by Shelly Webb
Each day as we gather at the Oregon Convention Center, every person entering the building has to slow down as we approach the numerous doors. It's here where we find ourselves in the security line and willingly open our bags, our purses, our book bags, exposing what's inside. There are security people who sift through the bags, shifting the half eaten granola bars, the car keys, the money. Then we walk another ten feet and put our bags down. We hold out our arms and we stand there in the form of a cross. The guard moves the wand around our bodies, looking for potentially dangerous objects that may be concealed. I know it will locate the metal objects, but will it expose our buried prejudices, our unwilling hearts to listen, our inflated egos and propensity to judge? Will it uncover our fears and our lost hope
This image strikes me with such a powerful statement. No one gets into the building without first standing at the doors with outstretched hands. The body shaped as a cruciform, willing to be vulnerable and humble, willing to embrace the beautiful and the ugly, the laughter and the cries, the joy and the heartache.
Bishop Gregory Palmer's Episcopal Address was a gift to the church. I imagined Bishop Palmer, walking up this morning to the ginormous convention center and pausing in the security line. Outstretched arms. Ready to embrace his sacred task of addressing the body as one of our episcopal leaders.
And he poured himself out in a bold and prophetic way, showing us what I believed to be the will of God for this conference. If you didn't get the opportunity to watch it live, you can read about it here Episcopal Address
. Hopefully they will post the link to the video.
He spoke of Jewish mysticism that tells how each of us have an angel whose only responsibility is to announce as we approach another person and their angel "Behold, you are about to meet the image of God".
I am going to try to listen to my angel as I walk the halls this week, as I sit and listen to people's stories, and as I discern how to vote.
As Bishop Palmer said,
“Everyone here is a child of God. Any behavior to the contrary of that truth undermines the Gospel and is a choice to live beneath our privilege"
Rev. Shelly Webb is a reserve clergy delegate from Brevard, NC and is also writing regularly during General Conference at Compost for the Soul
Resources for Vital Congregations
Lewis Center for Church Leadership
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor
GBHEM Leadership Resources
Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church
Englewood Book Review
Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations
Ted Talks: The Golden Circle
Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability
Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability
Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians
Be A Disciple
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network
Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations
Living As United Methodist Christians
Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials
Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today
John Wesley Sermons: Anthology
Get Their Name
Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit
Canoeing the Mountains
Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples
Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People
Community: The Structure of Belonging
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
Institute for Emerging Issues
Congregations 4 Children
The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants
The Duke Endowment
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org.