Why we do what we do as a body of clergy is a very important thing to understand. When we have a better understanding, we can begin to move forward in a positive spirit to do what honors both the Kingdom of God and God's holy Church.
Yes, United Methodist meet together a lot and often. I am not sure if John Wesley would see all our times together as productive, but I know that in this day and time I seek to make each gathering worth the time.
As United Methodist clergy it is no surprise that there are certain times where we gather for Holy Conferencing, and I would add Holy Listening. For the entire time of our existence, the clergy have been called together for a time of support, growth and challenge. It was Mr. Wesley's belief that we needed these times together and for this holy purpose.
When we come together, we come from many arenas of life. In our district alone there are as many different theological perspectives as there are pastors. There are pastors who have families back at the parsonage, and those who are single and are blessed with friends near their homes. We have young and just beginning this journey, and we have more seasoned who have seen much and done much. We have those in perfect health and those worrying about the pains and aches they can't explain. We are educated by self or by seminary, both valuable places of learning. We come together as this hodgepodge and join together in Holy Conversation and Holy Listening, because we need one another. No matter what we bring to this time of meeting, we need to be present because we need to be with this wonderful family of clergy who know and understand this called life.
We come together for Holy Conferencing and Holy Listening, so that we might grow a bit more in the likeness of Christ and in the knowledge of the best practices that will serve Him and His Church. We learn better together, bouncing off ideas and thoughts with one another. If we seek to grow on our own, we will miss out on the blessings that others might bring to our fertilization of God's Word and words for our ministry. (This is why the BOM is pushing those who are doing seminary online to find a group of live, flesh and blood people to engage in discussion --- alone is not cutting it.)
Yes, every United Methodist clergy person needs to be challenged. We come together in meetings of Holy Conferencing and Listening in order to be challenged to consider new things, new ideas, new ways and new concepts. The prophet Isaiah states, "Behold I am doing a new thing ... " If we don't gather to learn about the new things, we are not being the best clergy person we can be. Yes, sometimes we won't like the challenge and we won't understand, but we are here for Holy Conferencing and Listening, so let's discuss it. Discuss it with a spirit of love and grace to each other.
United Methodist meet for many reasons, but this is why we do what we do in The Atlanta Emory District. As your Superintendent I want our time to be beneficial, and I am open to new and inventive ways of using our Holy Conferencing and Listening. I will do my best to never waste your time, but be assured we are going to have these times together because, in my heart and from what I understand of our heritage, we need these times. I ask that you prayerfully come with an open spirit and heart and allow the Spirit to bless the few hours together with your sisters and brothers.
Just thinking and sharing from my heart,
It was a great blessing to worship with the John Wesley UMC congregation this Sunday. We are truly a blessed and diverse district.