March 05, 2014
At the Pre-Lenten Clergy Gathering today, we prayed for one another in the covenant community. The spiritual leader for our day, Susan Phillips, responded to my prayer request to be “filled with the Spirit” with a petition for God to remind me that I am already filled with the Spirit. Indeed. Sometimes we just need a reminder. And, for most of us engaged in the daily work of ministry, we need to be filled up spiritually in order to be effective and fruitful. And days like this one, in which the Bishop invited us to prepare ourselves for a holy Lent, fill us up for the journey. I am grateful for the foresight of an episcopal leader who knows how important it is to “come away and rest awhile.” And I am grateful for the gifts that made it possible through our missions shares as well as the two host churches—Pleasant Street in Waterville, ME, and Wesley in Concord, NH—who provided the gift of hospitality and space for nearly 1/3 of all active clergy in the conference to gather.
Recently, I have heard numerous suggestions that we share the stories of how our mission shares are making a difference in and beyond our conference. The dollars we spend and the dedication of our clergy and lay leaders are resulting in new disciples and in the transformation of lives and our world. I am fortunate to be in the places where I see this for myself or hear the stories on a regular basis. A new mother and father, unexpectedly out of work, receive a shower of gifts from the United Methodist Economic Ministry. Two Brazilian faith communities are born out of existing congregations, with more being birthed even as I write this. Three young people see the world differently after traveling on a Mission of Peace to South Africa. Thirteen asylum-seekers have a place to call home in Portland at the new Hope House. A young laywoman is serving as a mission intern in Washington State through the generosity of our general church gifts. Nearly 200 youth participated in weekend retreats at our conference camps in the past two months.
I want to share these stories with you. And I will begin to unpack them for you in more detail as I have time in this forum. We want to be able to do more. The reality is that you are doing amazing things faster than we can keep up with as a conference staff. Our communications office is ready to post your stories on our website or in our e-news as they are available, and is finding new ways to share them. You can help by sharing your stories with us—even recruiting writers in your congregations to help tell the story. Send them to us (www.neumc.org/submitnews), with photos if you have them, and we will work to share the good news.
The Spirit is alive and well in New England…sometimes we just need to be reminded.
Connected in Christ,