Monday, February 28, 2011

United Methodist Student Day and Others

I attended the Connectional Table meeting in Nashville in November. We heard a great report from the Call to Action Committee and tweaked its implementation. After that we met jointly with the General Council on Finance & Administration to begin budgeting for General Conference 2012 and the next quadrennium. One of the things that jumped out at me was a proposal to eliminate the 6 churchwide special Sundays that have offerings: Human Relations Day, One Great Hour of Sharing, World Communion Sunday, United Methodist Student Day, Peace with Justice Sunday, and Native American Ministries Sunday.

It was reported that these Sundays would continue to be observed but that their budgets would be rolled into an unified budget for the denomination. It was suggested that these causes could possibly receive more money this way. I am not convinced, but I am open-minded. Of particular concern to me are 3 of the offerings: Native American Ministries Sunday, Peace with Justice Sunday, and United Methodist Student Day. The first two are extremely important because they are the only 2 of the 6 that 50% of the monies received go back to the Annual Conference. If the Call to Action Report is all about strengthening local churches and empowering Annual Conferences in their helping local churches to do ministry then it seems logical to me to retain these two Special Sundays. I have been on our Annual Conference Committee on Native American Ministries for years and I know that we need the 50% money to operate and provide ministry to American Indians in South Carolina. I'm sure the same is true for Peace with Justice ministries.

Putting a face on offerings usually means a larger offering. I especially feel that is true when I and others of our Native American Committee are invited to speak in churches. The other offering that I want to lift up is United Methodist Student Day. Every church that I have served has had persons who have received United Methodist scholarships or a loan from the United Methodist Student Loan Fund. These monies make a difference with our young adults - one of the very groups that the Call to Action Committee has identified as vital to the United Methodist Church. If we expect one of our 4 Focus areas to be fulfilled: "Developing New Leaders," then United Methodist Student Day should not only survive but thrive.

We are the only denomination in all of Christianity that was founded on a college campus, Lincoln College at Oxford University. We need to support United Methodist Students and, of course, our campus ministries! My daughter is the Wesley Foundation Director at Winthrop University. Four of her former students are in seminary right now! She is developing new leaders for the church and on a shoe-string budget. Our Annual Conference has cut program money (about $850 a month) for all campus ministries for 2011. I pray that we can make up the shortfall. In a time when everyone is concerned about keeping their church doors open and being lean with ministry, this is a critical area that doesn't need to be cut short. These are the students and ministries that have some of the least discretionary monies available.

--excerpt from a Blog by Tim McClendon
Read More of McClendon's Blog here.

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wesley's Means of Grace helps us 'light up the darkness'
The sparkling oversized ring was one of the prized possessions of the “princess.” It was much too big for her tiny finger. It dominated her hand but she wore it everywhere. Twenty four hours a day. With every outfit. She was never without it. She was very proud of the ring and enjoyed showing it to everyone.

After her two week visit we stood in line with her at the airport. As we waited to check in for her return flight, she took the ring off her finger and handed it to my wife. With her words, “You can have it,” a lump formed in my throat and tears came to my eyes. I looked at Lena and I knew she was about to lose it, too.

The ring was one of the treasures of the “princess” and she gave it away.

After gaining control of her emotions Lena did all one can do in response to such an unselfish and generous act. She said, “Thank you. I will take good care of it.”

The ring had very little monetary worth but four year old Felicia valued it highly. And she gave it to her Nana as she returned to her “Tokyo house” at the end of the holiday visit. It represented a love that is priceless.

Dr. Lovett Weems, director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, told a group of United Methodist leaders last week that their task was to be “stewards of the Wesleyan witness of holiness of heart and life.” He intimated that our Methodist heritage was a precious treasure that had been entrusted to us. The early Methodist circuit riders were charged to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land. It is our responsibility and privilege to do the same.

We who have experienced the transforming grace of Christ are called to faithful living and to fruitful practices that help others to see and come to know Jesus.

John Wesley emphasized repeatable activities that draw us near to God and send us to serve others. He taught the Means of Grace as ways that Christians open their hearts and lives to God's work in them. These practices can be divided into two broad categories, with individual and communal components: Works of Piety and Works of Mercy.

Works of Piety such as prayer, fasting, studying the Bible, regular observance of Holy Communion, and Christian conferencing (community) are spiritual disciplines that keep us centered on Jesus Christ, the object of our faith.

Works of Mercy, such as visiting the sick and imprisoned, feeding and clothing those in need, giving generously, and seeking justice for oppressed people are ways that we let our light shine.

“Our Message is not about ourselves; we're proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus ... It started when God said, ‘Light up the darkness!’ and our lives filled up with light as we saw and understood God in the face of Christ, all bright and beautiful … We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives (2 Corinthians 4:5-7, The Message)."

We have this treasure in earthen vessels. What an awesome privilege and responsibility. Lord, help us to be faithful and fruitful!

--Jamie Jenkins, North GA Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications
Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Giving breaks the temptation of greed

“The one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each of you must give as you have made up your mind.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7a)

Sherry often walked away from a night of volunteering at the Food Pantry wondering why she had given up such precious time to deal with such difficult situations. Then there were nights like last night, when the people were so very appreciative and thankful for what they received. She pulled out her calendar and automatically planned to be there again in two weeks. Whether it was a good night or a challenging night, she was always reminded of what a difference this ministry makes in the lives of real people, and she was happy to volunteer.

As we journey through the holiday season, we tend to focus primarily on the material gifts we can give one another. Yet we are also reminded that as disciples, we are called to give of ourselves – our time and talents, not just our treasures.

When we think about the gifts we can bring to the church, it is important for us to remember the value of our time. And it is important for us to give thanks for the time that some of our members give to the church. Without the precious volunteers who give so many hours of labor to the church, we would fail! We could not afford to buy all the good will, the energy, the creative talents, and the hard work that many of our members freely give to the church. Our volunteers give critical support to our ministries by teaching classes and leading youth groups, singing and playing in various choirs, cooking and serving meals, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, working in the nursery, assembling newsletters, and so much more!

Take a moment during the season of Thanksgiving to say “thank you” to the men and women who share the most precious gift of all in the name of Christ. For the gift of time is priceless!

--Wisconsin Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications