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Pastor Leigh Ann’s Monthly Blog

Long Range Plan

‘Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.’ Ephesians 4:29
We are beginning work with a Church Consultant for the purpose of developing a long range plan. It has been 13 years since this building was completed. At that time there were plans to build another section of this building with classrooms and a kitchen. The plan was to develop a weekday preschool downstairs. Those plans have never been realized but have continued to be a part of the church’s conversation about our future.
Our Church Council approved hiring the Church Consultant upon recommendation of a small group called the ‘Building Inspiration Team’ who met three times in August and September. The goal of hiring the Church Consultant is to develop a long range plan and answer the question of whether we need, want and have the capacity to finish the building. Rev. Mary Scrifers is an experienced church consultant and coach. She will be coming to meetings, running retreats and leading conversations to reflect the core values and passion of this congregation.
Entering into a time of long range planning for the discernment of our future ministry can bring out grief, anger, fear, anxiety, resentment and suspicion as well as hope, excitement, joy and renewed enthusiasm for our future. I’ve already heard every one of these from you. From the choir room to the narthex and out in the parking lot there is talk that goes on.
Paul writes to the people of Ephesus about how to be a church, and to live in community. Paul says in Ephesians 4:1-3, ‘as a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.’ As we enter into this focused time of discernment, I encourage you to take Paul’s words to heart. Be patient with one another as you speak about our future, and the future of this church for people who aren’t even born yet.
A long range plan should project out three to five to ten years. That means we will be planning for 2020 to 2022 and into 2027. I wonder who will be here and what will be the age of our congregation then? Will we have an active group of 30-somethings who are singing with the band and connected with our community partners? Who are we called to reach out to in 2027 that we don’t even know today? The work we do now, is for our children and grandchildren and other people’s children and grandchildren.
How do we stay current with everything, even as we seek to follow Jesus? The truth is if we are looking into the future, some things will change. Even when the way we do ministry changes and the people we see week to week change, the Savior we follow stays the same. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. So let us take heart and be patient and kind to one another as we look into the future and for new ways to offer Christ love to our neighbors.
Grace and peace to you,
Rev. Dr. Shaw


In tough times

In tough times, the first thing to go is your sense of humor. To face evil, oppression and injustice every day tends to make one exhausted and cynical. The stories of climate crisis and disaster, financial malpractice and casual glorified violence wear the most faithful proclaimer of Jesus’ grace down. As I look around the community, folks appear worn out and definitely sans good humor. One of my friends smiled at me this week and declared, ‘Don’t let the turkeys get you down!’ She spoke it in a hush, so as not to draw attention from the committee meeting in progress. Her comment reminded me of a T-shirt my mother had when I was growing up that said the same thing. There is something heartening about remembering a Sandra Boynton cartoon of turkeys sitting on an elephant. It is enough to make me laugh, remembering my Mom wearing such a silly cartoon and cleaning the house on a Saturday morning and singing along to Linda Ronstadt. Humor is healing! The expression ‘laughter is the best medicine’ offers wisdom for the ages. No matter what age you are, laughter fights stress, anxiety, fear and pain. Norman Cousins, an author, professor, and journalist, believed that the biochemistry of emotion through laughter was the key to combating illness. He used laughter (as well as a megadose of Vitamin C) to fight his heart disease and manage his arthritic condition. Hunter Campbell, M.D., the American physician whose life inspired the 1998 movie “Patch Adams” opened a free hospital in a six-bedroom home, to pilot a health care facility through which thousands of patients received humor-infused care over twelve years. That experiment evolved into the Gesundheit Institute which currently offers volunteer programs like humanitarian clowning trips to hospitals, orphanages, refugee camps and prisons. I could talk about the biological impact of humor here, but better for you to google studies online, or better, google some jokes to make you laugh. Have you noticed humor in the scriptures? Job (a rather serious book) describes an ostrich in Job 39:13-18. Verse 17-18 say, ‘because God has made it forget wisdom, and given it no share in understanding, when it spreads its plumes aloft, it laughs…’ And then there is the prophet Jonah. Jonah runs from God, is rescued from drowning by spending three days in the belly of a fish. And then Jonah complaining about God’s rescue of Nineveh from destruction, throws a tantrum about a vine dying that was offering him shade. In Jonah 4:9 he complains about the vine saying, ‘I am angry enough to die.’ Seriously Jonah, over dramatic much? And did you ever read Proverbs 27:14? I wish I had this scripture when I was a young person with parents that took joy in waking me with a loud voice! “Whoever blesses a neighbor with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, will be counted as cursing.” If you are not a morning person…there’s a little biblical support for you! Ha! Does the Bible have humor? Sure it does. Genesis 18 tells the story of Sarah overhearing the news that she will bear a child. Verse 12-13 say, ‘So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have grown old, and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure? The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’” Can you imagine the senior Sarah receiving word she’d bear a child? There is humor in the bible and even laughter. I believe that God has a sense of humor and planted that same joy of life and laughing into humanity. How else would we be able to laugh? ‘Don’t let the turkeys get you down!’ There are mean-spirited yellers who show up when and where you least expect them. The news is filled with sadness and despair. Even so, God offers joy and laughter as medicine for your soul. Don’t give your life away or let your sense of humor rust in the rain! Take time for laughter! Rev. Dr. Leigh Ann


Building Update

The Building Committee has been working with the Planning Department of the City of Vista in order to fulfill our commitment to our Congregation with the proposed completion of our facility.

The City had requested that we reach out to our neighbors. We had planned face to face meetings in early March and then Covid-19 changed those plans. We had to determine another way to reach out and explain our reasons, provide the plans and the concepts. Once that was completed, the information was mailed to over 470 homes/businesses allowing them the opportunity to call or email the Church office with questions or arrange for a masked face-to-masked face meeting for an exterior visualization. If you would like to read this letter, please CLICK HERE.
Online Worship
Worship with us ONLINE.  You can find our worship time at our YouTube channel at United Methodist Church of Vista.  Or, if you receive a weekly newsletter, you will receive a link every week for our service.

We are developing a plan for safe in-person worship and gathering.  Any in-person events, including worship will be offered only when we can assure the safety of our congregation and community.  Until there is a vaccine or other treatment for COVID-19, any in-person gatherings will require face masks, physically distancing of at least six feet, limited singing, spoken litanies, prayers and sermons, no potlucks or offered coffee/cookie fellowship, and no handshakes, hugging or other greeting line with the pastor or church staff.  Our plan is being developed with guidelines from our Bishop, Annual Conference, city and state guidelines and best practices based on up-to-date health information.
Food donations for North County Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services
We are collecting food donations to take to the North County Food Bank and Interfaith Community Services. How can you help? Either drop off food items or schedule a pick-up on Wednesday, January 6. To Drop off: leave at the church office, on the bench outside the front office door between 9 am and noon. For Pick-Up: please email Brenda and Mike Walker at and plan to leave your items on your porch or curb by 9 am. For more information call Brenda and Mike Walker at 760. 726.0442.  NO expired or open food, glass jars or homemade items. 
Helping Hands and “and Two Fishes”
If you have any, please consider saving blankets and blankets for Helping Hands Outreach and food containers for “and Two Fishes.” You can drop items off on Thursdays between 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. on the lower parking lot near the gate. Someone from “and Two Fishes” should be able to assist you. Please contact Brenda Walker, or the church office 760.726.0442, with any any questions. “and Two Fishes” is still providing a sack lunch and a “to-go meal” on Thursday evenings between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m.


Zoom meetings are one way we are working on keeping connected.  All you need is a computer or smartphone with a built-in microphone and a camera and you can join in. Click on the link and follow the prompts to join the gathering.  We are all learning as we go!  See you there!  

Coffee Chat after Worship, Sundays at 10:30 a.m.


Frank’s Music Chat, Mondays at 11:00 a.m.


Congregational Care Meeting,
January 7, 1:30 p.m.


Trustees, January 19, 6:30 pm


Finance, January 27, 7:00 p.m.


Church Council, Jan. 30, 9:00 a.m.
To view Christmas Eve Worship, please click on:

To view “Prepare Him Room” music concert celebrating Advent and the Christmas season, please click on:

Update from the Education Committee
As with most things, COVID-19 related health and safety protocols have limited the programs and events supported by the UMC Vista Education Committee, but we want you to know we are still here with the same purpose; to bring faith enrichment and education to our church youth, families and to the community. Needless to say, finding ways to serve this purpose has been a new challenge but through the initiative and dedication of the teachers and members of our congregation, we’ve connected in various ways over the last several months. Deliveries of flowers, blessing bags, Youth Group welcome kits and Sunday School at-home packets are some ways we’ve remained engaged.
As we gear up with the new season and continue to be mindful of doing our part to support health and safety guidelines, we are at work developing plans for Sunday school connections and other safe activities. Unfortunately, our cherished Annual Trunk or Treat event is not an activity we can responsibly host as currently advised by the San Diego County Health Advisory Board but we’ll continue to work to find alternatives until we can be back together again.
If you feel called to join Education Committee or have suggestions, questions or comments, we are always happy to hear from you! You can contact the church.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic and out of concern for the well-being of our community, we are postponing our church meetings and activities until further notice.  Don’t hesitate to contact us for prayer or to talk. 


The Education/Discipleship program is postponing meetings and activities until further  notice.

Family Game Night is postponed until further notice.