I was privileged to attend three conversations on the Way Forward by Bishop Farr this month in the Southwest District. I was impressed by the Bishop’s clarity, frankness and ability to communicate the essence of the issue with church members. He was clear, “I have to be a bishop to all, not just to some. I see people of all theological persuasions who are bringing people to Christ.”
As I circulated among the table discussions and heard people passionately talking with each other, I was convinced of three foundational precepts of these Methodists:
First, people love their church. The universal desire was to see the UMC thrive, overcome obstacles and live as salt and light in the world. When faced with tough choices, Methodists stand up.
Second, Christians with differences are willing to talk. The conversation was lively and intense but respectful. An occasional outburst was met with grace.
Third, people are grappling with complex issues outside their familiar church lives. Simple solutions do not exist. Some questions just cannot be answered to everyone’s satisfaction. But people are willing to commit to continual prayer for God’s guidance for our denomination and the future of the Church.
I believe our conversations are strengthen if we can answer these two questions: Are we willing to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance rather than our own voices? Will the church embrace the Methodist tradition that people can love Jesus, love their neighbors, and sometimes disagree?
To learn more about the Way Forward, click the links and videos below:
The Missouri Conference: www.moumethodist.org/prayingourwayforward
The Upper Room Prayer Community: umcprays.org
On Giving Tuesday, November 27, please consider partnering with United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) using the newly-established Advance #3022499 to support Creation Care. This Advance will ensure sustainability for the EarthKeepers’ training program, create the opportunity for EarthKeepers to apply for grants to fund their projects, and support energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. This Advance was created in response to demand from United Methodists who want to support Creation Care in the UMC.
Read about some EarthKeepers’ Creation Care projects at https://www.umcmission.org/giving-tuesday/2018/creation-care. The opening story is about a United Methodist EarthKeeper in Broken Arrow, OK, who leads development and management of a large community garden there. About half way down the story, notice the Monarch Butterfly Wayside Station sign in their church parking lot. In our Southwest District, the Stockton United Methodist Church Go Green Team would like to establish a Monarch garden on church property with a sign like this! For more information, contact our Missouri Conference EarthKeeper, Cheryl Marcum, Stockton UMC Creation Care Ministry leader. Thank you for your support!
District Fall Training Opportunites — Three Classes Offered on 13 October at Christ Community UMC
Download registration form here.
Download these readings if you are registering for the “Disciples Called to Do Climate Justice” course:
Download, print (2-sided, of course!), and read course material before class:
- Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, The Natural World section, http://www.umc.org/what-we-believe/the-natural-world (3 pages)
- Gods Renewed Creation Study Guide 2009 (rev).pdf., The Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, 2009 (18 pages)
- Three resolutions from “The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church-2016,” from The Natural World section, formatted into one document, Book of Resolutions 1001, 1033, 1035 2016 for SW District Course.pdf. (11 pages)
- Resolution 1001, Energy Policy Statement
- Resolution 1033, Caring for Creation: A Call to Stewardship and Justice
- Resolution 1035, Climate Change and the Church’s Response
Check back here for potential information on current climate justice issues.
Southwest Missouri Climate Crisis Campaign
My name is Cheryl Marcum and I am the first United Methodist EarthKeeper in the Missouri Conference! I have been a member of Stockton United Methodist Church since I was 14, absentee for about three decades while my husband, Mitch Ross, now Southwest District lay leader, served on active duty in the U.S. Army.
Our God of all creation is full of surprises! Twelve years ago while living happily in Alexandria, Va., Mitch and I did the unthinkable when we answered God’s audacious call to build and move into an energy efficient solar home on the farm where I grew up in rural Cedar County, Missouri!
I was born with a vocation of creation care, but I mostly denied God’s persistent call until 2012. Soon after we moved to Cedar County, I felt God calling me to lead a creation care ministry at my home church, Stockton United Methodist. I didn’t know what that was or even if there was such a thing in the United Methodist Church. God persisted, and I resisted for five years by actively leading other more traditional ministries in my church instead, until 2012, when I finally surrendered, “Here am I. Send me.” I have been leading our active creation care ministry for six years.
In 2016, I heard about a new EarthKeepers ministry through the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) and I didn’t resist, I immediately applied to become a United Methodist EarthKeeper. This new EarthKeepers program recognizes that God calls some people to be caretakers of the Earth, of God’s creation. It helps them make the connections between faith and action.
I attended the six days of training in August 2017, at Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center, Fayetteville, Ark. It bathed my weary soul with denominational affirmation that creation care is a cornerstone of discipleship. I am grateful to the GBGM for the opportunity to study creation care theology and to discern God’s call on my life to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis. The training strengthened my confidence and hardened my resolve.
Through prayerful discernment, each EarthKeeper-in-training chooses and designs a creation care project as a follow-up application to their week of training and commits to devote 10 hours per month to accomplish that project. I resisted the climate crisis project God placed in my heart, until I accepted that resistance was futile.
My project, southwest Missouri climate crisis campaign, is based on this premise. God dedicated us, human beings, to care for—to help renew—his creation which he called, “good.” God requires us to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. Yet, early in the 21st Century, do our United Methodist churches in our Southwest District present themselves to their community as God’s stewards for renewing his good creation, as disciples committed to climate justice?
God entrusted the care of our planet to us. Our mindless, excessive carbon emissions dangerously disrupt Earth’s climate systems, eco-systems, and the lives of our “neighbors” around the globe. As our Council of Bishops wrote in 2009, “We must begin the work of renewing creation by being renewed in our own hearts and minds. We cannot help the world until we change our way of being in it.” We
must choose a lifestyle that transforms culturally acceptable, environmentally irresponsible choices into creation-respecting choices that bring about climate justice for all who suffer from our excessive carbon emissions. Climate justice means setting right our relationships with each other, with God, and with the Earth.
I am counting on God to open doors that I cannot. My job is to speak boldly and act decisively to disrupt our global climate crisis. I am stepping out in faith to initiate the conversation in our churches about our climate crisis, to make the connections between our faith and decisive actions we can take to disrupt it.
Our God of all creation is full of surprises. I just need (1) to share my personal climate crisis witness with people in 10 churches in our district, and (2) each of 10 churches in our district to enact one new ongoing climate action by December 31.
I intend my personal witness to reflect God’s love for and presence throughout his creation. To count, a new climate action must communicate to the community served by the church that this body of Christ takes seriously God’s call to care for—to help renew—his good creation. The process for each church introduces the people to creation care theology and leads them to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, a small step towards climate justice. Is God opening the door for your church to be one of the 10?
For more information, contact me at my email or landline, (417) 276-2501.
MISSION: To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
VISION: The Missouri Conference will relentlessly lead our churches to become outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers.
Charge Conference for churches in the Southwest District is at St Paul’s United Methodist Church on November 4th. The usual charge conference business is planned during a working lunch hour, but the highlight of the day is a class by Sue Nilson Kibbey beginning that morning. She is the author of Flood Gates, Holy Momentum for a Fearless Church and is best know for her breakthrough prayer initiative. Her book makes an urgent case for change in our prayer lives and shifting each congregation’s culture toward omnipresent discipleship. In other words, this is an opportunity to hear how to transform your church into a congregation of daring, Spirit-driven disciples. Sue Nilson Kibbey never disappoints to deliver a compelling message about the power of prayer.
Flood Gates begins at 9:30am (gathering at 9am), Saturday 4 November at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 2423 W. 26th Street in Joplin. Registration is $20 which includes materials and lunch for those attending the charge conference. You may register by going directly to the Southwest District Facebook page and selecting “Events.” All training materials and lunch will be provided with your registration. Notify your pastor you want to attend before you register.
Churches attending charge conference must have all paperwork approved by their respective church councils with proper signatures.
NOTE: The Sue Nilson Kibbey event has minimum attendance requirements per church.
- For churches under 30 – 2 laity and the pastor
- For churches 30-90 – 3 laity and the pastor
- For churches greater than 90 – 4 laity and the pastor
Full disclosure: I am married to Cheryl Marcum, a candidate for Earthkeeper, scheduled for commissioning on August 6.
Maybe you’ve heard of Earthkeepers. They are United Methodists who discerned a call from God to a vocation of caring for God’s creation. They help us understand how caring for God’s creation is a core part of our identity as disciples of Jesus Christ.
The first Earthkeeper in the Missouri Conference will be from the Southwest District, Stockton United Methodist Church. Cheryl Marcum will be commissioned an Earthkeeper at the commissioning ceremony at Trinity United Methodist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas, upon completion of the August 1-6 Earthkeepers Training Conference at Mount Sequoyah Retreat & Conference Center in Fayetteville.
Earthkeepers is the inspiration of Rev. Pat Watkins, a recently retired missionary for God’s Creation with the General Board of Global Ministries. His successor, Rev. Jenny Phillips, will lead this new, globally-focused ministry, based at the new Global Ministries’ Center for Mission Innovation in Atlanta.
Earthkeepers can be laity or clergy. Each Earthkeeper is required to participate in four days of intense training in creation care theology, best practices in climate conversations, UMC resources for advocacy and action, and then commit to 10 hours per month of providing leadership for a community project or advocacy campaign. An Earthkeeper selects her or his own focus area, for example: creating a community garden, advocating for climate action or renewable energy policies, working for environmental justice by cleaning up toxic waste sites, or creating a green team within a church, district, or conference. These actions connect the local church directly to community concerns.
Do you have someone in your congregation who is called to to become an Earthkeeper, to serve as a caretaker of God’s good creation?
“Many people have thought of God’s creation in terms of advocacy but not as a valid mission of the church. God’s creation is as appropriate a mission field as Nigeria or the Philippines or wherever else. In order to be in mission to God’s people, we have to be in ministry to God’s creation.” – Rev. Pat Watkins
Read more at:
Innovative Program Aims to Commission 500 Earthkeepers, The Missouri Methodist, August 2017, page 9. http://www.moumethodist.org/files/tables/content/8734864/fields/files/3338dfdfe6054cf5a1600fd56200db9d/august+fk.pdf
New Earthkeepers Program Aims to Commission 500 for Creation Care Work http://www.umcmission.org/learn-about-us/news-and-stories/2016/april/0422newearthkeepers
Caretakers of God’s Creation is a grassroots community of United Methodists. https://www.umccreationcare.org/
On 19, Sep 2016 | In Events | By Rebecca
2016 Charge Conferences have been scheduled. All conferences will be held from 3-5 pm. We are planning to hold several one hour breakout learning sessions for both clergy and laity on a variety of topics. More details on those will be coming as we finalize plans. We would ask each church to bring several laity to take advantage of the training that will be offered. Please watch for more information on that as we finalize details.
Please also remember that in order for group conferences to run smoothly you must get your salary information into the district office for review and then meet with your ad council to get prior approval for items requiring a vote. Please see the dates below so that you may begin to prepare for your conference. Dates are finalized though there may be some change in host churches.
Forms are available at
Oct 23. – Nevada UMC
Nov 6 – Monett UMC
Nov 13 – Byers Avenue UMC, Joplin
The Installation Service for our ‘new’ District Superintendent Mark Statler will be held this Sunday, October 20th, at the Saint James UMC at 4pm. Please announce this to your churches and invite your congregations to come and share in this time of worship and fellowship. Bishop Schnase will be present to officiate the service. A meet and greet fellowship time will be held immediately following.