The theme of the 2017 Iowa Annual Conference was Creating Difference Makers! From start to finish, we were exhorted to make a difference in our world. How do you know you are making a difference? You can see the fruits of your labors! I found myself smiling as I thought of the church campaign that could be created with the simple question, “Got fruit?”
A key part of making a difference is aligning our mission, vision and resources in the church. Bishop Laurie, in her opening sermon, told the story of flying in dense fog. As the plane was almost ready to land, passengers looked out the window and saw nothing but clouds. Minutes from the wheels touching down, the pilot accelerated and the plane began to rise again. It turned out that as the plane broke through the clouds, the pilot discovered that the plane was not in alignment with the runway. (The instruments for an instrument landing were apparently not working at the time.) Not being in alignment can cause some pretty serious problems, whether in a plane or in a church.
With that in mind, the mission of the Iowa Conference is to inspire, equip and connect communities of faith to cultivate world-changing disciples of Jesus Christ. (In Iowa, we know all about cultivating, don’t we! How else to have a harvest?)
The vision of the Iowa Conference is to see God’s hope for the world made real through faithful leadership, fruitful communities and fire-filled people. (Let me ask again: Got fruit?)
How do we live the vision and mission of our Conference out in our church? By gathering for worship. By growing in small groups. By going in mission and ministry in the name of Jesus Christ. When we participate in the life of the church in these ways, it is to God’s glory. We are bearing fruit.
Annual Conference, as always, was a kaleidoscope of worship, celebration of ministry and mission that stretch around the globe, connection with friends old and new, learning, legislation and holy conferencing. Some of those conversations are easy and some are difficult. Always, always, the center is Christ, binding us together with Holy Spirit power.
When you see Kendall Clarke, Jane Schultz or Kate Swartzendruber, thank them for sharing their time and talent at Annual Conference. Thank Kendy Miller not only for her gifts but for the gift of co-leadership with the high school students (including Kate) who were the diakonos! (I don’t think Kendy got much sleep…) What a great group to share laughter and conversation!
On this spiritual adventure that we share, make a difference. Be a difference-maker.
On the journey with you,