Day 9- The Joys of Being a Global Church
By Jeff Patterson
Sometimes it is hard being a global church. Getting together is easy, but staying together can be very difficult. People from different continents think differently and sometimes cultures and ideas clash. One area of great difference of opinion is in the area of human sexuality. Even homogenous people have a difficult time finding common ground in the debates that surround a discussion of human sexuality, but bringing different cultures together can be even more difficult. In recent days at our international General Conference, we have been struggling with this topic even to the point of talk concern division or schism. This has been very painful. Sometimes it is hard being a global church.
But, there are also great joys that come with being a global church. I experienced some of this joy this past Sunday. On Sunday, May 15, we celebrated Pentecost with a worship service sponsored by the African delegates at General Conference. It was powerful to be in a place that wasn’t just decorated for Pentecost but a place where Pentecost happened.
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The Africa University touring choir sings during the African central conferences worship service on Sunday, May 15 at the Oregon Convention Center. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS[/caption]
From the choir processional until the choir recessional (two and one-half hours!), the room was filled with the joy of the Lord. Even though I don’t speak French or Swahili and sometimes even the English was difficult for me to follow, the joy of the Lord was my constant companion during the service. God’s presence transcended language barriers.
We sang, prayed, sang, prayed, sang, prayed, participated in the sermon, and then sang some more. Tears came to my eyes as we sang “Elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth; her charter of salvation: one Lord, one faith, one birth.” The words of the Apostles’ Creed never reverberated in my heart with as much conviction as when we professed our faith together using this creed in all the languages of Africa. Then it certainly felt like a bit of heaven as we shared in Holy Communion and shared the peace of Christ.
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The Rev. Jerry Kulah from the Liberia Conference delivers the sermon message during the African central conferences worship service on Sunday, May 15 at the Oregon Convention Center. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS during the African central conferences worship service on Sunday, May 15 at the Oregon Convention Center. Photo by Kathleen Barry, UMNS[/caption]
God is doing a great work in Africa. The book of Acts is continuing today on that continent. At the beginning of the service, Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa, Zimbabwe Conference, said “We are the renaissance of African Christian. . . We yearn for the days of Augustine.” The Rev. Dr. Jerry Kulah, Liberia Conference, preached a passionate sermon on Jeremiah 6 that encouraged the congregation to walk in holiness on the ancient paths of our ancestors.
We know well the challenges that come from being a global church, but we need to also remember that sometimes being part of a global church brings great joy. On Sunday I was greatly blessed by my United Methodist sisters and brothers from the other side of the globe. We belong together. This is the way that it is supposed to be. Jesus prayed that the church would be one. We need each other.
Sometimes it is hard being a global church. But, the work to stay together is worth the work.
Rev. Dr. Jeff Patterson is the superintendent of the Yadkin Valley District and a clergy delegate
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.