Someone once said, "Everyone has an opinion." To which another person responded, "Well duh, we are United Methodists, aren't we?" Whether the person was speaking tongue in cheek or being sarcastic I do not know, but I believe that there was truth there.
I hope by now you know that on October 25th we will have the privilege and responsibility to gather in Athens for a Called Session of the Annual Conference. This session will deal with the Annual Conference Board of Trustees' report concerning Simpsonwood Retreat Center in Peachtree Corners. Unless you have been on a long vacation or simply haven't been listening, we are considering selling the Simpsonwood property due to the heavy debt load on our Annual Conference.
In 1972 Mrs. Simpson gave the United Methodist of North Georgia a beautiful gift of land on the Chattahoochee River in Gwinnett County. The Annual Conference leaders had a vision of a beautiful retreat center where people would come away and gain strength in their spiritual walk. There were even more dreams of the center of the conference being located at this retreat in later years. Throughout the last 40 years, the vision and dream have been met by the dedication and heart of great leaders in our conference.
Unfortunately the populous did not see the gift of such a retreat center, and the numbers who could use this spot never really materialized. Unfortunately the cost of such a center jumped out of the projected margins and put a strain on the resources of the Retreat Center and the Annual Conference. Unfortunately our nation suffered a major recession like it has never seen before, and the great amounts of reserve and revenue dried up overnight.
Yes, I realize I'm simplifying the situation here, but the points are given to share a quick review here and to show each of you why we are headed to Athens, Georgia to hear the report of our Trustees on the future of this property that has served us over the last 40 years.
As the leaders from 40 years ago had a vision, so do the the leaders from today. We are called to be wise as serpents and gentle as doves. We must gather to make the tough decisions for our children and grandchildren. Our decision in Athens does not discount either the past or the future but in a discerning spirit seeks to be faithful to God's will for us as a Church. Yes, there will be so many different opinions, and we need to hear them, but we need to also remember that we simply aren't Methodist but we are United Methodist and that what we decide effects us all. We need therefore to come covered in prayer and with an open heart. God has never failed us before, and God will not fail us now if we are open and listening to God's leading. If you have time, please look at this link for some of our history and forward movement in faith - http://pitts.emory.edu/archives/text/rg022.html
I ask that each pastor spend the next 12 days praying for that discernment, for the future of our Conference, and for the ministries that we are engaged in now and the ministries God will open up to us in the days and next 40 years to come. Please come to Athens prayed up and ready to discuss your opinions and to hear the opinions of others.
Let's see where God will take us from here.
With love and appreciation,
Worship at Glenn Memorial was powerful and beautiful. I am so blessed by the work of Debbie Carlton, Ginny Sternberg and Bill Martin in the Orange Cell Group. What a great day of celebration!