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!
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
Appointment season in the United Methodist Church comes around every year at this time. This June many churches will say good-bye to their current pastor as they greet a new pastor. Change, expected or not, can be stressful for congregations. But, “passing the baton,” pastor to pastor, is part of our Methodist heritage.
Here’s the good news: Change can also become an opportunity for mission focus, reevaluation of church values and growth. A change of pastor is a chance for new eyes to envision otherwise unseen possibilities. As laity, we pray for a smooth transition and that God will embolden us to support and minister alongside our pastors.
Prayer goes a long way toward calming the turmoil of change, enabling acceptance of what is new, and opening our eyes to see what God is doing in our midst.
- Pray that congregations receive pastors sent to new charges in the spirit in which they are sent.
- Pray that PPR committees provide the support and leadership that pastors and congregations need for continuity during a time of change.
- Pray that congregations partner with new pastors and encourage them to minister as John Wesley taught: “Act in all things, not according to your own will, but as a son in the Gospel.”
- Pray that we laity follow suit alongside our pastors.
If a new pastor is sent to your church, please read this excellent resource provided by the Missouri Conference: http://www.moumethodist.org/passingthebaton.
Pay attention to social media. See “Digital Transitions When Pastors Change” at: https://www.churchleadership.com/leading-ideas/digital-transitions-pastors-change/.
Look at this resource from churchleadership.com for 50 ways to welcome your new pastor: https://www.churchleadership.com/50-ways/50-ways-to-welcome-a-new-pastor/.
We are an itinerant church. Wesley’s vision of itinerant ministry encourages a system of sending and sending again. But remember that as these changes occur, the mission of the church stands fast – the mission is unchanging even as leadership changes. Pray for each UMC congregation that the Holy Spirit guides and directs vital change in the local church, new pastor or not. Read more…
On 10, Oct 2016 | In News | By Rebecca
The media has carried news of changes to overtime pay requirements over the last several months. The Department of Labor is reducing the number of employees who do not have to record time and who are not entitled to receive overtime pay.
This reduction means that many employees, including employees of local churches, may now be covered by the overtime rules.
If you did not see the webinar from the conference office, I strongly urge you to go to the conference website and watch it here: http://www.moumethodist.org/fairlaborresources
This new law that goes into effect 12/1 can impact church staff. If you have any questions please contact our office or the conference .
Recent Changes to Overtime Pay Requirements: The Department of Labor is reducing the number of employees who do not have to record time and who are not entitled to receive overtime pay. This reduction means that many employees, including employees of local churches, may now be covered by the overtime rules. Director of Finance & Administration, Rev. Nate Berneking, will conduct a lunch hour webinar on Wednesday, September 21, at 12:00 p.m. to discuss all of the recent changes. He will walk churches through the new rules, attempt to clarify who might be exempt and who must be paid overtime, and answer any related questions. The webinar will conclude no later than 1 p.m. Learn more about the webinar and how to watch it here: http://www.moumethodist.org/eventdetail/fair-labor-standards-act-the-church-webinar-5558583?month=9&year=2016&day=1&display=m
Open to All Clergy
All clergy are invited to attend the Clergy Benefits Academy hosted by the General Board – Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church. The Clergy Benefits Academy will be presented October 24-26, 2016, in Branson, Missouri at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. The Missouri United Methodist Foundation would like to reimburse clergy attending the academy for two nights of hotel room at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel. The Clergy Benefits Academy is for all ages and stages of ministry — new ordinands, early-career clergy, mid-career clergy, ready-to-retire clergy, district superintendents, clergy in extension ministries — and spouses. There is something for everyone! This event is an opportunity to learn about the many benefit issues that affect your life and ministry. You can even earn continuing education units (CEUs) for attending. Register for the Academy and reserve your hotel room. Once registered, call the Foundation Office at 800-332-8238 to let us know you will be attending the event. After the event, email (email@example.com) or mail (PO Box 1076, Columbia, MO 65205) your hotel receipt, name and mailing address to the Foundation, and a reimbursement check will be mailed back to you. For more information about the Clergy Benefits Academy and a link to register, visit www.mumf.org/2016/clergy-benefits-academy.
For questions regarding the hotel reimbursement process, call the Foundation office at 800-332-8238.