Pastoral Post 7.13.2016

This week an important meeting is taking place at Lake Junaluska. The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference of the United Methodist Church convenes on Wednesday and concludes on Friday.

There will be lots of reports, I am told, mostly on video, of various ministries and missions throughout the Southeast. However, the primary activity of the conference is to elect new bishops for those who are retiring and to assign bishops to their “episcopal areas” throughout the Southeast.

Five bishops will be elected by the 376 delegates from the 15 annual conferences in the nine southeastern states. Jane Wood of our church is one of those delegates. Four years ago our then District Superintendent Ken Carter was elected, and he has served the Florida Conference these past four years (“quadrennium” in Methodist speak). This year, our Western NC Conference has endorsed Dr. James Howell, Senior Pastor of Myers Park UMC in Charlotte, as our candidate.

After the five bishops are elected, the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy will assign the bishops to their areas. Most bishops are assigned for two quadrennia (8 years) before being reassigned, but that is not a requirement. Since our Bishop Larry Goodpaster is retiring, we will be assigned a new bishop—either one who has already served in another area, or one just elected. Dr. Howell, should he become Bishop Howell, will not be assigned to us, his home conference. Bishop Carter could theoretically be assigned back home to us, now that he has served four years, but it is likely that he will be reassigned for four more years in Florida. The announcement of the assignments is scheduled for Thursday evening at 8:45, with receptions to follow. I intend to be on hand to greet our new bishop!

Great leadership is essential for great things to happen for God! Please be in prayer that the conference, composed of ½ laity and ½ clergy, will choose those for leadership who will be faithful to God’s calling for these difficult days.

For more information and for live streaming, go to http://www.sejumc.org/2016sejconf.

On recent Sundays we’ve been digging into the Gospel of Luke, and especially in a section that is found only in Luke. Last Sunday we listened for insights from the familiar parable The Good Samaritan, and hopefully we gained some fresh and challenging insights from these familiar words.

This Sunday we consider another little jewel found only in Luke, the story of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus in their home. While Martha is busy preparing a meal, Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet. It’s a very human little story, yet one with great depth for those willing to deeply ponder. Read it ahead of Sunday at Luke 10:38-42.

The past few weeks have been exciting, both on Sunday and during special events during the week. In some churches summer feels rather dead, but I must say how thankful I am to be pastor of a church which maintains excellent attendance and great energy throughout the summer. If you’re not on vacation this Sunday, plan to be present and let’s see what Mary and Martha might teach us!

See you Sunday,

Sandy

PS:  Remember senior high youth and their counselors in mission this week in inner city Cleveland, and next week middle high youth and counselors in North Georgia.

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