Mary Holloway was a faithful member of Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, where I served for nearly nine years. She reminded me one Sunday of an upcoming sermon topic printed in the bulletin and expressed her interest in how that topic would relate to the lectionary scripture she had already studied.
WOW! I had members reading their Bible one and two weeks in advance of the Sunday worship in preparation to receive the preached word! This may be normal in your church, but as a relatively young pastor, I was encouraged and humbled.
In the March 16, 2012 edition of our Conference UM Reporter, I shared my thoughts and prayers about the much anticipated General Conference:
1. Bringing attention and resources to the places in the world where The United Methodist Church is growing. We are doing this now in Africa with greater resources being called for in the area of theological training, resource publication, and combating diseases of poverty.
2. Raising $75 million to help eliminate Malaria-related deaths. Because of our historic commitment to missions and our commitment to Global Health concerns, Iowa can help lead the Church. Nearly $20 million has already been raised by The United Methodist Church; if we raise the remaining $55 million before 2015, we can achieve the greatest fundraising effort for a mission initiative in the history of the Church.
3. Begin a prayer revolution that sweeps the church and contributes to vital witness in every corner of our worldwide witness. Show me places where lay people and clergy, the young and the old, have partnered to pray; and I will show you a place where disciples are nurtured and lives are changed.”
I am a glass-half-full person verse half-empty, so I am celebrating what good came out of General Conference.
· We addressed the growth of the church in Africa in part by authorizing an additional Bishop to be assigned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We budgeted $5 million for Theological Education in Africa and $7 million for recruiting and training young clergy for the future.
· We welcomed a Vanguard Wave of twelve conferences (yes, Iowa, we will help lead the way) to push us to accomplish the reachable goal of eliminating Malaria as we raise $75 million over the next three years, the greatest fund raising effort for a mission initiative in the history of The United Methodist Church.
· We paused for prayer and repentance for atrocities committed against Native American Indian peoples. United Methodist Christians were encouraged to dig up the history and honor the living and the dead.
· We did not seize an opportunity for a worldwide prayer revolution. With so many people from around the world, the golden rule often seemed secondary to Robert’s Rules of Order. Holy Conferencing was frequently undermined by political caucusing.
I know God is able to do all things. Help us, good Lord, and we will learn to follow your way!
Bishop Julius C. Trimble