Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Connecting the Church in Mission Part 2

Back in February I wrote about my experience down in Georgia and highlighted how connected I was to the disparate groups of missionaries in the United Methodist Church even if most of us came from different parts of the world and worked through different organizations. It was the connectionalism of the United Methodist Church at work.

My experience in Georgia highlighted how the global church can move together and support each other. I have recently noticed that this highly connectional part of the church doesn't always translate very well down to local levels, particularly in the Albany area. In fact, it is in noticing this that I have finally been able to begin to form my justification for seeking ordination in the church.

Disclaimer: if you are not familiar with how the United Methodist Church is organized this post could get confusing. If you read this and get lost let me know and I'll write a post that explains the basics of it all. But if I don't hear from anybody than we'll just leave good enough alone.

Yesterday was Bishop Mark Webb's district day with Albany. I attended the afternoon session set aside for a discussion on urban ministry. Clergy from most of the Albany-Schenectady-Troy area urban ministries attended the session, and while Bishop Webb sat with us, District Superintendent Rich Weihing led us in conversation around how we think our district should conduct urban ministry.

After listening to us for a while Bishop Webb interjected, looking to push us in figuring out how to lead the conference in urban ministry and the phrase the Bishop used was to become one church with many locations. And if I may twist his words a bit, we should have one mission with many locations.

Good old Missio Dei.

It was affirming and energizing for me to hear the Bishop and the DS say the things they were saying. After thinking about how poorly the Albany District connects to one another, having the Bishop look at us and tell us that we should connect with each other and have the DS express this same desire was just incredible. As I've been thinking about the nine months I have left it felt a little daunting. I cannot change this district in nine months on my own. But with the DS and the Bishop clearing the path, calling for a church that is active and engaged in the urban setting there is no excuse anymore.

Part of my role as a missionary is to Connect the Church in Mission, and that just got a whole lot easier to do.

Amen and amen.