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Thoughts Along The Way: April 2012

This month, United Methodist delegates from around the world will meet in Tampa, Florida for our denomination’s General Conference. The theme for the 2012 General Conference is intended to focus our attention on the mission of our church as they gather around the theme: “Make Disciples of Jesus Christ to Transform the World.” If you think the conference theme sounds familiar, you are right. The theme echoes both the “Great Commission” from Matthew 28:1-20 and our denominational mission statement which is based upon the same passage of Scripture.

General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church. The 1000-member assembly meets once every four years to consider revisions to church law, as well as adopt resolutions on current moral, social, public policy and economic issues. It also approves plans and budgets for church-wide programs for the next four years.

I would like to encourage you to take an active interest in the 2012 General Conference and to include it in your personal prayers in the days and weeks ahead. For many of you the idea of following the conference may sound like a mind numbing or futile waste of your time. However, I hope that you will find yourself able to look beyond the debates and the process so that you can truly look at the issues that are facing our denomination–and the efforts of our United Methodist brothers and sisters to respond to those issues. If you do, you may begin to see some similarities between our shrinking denominational numbers and the membership numbers of our church as well. Ultimately, I pray that we may be inspired by their efforts to search for our own answers so that we may begin to identify, pursue, and carry out the mission that Jesus Christ has commissioned us to do in our lives and our local community.

The days are quickly counting down to General Conference. In some ways, the days are also ticking away in the life of our church. Our denomination is dealing with the realization that it cannot continue to move forward in the same way it has in the past because it is not sustainable. We continue to see ourselves struggling to cover the costs of our day-to-day and year-to-year operation. We must begin to accept the realities of the present so that we too may find alternatives and hope for the future. We must embrace our responsibilities on a local level in much the same manner that the delegates serving at General Conference will soon be doing.

I believe that our church has a future in the community of Galena and that by searching for God’s purpose we can fulfill Christ’s mission. The mission of making Disciples of Jesus Christ to transform (our community and) the world.  Yes, the days really are ticking away.  We can choose to turn towards the future like the dawning of a new day or to resign ourselves to accepting the fading light of the sun setting upon our ministry and mission here in Galena. The way we respond really is up to us.

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