Thursday, January 29, 2009

Quadrennial Training--Like General Conference Without the Legislation!

Why have I never heard of this event before? Here we are, in "sunny" Jacksonville (it's actually been raining all day), for a quadrennial training event for The United Methodist Church. Conference leaders from around the country have gathered to hear about the four new foci for The UMC for the next for years. The object, I suppose, is that we will return to our respective conferences and tell everyone we know about these four areas of focus and work.

So far, it's working on me.

Tonight, we heard from two bishops and a seminarian. Guess which one got the biggest response from the crowd? (Hint--he doesn't have a crozier or a red shield pin)

Jay Williams (not the mayor of Youngstown--the seminarian), talked about what he sees as the crux of our leadership issue in The UMC--too many of us are married to our ideas of what it means to be properly "Methodist," and we've missed the point on what it means to be gifted followers of Christ. He also pointed out that not everyone has the spiritual gift of leadership, and that just because someone has years of service (or happens to be the next young hotshot on the block), he/she may not be qualified for leadership. One of my favorite lines, "Many young people are frustrated because we cannot get a seat at the table, because there are some who have stayed for too many courses of the meal." (Paraphrase)

The bishops were good, too.

But, it's nice to see a 27-year old being recognized as having a valid perspective on the world, and especially on the church. This year at General Conference, with the first-ever Young People's Address, someone from my generation finally spoke for me at the general church level. Tonight, that trend continued, and the pride that comes from hearing such wisdom from a person so young is overwhelming and encouraging.

Tomorrow's a busy day, but it should be good. More speakers and workshops to attend, more networking to do. Pray for sun in Jacksonville.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

2009 Urban/Town & Country January Event.

It's the first full week of January, which means that it must be time for the January Event! This is an opportunity for people practicing in Urban and Town & Country (Rural) ministries in the North Central Jurisdiction to come together for a time of learning and networking. Right now, I'm listening to Gwen Roberts, the Director of Metro Ministries in W. Ohio. She is talking to us about what Metro ministry is--connecting the giftedness of urban and suburban congregations for ministry in a wider metropolitan area. Gwen has some really good ideas about how we can connect in these ways.

Next year's event will be in East Saint Louis, Illinois, January 5-7, with the theme of "Accepting the Gifts of Others in a Multicultural World." I know all these details becuase I've been asked to chair the event! I look forward to hearing from all my friends who are in urban ministry as I help facilitate this learning opportunity.

Well, I've got to get back to listening to the speaker. I've got a long drive home today on some nasty roads.

In the Grace of God,