Thoughts on Annual Conference

2014ACLogo “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me” – fall afresh on us – was the recurring cry of this Annual Conference. Oh, that it indeed might happen and happen again and again. This is our prayer as we move forward into the remainder of 2014.

For what do I give thanks as I think about this year’s Conference? I think of our Bishop Young Jin Cho. I give thanks for his leadership and his spirit of encouragement and exhortation. I give thanks for our Bible study and worship and the speakers who provoked us to love and good works as they shared. I give thanks the Virginia Annual Conference is #1 in giving support to missions! I give thanks for the testimonials we witnessed of churches growing and being revitalized. I give thanks for the four and a half tons of food that was shared through Cans 4 Conference, for the $145,000 raised towards the Initiatives of Hope, for the exhortation to partner in the fight to Imagine No Malaria, and for the 41,218 Kits they were brought to Annual Conference. Most of all, I give thanks for the brothers and sisters in Christ with which I could see and speak as we gathered together in Hampton.

What concerns me as we move forward in fidelity to Jesus Christ? I am concerned we could move away from the call to prayer and renewal given by our Bishop as we spend time talking about issues of sexuality. I am concerned the big picture of God’s redemption in Jesus could be overshadowed by our snapshot on sexuality. Let me be nostalgic for a moment. I long for the day (like when I was converted) when we call the lost to be saved and sinners to become saints. For those struggling to obey the commands of Christ, I am concerned we will call them to be receptive to the spirit of the age rather than receive the Spirit of Holiness that provides greater inward pressure for wholeness to our soul than any other resolving measure we take for the appropriate use of our passions.

I am concerned about us acting on the basis of stereotype and narrowly focused social concerns that help one while hurting another. I am concerned we push for the enactment of laws to substitute for the grace and the liberty of the Spirit. We approved a resolution for a “living wage” while voting down the opportunity to apply the standard to ourselves first. The maker of the motion insisted we needed to take this action to reflect the Jesus he knew. But, the Jesus I know doesn’t force everyone into the same mold but does call the 2/3 of business owners cited by the maker of the resolution who are in favor of raising the minimum wage to act in good faith on what they believe. We have stereotyped business owners as all rich and self-serving when that is just not the case.

Mostly, I pray for grace and liberty to abound and that each of us and all of us can abide in a place of repentance and alignment with the Truth. I give thanks knowing God will be at work in Jesus Christ through the indwelling Spirit to bring us there!

About laurelhillumc

Laurel Hill United Methodist Church is rich in history as a church family committed to a life in Christ. We began in the heart of Varina almost 150 years ago; the church has grown through its existence as a church-hospital in the Civil War, as a circuit church, and survived a disastrous fire which destroyed the sanctuary about 50 years ago. Then, dedicated, Spirit-filled Christians worked hard together to build a new sanctuary. That hard work has continued with many new improvements including a new addition connecting the sanctuary and educational building, the installation of an elevator providing total accessibility throughout both buildings, remodeling the education building and the installation of 18 stained glass windows. Faithful clergy and laity ministering together have established a legacy of dedication and service which enables Laurel Hill to be a beacon of light in our community, in our world and to all who follow for generations to come. In response to the needs of the Varina community, Laurel Hill United Methodist Church also operates the Laurel Hill Weekday School. These programs are an active part of the life and ministry of Laurel Hill UMC. We accept the opportunity through our morning Preschool and After School child care to share our values of love, caring, cooperation and forgiveness. The Church and child care programs work together to enhance the spiritual, mental and physical growth of children in our community. Our worship services are held each Sunday with a contemporary service at 8:45am and a traditional service at 11:00am. Sunday School begins at 9:45am. Call our office (804) 795-2772 for Bible Study times and other ministry opportunities.
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One Response to Thoughts on Annual Conference

  1. Theresa Duke says:

    I was at conference as a district representative. Norman has given a very good summary of the conference and some of the concerns that face the UMC. The call to continued prayer is very important. One statement that was made is that any major change or renewal in a church usually takes about 6 years. My friends we need continued positive prayer for God to renew each of us. Don’t say no and don’t be a doubter. It will come in God’s time.
    Theresa Duke

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