Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2008

2008 Annual Conference Reports

**Update** - Actually, somehow I missed that my own adopted conference Greater New Jersey is also up there year in worship attendance. (The only one in the NEJ.) And Revmommy points out in the comments that North Georgia is apparently up in worship as well, technically.** It's that time of year again, where my Metho-nerdiness shines through: the 2008 Annual Conference Reports are up at (Well, many of them are up anyway.) I've skimmed through all the posted reports and noticed some common themes, and as always, I like to check out the statistics for membership, worship, and Sunday School. What I noticed this year: Most conferences are ordaining and commissioning far fewer folks than they are retiring. Missions and outreach seem to be prominent areas of focus at most annual conferences. Most conference take multiple mission-oriented offerings. Many conferences seem to engage in days of service or hands-on times of action during the conference sessions. Nothing but Nets

Peace or Sword? A Sermon from Bishop Mary Ann Swenson

As I struggle again this time around the lectionary with Jesus' words, "I come not to bring peace, but a sword," I point you to my favorite-ever sermon on this text, from General Conference 2000, preached by Bishop Mary Ann Swenson. I just re-read it, and I can still exactly visualize her miming swinging a sword. Still powerful. Still inspiring! (The picture of Bishop Swenson is from this General Conference.) Short excerpt: "Jesus comes with a sword. The sword cuts to purpose, to results. And I believe that Jesus is extremely impatient for the results. He is impatient for the results because he is passionate about people. It is a divine, consuming love that cuts to the results. It’s that impatience that shows when he says, “Those who put their hand to the plow and look back aren’t fit for the kingdom.” It’s that awareness he has that when we look away from our purpose, we are lost. And he says, “Let the dead bury the dead.” It is a radical leadership that God call

An Add-on: Empowering Young People

As an add-on to my previous post , I have to share an example of empowering young people and young leaders that I heard just the other day. I was at an area clergy gathering, and one of the pastors who was there for the first time told us about a unique model of ministry at one of his previous churches. A young woman came to the church where he was a pastor looking for work as a youth pastor. She wanted to be hired full time, and the church really couldn't afford it. So the pastor thought about what was best and what he hoped for for his congregation, and presented a plan: Hire the youth pastor full time, and reduce his position to part time. That's what they did, and because they really invested in their young people, their ministry with young people grew. Today, that youth pastor is the pastor of the entire congregation. His story really struck me - we know what we say is important. Doing what we need to do to make those things happen is harder, especially when it means givin

from Bishop Willimon: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders

Just read this post at Bishop Willimon's blog , which concludes: "[This] story is far from unique. This is what happens when we really focus ourselves upon the priority of a new generation of Christians. I’m recommending that next year our entire Annual Conference be focused upon the single priority of empowering a new generation, that any reports be made exclusively by those under forty, and that every church send lay delegates who are all under forty. [New, young leaders] are in every congregation. We must notice them, nurture them, and empower them for God to use them in giving our church a future. By God’s grace, we will!" What do you think of the Bishop's proposal? I like the concreteness of the plan - very specific things that will be done to empower young people, young new leaders. But I'm undecided. What would your session of annual conference look like if all or most of the lay delegates were under 40? What would it feel like if presentations were made on

Reflections: Community Organizing

This week, I attended a gathering of representatives from area congregations who are having conversations about community organizing. The coordinator of these efforts is Rabbi Joel Moshbacher, from Beth Haverim Shir Shalom , in Mahwah, NJ. I went to check things out and see if I could potentially find a small group from FLUMC to join me. Mike Gecan, from Industrial Areas Foundation provided leadership and training for us. I found the conversation intriguing - I'm not (as I discovered) familiar at all with the process of community organizing, even though I had some assumption or ideas about what it involved. Mike started by making note of community organizing in the current presidential campaigns. He talked about community organizing as a Broad Based Power Organization. Broad: more than one faith, race, kind, group, etc. Power: ability to act. Good intentions not enough. Organization: built of institutions. Institutions not individuals. Moderates are in institutions. Things are de

Annual Conference Reflections

Sorry for the blog silence. I've been quite a delinquent blogger lately. I've just returned from NCNY's Annual Conference . The internet access wasn't great (neither is my laptop battery), which makes blogging difficult. I remember after being a delegate to GC in 2000 , coming to annual conference a month later and thinking that it was rather boring in comparison. I didn't have that overwhelming sense this year, although I can tell you that hardly any items had debate around them. In fact, we didn't even debate over the budget this year, which has to be a first. How did this happen? The finance team gave us ice cream and cookies right before we voted on the budget. An excellent strategy. :) Some thoughts on the high points: CCYM -I just finished my fifth year as the conference youth coordinator, which sounds weird to me. I can hardly believe that. When I began working with CCYM in 2003, I have to confess that I wasn't really enjoying my work. It took a whil