Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Let The Redeemed Say So

   Over a thousand persons will gather in Macon next week. Most are representatives of local churches, though some mission agencies and UM-related colleges and universities will be there, too. It is a very Methodist thing to gather and meet as a committee. Annual Conference could be thought of as a large committee that meets every year for business, worship, and visioning. This year's Conference will be very similar to previous ones. We will have great speakers inspire and teach us. We will hear committees report back on findings and offer recommendations (one report addresses a proposal to reduce the nine districts in South Georgia). We will vote on new leaders, agree upon budgets, and makes plans for the our future.
   Some things will be new, though, including the theme. Bishop James King wrote a message earlier in May to the laypeople and the clergy from across the 600+ churches of South Georgia expected to attend. In it he said, "Our theme, "Let the Redeemed Say So," places the emphasis on Evangelism/ Witnessing. Out of our relationship with God and following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, we have a story to tell...a Good News story! All across the conference, there is a growing crescendo of vitality and enthusiasm for the gospel. Revival is breaking forth; clergy and laity are claiming the power of God's word, the movement of the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God. Unfortunately, the church has lost its way in some places, forgotten the mission, refused to move when the Spirit said move, dropped the main thing, declined rather than increased. Nonetheless, prayers are being answered and renewal is upon us." He went on to say, "My hope is that the time we have set apart for conferencing will be enriched by the power of the Holy Spirit. In every place and in every way may we be centered in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world - a world that looks Christlike." 
   One other new aspect of Conference is the rise in the role of social media. More people are following actions from home, reading summaries of meetings, and interacting directly through messages, emails, and even tweets (isn't that a funny word?)! You'll find ways to do each of these inside this week's bulletin.
   I will attend as a clergy delegate, and will be joined by three others from Epworth. Jeanne Guilbeault is our church's lay delegate, Becky Briton goes as an district officer in the UMW, and Lillian Woolridge attends as a delegate representing the larger Columbus District. Would you please pray for each of us, and for the others attending? Pray for safety in travel, clarity of mind in meetings, wisdom in decisions, and peace in all things. At the close, Bishop King will appoint me to return for our third year in ministry at Epworth. Begin praying now that the coming year is marked by our shared commitment to be great neighbors to this community as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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