All posts by Pat Gustafson

Annual Conference

“Healing the Circle”  (2 Corinthians 7:10) will be the theme for the 2015 Annual Conference in Peoria June 10-13. We will gather to worship, pray, learn, and care for the business of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference. Pledges and offerings for Making Dreams Possible (African University scholarship endowment) will start the conference. <!–split–>

A focal point of the 2015 Annual Conference will be the Act of Repentance Service for the Healing of Relationships with Native Americans and Indigenous Persons to heal the soul of our church, our people, and the land. Two keynote speakers will help us understand the history and need for healing. This could apply to any broken relationship and its healing. Other highlights or the 2015 Annual Conference will be the Ordination Service, the Memorial Service, and the Service for Retirees. There will be reports and important legislation to consider.

Are you interested in attending for the whole session or a day or two? Bethel Wesley has a suite reserved in a close-by  hotel and there is room for YOU. Please let Pastor Flo know if you are interested.

We are asked to collect items for book bags for Native American reservations. Please contribute by bringing any of these items by June 7: *spiral notebooks (8×10.5 inches, 70-80 pages, 1 subject), *stick-style pens (blue or black, no advertising), *box of 24 crayons, *pair of blunt school scissors (rounded tip).

Vacation Bible School

This year we will combine with Riverside United Methodist Church (712 16th Street, Moline) for Vacation Bible School.  The dates are Monday-Friday, June -22-26, from 6-8 pm.  The theme is “Journey off the Map.”  Registration forms are available at the church.  Sign up early!

Aging Well

“Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.”  (Isaiah 46:3-4)

Everyone knows that as we age, our minds and bodies decline, and life inevitably becomes less satisfying and enjoyable. Everyone knows that cognitive (mental ability) decline is inevitable. Everyone knows that as we get old, we become less productive … well, everyone, it seems is wrong! A growing body of scientific research shows that, in my ways, life gets better as we get older… <!–split–>

A Wall Street Journal report notes, “contrary to the stereotype of later life as a time of loneliness, depression, and decline, a growing body of evidence indicates that our moods and overall sense of well-being improve with age.”

Let’s debunk some of the common myths ….

MYTH # 1:  Depression is more prevalent.  Research indicates that emotional well-being improves until the 70’s when it levels off. Older adults tend to focus on positive rather than negative motions and memories, because they tend to prioritize emotional meaning and satisfaction: older adults tend to be happier, less anxious, less angry, and tend to adapt well to the circumstances.

MYTH # 2: Cognitive decline is inevitable.  As we age, our brains undergo structural changes, and neurons that carry messages becomes less efficient, causing concentration and memory slip (this begins around the age of 30!) But recent discoveries indicate that – barring dementia – older adults perform better in the real world. Cognitive tests often underestimate the true abilities of older adults; while in the real world, most of what we do is based on the knowledge we have acquired, and older adults who are tested in familiar situations show few of the deficits that crop up in laboratory tests!  (Learning new skills – learning to quilt, use an iPad, or take digital photos – help us to improve memory and processing speed.)

MYTH # 3: Older workers are less productive. Workers 55 and older make up 22% of the U.S. workforce, up from 12% in 1992. The majority of academic studies shows “virtually no relationship between age and job performance.” In fact, some studies show that older adults have a performance “edge” because they seem to know better how to avoid serious errors (experience, plus judgment).

MYTH # 4:  Loneliness is more likely. As people age, their social circles contract, but friendships tend to improve with age … we know who our real friends are! Older adults report better marriages, more supportive friendships, less conflict, and closer ties with members of this social networks than younger adults and fewer problematic relationships that case them distress. They have learned to eliminate those people from their social circle whom they feel less close to and maximize the time with close partners who are more emotionally satisfying.

MYTH # 5:  Creativity declines with age. Studies dating back as far as the 1800’s show midlife as the time when artists and scholars are most prolific. Historians and philosophers may reach their peak output when they’re in the 60’s, while conceptual artists tend to do their best work in their 20’s-30’s. Experimental artists requires a few more decades to reach full potential, improving with experience. Think Mark Twain, Paul Cezanne, Frank Lloyd Wright, Robert Frost who all relied on wisdom, which increases with age.

MYTH # 6: More exercise is better!  When it comes to improving health and longevity, exercise is key, but a growing number of studies show that more is not always better. In research published in 2013 scientists at institutions including Iowa State University, found that long-term strenuous endurance exercise may cause “overuse injury” to the heart. Their recommendations: stick to a moderate workout of no more than 50-60 minutes of exercise daily, and take at least one day off each week. Current guidelines suggest 30 minutes of moderate exercise – walking at a good pace – 5-6 days a week still promotes health without the risks of injury that strenuous exercise may inflict. Doing it with a walking partner gets you out, gets you active, and affords you the social contact that it as important as loose limbs!

For more information, go to by Marla Lichtsinn, RN, MPA, FCN, Parish Nurse    (permission granted to reprint)

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Flowing From The Heart Of Pastor Flo

Brothers and Sisters, as I sit here and think of you, I know I must write this letter with love in my heart:

As you are aware, my status with the Illinois Great Rivers Conference as an ordained Elder in full connection in the United Methodist Church unites me with other United Methodist pastors in a covenant community whose calling first and foremost is to serve God and Christ in the world. <!–split–>

The covenant also calls us to serve Christ and the world where we are sent. United Methodist pastors are always prepared to itinerate as the Holy Spirit, working through our Bishop and Cabinet of our Annual Conference, directs that we should.

The purpose of this letter is to share with you in writing that Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton has appointed me to serve as the Senior Pastor of Greenville First United Methodist Church in the Mississippi River District, beginning July 1, 2015. I will be moving to Greenville IL where I will continue the ministry of Christ in a new setting and with a new congregation of United Methodists. I am, of course, still processing my own emotions about this move; emotions which range from excitement as I anticipate this new adventure, to the fear and trembling one feels in the face of a new challenge, to the enormous pain and grief that always comes when we must leave the people we’ve come to love and know and the place we’ve all come to call home.

The changes ahead will naturally include a new Pastor appointment to Bethel Wesley; l  assure you it will be a smooth transition.

In the midst of chaos and change, one thing remains the same: Jesus Christ! Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is at the helm of this ship we call the church. He is able to lead us safely through storms into calmer seas and to get us where we need to go. Let us lean into him for our direction and care in this time of change.

I love you all!

Your servant, Flo

Young Adult Ministry

An organizational meeting was held on Sunday, April 26th to dream about activities and opportunities for young folks at Bethel Wesley. We are thinking about a name for this group, and in the meantime are planning some exciting fellowship and mission activities. The first event will be a potluck at 6:00 PM on Sunday, May 31st followed by some lively Christian music, singing and dancing.  All of us came to church when someone invited us. So, spread the word!! Calendars of future events will be distributed on the 31st. We will focus on food, fellowship, community events, and mission opportunities as we strengthen our relationship with God and each other. All are invited, so invite everyone!

Vacation Bible School

This year we will combine with Riverside United Methodist Church (712 16th Street, Moline) for Vacation Bible School.  The dates are Monday-Friday, June -22-26, from 6-8 pm.  The theme is “Journey off the Map.”  Registration forms are available at the church.  Sign up early!

11 Lessons for Graduates and You

Graduation is a time when many contemplate their future and purpose. It can be both a time of great excitement and worry. I certainly remember the anxiousness I felt after graduation. So whether you are graduating high school or college, know a graduate or perhaps you are graduating to the next level of your life and career, I wanted to share 11 lessons from The Seed that I hope will empower and inspire you on your journey. <!–split–>

  1. You are here for a reason and the most important thing you can do in life is to find, live and share your purpose. It’s the one thing in life that truly matters, and if you don’t pursue it, everything else is meaningless.
  2. Follow your passion. It so often leads you to your purpose. You may not know what your passion is right now. That’s ok. The important thing is to make it your life mission to find it, live it and share it. To help find your passion, seek out jobs and experiences that allow you to use your strengths and gifts. Do what energizes you.
  3. Beware of hobbies. Just because you love spending time on Facebook doesn’t mean you would enjoy working for the company. And just because you love to cook doesn’t mean you would enjoy owning a restaurant. For example, I owned restaurants but I realized I didn’t love the food business. I loved the service and marketing aspect of the business.
  4. Quit for the right reasons. Don’t quit because work is hard or you’re experiencing challenges. Quit because in your heart you know there is something else for you to do. Quit because you are not benefitting yourself or the organization you work for. Quit because you are absolutely certain you are no longer supposed to be there.
  5. Learn from every job and experience. Every job, good or bad, prepares you for the work you were ultimately born to do.
  6. Your current job may not be your ultimate purpose but it can serve as a vehicle to live and share your purpose.
  7. Whatever job(s) you take after graduation simply decide to serve. When you serve in small ways you’ll get more opportunities to serve in bigger ways.
  8. Your dream job is likely not the one you dreamed about. So often we end up in amazing careers that have nothing to do with our college degree or childhood dreams.
  9. The quest for your purpose is not a straight line. It is filled with mystery, signs, obstacles, victories, dead ends, delays and detours. Your job is to stay optimistic and faithful on your quest
  10. Don’t rush the future. There is a process that seeds must go through in order to become all they are destined to become, and you must go through this same process to become the person you are meant to be and do the work you are meant to do. You may want things to happen NOW but more than likely if you got what you wanted NOW you wouldn’t be ready for it. The purpose process prepares you, strengthens you, shapes you and grows you to be successful, not in your time, but in the right time.
  11. Be the Seed. Seeds surrender themselves to the ground so they can be used for a greater purpose. Wherever you work, decide to plant yourself where you are and allow yourself to be used for a greater purpose. When you plant yourself and make a difference you grow into the person you were born to be and produce a harvest that will benefit others and change the world.

Taken from

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Finding Time To Exercise

Finding the time to exercise is often as much of a challenge as a new aerobic workout.  In fact, the number one reason given for not exercising is lack of time.  That’s why it is important to come up with a regular exercise schedule – one that lets you know where and when you’re planning to work out each week.   <!–split–>

Of course, plans can change but it’s better to skip a scheduled exercise session than to have no schedule at all.  If you save your workouts for whenever a spare moment “pops up,” you’ll end up exercising infrequently.  Your own schedule might involve a variety of workout times, morning workouts on some days, for example, and lunchtime or after work exercise sessions on other days.  The key is to find a blend that works for you and to stick with it.  You may find it helpful to mark your calendar and schedule your planned workouts in advance.  Keep track of how often you work out.  It is important to find an exercise schedule that fits your lifestyle and includes activities you enjoy.   There are many new pedometers and step counters available to help you keep track of your activity.  They can be fun to use and motivate you to increase your activities.  If you are not used to doing any type of exercise activity, start with walking.  You can start at just a few minutes a day and work up to the recommended 30 minutes per day.  Your stamina will improve as you continue any exercise program.  Warm weather is on the way!  Sunshine and flowers will be here.  What better way to brighten your day than to take a walk and enjoy the sun and flowers of spring!

Young Adult Depression:  Not Just Another Bad Mood

Depression is the most common emotional problem in adolescence and young adulthood, and yet it is difficult to diagnose because young people are notorious for their moodiness.  The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that up to 8% of American young adults suffer from major depression, but many parents don’t recognize the signs.  According to a 2009 survey, about 20% of high school students have considered suicide.  Each year, 8-11 in every 100,000 young adults do take their own lives, as many as those who die from all natural causes combined.  Depression can also result in intense family conflict, poor choice of peers, marginal or no personal achievements and poor coping ability, all of which can have a lasting effect on a teenager’s life.

Warning Signs

Mood Changes:  Irritability, angry outbursts, sad sullen or weepy periods, withdrawal.  Keep in mind that family conflict can cause young adult depression, but young adult depression can also cause family conflict.

Changes in Appetite:  Sudden over or under eating; significant gain or loss of weight.  Eating disorders are frequently  accompanied by depression.

Lack of Interest:  No longer enjoying social activities, hobbies or sports.

Bad Sleep Patterns:  Difficulties falling or staying asleep; excessive or diminished sleep.

Changes in Energy Level:  Frequent fatigue, agitation or restlessness.

School Problems:  Difficulty focusing or concentrating; feeling fuzzy; unable to sustain mental effort; decline in grades;  misbehaving; refusal to go or disinterest in school.

Self-Criticism:  Taking blame for things that are not their fault; intense dissatisfaction with their appearance or other attributes.

Rumination:  Worrying or obsessing about problems.

Inability to Cope:  Overwhelmed by everyday stresses; difficulty recovering from a significant event or problem; pessimism or negative thinking.

Recurrent Thoughts about Death or Suicide:  Morbid interests; self-injurious behavior.

Aches and Pains:  Physical discomfort without medical causes.

Successful treatment can be achieved by parents and physicians asking direct questions about the young adult’s general level of happiness, moods, activities, achievement and problems.  Offering to help will open the door for the young adult to contact you later should the young adult ever suspect that he/she might be depressed.  Keep in mind that a family history of depression is a risk factor.

Parents are advised to make efforts to talk to their young adults even if they are initially rebuffed.  Be careful not to minimize their young adult’s moods as “just a phase” or “hormonal fluctuations” and be alerted to the possible seriousness of their young adult’s difficulties.

If you have a young adult that is seriously depressed, it is a good precaution to lock up all medications, remove guns from the house and institute more careful supervision to prevent the young adult from engaging in reckless behavior.

The good news is that young adult depression is quite treatable with medication and individual and/or family therapy.

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Flowing With Pastor Flo – May 2015

Well, church family, we have come through the Seasons of Advent (All Saints, Thanksgiving), Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, (Holy Week; Ash Wednesday, Lenten Services, Good Friday) and Easter! Whew! Seems like a lot but they were times of enrichment and growing  closer in and to Christ.  After May 24, which is Pentecost, we will be in Ordinary time and we will start all over again.  The Christian Church year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. The sequence of festivals from Advent to Resurrection Sunday (He is alive  indeed, Hallelujah!)  becomes an annual spiritual  journey for worshippers as they kneel at the manger, listen on a hillside, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hear the roar of the mob, stand beneath the cross, and witness the resurrection! The rest of the church year provides opportunity for us to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus and his commission to his people to be a light to the world.  Let us not forget all we have done together this Christian year.  I hope I have helped each of you to learn a little more about the Christ we serve. <!–split–>

I am now in the back of the boat taking some much needed rest for the mind, body and spirit.  I’m not literally in the back of the boat but figuratively, meaning I am resting in the arms of our Lord.  When my vacation time is over, I hope and pray to be renewed and                  refreshed.

Let me leave you with an article I read in the Alive Now and it ministered to my soul, I pray it will do the same for you.

God, your people are broken, bodies shattered by  accident, grappling with illness, slowed by injury. God, your people are broken, spirits burdened with care, aching from loss, shadowed by grief. God, your people are broken, bowed with fatigue yet longing to help and needing to touch. God, your people are broken, and you call us together to be your body – a body broken.

God, your people are broken, and we find in each other agents of healing and voices of hope. God, your people are broken, hearts stretched wide to hold the stories of lives that are shared. God, your people are broken, given as gift one to another, learning together what it means to be whole.

Loving you all, your sister in Christ,

Pastor Flo