Once every four years, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church convenes to review mission and ministry and set the tone for the next four years. It is a wonderful gathering of people of various cultures, color and ethnicity who have traveled from around the world to participate and serve as delegates. I’m always delighted to see the smiles, and to fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. Together at General Conference, we worship, share ministry stories, and conduct the very important business of the church, including setting the church budget.
I’m in Portland, Oregon this week participating in The United Methodist Church General Conference 2016. I had the privilege of addressing the delegates on Friday as I delivered the General Council on Finance and Administration’s report. What joy it was for me to stand before this beautiful and diverse group of people who are committed to serving God through the church! I was reminded of the richness and value of the people serving in our connection.
Our connection is what makes us a Church. I shared a few stories during my speech, but there are so many more to share! For example, Path1 has supported the annual conferences who have planted 507 new churches in the US during the first three years of this quadrennium. Central Conferences planted 599 churches in the first three years. In addition, 1,283 new faith communities were started in Central Conferences. Global Ministries has worked with 330 new faith communities from 2013-2015 in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. What amazing ministry stories we have to share as a Church!
By faithfully working TOGETHER, we are making a difference. I see it everywhere I look. I see our delegates faithfully working together in legislative committees. I see the people of The United Methodist Church approaching difficult topics in the same collaborative spirit. My prayer is that this good work continues into next week’s plenary sessions.
I leave you with an Africa proverb that says so much about our connectional ministry as United Methodists: “If you want to run fast, run alone. If you want to run far, run together!” I’m grateful for the people of the United Methodist Church who are running their mission race TOGETHER.