Just these lines, my friends …
… to say that my Just These Lines today contains a personal word from me, my Wednesday devotional, information about the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, an exciting update on resuming indoor person-to-person worship and ministries on campus, and an introduction to The Mile Project.
This past Sunday (February 28) we continued our Lenten worship series, The Jesus Way, discovering what it might mean for the way Jesus followed to become the way we follow Jesus. If you missed the part 2 in our series, you can watch it here.
Friends, I know this has been a long, hard season for all of us. We are all experiencing grief and fear in some way, and adaptive change of any kind is itself a kind of loss. We find ourselves digging for resolve from reserves we never knew we had. That is true for all of us, including myself. I would not be telling the truth if I did not admit that this has been the most challenging season of my 42 years of serving in the church. But I am heartened by the thought we are in this together, praying for each other, working through the hard stuff together, and looking forward to a future with hope. John Wesley, the founder of our Methodist movement, said it best: “The best of all is, God is with us.”
My Wednesday Devotional
My Wednesday devotional is Part 1 of a two parts on “The Lord’s Prayer.” Please click here to watch.
General Conference of The United Methodist Church
News was released in the last few days of the upcoming General and Jurisdictional Conferences. We live in an unprecedented season. COVID has changed how we work, gather, travel, eat meals, worship, and see our families and friends. Last week we marked the date of 500,000 Americans who have died of COVID. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers!
This has disrupted The United Methodist Church denominational gatherings that we know as the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The Commission on the General Conference and the Council of Bishops have released new dates for these gatherings, which are linked here and here. In addition, a Frequently Asked Questions document is provided here.
A few thoughts
- The setting of dates for two General Conferences and two Jurisdictional Conferences over the next eighteen months allows the elected delegates, half laity and half clergy, the opportunity to serve as they have been called.
- The scope of work in the General and Jurisdictional Conference will be done first in a minimal way, accomplishing what is necessary and what is possible, in 2021. The in-person General and Jurisdictional Conferences in 2022 will take up the weightier matters which can most appropriately be done when delegates are able to be together. A fundamental value in the call of the May 2021 General Conference is equity. It is simply not fair to make long-term decisions about the future of The UMC when many delegates across the world do not have equal access to technology.
- One of our bishops said, “We now have a sense, God willing, of a timetable for the next faithful steps in our denominational life.” MUMC, in this season, let me encourage us to focus on our most important commitments – to make God’s love real to our community, our region, our world — and to shape a plan back to in-person gatherings. We do all of this by how we reach, teach, praise and serve.
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I love hearing from you.
In-Person Worship Update
Your staff community and key leaders continue to monitor the latest COVID statistics in our area. Like all of us, we are happy to see the steady and clear decline in our local positivity rate, which is an important criterion for deciding when to resume onsite ministries. The rate that was 13.5% last month, is currently between 5.1 – 5.6%. We are hopeful that it will continue to trend toward the consistent sub 5% threshold advised by the Centers for Disease Control. So, while we cannot yet predict when that will be, we are accelerating our preparations for that joyous return to in-person worship.
Interested in Serving in Elected Leadership at MUMC?
Our Leadership Development Team (LDT) is beginning their work of identifying church members to serve on our elected leadership teams beginning in February 2022. These teams include Administrative Council, Finance, Trustees, Staff-Parish Relations, Endowment, Global Impact and Leadership Development. If you are interested in exploring leadership and would like more information, please feel free to reach out to me.
The Mile Project featuring Rev. Whitley and Pastor Chuck
The Mile Project is a series of films featuring people from different backgrounds as they collaborate, listen to each other’s perspectives, and confront the hard realities surrounding race. The Mile Project offers a shared space for respectful, honest conversation where we can recognize what is broken — but more importantly, commit to the restoring and rebuilding of a more beautiful community together.
Click here to watch the film below featuring Rev. Larry Whitley from the Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church and Pastor Chuck.
This Sunday in Worship
This week our CCH community will gather for worship at 12:30 pm to begin a new worship series, Priorities that Do Not Change. Pastor Roldan will be preaching from Matthew 21:12-17, with his message titled, No Frills, No Detours.
At 9:30 am and 11:00 am we continue the journey along The Jesus Way, our Lenten worship series. This Sunday Pastor Paul will guide us on The Way of Forgiveness from Luke 23:33-35. Paul says, “Jesus’ way of forgiveness, practiced from the cross, forgave everyone who had any part in his death, as well as those of us who are their descendants. He asks those who are forgiven to forgive others. Grace received should result in grace given.” Click here for a snapshot view of the sermons leading through Lent to Easter. We hope to see you on Sunday.
And, as always, during these strange, uncertain, tumultuous, and perilous days remember … God does God’s best work in moments like this.
We are in this … together,
Dr. Charles (Chuck) W. Wilson II