We Are About Relationships
Last Wednesday, October 9, we held our annual charge conference at Christ UMC. For those not familiar with the Methodist lingo, a charge is the place or places to which a pastor is appointed (i.e., the pastor is charged with caring for the people in that place). The charge conference has been a tradition since the early days of Methodism over 200 years ago in which the members of the church would gather to celebrate and reflect on the state of their community of faith and make plans together for the future. It used to happen on a quarterly basis but is now an annual event.
The charge conference is also a time for the wider church to hold us accountable to the mission to which we are called: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. To that end, Harriet Bryan, our new district superintendent who provides oversight to all the United Methodist churches in greater Nashville, was with us. She was pleased by the reports we offered and encouraged us to keep up the faithful work, praying for us using Ephesians 1 that we “may know what is the hope to which he has called you…and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe.”
Some of the important matters of business and ministry to which we attended were electing leadership positions for 2014 (see the enclosed list), setting the salaries for our pastors, and endorsing six candidates for ordination/licensing: Amanda Craft, Kevin Crawford, Ingrid McIntyre, Velma Parker, Arden Ratcliff and David Ssebulime. Please keep all these individuals in your prayers as they seek to answer God’s call in their life and work. Additionally, we heard reports from our pastors and from various committees of the church.
Finally, I’d like to share with you one aspect of the report that I gave. Since last charge conference, we added 62 professing members to our church. This is a great number (many churches can only dream of having that many) representing lives that have been impacted and changed by the relationships they have found in Christ UMC. But I also shared that since the start of 2013, we have had 500 families visit our church. These families are all shapes and sizes: some are parents and children, some are individuals, some are couples, etc. But think of it, 500 families in 10 months, probably representing over 1000 people. And 62 joined the church. Granted, some of these visitors were from out of town or special occasion guests. But 62 out of more than 1000. I think we can do a better job welcoming our visitors, inviting them to experience the love and grace of God, and helping them get connected to the life of our community. If you’re interested in helping us do that, we are forming an Inviting Team that will look at these issues and more. Let me know if you’d like to be part of a new thing God is doing in Christ UMC to invite new people into relationships.