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2013 Tennessee Conference

Four members of this congregation served as delegates to the Annual Conference of the UMC held at Brentwood UMC two weeks ago. Your delegates were: Irene Archambault, Hugh and Janet Charlton and Karlyn Spencer. Below are some reflections compiled by Irene to share with you:

This was Janet and Hugh’s third year to represent Christ UMC at the Tennessee Conference’s annual meeting, and it was Karlyn’s and Irene’s first year. We came away from the three days of meetings with some “wind beneath our wings.” The Conference theme was “Expecting Greater Things,” and the 648 clergy and 648 lay delegates from the United Methodist churches in this region were presented with the challenge of being more energetic and effective in reaching our church neighborhoods with Jesus’ messages of love, hope, and redemption. Something was changed. There were fewer contentious issues on the agenda. There was a spirit of working together and listening to each other. Church business can be messy, but there was less messiness than in recent years. 

The United Methodist Church in this area is facing up to the reality that many of our ministries are not reaching a population that is much younger than the age of the average church member. We are trying to figure out why many of our churches are becoming irrelevant. What can be done to reach the needs of a changing population in a world that is facing so many challenges?

Rev. Bill McAlilly is the newly assigned resident bishop for the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences. He is bringing new ideas and energy in his role as head shepherd for the UM churches in these areas. He is determined to get our connected ministries working more effectively to meet the needs of people and to be more outwardly focused in our actions. Teams are working on new strategies which will likely lead many churches to make some changes in the way they conduct ministries. He is encouraging more laity involvement in the planning and ministry of our Church. He is asking us to move forward, not stay in the same place. 

Overall the Annual Conference was personally inspirational. Short videos called God Stories featured people like us who told their real life stories of how God worked in their lives during difficult times. These God Stories were very poignant and moving. Guest ministers brought powerful messages of renewal and how to deal with tough times. The worship services were filled with a variety of themes and music. Retiring ministers were honored for their work, new ministers were ordained and deceased clergy were remembered. Communion was served. The theme of “Expecting Greater Things” permeated all the proceedings. The agenda was well organized and well managed.

While there are many challenges ahead, there is so much to be celebrated. Our United Methodist Church has a wealth of talented people whom God is using to accomplish a lot of wonderful things for this world. Our United Methodist Church is working not only in Tennessee but in many areas of the world to bring healing and hope to people in need. While the challenges are great and there is much work to do, there was a sense of unity that we United Methodists can accomplish greater things for God and God’s creation. This we must do! Stay tuned.