Leadership Announcement

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As we write the next chapter of Echo, we are thrilled at changes in our church’s leadership. The following was announced on Sunday, August 25, 2019:

1. Eric McDonald and Kevin Schad appointed as Elders
We are confident that their addition as shepherds of our congregation is exactly what our church family needs.

2. Kendra Dunahugh taking the title of Associate Minister
While Kendra will still oversee children’s and outreach ministries, we believe this title change reflects the growth of her responsibilities.

3. Kelly Carr taking the title of Teaching Minister
Although this is not a paid position, Kelly has been functioning in this role for a while now and the title reflects this.

Jesus as Messiah

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This spring we’ve been exploring elements of justice as they might be explained through Jesus’ call to public ministry. We’ve seen how His baptism and His 40 days fasting in the wilderness prepared Him. Arriving at Luke 4, we see Jesus beginning to teach.

Jesus is traveling through Galilee, soon end up in His hometown of Nazareth. This is one of the stories mentioned in all four gospel accounts of Jesus’ life. Luke’s account is interesting because He’s bringing to light the social implications of Jesus’ message.

  1. Jesus knows who He is: Luke 4:14-15

    • Jesus is the Messiah—God’s chosen person to carry out the rescue mission for His people. After being baptized and tempted in the wilderness by Satan, Jesus becomes fairly certain it was time to go out and start this ministry and His life, miracles, and boldness in preaching are just a few ways He convinces people that He’s someone to be listened to.

    • Luke says Jesus’ fame is growing. This isn’t really the type of thing I think Jesus cares about all that much, but people in Galilee certainly know who He is. As a matter of fact, Jesus’ reputation was so sterling that even before He started His ministry, preached a word from the Law, or performed a miracle, He was known around His hometown as the “The Perfect Man.” But it’s not only that people know who He is, it’s also because He’s bringing down the house with His preaching. But remember, He’s not yet made the claim that’s He’s the Messiah, but it’s coming…

  2. Jesus understands His purpose: Luke 4:16-22

    • Jesus is at a synagogue in Nazareth, and, as one of the rabbis there that day, He decides He wants to preach, which is a thing during the time of Jesus. If you want to say something, and you’re qualified, you get to talk. The attendant in charge of bringing out sections of Scripture approaches Jesus, and this would’ve been a huge spectacle, because there’s lots of reverence around the written scripture and the scrolls. And when Jesus decides He wants to preach, He was handed a scroll. He unrolls it and it’s Isaiah. He finds the part we’ve numbered 61:1,2 and He reads this:

    “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
        because he has anointed me
        to proclaim good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
        and recovery of sight for the blind,
    to set the oppressed free,
         to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”

    • Jesus uses two words that set up the next part of his message: freedom & poor.

    Freedom: this would’ve evoked a very specific emotion tied a very specific things that happens for the Israelites. This word would’ve caused people to think about The Year of Jubilee, which is a year in which all slaves are released, all debts are cancelled, any land that was sold was returned back to families. And all this is done to symbolize God’s justice and mercy. Jesus is inserting himself into the narrative, as God planned it. He lets the people who are listening know that He has come to set them free.

    Poor: What would be good news if you were poor? That you have everything you need. Abundance, freedom, good health. Maybe your debts were cancelled, maybe your family got their land back…yeah, those same things. But who are the poor? Many of us think about material poverty when we hear the word poor applied to people. However, that’s not the full scope of the meaning of the word. The Jewish community listening that day would’ve thought of these things also: People of low social status, women, children, people with disabilities, the elderly, people of different ethnic groups, people who needed to be redeemed because they previously made bad life choices…I think most of us can relate to at least one of these categories.

    • He reads this passage to them, then He rolls up the scroll, hands it to the attendant, sits down in front of them and everyone’s eyes are fixed on Him when he says, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” The people listening are floored. Their initial reaction is that this is clearly good news. This Jesus they’d heard about who was barnstorming Galilee with his powerful messages was inspiring them and things were going really well until someone said, “Hey man…isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Skepticism sweeps over the crowd.

    • Jesus goes on in Luke 4 to say: “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.”

    • Effectively, what Jesus has just done is make the statement that the justice is He has been sent to carry out will be, not only for Israel, but for everyone. And the people listening to this that day aren’t happy about what they’re hearing.

  3. Jesus doesn’t let anyone or anything impede His mission: Luke 4:28-30

    • Next, the people are so angry they run him out of the synagogue, to the edge of town where there’s a cliff with a steep dropoff and they want to throw Him off of it and try to kill Him.

    • Somehow Jesus makes it out of this angry mob and just goes on His way. I don’t even know how He gets out of it. Does He shapeshift? Does He don a hood and moonwalk out of there? Man, I don’t know! But He makes it out. And I’m glad He did.

    • Clearly Jesus knows and understands the purpose and vision for his life. And it makes me wonder if we truly know how God feels about us.

Do we know who we are?
Do we understand our purpose?

These can be difficult questions to answer when we think about our place in the world. I think the concept of purpose can be especially challenging because there’s so many things out there that can cloud our perspective. This passage can help us when considering these questions:

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:12-17)

We are children of God; chosen, holy, and dearly loved. Our purpose is to glorify Him:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!”
(Philippians 2:5-8)

Our purpose:

Die to self. Be the embodiment of sacrificial love and justice that Jesus exemplifies with His life and ultimately His death.

Message by Seth Millhoan, Lead Minister

Abundance

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If you've been able to join us in recent weeks, you have seen the focus of 2019 at Echo Church is Slow Church. As outlined in the book of the same name, we're considering how to approach our participation at Echo from ethical, ecological, and economical perspectives. Join us for the conversation. If you're away, stay connected through our podcast. Here are some takeaways from the March 17 message:

God’s promise

“The LORD took him outside and said, ‘Now look to the heavens and count the stars, if you are able.’ Then He declared, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the LORD, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” —Genesis 15:5-6

God’s claim is seemingly ridiculous. But Abram believed. This is the type of outlandish faith to which God is calling us. He wants us to trust Him so we can live and experience His full abundance.

Fears of scarcity

When we buy into the myth that the things we need in order to sustain human life are scarce, fears can develop:

  • The fear of not having enough

    Ex: Jesus feeds the 5,000: Mark 6:30-44

    Everyone has enough. Jesus is is literally bringing the kingdom of heaven into this space. He asks the disciples to hand over what they have and trust.

  • The fear of giving it all away

    Ex: The rich young ruler: Mark 10:17-27

    Jesus is asking for a level of faith that asks him to give up comfort and balance in exchange for living a life of radical hospitality. He asks the man to hand over what he has and trust.

Community resources

The early church figured out how to live together in this idea of handing over what they had and trusting God.

  • Acts 2:42-47: “…All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need…”

  • Acts 4:32-35: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had…there were no needy persons among them…”

Ultimately, we can’t look at this as some type of Marie Kondo Tidying Up declutter type of venture. I think what we have to do is push ourselves to make following Jesus a true sacrifice.

If God can come to earth as a man and then die so I can live in freedom from the bondage of sin, making sure my community has access to everything God has trusted me with doesn’t seem like a bad trade off.

by Seth Millhoan
Lead Minister

Reconciling Toward Wholeness

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If you've been able to join us in recent weeks, you have seen the focus of 2019 at Echo Church is Slow Church. As outlined in the book of the same name, we're considering how to approach our participation at Echo from ethical, ecological, and economical perspectives. Join us for the conversation. If you're away, stay connected through our podcast. Here are some takeaways from the February 24 message:

Ecology

The way we live in relationship to others and our environment is our ecology. The term ecology is rooted in the Greek “oikos” or “house.” Ecology is the relationship between my house and your house.

Colossians 1:15-20:

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”

Jesus came to reconcile all things. 

  • Not only us to him

  • Us to one another

  • Us to all creation

Our houses are made up of:

  • The physical

  • The communal

  • The intellectual

  • The emotional

  • The spiritual

For Jesus to reconcile all things we need to:

  1. NAME IT. Specify what in your life needs reconciled. Is it physical, communal, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual?

  2. FEEL IT. Lament—for yourself or through empathy with others.

  3. SHARE IT. Verbally process with others so that you invite the light to overcome the darkness.

  4. GO THROUGH IT. Not around it. Not away from it. Do not sit in it.

  5. USE IT. To empathize. To encourage. To remind those around us that they are not the only ones longing for reconciliation. 

by Chris Cox

Thank you for serving

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Friends,

Echo recently had the chance to give back to our community in a meaningful way. In December we partnered with Douglass Elementary School and the Walnut Hills Faith Alliance to provide Christmas presents and daily need items for nearly 30 families in our neighborhood.
 
I was fortunate enough to be able to visit the school and help people load things into their cars during pickup after the school day. Those who received gifts were nothing but grateful. There was also a buzz from the children in the building who were giving me high fives in the hallway.  Every teacher and administration person I met from the school that day was grateful for the support.
 
One mother of four children was overcome with joy as she walked into the library to receive the basket made for her. She continued to thank me as I walked her to her car to place items in the back. Sure, it felt good to receive the gratitude—but the praise, of course, is not why we serve.
 
When Jesus invites us into a relationship with Him and we accept, He’s asking us to give up our former lives to follow Him. I believe part of the new life found in Jesus is sacrificing for the Lord and seeking opportunities to connect with those around us in meaningful ways. This act of service, the giving of gifts to those who might not have something otherwise, is a simple way to show the love of Jesus to our neighbors.
 
I’m glad to be part of a church where people care enough to put the needs of others before themselves. I’m looking forward to our next opportunity.
 
Take care.
Seth

A Holiday Story

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A 10-year-old me descended the steps of my childhood home on Christmas morning. I raced around the corner where the stairway met the walls of the dining and living rooms—and there it was. Under the tree, emblazoned with a gigantic bow, was the sparkling glow of a metallic red painted Huffy BMX bicycle.
 
With murdered-out black tires and spoked wheels, I dreamed about all the wheelies I’d do around our small-town neighborhood. I envisioned myself cascading off plywood ramps and jumping street curbs to avoid the cracks on the old sidewalks. Jesse Orosco, Rolando Roomes, and a couple of clothespins would provide my rumble as I rolled through the streets of Jamestown. I’d race the tractor-trailers through town and slam on the pedals in the gravel parking lot behind my house, only to peel out and do it all again. One, two, three, four, five streaks in the ground-up rocks.
 
One. Day. That’s all I got with my ruby red beauty.
 
It turns out there are plenty of people in a town of 1,500 individuals who would love the spectacle of a red bike. Our not-so-secure carport wasn’t enough to deter the thieves and their need for speed Huffy provided. And just like that, she was gone. If December 25, 1990 was the greatest day of my childhood, then December 26, 1990 was the certainly the saddest. It was back to the junkyard to pick parts off old bikes to create cyborgs with no souls.
 
The joy of receiving that red bike was exhilarating. The sadness of realizing it was gone left me empty. As children, we experience the world through a unique lens. We feel joy and sadness through seemingly little things, and the emotional response our little minds create can stick with us for a long time. My experience as a kid led me to relish in the receiving of material things. I think a lot of people can relate to this.
 
When I think of this story from my childhood, it serves as a reminder that Christmas is about much more than the exchange of material gifts. This is when we celebrate the end of the waiting. This is when we see what God’s been up to. This is when we receive Jesus as His plan to reconcile all things.
 
Our family is excited to celebrate Jesus’ birth with Echo Church this holiday season. Thank you for being part of our church family.

Take care.
Seth

The Waiting

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Waiting.
That expanse of existence
That feels eternal
Agonizing
Where normal rationale ceases
As time ever increases
Seemingly without end
—You can only ask when

When?
When is it time?
When will it arrive?
When will my dream be realized?

You hold hope inside
Measured
Treasured
Carefully
Like a vapor you cannot see
Your dream is but a mist

This dream remains unformed
in the real world
No shape does it take
It exists only in your mind
Safely in your mind
No one else can see inside your mind
So no one can reject your dream
—That vision only you can see
Your dream is safe inside 

For if you speak it aloud
Whispered or proud
The dream begins to shape 

Then the longing and hoping
The waiting and wondering
The praying and asking
Suddenly
Becomes a type of vulnerability
You cannot escape 

Once spoken
Your dream is released
Out in the world
It’s set free
From the safety of your mind 

Once stated, alas
The vapor of hope
The dream in the mist
Hardens into glass
Smooth and light
Sharp and defined
Reflecting all of you
In every surface 

Now you hold it
Timidly
Most preciously
Your dream
A fragile piece of you
That everyone can see 

You wait.

There’s risk
People know
They see it resting in your grasp
Each day that’s passed
They watch you gasp
Holding in your breath 

It’s delicate
That dream
That fulfillment you wait to see
So fragile
One quick move
And CRASH
It shatters—
scatters on the floor
—that glass
A million sparkling shards
Glinting up at you

Everyone stares
They’re fully aware
As your soul is laid bare
The disappointment of your dream
The hope that once held such a gleam
Now lies broken your feet 

The waiting is no more
All those questions when
The time arrived—
It came and went 

But it never achieved
The heights
The lights
The pinnacle
All this dream was meant to fulfill
Now it seems it never will

The waiting ended
—abrupt
Disappointment interrupts
And takes hope’s place

So now—you must decide
Do you run and hide?
Or take full strides
Toward a new dream?
No one else can decide  

It’s you
Your choice
Your dream
In something bigger than it seems
Yet it may be
Worth hoping again 

But this time
Perhaps
What before had lacked
Was someone else to help the slack
For something else was given back
Into your trembling hands

His hope takes new shape
None before has seen
His hope has a purpose
None before has been 
His hope is both solid
Simultaneously vapor
His hope is a mystery
Reflecting its Creator  

Yet He asks of you:
Wait.
Again?
Yes, wait.
Not to punish
Not to break your precious spirit
But to give time for His best
To bring you rest
To fulfill more than you guess

Because His dream for you
won’t shatter on the floor
Won’t FLASH then be no more
Won’t burden to your core 

His dream will make you
More of you
Than you have ever been
His dream for you is
More you
Than you ask or imagine

Because He sees all of you
Every thing you were
Every thing you are
Every thing you can be 

All at once
Wrapped up in one
Shimmering
Terrific dream
A gift He wants you to receive
Try to trust
And believe. 

Yes, try
Hold out your hands
And close your eyes
Breathe out a sigh
And wait.

 

©2018 Kelly Carr

A Thanksgiving Thought

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Thanksgiving provides a time for us to reconnect with our families. Whether we want to or not, many of us will travel to visit with loved ones this week and catch up with those we don’t see often. Though some of us have a family dynamic that we enjoy, for others this can be a stressful time filled with conversations we’d rather not be having. This can cause angst and feelings of resentment toward those we are supposed to love.

I’m reminded of our recent “Jesus &” series. Many of the messages were about being together with people in our communities. Those messages rallied around the idea of spending time with people who aren’t exactly like us. There could be some wisdom in that type of thinking as we travel to meet up with family this week.

Being a good neighbor extends to those we grew up with and know intimately. I rarely consider my family as my enemy, but as I sit here and think about with whom I have regular disagreements, they certainly do come to the top of my mind. I wonder what it might look like to take Jesus’ command to love and pray for our enemies into the family arena.

The truth is—the branches that extend from our own family trees might provide the greatest opportunity to cultivate good fruit. My prayer this week is that we connect in positive ways to those with whom we share blood and that we remember God’s gift of grace.

Take care.
—Seth

New Series: To Follow Jesus

While stewardship has generally been a term used by churches to describe giving, it encompasses so much more. Often times we jump directly to money management without considering what it means to develop a healthy, biblical view of handling our resources.

In this short teaching series, Steve will utilize his background in theology and finance to explore what it truly means for us To Follow Jesus.

November 4: Compassion
November 11: Generosity
November 18: Balance

Echo Announces New Lead Minister

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Echo Church is pleased to announce that Seth Millhoan has been called to be our next Lead Minister. 

Originally from Jamestown, Ohio. Seth attended Cincinnati Christian University before transferring and graduating from Northern Kentucky University with a radio/television degree. An avid baseball fan, Seth has been employed in sports broadcasting and coached both softball and baseball. He also has work experience in the television advertising field. 

Since 2013, Seth has served on the staff of Lifespring Christian Church in North College Hill as a student minister. The elders of Echo are confident that Seth’s leadership skills, passion for urban Cincinnati, and unique ministry experience make him the ideal leader for our congregation. Seth is married (Michelle), and has three daughters (Izzy, Audrey, and Piper).

Seth will join Echo in June. In the near future, we will announce a meet-and-greet so you can start to get to know the Millhoan's better. Chris Cox, who has been serving as Echo’s interim minister since January, will continue in an advisory position indefinitely. Please keep this transition in prayer as we begin a new chapter as a church family.