Going Across the Pond

old-rectory-epworthToday was a day that I thought would be fairly typical. Instead, today turned out to be a day that I received some unexpected good news.

Every year, Discipleship Ministries – an agency within the United Methodist Church – sponsors a pilgrimage to England where pilgrims are immersed in early Methodist history. Places such as the Old Rectory, the New Room, and the Aldersgate Monument are seen. Worship is done at places such as Salisbury Methodist Church, and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Along with all of that are lectures and other opportunities for learning, fellowship, and getting to really soak up the places and faces of the early movement which became Methodism.

If this sounds like the dream trip that should be on every Metho-nerd’s bucket list, that’s because it is.

Ever since I found out about this pilgrimage I have wanted to go. Last year I applied for a scholarship and was turned down. I was disappointed but, truthfully, I also knew that (1) there would be other opportunities to apply again and (2) it probably would not have been a good idea to try and squeeze in this trip just after relocating to a new state. When the applications for year’s pilgrimage opened, I immediately applied. Today I received an email with a response.

This year’s answer was “Congratulations!”

I’m very excited, humbled, and count myself blessed to have this opportunity to experience the sights where John and Charles Wesley, Francis Asbury, Thomas Coke, and many others were instrumental in beginning what would become a movement that continues to impact the world today. I am eager to not only learn about these places but to see and experience them in person.

I am also eager to enjoy some fish and chips.

I have no doubt that this will enhance the education I am currently pursuing and will give me a greater appreciation for the branch of Christianity that I am part of. I pray that this has a positive and lasting impact in my life as a pastor.

Some other things I’m excited about: Experiencing another country and being able to spend time in places such as Stonehenge and London. I am excited to finally have a reason to apply for my passport and I look forward to my first trans-Atlantic airplane ride (which I will hopefully sleep through). I am looking forward to meeting new colleagues and making new friends. To say that I am just overall excited would be an understatement!

So here I come in July, England! Consider yourselves warned.

Jonathan

Lent

LentRecently I was having a conversation with one of my fellow student pastor seminarians about liturgy. I grew up in a church that did not follow the liturgical calendar very closely and that didn’t practice special days and seasons such a Ash Wednesday and Lent.  As I expressed to my friend, since I became a Methodist I have really enjoyed studying the traditions and liturgy and have a deep appreciation for them now. While I do not consider myself dogmatic, I do love the details of the different seasons and the major feast days on the Christian calendar.

One of the seasons I have really come to appreciate is Lent. As I mentioned above, I didn’t grow up observing Lent but since I have started I have found that I truly can focus more on God when I give up something that distracts me. I have come to realize that in order to get the most out of this season, I must give up something that is one of my biggest distractions. I love Facebook, Twitter and basically any other form of social media. I love the interaction, being exposed to different points of view than mine, and keeping up with events with people I have known all my life. I also realize that I spent a lot of time concentrating on these things. While they are great, they can be a distraction. Those area the reasons I decided to give up my social media (exceptions made for messenger, maintain church social media, and this blog) for Lent.

What do I hope to gain out of it? First, I want to focus more on my own spiritual development. This has been one of my major goals for the year in general and giving up social media for a season will allow me to more fully put new spiritual practices into practice as well as doing more of my current practices. I also hope to experience more peace. As much as I love social media, it’s often noisy and sometimes downright nasty. I find myself growing angry over things I find out about through social media; this is not something I like about myself. In short, I believe putting down my personal social media and picking up those things that draw me closer to God more often will be good for me.

I made a post to my Facebook page last night explaining that I would not be posting due to this Lenten fast and I closed with a thought that I will also close this blog post out with: What can you pick up in order to bring you closer to God? What can you let go of?

An Open Letter to the Kentucky General Assembly about EMS Death Benefits

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The ambulance carrying paramedic Andy Sharp on his last ride as it passes under a United States flag held in place by ladder units from the Philadelphia (Mississippi) and Choctaw Fire Departments. Credit: Brandi Smith-Wyatt

This letter is also being emailed to my state Senator and Representative. If you would like to use this letter as a template for your own, please feel free to modify it however you wish. I encourage you to contact your elected officials and encourage them to support line duty death benefits for EMS providers both in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and elsewhere. – Jonathan

To the Representatives and Senators of the General Assembly of Kentucky: Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My name is Jonathan Tullos and I am the pastor of Shiloh United Methodist Church in Stanton. I am also a licensed paramedic in the Commonwealth and work part time at Powell County EMS as a paramedic and chaplain. When I attended paramedic school one of the things I was taught was to be an advocate for every patient I care for. Part of my call to pastoral ministry involves EMS chaplaincy – to be an advocate for the advocates. It is in that capacity that I contact you.

I, like many other EMS providers in the Commonwealth, am very disappointed to hear that the Senate defeated House Bill 54. As you are aware, line of duty death benefits are not currently offered to Kentucky’s EMS providers. According to the National EMS Memorial, there have been 27 reported line of duty deaths in Kentucky since they began collecting data. The recent line of duty death of paramedic John Mackey of Jessemine County EMS will be number 28. This means that at least 28 families in the Commonwealth have had to struggle with end of life expenses and income instability because they are not currently entitled to the same benefits that families of law enforcement officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty receive. Simply, this is an injustice that needs to be corrected.

There are many who view EMS as a vocation that is not as dangerous as law enforcement and firefighting. According to data available from the federal government, this is simply not true. EMS has death rates that are comparable to those of firefighters and police officers. Among the leading causes of death for EMS providers are heart attacks, vehicle accidents and violence. The notion that EMS is not a dangerous profession is a myth.

Daily, EMS providers in Kentucky and elsewhere face harsh working conditions, sleep deprivation, violence, and exposure to infectious disease among many other hazards. EMS providers often have to work more than one job due to low wages and inadequate benefits for themselves and their families. They do all of this in order to help others in need – possibly even yourself someday. Their families should not have to be saddled with the burden of financial difficulty due to their loved one dying in service to their community.

I encourage you to support Kentucky’s EMS providers by ensuring that their families will be taken care of if they are killed in the line of duty. Please do all you can to enact line of duty death benefits for Kentucky’s EMS providers.

Thank your time and your service to the citizens of the Commonwealth. May God bless you and may God bless Kentucky.

Sincerely,
Rev. Jonathan K. Tullos, Nationally Registered Paramedic (NRP)
Chaplain, Powell County EMS Stanton, KY