Greetings friends and co-laborers in Christ,
This past year I’ve heard fantastic stories about the work you, the licensed clergy (Associate Members and Licensed Local Pastors) of the United Methodist Church, have done to guide the church in the year 2020. Thank you. Your experience (in health care, technology, communication, medicine, education, social work, business, mechanics, parenting and others) have been some of tools you have used to bless the churches you serve. But, in 2020 your leadership became absolutely necessary. You used your gifts and experiences to lead the way in ministry as we have suffered through quarantine, social distancing and a complete disruption of church as we’ve always done it.
I think about how technology has evolved in the last 20 years or so and how those advances have helps us remain connected to family, friends and our congregations. Smart phones, laptop computers and social media were tools we have used to overcome the challenges of COVID 19. I wonder, what new opportunities lie in front of us for the coming year? What new challenges might make us stronger than ever? How will the church be restructured for ministry? I am certain, Local Pastors and Associate Members, have a very important role in the church, both now and in the future.
We have a General Conference scheduled this year and I know the outcome could formalize change in our church. Many of these changes could directly impact you and the church where you serve. The proposals our Fellowship have submitted and support are still on the table. We still believe the church will be stronger if your call to service is recognized through ordination. No one knows for sure what is going to happen in Minneapolis next fall, but we will keep you advised as information becomes available.
I know this, our mission, Making Disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the World, has not been finished. God has a plan and you and I have been called to ministry at this time in history. Those whom God calls God equips. Therefore, I believe, we have the tools we need to lead the church in the coming years. We start with the tools we have and pick up better tools along the way. If we wait until we have everything we think we might need, we will never get started. Disease, changes in the general church and a lack of resources will not let us be silent with our simple message of God’s love. Let us continue the work that God has started in us. Amen.
Missouri Annual Conference