By Grace Cajiuat.
General Conference 2012 raised numerous questions about who we are as a body of United Methodists, and unfortunately, left us more confused and hurt. Trust level was low and tension was high. In the end, radical change didn’t happen.
So, what’s next? I believe what’s next is to stand on hope and celebrate the good that is in The United Methodist Church. In knowing ourselves authentically, we can find our call—our call to proclaim the gospel by being honest and offer from our abundance. Yes, we are an abundant community, and we need to discover that once again. Maybe not by money or numbers, but by faith. I recently heard Peter Block, author of Abundant Community, talk about the inherent abundance we have, but we have to realize that we need each other. We need to be able to talk with one another, and he strongly believes that the arts are a way to bring people together. When we sing and dance together, barriers break down. We are called to sing and dance at worship.
By Nan Self.
Ermalou Roller has written a compelling and complex autobiography; interwoven within her personal story is the church trial of the Reverend Gregory Dell, who was charged with having performed same-sex unions for members of his congregation, in conflict with United Methodist Church policies.
Many clergywomen will identify with Roller’s delayed call to ministry, after being married and having given birth to three children. More than one clergywoman will identify with the bewilderment of discovering that her husband is gay. Readers are reminded that while each of us sorts out the decisions of our own individual lives, public events often intersect with our unique personal journeys in significant ways.
By Lillian C. Smith.
This book is an essential read for any pastor, especially those who often forgo taking a day off a week or going on an annual vacation. It is a must-read for those of us who teeter on the verge of a meltdown—spiritual, physical, or otherwise. Truth be told, many colleagues in ministry, myself included, often push themselves to the brink in order to be in ministry. We want to be faithful, successful, often at the expense of ourselves and family.
By April Casperson.
Serving in a theological school in an administrative position means that I have the privilege of being a part of many conversations around the sense of vocation and call. I work alongside faculty who are living out their vocation as teachers, and I serve students who are working out their own vocational discernment while participating in academic formation.
By Soomee Kim.
I awakened, as if from a dream, and realized that in many ways, I was cloaked. I was dressed in antiquated coverings, worn thin, torn, and needing renewal. I felt emptiness; I was yearning for the invigoration of new wine. Any vision for renewal needs guidance, and that requires an outstretched hand. Trustworthy resources help one choose untaken paths necessary to re-cloak and refill. I first thought the process required complete discarding, out with the old, in with the new. Wondering, my choices ran contrary to Jesus’ consultation in Matthew; I layered new fabric on the old garments of my image. Tears came again and again. I took time to mend, adding one piece of patch at a time. It took time to recall the wisdom of my mothers, artists of making quilts. Mending versus simply patching was difficult but surely effective.
When I convened a group of twenty church leaders in 2004 to explore a different approach to writing liturgy, I had no idea that this gathering would become the seedbed of a new series of liturgical resources. We gathered—with poet, professor, and writing consultant Valerie Bridgeman Davis—in the GBOD Learning Center in late October, thinking that we would first discuss whether or not the black community needed more contextual liturgy for weekly worship and, perhaps later, tinker around with a few calls to worship and prayers.
By Cynthia A. Wilson.
In summer 2009, an intimate gathering of about eighteen church musicians from several denominations met at Calvin Institute. Paula D’Arcy, an author, a retreat leader, and a seminar speaker, gently reminded us of the need for worship leaders and facilitators to drink before they get thirsty. What a paradox that the keepers of the well of worship would have to be encouraged to drink often and deeply!
By Anita Wood.
By the action of the 1996 General Conference, The United Methodist Church established the order of deacon. This Order, which follows the lay position of diaconal minister and is distinct from the order of elder, seeks to revive the biblical understanding of deacon by focusing its ministry on serving those on the margins, namely, those whom others tend to forget. In Acts 6:1–8, deacons are instructed to serve the marginalized who are widows and orphans; today deacons lead others to serve whoever has needs.