Monday, August 29, 2011

Gleaners in the Field of God

When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest... you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God. -- Leviticus 19:9-10

Gleaning is an ancient practice of faithful hospitality and generosity. It is listed as a law in Leviticus and is drawn gracefully for us in Bible stories.

I love the idea of gleaning and have for many years used it as meditative image for regular pastoral and now episcopal communication. As I move about, listen, watch and read I feel kinship to the ancient gleaners.

Often I am an alien in the land: I am often in a place for the first time. I am dependent upon the kindness of strangers and the expertise of others -- weather forecasters, garbage collectors, mail deliverers, airplane pilots, plumbers, electricians, information technologists, dentists.

Always I am in need of generosity, of grace. This list also is very long. Just today, I moved into the left lane without checking closely enough and a friendly horn tap and braking and smile were offered rather than road rage.

It was pure grace to be in McAllen, Texas and Reynosa, Mexico -- border towns connected by bridge across the Rio Grande. The Advance Committee gathered for the needed business and visited border ministries of our church. The genuine friendship and partnership of the Methodist Church of Mexico and the United Methodist Church in Texas are remarkable witnesses to the goodness of God as they work among the people and welcome mission work teams from around the world.

As I walked across the square in Reynosa with a leader of the Methodist Church of Mexico, I commented on the beauty around us. He responded, "Yes, it is beautiful but it is empty. People are afraid to come here." I spoke of the violence in Arizona, of the reality of violence and of beauty in every place. He responded, "There is a difference. When it happened in Arizona, no one says all Arizona is bad. When it happens here, many say all Mexico is bad." We walked on in this realization, yet in hope for God's law to be fulfilled in us, and God's grace to abound in our world.

In the square in Reynosa, I was again a gleaner in the field of God.

With gratitude for God's hospitality and compassion,

--Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, MS Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

United Methodist Communications


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Time to Give Back

I turned on my television to see the unbelievable pictures of the devastation caused by the tornados that ripped through Missouri, Kansas and Iowa this Spring. Homes ripped apart; lives lost; cars overturned; trees stripped of branches and bark; and faces showing the strain of shock and disbelief.

How many times this year have we seen such pictures - whether caused by floods or tornados or fires or earthquakes or tsunamis? This has been a difficult and devastating year. And even as we here in the Dakotas have fought the fight against rising water, I am reminded that there are so many others who are reeling from disasters of much greater magnitude than ours.

I was shocked to learn at our Council of Bishops meeting this year that the UMCOR funds which allow an Annual Conference to receive an automatic $10,000 grant for disaster aid was nearly depleted. The call for those monies has been so great over the past several years, that it has put an incredible strain on those important resources.

Did you know that in the past five years the Dakotas Annual Conference has received over $ 150,000 in direct grants from UMCOR (as well as other assistance) to help with floods and fires and drought?

Did you know that One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) pays the administrative costs of UMCOR, so every penny we give goes directly to those in need?

Did you know that every time we have asked for help from UMCOR, we have received it?

Friends, we have truly benefitted from the generosity of UMCOR, and also from United Methodists across the country who have contributed to UMCOR - and therefore to us in our times of need.

It is now time to give back.

During the 2011 Annual Conference a special offering for UMCOR was taken. Furthermore I asked each local church to receive a special offering during the Summer months. These funds will go directly to UMCOR to allow them to continue to respond to disasters across the world.

  • We can be the hands and feet of Christ to hurting people.

  • We can join with other United Methodists to increase our gifts to those in need.

  • We can truly make a difference in the lives of people across the world.

In the words of Matthew 25:"Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' And the king will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (37 - 40)

With you in the Work of Christ,

--an excerpt by Bishop Deb Kiesey, Dakotas Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer
United Methodist Communications

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Effective ministry requires continuous learning

Dr. Green was the pediatrician for our first child. I had just finished college and we were preparing to move to Atlanta for me to start seminary. Lena and I took six month old Jason for his last check up before we re-located.

As we sat in the doctor’s office in Chattanooga I told Dr. Green that we were moving so I could pursue my call to ministry. I explained that I would begin classes at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in the fall.

Dr. Green said to me, “Theology school will differ from medical school in at least one way. You won’t have to buy books but once. In the medical field things are always changing and you have to keep up. You won’t have that worry in the church.”

He was a good pediatrician but it was obvious that the good doctor did not know very much about church work. I knew it then and forty years later I am much more aware that the study of scripture, preaching/teaching, pastoral care, leadership development, church administration, time management, visioning and planning, and all other aspects of “church work” are not static. That is true today and I suspect it has always been true.

It is certainly inaccurate to think that you can learn it all and then just coast the rest of your ministry. The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know. One must grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to be relevant and effective in ministry. This applies equally to clergy and laity.

We in the North Georgia Conference have many opportunities help us to “present ourselves to God as persons approved, workers who do not need to be ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV). You can learn more about these learning experiences and register for them at

--excerpt from an email by Jamie Jenkins, NGA Ann Conf

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

United Methodist Communications

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Story of Two Seas

There are two seas in the Land of Israel. One is fresh and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it, and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters. Children play along its shores.

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And people build their homes near to it, birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is here.

The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, and no children’s laughter. The air hangs heavy above its waters and neither people nor animals will drink here.

What makes this mighty difference in these seas? Not the River Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie; not the country “round about.”

This is the difference:

The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives.
This other sea cannot sustain life. It is named the Dead Sea.

There are two seas in the Land of Israel.
There are two kinds of people in the world.

--from ”The New Mahzor " for Rash Hashanah and Yom Kippur /Compiled and edited by Rabbi Sidney Greenberg and Rabbi Jonathan D. Levine

--submitted by the Wisconsin AC

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

United Methodist Communications