General Conference Notebook, April 28
I’ve felt great satisfaction (dare I say pride?) in seeing so many Missouri Conference people present at General Conference helping to shape the future of United Methodism. There are the delegates and reserves offering their service and leadership in remarkable waysÖstaying for late night legislative sessions and present for early morning worship services. The Missouri Conference is being well represented by several folks who have been to General Conferences before and also by new and young people who are learning the ropes and preparing themselves for even further service in the future. A couple of the delegates have been elected to leadership in the legislative committees, including Sally Haynes and Amy Gearhart-Sage, and they are doing excellent work. Cody Collier helped lead the opening worship service, and Myron McCoy presented part of the Task Force on the Episcopacy report.
Rev. Emanuel Cleaver, II, United States Congressman and pastor of St. James UMC in Kansas City is the guest speaker at a luncheon sponsored by the General Board of Church and Society. Jon Gray, a layperson from Centennial UMC in Kansas City, serves on the Judicial Council, and two former pastors from Missouri are present with the Council of Bishops: Bishop Monk Bryan and Bishop Fritz Mutti. Bishop Mutti and Etta Mae head the Global Aids initiative. Bishop Rhymes Moncure is remembered fondly as people give God thanks for his ministry and leadership before his untimely death.
Then there are a host of volunteers from the Missouri Conference who are present – I wish I could name them all, but I’m afraid I’d leave someone out. I’ve run into ushers and pages and others in supporting roles who are helping General Conference run smoothly. Thank you, thank you, thank you. These persons have given generously of their time to travel here for several days to help foster an atmosphere of hospitality for all delegates. And I’ve seen several of our seminary students, college students, pastors, and laity who have come just to listen and learn. Others have come to emphasize a particular concern that they’ve felt called to lift up, and I’m glad they are here giving voice and support and representation to United Methodists from Missouri. Reuben Wilbur, who serves as a member of the General Council on Finance and Administration, is here to work behind the scenes as the council considers any budget amendments that will come along this week. And Fred Koenig and Max Marble have been present to record the participation of Missouri UM’s. You will see some of their work at the MissionCast website and in upcoming issues of NetNews and The Missouri Conference Review. And Monica Jefferson is here, giving leadership to national initiatives on urban ministry. And it’s been delightful to meet the delegates from Mozambique who speak warmly of their partner churches in Missouri.
At the Global Ministries display, I even saw a PET (Personal Energy Transportation) that was made in Missouri by Missouri United Methodists! Pretty cool.
And the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregation, which we developed out of our conversations and work in Missouri churches, has played a significant role. All delegates received a copy from Cokesbury, and the Cokesbury display prominently features the book and brochure for the new Focus on the Five Practices: A Congregational Initiative in a prominent place. On Monday, I’ve been invited to speak at a lunch with about 180 people about the Five Practices, and I’ve had literally hundreds of people express appreciation for the book and tell me about how they have used it in their local congregations or districts or conferences. In fact, a young woman from Germany introduced herself to tell me that her father was the person doing the translation into German of Five Practices. This September people will be reading about the Five Practices and the Missouri church examples in German and in Russian!
I know this blog is read by many people around the connection, and for those readers from other places, I ask your indulgence as I particularly give God thanks and praise for all the laypersons, pastors, leaders, and representatives from the Missouri Conference, and for the difference they are making across the globe as we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It’s a joy to serve as your Bishop.
Yours in Christ,