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.
On 02, Jun 2017 | In Laity | By Mitch
What lay members to annual conference need to know:
Each year, our bishop presides over the annual conference for worship, fellowship, and to conduct the business of the United Methodist Church in Missouri. Annual conference includes reports of ongoing ministry, future goals, programs, budgets and the ordination of clergy. Workshops, live music, training sessions and exhibits add to the experience you take back to your congregation.
An effective lay member to annual conference returns to his/her local church to inform the congregation about the decisions, news, and learning experiences. As the elected member from the congregation, it is the responsibility of the lay member to interpret the actions of annual conference to the congregation. We are a connectional church and the lay member to annual conference strengthens the connection between the local congregation and the Missouri Conference.
Talk with your pastor before annual conference
Endeavor to understand the hopes and dreams of your local church and search for ways your leadership can advance the vision for ministry. Prepare for annual conference.
- Talk to people in your congregation who have attended previous annual conference sessions.
- Take advantage of pre-conference orientation sessions and information on the annual conference website to prepare you to learn and to contribute to the life of the church.
- Familiarize yourself with the ministries and concerns of your congregation.
- Become familiar with the rules of annual conference and basic parliamentary procedure.
- Participate in pre-conference sessions that cover upcoming issues, budgetary items, and proposed resolutions.
- On Friday of the conference attend the laity session and southwest district laity breakout. This is an opportunity to meet other district lay leaders and share ministries and experiences.
As soon as practical after the close of the conference, report your experience to your church council in cooperation with your pastor. Communication truly improves connection.
Use resources available online
Read this handout to understand your role: http://www.awfumc.org/files/old_files_library/lay_member_role.pdf
Watch this video recap of annual conference 2016: https://vimeo.com/170496299
Check out this publication by Cokesbury: https://www.cokesbury.com/product/9781501829727/guidelines-for-leading-your-congregation-20172020-lay-leaderlay-member/
A great deal of info is available at the conference website: http://www.moumethodist.org/acinfo
Talk to your District Lay Leaders
District lay leaders can provide resources to point you in the right direction. Connect with your district lay leaders at annual conference – they want to help. The key responsibility of the lay member is linking the vision and resources of annual conference back to the mission of the local congregation. Ask district lay leaders, Marsha Egan and Mitch Ross, any questions you have and keep the link between annual conference and the local church strong.
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 05, Apr 2017 | In Laity | By Mitch
Mid-State District is offering a great opportunity to learn from Ray Buckley, a distinguish storyteller.
“Lay Servants Tell Stories” is a course offered at the UMC Conference Center in Columbia on May 6th. The course is open to everyone and counts as an advanced course for Lay Servants.
See the flier below for more information and to complete your registration or follow this link: http://www.moumethodist.org/eventdetail/7808400
On 06, Nov 2016 | In Laity | By Mitch
Mark Twain said, “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.” Twain had a sarcastic side with a twist on the truth.
So, where do you get your information? Specifically, where do you get your information about church life? Are you uninformed, misinformed or overwhelmed? What do you read?
First, we read the scriptures. No other source can provide the benefits and blessings of God’s word. But, most Christians I know also have favorite authors and websites that keep them abreast of the latest church ideas and trends. Below are a few of my favorite web resources.
Ministry Matters (http://www.ministrymatters.com/) is a good resource with free content. If you want access to premium material a paid subscription is required. With a free account you can create bins to hold your favorite articles and subscribe to various weekly feeds.
The Lewis Center for Church Leadership (https://www.churchleadership.com/) is another place to mine information about church leadership, ministry and reaching out to different demographics. Check out their “50 Ways” suggestions under the Resources tab.
To keep up with current events in the United Methodist Church, go to www.umc.org and click on the News & Media tab.
To stay connected to all the latest happenings in the Missouri Conference, check out the Stay Connected page here: http://www.moumethodist.org/stayconnected. You can subscribe to Net News, Mission Cast, Justice Ministries or Shared Prayers and other subscriptions from the Missouri Conference.
If you tweet, follow the Missouri Conference on Twitter, https://twitter.com/moumethodist
Finally, one of my favorites is I Am Second (http://www.iamsecond.com/). The site offers several innovative videos on many hot button topics. The short videos are good for sermons, small group topics or just to start a conversation.
What is your favorite resource?
On 19, Sep 2016 | In Laity | By Mitch
Inevitably, when I talked to church members about the mission of the local church, someone feels the burden of what must be done to actually be the church and in a wave of inadequacy they exclaim, “…but I am only laity.” In this context, “only laity” implies amateur, non-professional, unskilled, unworthy or incapable. It’s self- deprecating – and it’s a myth.
The laity must not feel apologetic or inadequate. They are not always well equipped, but are always Christ’s ambassadors. Fueled by the Holy Spirit, just as they are, and without apology, the laity witness, obey, love, lead and reach-out to one another with the full measure of Christ’s empowerment.
I credit Pastor Eugene Peterson for planting this thinking in me. He says it bluntly: “Where do all these Christians, who by definition are ‘new creatures in Christ’ … pick up this deprecating self-understanding? They certainly don’t get it from the Bible or the gospel. And certainly not from Jesus. They get it from the culture, both secular and ecclesial.” The Jesus Way, Eugene Peterson, p. 13.
No laity doubt or challenge the role of clergy, those blessed men and women who answer the call to full time service to the church. In partnership, laity share common ground with clergy. We are baptized to the same salvation. Together we form the priesthood of all believers, kingdom of priests and saints. These biblical phrases are not arrogant scriptural claims but are confessions of our mutual commitment to the Kingdom of God.
When Jeremiah complained to God, “…but I am only a boy” God’s response (paraphrased but still accurate) set him right, “Don’t say that. Do what I tell you. I am with you.” What more can we ask for? We laity should hear the same words from the same God when we exclaim, “I am only laity.”
Methodist teaching is plain, “The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as sharing their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist Church will fulfill its mission.” – UMC Book of Discipline, ¶127
We laity are the Church, the body of Christ, empowered to carry on the business of our heavenly Father and live lives as directed by the Holy Spirit without excuses for our sufficiency. Christ says we are up to it. Why second guess him? You go laity!