Day 10- Random Reflections on My Experience at General Conference
If we need a model of what holy conferencing looks like, it is what took place in sub-committee during this discussion. The sub-committee represented the diversity of our denomination in both demographics and beliefs. The conversation was genuine, Spirit-led, respectful and enabled all present to be heard. There were impactful stories of what it means to be in ministry regarding this issue, as well as reminders of severe cultural implications. Several of the sub-committee have commented that this conversation was one of those defining moments that they will long-remember.The best part of General Conference for me has been hearing the stories, celebrating ministries, and renewing and making friendships. There have been many reports about ministries churches are doing in their communities, around the world. We have heard story upon story about ways the Church is feeding the hungry, providing safe access to clean water, marching for peace in Korea, and even transforming a church building into a rock climbing venue where community is experienced. Today there was discussion on the floor about whether “transforming the world” is part of our mission as a church and our work as disciples. I was amazed that we were having the conversation. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I made a new friend, Rev. Dr. Sergei Nikolaev. He was the vice chair on the legislative committee that I chaired. As subcommittees worked, we had a lot of time to chat. He is the President of the Moscow Theological Seminary, a UM seminary in Russia. He is Russian but has lived significant time in the United States. His wife is American. He introduced me to the idea of “third culture,” what it is like not to feel you have a cultural home. He recommended the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. VanReken. I imagine this is an idea that can be helpful in our ministry as North Carolina becomes more diverse and we minister with second and third generation Americans. My roomie, Jennifer Davis, and I had a chance to share cards and meal coupons with two men we passed on the way back to our room. They were holding a sign indicating they were hungry. GC4JC (General Conference for Jesus Christ), headed up by two of our own – Laura Beach and Kevin Miller – gave the opportunity to show love in tangible ways. The youth and children at the church where I worship – First UMC in Belmont – made bird seed ornaments to feed the birds and dog treats to feed the dogs and sold them to make money to purchase GC4JC meal coupons at $2.00 each. They raised $272 through the sale. They made 76 cards to be distributed by delegates and visitors along with the meal coupons. What an exciting way for children and youth all around the country to be involved in ministry during General Conference in Portland. Learn more on their Facebook page. All of this said, I am proud to be a United Methodist. We are a people of hope. We are a people of love. We are a people of mercy. While negativity seems to prevail this week, there is much for which to be thankful, positive, and hope-full. At the end of each day, we still raise our voices in song together. I’m not naïve. We have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot I don’t understand. There’s a lot I want to change. And, if we keep telling the stories and sharing God’s love, I am confident the world will be transformed. Kim Ingram is the WNC Conference Secretary and a clergy delegate
Resources for Vital Congregations
GBHEM Leadership Resources
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
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.