Dear Church Family,
It was great to be in worship with everyone on Sunday and to serve communion. We all experienced the joy and connection of gathering around the table to celebrate God’s love and grace poured out for us and to feel connected to one another as the Body of Christ. We experienced that connection with Christ in a real and tangible way on Sunday.
This coming weekend Gail Tinsley and I will experience being part of a larger connection. In the United Methodist Church we talk about being connected and a part of a larger connection. This weekend the 700 United Methodist Churches in Missouri will be represented by some 350 full time pastors, 350 part-time pastors, retirees and about 1000 lay members from the churches at our annual conference meeting. For the second year in a round I will miss going to Springfield and experiencing the full connection of worship, conferencing and reconnecting with old friends, because the conference sessions will be virtual because of covid restrictions at the time they had to make the decisions about having the conference in person.
We will still worship on-line, we will still celebrate the work we do together and we will still encourage one another. There will be some light business that has to be done. One of the big items we do together is prepare people for ministry. Craig Hamilton who is serving the church at Wappapello will be approved for his license as a local pastor, like Sheila Boyles was last year. It’s exciting to see people our church has nurtured take a step into ministry. I will also have a couple of others who I’m mentoring take the same step and then later someone from a former congregation will be ordained into the ministry of the United Methodist Church. As a connectional church this is a very important part of what we do together.
This is one of the many important parts of our connection that we need to participate in. Now that covid is behind us, we need to start reaching out to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ. As we are building relationships with other people and encouraging them to develop their spiritual gifts, we also need to have, “I see in You” conversations with people who have gifts in the area of teaching, speaking, pastoring and leadership. People like Sheila, Craig and Robbie Calvert serving churches around us is so important for the Kingdom. Many of my friends and mentors like Rev. Charles Buck, Kirk Shermann, Paul Garvin, and John Rice, to name a few, have retired from ministry. While we have great young men and women going into ministry, we don’t have enough. At our executive session for clergy on Tuesday the Bishop shared that we were short 18 full time pastors this year and I know from the work we are doing on the district level that the need for part-time pastors is even greater.
Jesus said, “The fields are ripe for the harvest, but the laborers are few.” We need people who can lead us into this new world of social media and the wired church. The message of God’s love and grace is still the same one that we experienced on Sunday, it is just communicated in new and different ways. We need to be praying that we can open our eyes and hearts to encourage the next generation of persons in ministry. We see signs everywhere these days for help wanted. It appears to be the same in the church.
Pray for Gail and I as we spend most of the next three days in front of a computer screen attending the Missouri Annual Conference. We will report on anything else of note that comes out of Annual Conference.