Worship – 10:30am
Fellowship – 10:15-10:30am


by Tim Smith

I don’t know if you have noticed the banner in the corner of the sanctuary that indicates that this church is the home of the Ohio Conference Moderator. Some of you may be Tim Smithsurprised that our Kentucky home here belongs to something called the Ohio Conference, and apparently it is need of Moderation!

Well, I am that Moderator as well as Chair of our Board of Directors and will serve on this board through 2017.

The Ohio Conference is facing similar challenges to those faced by local congregations. We’ve had turnover with our professional staff, we’ve drifted in our sense of purpose and vision. Money is tight, people have lost interest, and the camps are struggling. General Synod is coming to Cleveland in 2015. The list goes on and on. Throw in a pool of 350 autonomous churches, five independent associations and 100,000 members and you can see the challenges facing the conference and the board. It’s like herding cats. On top of it all, the time commitment is significant, so some may ask, Tim why do this? Why commit to such a struggle?

Beyond the simple answer of “I love it”, and “I find it very rewarding” there are several important things that motivate me.

First of all, I was raised in a UCC household where the expectation was to do more than sit in the pews on Sunday morning. So through the years I have served in whatever way I can various churches and associations of the United Church of Christ.

Secondly, I am really motivated by the exciting message and leadership of the United Church of Christ. The ideas formulated by our denomination regarding extravagant welcome, continuing testament and changing lives really resonate with me. I believe we are uniquely positioned to make a real difference in peoples lives and I want to support our bold goals.

Thirdly, I also think I can make a valuable contribution to the organization in many ways and I truly believe lay people must be more involved – we often rely too much on our ordained members to take the lead.

It’s also fun! I get to work with really talented people and to learn a lot from them. Phil Hart, our Designated Conference Minister and our speaker today, is one of those talented people. I really feel the presence of the Holy Spirit amongst us when we are doing this work together.

I also get to witness to what our congregation here in Bellevue is doing, how we at St John are caring for the spiritual and physical needs of our community. I share our successes and seek solutions for those areas in which we struggle.

Finally, I was asked. Often we forget that sometimes we have to ask or call on people to serve.

So I am involved because I love it, because it is rewarding, because of expectations set for me very early on, because of my love for our denomination, because we need more lay people involved, because it’s fun, because I get to brag about you and because I was asked.

But there is another very important item I haven’t mentioned yet. As a local outpost of the United Church of Christ, we enjoy a great deal of autonomy. But this comes with a price – of only being able to reach a small pool of people. Let’s be realistic, as Christians, we have an opportunity to have a bigger impact if we expand our community and join with other like-minded people and leverage all of our talents of all our members. Jesus did not commission us to go out by ourselves in to the world but to go together in partnership to share the good news.

As followers of Christ, we have a bigger impact on the lives of people when we partner with others through the many expressions of the United Church of Christ. As a congregation we see the power of serving locally by welcoming in the senior citizens in our community for a meal. As we expand our circle, we see the Holy Spirit moving through us by building a great youth program in partnership with St Johns Newport, Christ Church in Ft Thomas and St Marks in Latonia. Through our association we can touch many more lives in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky by banding together in service and by supporting those who are called to the ministry. Through the conference we can be a voice of bold prophetic witness to those in power in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia to address more systemic problematic issues in our society. Through the national setting we can inspire, motivate and change the lives of people who are literally a world away.

Our 43rd president George W Bush was mocked a bit when in talking about opportunity he said he wanted to “make the pie higher.” Well the association and the conference and the national setting of the church are in fact a way to make the pie higher. They provide us with much more opportunity and a personally enriching platform to feed the spiritual and physical needs of the community, whether it be Bellevue Kentucky or Bellevue Ohio or Bellevue Washington. If you are looking to serve, I have lots of pie for you and am willing to share!

Testimonies Archive:

Lonnie Fields
Open Table – Lonnie Fields
Raniele Jago

Letting Go of Stuff – Raniele Jago
Becky Anderson

My Experiences – Becky Anderson
Alan Imberg

iPod Sermons – Alan Imberg
Tim Butz

Community Connections – Tim Butz

City of Bellevue – Jody Robinson
Sandy Kerlin

Perseverance – Sandy Kerlin
St. John United Church of Christ