Second Session June 11, 2011 Vol. 2
The River Flows A WITNESS TO MAKING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD God is not finished with us yet By Ed Preston
The presentation did not stop there, however. It lifted up the fact that de- spite our declines, tens of thousands have come to faith in Christ through our churches, and great missional work has saved and transformed lives around the world. While being brutally honest about the ways we have contributed to our own decline, the presentation also lifted up an even more important truth; that God isn’t finished with us yet. It is out of this compelling truth that the team began its work to help something new, sacred, and holy emerge from the work of creating this new Annual Con- ference. We received a clear call to repen-
PHOTO BY ASHLEY BROOKS
Rev. Mark Webb discusses the proposal to re-district the Susquehanna Conference and re-vision the ministry of its district superintendents with members of the Vision Team.
Whatever it takes
By Ed Preston Adam Hamilton took the stage Fri- day afternoon, thankful to have even arrived after bad weather almost de- railed his trip. But having made the journey, he wasted no time making an impact on the minds and hearts of those in the body of the Annual Con- ference.
[Adam Hamilton’s] Church of PHOTO BY STACY ECKERT
the Resurrection was begun twen- ty-one years ago in a former funeral home chapel. Hamilton had felt the call to begin a new church in the suburbs of Kansas City, Kansas, as a new seminary graduate, and after taking his district superintendent out to lunch six times, finally was given the opportunity to follow God’s call.
Rev. Adam Hamilton shared four of his five leadership principles with conference.
With minimal support, no building, no property, and no members, a new church was born. What was special was that Ham- ilton’s vision was to begin a church spe- cifically reaching out to the non-religious or nominally religious in the community. That was in June of 1990. Today, Church of the Resurrection has 18,000 members, with a budget of $16 million. Their Shares of Ministry are paid in full within the first five months of the year. Each month be- tween twenty and thirty thousand people download their worship service on the in- ternet. Through all of this, non-religious and nominally religious people are being reached for Jesus Christ.
How did all of this happen? The first principle shared was prayer. “No revival has happened in the history of Christianity without prayer,” declared Hamilton. Shar- ing some statistics about our current con- dition as a church, Hamilton also pointed out that the good news is that people are still joining our churches, but more cur- rent members are joining the Church Tri- umphant. We need to be doing a better job of reaching out to the younger members of our communities. He contends that if we remember our Wesleyan heritage and live it out, we can be effectively reaching non- religious and nominally religious people throughout our communities. Hamilton quickly pointed out that while Church of the Resurrection was quite large, the principles it uses to reach out can be used in churches of any size. Drakes Chapel and Calhoun United Methodist
tance for the failures of the past, engag- ing in a prayer of confession that lifted honestly many of the ways we have been unfaithful to God’s call to make disciples. Having taken this step, we then moved into the team’s vision for a Conference that is focused on mak- ing disciples, that places mission above structure, offering tools and resources to aid local church initiative rather than programs in shiny boxes. This discus- sion was introduced by another multi- media piece, this one a take-off on the popular Mac – PC commercials. The two characters, PC (Prior Conferences) and NAC (New Annual Conference) had a back-and-forth conversation about the contrast between our former
STORY CONTINUED ON PAGE 3 The River of Life
Rev. Pam Ford asked the Con- ference to consider how God might be calling us to offer the water of life to someone else.
By Barry Neal Rev. Pamela Ford welcomed us to a new day of conferencing, and we began our morning time togeth- er with a song of worship. Then she said we would begin with Genesis, as in a sense we always must. Her Jewish neighbor once explained to her that Jews see the first eleven chapters of Genesis as a prelude to God’s choice of them as his people. Rev. Ford noted that in Gen- esis 2:4b-10 Eden was created that man tend it, and the tree of life and knowledge and the river flows out of the garden with four branches.
PHOTO BY ASHLEY BROOKS
The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers were likely two of these branches, and perhaps the oth- ers may have been the Blue Nile and the White Nile. The Bible says the river flows out of Eden, and “the four” may be intended to include the whole earth, like the four winds or the four corners. She told a story about how a simple cup of water given to a weakened and sickly per- son had given a simple and beautiful refreshment of spirit to that person and to herself. Then she asked us these questions: In the past week how has God’s river of life refreshed your soul? How might God be calling you to offer the water of life to someone else? Ford said that we are on a journey between two gardens. She noted that in Revelation
22, a river also flows from the throne of God, and the Tree of Life that grows by it has fresh crops each month, and the “leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations.” One is the river that flowed from the Garden to the eternal of Life that flows through eternity. The river of your life is here upon us this day, Ford said, and may we carry the water of life and pour it out and know that in the pouring we are refreshed.
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MAKING DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE WORLD
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