On behalf of the Lay Ministry team, we welcome each of you, the Laity and especially the Clergy, and bring you greetings and make a simple statement.
we are all in God’s work together.
from the General Church down to the smallest Local church in ours or any Conference.
Plans have been underway for many months, to have the best Conference ever. The Conference is expanded by a half day with the Opening being on Sunday afternoon and lasting until close of day on Tuesday with the fixing of Appointments.
On May 12, Mother’s Day Sunday, churches and individuals of North Alabama will be asked to give a special offering to Camp Sumatanga as this date will be Sumatanga Sunday for 2013.
Have you ever assessed who your Christian friends are? I recently did this in a funny way. In planning some team processes, I needed to list some friends or acquaintances that have a passion for the work of Jesus Christ in reaching and telling the message of God and his kingdom.
I receive many messages via Email as I’m sure you do, with the sender challenging me to send the message on, to either receive blessings or pay the consequences, if I do not send it on. This was sent to me from Judy, one of my beloved High school classmates from Kentucky and I felt it was a story to be forwarded. It’s appropriate for February as winter is still hanging around.
Many times the celebration of Christmas especially in the United States has become an opportunity for commercialism to creep into our lives in enormous amounts, disrupting our normal day to day schedule that we maintain the rest of the year. We are bombarded with once a year advertising, merchandising, and changes to our daily lives and to our Christian lives at our churches and elsewhere. In many ways it seems we are victims of commercialism to the point we cannot escape, and we get the feeling the real meaning of Christmas is lost in the ribbons, glitter and wrappings of gifts. Yes, this is true; we let Christmas become very big in our lives and very dominating in our attitudes toward others, our time is consumed in events and in ways we never consider the rest of the year.
During the Sunday morning service, members left the two churches and knocked on doors in the neighborhood of the churches and invited people to come to church.
In the years after World War II the church started turning inwardly instead of outwardly. This started the decline of growth that we had known for so many years in the United Methodist Church at a time when our nation was experiencing its largest growth in history. Why did the church turn inwardly? Why did the church stop growing like it had grown the past 150 years of our country?
One of my theories as to why the churches stopped growing in the 50s and 60s is that of the disappearance of sidewalks in most communities along with the advent of TV, air conditioning, and everyone having a car. We quit visiting our neighbors, sitting on our porches and being a true neighbor, so we had no more need for sidewalks.
United Methodists in Nigeria need someone to help build them a High School. To make this dream a reality and to help build this school a partnership will be setup between individuals and individual churches of North Alabama to make pledges that will fund this project. Perhaps churches can put this project in their Mission budget for the year or individuals may make pledges personally. If we all help a little financially, a lot can be accomplished toward the goal of a new school.
Don’t get me wrong on this issue, we need organization for some types of ministry and for running the business of the Church, but we miss so many ministry opportunities at our fingertips. We don’t see the colors of the rainbow because we are looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
You have heard many times “you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink.” Bishop Willimon with many changes made efforts to take us, the Church to the water for a drink of change and new beginning, yet we resisted and many of us, like the thirsty horse, refused to drink, standing at the water’s edge. Bishop Debbie Wallace-Padgett will bring a new beginning for us. She will bring new listening, compassion, love, understanding and healing. She will help us drink from the water which can perhaps save our church.
At Annual Conference Mike Slaughter the featured speaker from Ginghamsburg Church gave us the roadmap Jesus left for us in ministry to the rest of the world. According to Mike the rest of the world means all people who are hurting, that need our Christian help. Don’t we kind of pick and choose the type people and ministries we want to be a part of, instead of all ministries to hurting people with whom we come in contact. I’m as guilty as the next person in this, and very few of us want to get our hands dirty in helping those that really need our help. How can we be the Hands and Feet of Jesus if we don’t use our hands and feet to help all people?
General Charles Krulak and the Birmingham-Southern Hilltop Singers are the headliners for this year’s Laity Luncheon at Annual Conference, Friday, June 1 at noon in the Great Hall, on the third floor of Norton Campus Center. I believe you will receive a blessing from the program. The deadline to reserve your tickets is quickly approaching; don’t be left out. Order your Laity Luncheon tickets now!
Every four years the General conference of the United Methodist Church is held and this year it’s in Tampa, Florida. Nearly 1000 delegates from all over the word will descend on Tampa for the ten day Conference in April. This is perhaps the most important conference in recent years as our great church is feeling decline in membership and decline in funds like the church has never felt before.
In February I visited the quarterly Board of Trustees Meeting of the Methodist Homes Corporation at Wesley Gardens in Montgomery. Go online to www.methodisthomes.org for further information and for how you can help this great mission for God and God’s older children.
To the world you may just be one Small person, but to one person you may be the whole world!
Isn’t this the plot of the local church as well? To be just a small (or large) group of people gathering on Sunday to hear the word of God and then keep the doors of the church building closed the other days of the week. Yet, the church could be the whole world to someone or some group that needs to hear the word of God, if the doors were open to the world.
How many times have we failed to keep our New Year’s Resolutions a week into the New Year or maybe not even a day? Each New Year gives us a chance to do away with the old and start over with the new, especially in attitudes.
The needs of the Children’s Home are now greater than ever, so they can continue the support of the many individuals and families they touch each month. The United Methodists of North Alabama have generously supported this great work for many years and especially during the holiday season. Let’s make this December a banner month for supporting the Children’s Home!!!
Many of the Laity and Clergy with whom I have worked on Emmaus walks, call the mountain that borders Camp Sumatanga God’s mountain. We all know that all mountains are God’s mountains, but in the Christian life of many North Alabama United Methodists, Camp Sumatanga is a very special place. Camp Sumatanga is the place where they met God for the first time, or had a special experience with God, which helped shape their Christian life.
Does your seat at Church have your name on it? In the past this has been a real unwritten problem of ownership for United Methodist Church goers, “better not sit in my seat, maybe not even in my pew.” Before you read the next paragraph, let me assure you, this next paragraph applies to me as well.
All of us have heard stories of mystical ownership and territorial rights of church members and their church. We all know the church and everything in it belongs to God or if we need some entity, other than God, then the Conference. Personal ownership is trivial in the church, but I had the thought, maybe it would be good, if all seats had a members name on it. I would not want my name on a seat or a pew if I were going to be absent Sunday after Sunday.
In the next few paragraphs the Board of Laity Goals for the conference year of 2011-2012 are outlined. We discussed and voted on these goals last month and we are already implementing these in the Laity work of the Conference.