Words From Our Pastor
January has been a busy month, not only here in the local church but also on the district and conference levels.
On January 6, 2018, 31 of us gathered as we began looking at way we might protect our church and all who attend from armed intruders. We spent the morning watching videos provided by our insurance carrier, Church Mutual, and discussing each segment afterward. This was not just a one-time event. We are beginning to look at taking steps to offer additional training and developing guidelines for our specific congregation. We have reached out to a number of organizations and will be collecting information to help us develop our own program. In the meantime, if you were not able to attend the training session we had on January 6 and would like to view the three videos the group watched, go to www.churchmutual.com and look for Armed Intruder Training on the left side.
On January 14, 2018, our Bishop, Minera G. Carcaño, announced that Rev. Blake Busick, the current pastor of Santa Rosa First UMC, will be our new District Superintendent, effective July 1, 2018. Rev. Busick will be replacing Rev. David Samelson when his term ends at the end of June. You may read the short biography of Rev. Busick on the California-Nevada Annual Conference webpage, www.cnumc.org.
Also, Bishop Carcaño called for a Gathering of the Orders at Mt. Hermon in the Santa Cruz mountains on January 16-18, 2018. The Orders of the Annual Conference are the Orders of Elders, the Order of Deacons, and the Order of Licensed Local Pastors and Fellowship of Associate Members. That is a formal way of saying she called for all the clergy to meet.
The Gathering of the Orders is a time when the clergy can get away on a retreat for a time of spiritual renewal through worship, study, and fellowship. Our study was with Rev. Alex Awad on the topic of Carrying the Cross in Today’s America, based on the Book of Jonah.
We also heard an update on the work of the Commission on the Way Forward as it looks at human sexuality and explores options that will help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. The session was led by Bishop Carcaño representing the Council of Bishops, with Rev. Brian Adkins, a member of this Conference who is on the Commission on the Way Forward, outlining what the Commission has accomplished and the timeline they are facing. He was followed by Rev. Richard Thompson (Bakersfield First) talking about the Wesleyan Covenant Association view, Rev. Jason Thornton (Manteca UMC) talking about Uniting Methodists, and Rev. Kristin Stoneking (Epworth UMC Berkeley) talking from the Queer Clergy Caucus viewpoint. Please come see me if you would like to hear more about this segment of our gathering.
Finally, our Bishop talked to us about her expectations of the Orders and Vision Process for this Annual Conference. She was joined by the five District Superintendents who added information as it was pertinent. She charged the clergy with the following eleven objectives:
- Teach and guard the faith.
- Teach the meanings of our sacraments, the Lord’s Prayer, and our liturgy. Our liturgies can be long. However, we can bring new life to the liturgy, but keep the faith and keep the invitation present.
- Teach our church polity (church government). We are a connectional church, not an independent or congregational church. Teach what we believe.
- God is your boss.
- Look at our signage. We are The United Methodist Church. Are we saying so.
- Grow our churches. It is everyone’s responsibility, the pastor and the laity.
- Abide by the Book of Disciple of the United Methodist Church and stewardship of property. Don’t rent out space to hinder our mission and ministry.
- Elders (and local pastors), there is still an itinerate commitment. Conference needs to know if there is a reason you cannot itinerate, other than you really love the church you are serving. Remember, the Bishop is responsible for the churches and who serves them in the Annual Conference. Live in the community if you are serving full time.
- For renewal leaves, study leaves, and sabbaticals, consult with your District Superintendent and work with them before going to your SPRC.
- Care for your pastoral identity.
- Pray where God is leading the California-Nevada Annual Conference.
In the weeks and months to come we will be talking about these objectives and how we can work together to fulfill them for our congregation. One of the ways we will be teaching the faith will be undertaking the study Creed, What Christians Believe and Why (Exploring the Apostle’s Creed). I have told the ALPHA Team that the study will not begin until after this first thirteen-week ALPHA session. Look for the class to start after Easter.
In the meantime, let us all practice #11. Let us pray where God is leading our conference and prayerfully LISTEN for a reply.
So, until next month, Shalom.