Dozens of members serving on North Georgia Conference committees and boards gathered at Dunwoody UMC on Saturday for a quadrennial training event.
Members of our Conference Common Table, Nominations Committee, Board of Pension and Health Benefits, Finance and Administration, Trustees, Equitable Compensation, Board of Laity, Board of Connectional Ministries, and Congregational Development met for the first time this quadrennium at the event.
"Our work flows from our worship," said Rev. Herzen Andone, Director of Connectional Ministries, as he invited the group to begin their terms of service with a time of worship together.
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson preached a powerful message expressing some of what she's experienced in her first 40 days on the job as our bishop and shared some of her vision for the future.
"It's been a joy because everybody does their job so well," she began.
What she hopes for the conference-level committees and ministries is for synergy -- for the whole to be greater than the sum of its parts.
As we look to the next four years she lifted diversity as a strength.
"The more different we are, the more we are like the kingdom of heaven," said Bishop Sue. Our diversity gives us a tremendous ability to make disciples in all places, she explained.
She pushed leaders to look outside the walls of the churches and to be with the community. "You should have a worship service that no one in your church would want to go to," she said. "Jesus never spent time with the status quo."
Looking back at the General Conference gathering in May, she regrets the pain that came from the meeting, and she took away a clear message.
"If I truly want to follow Christ, I need to be an agent of healing," she said. "Are you going to use the sword or are you going to be an agent of healing?"
In what is an interesting time in the United Methodist Church, Bishop Sue offered assurance that we don't have to fix the church. "God is in charge," she said.
"We need every one of us to bear witness that Christ is hope in this world," she said. "Go heal, go love, go encourage, go build up, go lead well."
The service closed with Holy Communion.