It is a season of transition. I have had the opportunity to serve as the preacher at Berryton United Methodist Church since July 1, 2018. On Sunday, I announced during worship that I have received a new appointment from Bishop Ruben Saenz to serve as the pastor at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church in Topeka beginning July 1, 2019. I will miss the good people of Berryton and am grateful for the care our family has received from both the church and community. I look forward to meeting the people of Susanna Wesley, learning more about the ministries, traditions, hopes, and dreams of the congregation, and continuing to reach the mission field with the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ. I am also looking forward to learning from Rev. Maria Campbell who has served Susanna Wesley faithfully these past seven years!
The Staff Parish team at Berryton UMC has been in conversation with our District Superintendent, Rev. Kay Scarbrough, about who will be appointed to serve as the next pastor. We will share that news when it is available. Will you take a moment to pray for our community, congregations, Bishop, District Superintendents and our family?
If you would like to get or stay connected with me, here are a few ways:
Website – You can follow my personal website and blog right here at www.AndrewConard.com. I have written on a wide variety of topics over the years and will continue to write in the days ahead
It is difficult to make sense of the events of the day. The passing of the Traditional Plan was disorienting, heart-rending, and continues to be heavy on my mind. The church that has been home for my entire life feels a little less like home.
The votes clearly reflect the reality of where the church is at the moment. The votes were around 60-40 or 55-45 for many of the matters – a denomination divided. We are divided. There is no way around that.
At this point, it is difficult to see what the days ahead will hold. It could be a significant number of supporters of the Traditional Plan still decide to leave. It could be that the work of reformation continues within the United Methodist Church (this is almost certain). It could be time for the birth of a new progressive denomination. I don’t know…
For now, I plan to get some sleep and get up tomorrow ready to continue tending to the work of God in my community and across the connection.
Throughout my life, I have kept a regular journal on and off throughout the years. I have a stack of journals from elementary, high school and college in our basement. Currently, I have been keeping a one sentence journal up to date. I am looking at options (Office Drop for the outsource and my ScanSnap for cheaper in dollars and more expensive in time) to digitally capture these journals to store for the future on Evernote (Is that even going to be effective?)
I enjoy looking back at my perspective and important events from years ago. In the future, I hope to be able to do the same for my life today. I do not believe that Facebook will be a useful tool to reflect on my life in the future. The birthday wishes, comments and status updates fade into the internet, unlike a birthday card that is received in the mail. Even scanning a birthday card captures the color, handwriting and sentiments that were expressed at a particular time in the past.
I spent last week at a youth camp, Institute 2010: God’s All Stars, which is a ministry of the Conference Council on Youth Ministry of the Kansas East Annual Conference. This post is part of a series reflecting on the week and making applications for the local church.
Institute is an institution with the good and the bad that it brings. There are rich traditions and a history that brings the past to light and looks to the future. Many of the adult leaders at camp this summer remember an experience of the very same camp when they were young. One of the pastors among the adult leaders remembers feeling first called to ministry in the very place where we had morning worship during the week. However, the rich history has the side effect of narrowing the vision of what could be possible for a camp among the high school students of the Kansas East Conference. There are some practices that are clearly leftovers from time gone by and while faithful have ceased to be relevant.
What about in your local church? How has the past shaped who the community is today? In what ways does the history shape both the present and the future?
Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to preach at the Heritage Service at Resurrection Leawood. This is the first service on Sunday at Resurrection beginning at 7:45 AM. It was the first time that I had lead worship in several months and it felt really good.
We considered the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 and looked at ways that serving others builds relationships both with those being served and with those with whom we serve. We serve others out of gratitude to God and a clear hope for the future.
1. We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for.
2. Each and every one of us is creating the future, every day, whether we do so consciously or not.
3. Everyone and everything is interconnected and interdependent, whether we acknowledge that or not.
4. “Being the change we want to see” means walking the talk of our values.
5. Strength builds upon our strengths, not our weaknesses.
6. Individuals will go where systems lead them.
While these principles were not primarily designed for religious organizations, I believe that there are clear correlations to the United Methodist Church. My response to each of the above principles in light of The United Methodist Church:
Whether it is worship attendance, budget, baptisms, confirmation, small groups or some other metric, whatever one measures in the local church becomes that around which efforts focus for continued development. Ultimately we should be holding ourselves accountable to the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Each person that is part of any United Methodist congregation has influence in the future of the denomination. While the official decisions from General Conference prove influential on a macro scale, the experience and sharing of any local community shapes the understanding of the entire denomination for that area. For example, a church that is thriving and individuals are sharing good news with their neighbors will create a future for the denomination in that area that is positive. In the aggregate, the denomination is shaped.
Related to point 2, the joys and concerns are shared. As in the body of Christ, “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26).
If one hopes to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, one must live as a disciple of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
This is true for the UMC as for nearly any organization.
There is an interesting connection between individuals and systems. In connection with point 2, individuals can influence a system, however ultimately it is most likely that someone will guide others in the way that they have been guided.
What are your thoughts, feelings or opinions about all this?