I want to thank those of you who were part of our Charge Conference on Sunday afternoon. A special thanks goes to Duane Kruckenberg, who was not only present but made cookies! (Just ask him!) Our church provided radical hospitality to the many people, representing many churches, who gathered in our sanctuary on a lovely Sunday afternoon. Jane Schultz and Francis Fritz were an essential part of that hospitality as they ran sound, lights and power point in our beautiful sanctuary. Jane was also our secretary par excellence! Thank you!
Our district superintendent Harlan Gillespie and our field outreach minister Katharine Yarnell shared reflections on Discipleship: Life in Christ, Life in Community. The focus of Charge Conference these last three years has been on discipleship. A disciple of Jesus Christ is about so much more than church membership or lip-service. It is about loving, learning and leading. We come together in community to discover the depth of God’s love for us. We learn ways of responding to God’s love in our daily lives in imitation of Christ. We lead as we share our gifts and as we encourage and support others as they share theirs. Loving, learning and leading is a continual spiraling of taking action, reflection and evaluation, making adjustments and continuing in faith. If we are taking the necessary risks as we live our faith in the church, there will be times when our ministry efforts do not succeed. That is okay. “There is no such thing as failure,” Harlan said. “We must be willing to try new approaches and learn from our efforts” as we love, learn and lead together.
The celebration of Holy Communion is an outward and visible sign of those inward and spiritual truths. Loving, learning and leading is reflected in our communion liturgy. We taste and see that we are connected with God and one another. We are part of what Martin Luther King Jr. called “the beloved community”. We who are transformed become God’s agents of transformation in the world.
The conference room was filled with faithful folks from our church. Cephas, an elder who is the associate pastor at First UMC in Ames, lead us through the business of the day. In his native Africa, it is said that without music, the Holy Spirit does not show up. “Amazing Grace” invited the Spirit into our midst! In many and various ways, we celebrated the ministry and mission of our church. We recommended Tim and Stephanie Cramer as candidates for ordained ministry. We affirmed the call of Regina Harrison and Kendall Clarke to School for Lay Ministry. We said “amen” to Duane Kruckenberg, Mike Nissly and Dave Elerding as certified lay servants/speakers.
I am so grateful for the people of our church, who love, learn and lead in ways that make me proud and humbled to be your pastor.
On the journey with you,