Over the past few days, I have continued in prayer for Charleston. I want to share a portion of my response to the Charleston Church Shootings which I preached this morning at First United Methodist Church. I believe it is important and inadequate. You can find the entire sermon and manuscript online here.
Let me be clear:
God never intends us to choose evil.
The Charleston Church Shootings were not part of God’s plan.
Racism, murder and tragedy will never be God’s will.
Evil is never, ever God’s plan.
Each one of us has choices to make every day.
We choose between good and evil.
We choose between forgiveness and resentment.
We choose between light and darkness.
The choices that we make – both big and small lead us closer to God or further away from God.
Choose light and life.
Choose to follow Jesus Christ, Emmanuel – God is with us.
Today was the final day of the BOM Mid Quad Training Event in Denver. We had the opportunity to hear from two groups presenting on Identifying Critical Issues for General Conference. For each we heard a presentation and had the opportunity to follow up with table conversations on both the Global Discipline and Study of Ministry.
As the presenters were speaking about the questions the teams were facing, tentative recommendations and potential legislative proposals, my brain started to hurt. I am amazed at the complexity and implications that are involved in considering issues.
The United Methodist Church has undertaken a bold challenge in the way we govern our denomination. We are the only major Christian church in the world that seeks to do two things: (1) Be truly a global church; and (2) be a church that is truly democratically governed by its ordinary lay and clergy members. The Roman Catholic Church is global, but obviously does not pretend to be democratically governed. Other major Protestant churches are all essentially national churches, though some are bound together by loose international ties.
Yesterday was Day 2 of the BOM Mid Quad Training Event in Denver. The morning was a back and forth between presentation from Bishop Hagiya of The Pacific Northwest Conference and conversation in response at our tables with others from our annual conference. In the afternoon we self-selected into affinity groups for conversation and the evening brought jurisdiction meetings.
I found Bishop Hagiya’s presentations to be the most significant part of Day 2. Here are some of the highlights:
Research Question: “What traits, qualities, or characteristics, if any, do highly effective and successful United Methodist Church ministers exhibit specifically in regard to growth of their churches when compared to less effective United Methodist Church ministers?”
There was significant correlation between high effective clergy and
I have started my third month serving as the pastor at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado, Kansas. It has been fantastically busy, fun, exciting and full of opportunities and challenges to have a baby, move to a new home and start serving as the lead pastor at a new congregation in the past three months.
While I am still continue to make the transition to our new home, it is time for me to start blogging again. I know, it has been months. However, I plan to begin with a few posts a week and see how it goes. While I have a lot of ideas about what to write about on this blog, I want to write what would be most interesting, helpful or intriguing to you. So, what will it be?
What would you like for me to write about on this blog? What would be interesting to you? What would you want to share with others? I am looking forward to beginning this blogging adventure with you again.
I will compile these results and publish them in a blog post in the weeks ahead. If you leave your contact information on the form, I will contact you when the post is completed so you can see the results. I look forward to hearing from you!
Today was my first time to speak on the floor of annual conference. While it was not exactly what came out, this is what I prepared:
My name is Andrew Conard. I am a clergy member of the annual conference.
I am currently serving at Church of the Resurrection in the Kansas City area and will begin serving at First United Methodist Church in El Dorado beginning July 1.
I speak in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.
Since its statehood more than 150 years ago, Kansas has been a place of action, a place where people could rally around a cause. Whether it was the abolition of slavery, settling the untamed prairie or recovering from disaster, Kansans mobilized around the cause and demonstrated great leadership abilities.
This is the time to demonstrate leadership in the United Methodist Church on the Great Plains. The annual conference exists to equip the local church for ministry. Becoming one annual conference in Kansas and Nebraska creates the best opportunity for the conference to fulfill its purpose on the Great Plains so that all of our local churches can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Since I was first appointed to serve in Kansas in 2006, I have prayed every week for three things: the mission and vision of the local church where I serve, renewal within the United Methodist Church and spiritual revival across the state. I believe that forming the Great Plains Annual Conference is the next faithful step in our life together of living God’s dream for us as United Methodists in Nebraska and Kansas.
Members of my family are active in the United Methodist churches in Norwich, Plains, Sterling, Burdett and First-Hutchinson. My father is a United Methodist pastor and his father was a United Methodist pastor. The Kansas West Annual Conference is my home.
The month before we began to serve under appointment in Kansas, my wife and I were driving to Colorado on our honeymoon and we made a point to visit two of the churches where my granddad was appointed – the United Methodist Churches in Tribune and Towner on the Kansas / Colorado border. It was a blessing to step into those sacred spaces. I am proud of the United Methodist lay and clergy people who have come before me and been a part of faithful and fruitful ministry all across this Annual Conference for decades. This annual conference is part of who I am.
The Great Plains Annual Conference will be a change. There is no way around it. I believe that this change is the next faithful step in our life together as United Methodists on the Great Plains. I pray that we will continue together in faithful and fruitful ministry.
One hundred years from now, I want the people of the United Methodist Church in Nebraska and Kansas to look back and remember 2012 as a milestone in our lives together when courageous United Methodist took action that fanned the flames of spiritual revival across the Great Plains.
I urge you to vote in favor of forming the Great Plains Annual Conference.
I checked with infoserv to dig up some information on the ages of delegates to General Conference 2012 as compared to the entire denomination. Thank you to the wonderful team at Ask InfoServ for their data gathering!
There is no official United Methodist source for age statistics for the denomination. GCFA has not collected age statistics since General Council on Ministries. However, there is the 2010 State of the Church: Congregational Life Survey which breaks down ages by percentage. Here is the comparison between the Congregational Life Survey and the ages of 790 of the 988 total delegates to General Conference 2012.
There has been much discussion about the reorganization of The United Methodist Church at General Conference 2012 with plans from various constituencies.
I believe that Plan UMC is the best starting point for a way forward for the denomination. You can find out more about this restructuring plan at http://www.planumc.org
is the only restructure plan that emerged at General Conference after the response of delegates in #Gen Admin Committee
preserves and strengthens the role of #gcorr and #cosrow in the Committee on Inclusivity #gc2012
is a way forward that will provide greater clarity, organization and direction for our boards and agencies #gc2012
will focus on creating vital congregations which incarnate the work of all the boards and agencies in a local context.
puts the denomination at the edge of its comfort zone – a place where progress is most likely to occur.
Regardless of what restructuring plan does or does not pass at General Conference, I am hopeful for the future of The United Methodist Church. I am looking forward to continuing our mission together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
When you are seeking to make progress that you care about one of the most important things that you can do is energize others. Sharing a vision with others helps move the issue beyond yourself and momentum begins to take hold. One of the members of my team suggested that at times, one of the unexpected outcomes of this is that by energizing others you realize that you are not as indispensable as you think you are. There is loss in this realization.
Don’t let the possibility of loss keep you from sharing your vision with others.
There are innumerable issues that delegates are trying to make progress on to help the United Methodist Church live into God’s dream for the denomination. It is a shared challenge on all of these issues that there are other delegates who think the way things are is just fine.
If you think things are crummy, remember that it is working for someone.
If General Conference 2012 has taken you to the edge of your comfort zone, you are in the right place to make progress on the issues about which you care deeply. Too far inside your comfort zone and it may be difficult to make more progress than has already been accomplished. Too far outside your comfort zone and you may be unable to effectively take action.
The edge of your comfort zone is the place where you start to feel incompetent.
This is the place where progress is most likely to occur.
Everyone has expectations of leaders. These expectations come in many different forms, including, but not limited to:
Who a leader will be
What a leader will say
How a leader will act
What roles a leader will play
When a leader show up
Leadership often comes in unexpected ways from unexpected people. As you think about the goals on which you are trying to make progress, remember that exercising leadership may be distinct from what we expect of people in leadership.