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, meaning he is the head of the Methodist Church in Lithuania. Lithuania is the southern most of the three Baltic countries of eastern Europe, bordering Latvia, Poland, Belarus and the Kaliningrad district of Russia. The Methodist church in Lithuania was restarted in 1995 after being closed while a republic of the former Soviet Union. This year, in 2011, the United Methodist Church of Lithuania celebrated it’s 110 year anniversary of ministry and the 100 year anniversary of the church building in Kaunas.

 While administration of the district, signing payroll sheets, overseeing contracts and other paperwork does consume time, there are plenty of ministry opportunities. In the pastor’s meetings this fall, Bill has been leading a discussion on the renewal of the church in a ever changing 21st century. How can we as the 10 Methodist churches in Lithuania be a light in the community we serve, not simply repeating the same thing we have always done , but giving answers to the questions non-churched people have about God?  How can we be creative with new ministries and possibly start new churches?

Church conferences will start up after the New Year, so every weekend for 2 months Bill will visit a different church in the conference for the churches yearly “state of the church” meeting, where ministry and financial aspects of the church are reviewed.

 Helen is the Director for Diaconal ministries for Lithuania, overseeing and consulting with the diaconal work done in the district. One of the highlights this Christmas for Helen was to be with the "Food Bank" project, an initiative launched by the government in collaboration with humanitarian aid organizations, both religious and non-religious.

Organizations can apply to join, where they are assigned to a shop one weekend before Christmas and before Easter to collect products which in turn will pass it on to those who do not have the opportunity to buy a little extra for the holidays. People who come into the store to shop, shop a little extra and give it to the organization that has been assigned the shop. The Methodist Church in Kaunas was awarded one of the city's supermarket stores and we collected food for about 3,600 litas ($1,400) - which will go to the poor at Christmas!

 We wish all of you the Peace of Christ in this Christmas Season and His Joy in the coming New Year.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Looking to the Future

Greetings from Ukraine!

In January 10 years ago we started working with street children here in Kiev, Ukraine. Amazing how fast 10 years have passed! We started 10 years ago with serving soup and playing with children living on the street. We did it twice a week. Today we are working every day and we also have a center where we can invite street children and families at risk. We can invite them to a great fellowship and a safe environment.

We started working with street children in a park downtown Kiev, from there we moved to one of the Subway stations in the outskirt of Kiev, After a year we moved from the park to a rented basement in one of the apartment buildings in the same area, before we again had to move outside and continue working in a park before we were able - with help from Methodist Churches in US and Norway - to buy the first floor of a apartment building for our work.

Since then, we have expended our work to include families at risk and we have opened a new UMC congregation. Every day we have 15 -25 children, youth and mothers coming to our center and every Sunday we have about 25 people coming to the worship service.

We are thankful to God for what He has done here in Kiev and to each of you for being willing to listen to His call to support the work – in many different ways - we are doing here in Kiev.

Valeri and Vova
Today I want to share with you 2 stories from our work here in Kiev and what’s happen when we are met with love rather than rudeness.

First I want to let you meet Valeri. He is 19 years old now, but we have known him since he was 10. He has lived on the street since he was 6-7 years old. Since, before we met him, he has been sniffing glue and we can see and feel the result of many years on glue.

One day Bill and I went from our center to the bus stop together with Valeri. After a couple of minutes he told us at we walked too slowly, he wanted to go faster. He said goodbye and he “ran” to the bus stop. The trolleybuses do not come to often, so he had to stand at the bus stop for several minutes waiting for the bus. The result was that Bill and I came on the same bus as Valeri. Valeri did not see us even we saw him. The conductor came, Valeri refused to pay for the ticket and start arguing with the conductor. She left him and she came to us, we bought three tickets and gave one to Valeri. He said thank you, but the conductor got mad at us and told us we do not do any good buying a ticket for him – he is bad, he is terrible and does not deserve anything good.

She did not know that we knew Valeri, she has never seen Valeri watering the flowers, serving food, praying, giving me a big hug or carrying my bag back from the store. She has never met Valeri when someone has met him with loving and caring way.

She has only met Valeri when he has been met with hash words, when people are rude to him, when people hit him.

We have seen how people can change when they are met with love, with care instead of angry words.

Vova is another of the young men we have get to know through the work at our center. Vova is about 20 years old, we have known him for many years also. Vova has lost his parents and grandparents many years ago. Our center became his family.

Vova is in prison now. One morning he called us and start telling us about the life in prison. He was sharing room with 70 other prisoners and only 50 of them were able to sleep at the same time. We talked about this for a while – than Vova came with his real message – do not forget me!

For Vova, it is important to know that someone out there rememberss him, remembers him while he is inside the prison – to send him food, clothes, but also that we will be there when one day he finishes his term in prison. For him to survive, for him to have a hope for a better life, he has to know we are there for him. There is no reason to try to behave good, to try to study – if there are no people who care for him.

Our center is a safe harbor and a place to develop skills and give hope for the future.

New possibilities
In the beginning of our work here in Kiev, we worked with street children. After 8 years we were asked to also reach out to families at risk. We said yes to do that, and we have now contact with 5-7 families. We have an afterschool program, we have a computer class, mother’s groups, a project to teach people how to develop work skills through a micro-business and other activities for those who come to our center. We have also looked into the possibility to start a new children’s group every morning.

Since January we have been working with the preparation for open a new ministry at our center. We have started with two kids and hope to be about 10 pre school children in September. We are exacted about the possibility for new ministry.

The biggest change in our ministry is that another GBGM missionary will take Bill’s and my position in Kiev from September 1. Last Summer Bill was asked by the Bishop for Northern Europe and Baltic to be the interim District Superintendant for Lithuania for 6 months. During that time, the bishop asked him to be the new DS from the Summer of 2011. Both of us said, yes we are willing to move to Lithuania, if we can find another missionary to take over the responsibilities we have in Kiev. We know that God loves the program and want the program to continue.

Bill and I were not to convinced that we were able to find one who would like to this ministry – and without that person in place, we were not going to say yes to the question from the bishop. We started to pray - God help us to see what is right, what we are going to do and if you want us to say yes to the call from the bishop, send us a person who can be responsible for the center as well as the church.

God has a plan, he sent a GBGM missionary to Kiev who is a UMS pastor, who speaks Russian very well and has worked as a pastor in a church in Moscow, which also had a center connected to the church as we have. The center was for student and refugees. When you believe in prayer, I don’t think we can receive a more clear answer from God.

We are moving to Lithuania September 1st. Bill as DS and I will working in the churches in Lithuania with diaconal issues and also be helping and mentor for children’s and family centers in Lithuania. The new missionary John Calhoun is already in Kiev starting to work 50% together with Bill and me.

We are excited about the new possibilities and thankful to God for what he has done through the center the last 10 years. For all of you who have supported the work, we pray that you will continue to support us and the center in Kiev.

May God bless you as He has blessed us through each one of you!

Bill and Helen Byholt Lovelace

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fall at St. Luke's

Greetings from Kiev,

The summer is over and the fall program has started.

In the summer we had a lot of great day trips – we went to see a 3D movie, several trips to McDonalds, museum trips, and several other entertainments.

Some of the kids from our families have started in school this fall and Bill and I were so lucky that we were invited to be with one of them on his first day in school - a great day for both us and for the child.

This fall we have expended our program to include having a “Mother’s Day Out” program every Wednesday. Just behind our St. Luke’s Family Center, we have a play ground, where a lot of mothers and grandmothers take their preschool age children to the playground every day. It is starting getting cold here in Kiev and we want to invite them to the center for a cup of coffee, a talk and for the children to play.

Another new activity is introduction of English classes and an English Club for the students at the university we have close to our center.

In addition, once a month we want to reach out to our neighbors for a to a cup of coffee, help the kids who need help with homework, sharing humanitarian aid, invite them in to a positive and healthy environment.

Besides our new program we are continuing mother and child groups for families at risk, a life skill program for older street children and we are also starting up life skill groups for the younger kids coming to our center.

The city government is continuing to work with us to provide names of families at risk so that we can help the children to stay in the families, build good relationships within the families and build up the mother’s self esteem.

We continue to see good progress in the families we are working with – both for the mothers and the children and the relationships between the mother and children.

The work project for those over 17 is continuing and we are doing well. Our challenge is to sell over products, so we can be self supported and we want to start a small business. If some of you would like to come and help us with this project you are more than welcome!

Thanks to a gift by a Rotary Club in Norway for the purchase of computers, we are also going to start a computer class for the oldest children this fall.

Hope you enjoy our greetings, pictures and up date!

Greetings from

St. Luke Family Center