On January 25, 2008, Metro Methodist participants and leaders gathered for the 14th Opening Retreat at Sumatanga. Over 340 persons have participated in this lay leadership process which is unique in all of Methodism. The following article is written by Melinda Underwood, Class of 2008, from her experience of the retreat.
For information about Metro Methodism, contact Kathy Clements at (205)226-7953; 800-239-7950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metro Methodism – a view from a classmember
Written by Melinda Underwood, Class of 2008
A small, but enthusiastic group of 20 class members, gathered at the United Methodist Center on Friday, January 25 to travel by bus to Sumatanga for the Metro Methodism opening retreat. Goals for the weekend included: an opportunity for participants to become better acquainted with each other and to explore their common Christian commitment, to provide an overview of the Metro Methodism year, to understand our uniqueness as United Methodists, and to continue our common journey as Christians.
As we boarded the bus, we were given seatmates to interview and get to know. We checked into the retreat center at Sumatanga and after a great dinner, we were welcomed by Kathy Clements followed by a Bible study led by Bob Boyce. We introduced our seatmates, which was helpful in getting to know each other. Our Friday night session closed with a brief overview of Metro Methodism by Director of Connectional Ministries Dale Cohen, facilitator, and we explored responses to answers we had given on our applications to the following questions. (1) What are the three most pressing problems facing our community today? (2) What are the most important changes occurring in your church? (3) Describe your response to an idea of philosophy to which you recently were exposed and with which you did not agree. and (4) Based on what you know about Metro Methodism, who do you hope to gain from this experience? Dale also gave us a brief overview of Natural Church Development.
Saturday's sessions went all too fast as we heard from South Central District Superintendent Mickey Morgan on John Wesley and his methods and structures. Central District Superintendent Glenn Connor joined Micky Morgan and talked about the North Alabama Conference priorities, which was a very engaging time for all participants. There were lots of questions, and a lot of good answers.
After lunch, Mike Harper gave us a walking tour of the Camp, which was a nice break and a chance to walk and talk with our fellow classmates. Bob Murray, executive director of Sumatanga, welcomed us to the camp and spent time talking about future plans. The day ended with a session led by Mike Harper on “Where do we go from here?” We talked about our upcoming day sessions and ended with communion.
The whole retreat was very moving and informative for me, and I think I speak for all of my classmates. We even had a profession of faith from one classmate and a call to join the ministry in some capacity. I can’t imagine what the next sessions will hold, but I do know that after a dynamic weekend, this class will be one of the strongest and informative classes yet.