Thursday morning at NCJ
Bishop Keaton questions whether our work is focused on Christ
AKRON, Ohio – During Thursday morning worship at the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Akron, Bishop Jonathan Keaton of Michigan preached that Cleopas and the other disciple on the road to Emmaus failed to recognize the presence of Christ in their midst. “We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel,” they said.
Keaton said that Jesus brought hope to Israel. Jesus brought hope to a divided world. Our denomination has brought hope to the world by Christ in Imagine No Malaria, which provided a spark to the denomination, and also with Africa University. The church in mission is a sign of God’s presence in the world.
He then said our primary mission for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world did not seem to be central to the meandering at General Conference (this spring in Tampa).
Looking back to the Scripture, Cleopas was not moved by the celebrative moment. Three long years of working for the master had not produced what was hoped for. Cleopas lost confidence. He missed the resurrection.
“Is this what happened in the UMC Plan at General Conference?” questioned Keaton.
It is when Christ is living among us that people will understand our meaning of salvation. Have we lifted up Christ as much as we lifted up our plans for restructure of the church? It is Christ living in us that will make a difference. We must believe. Sometimes we forget to realize that God is in our midst, Keaton said.
He inquired, “Was the Good Friday of General Conference in Tampa (earlier this year) getting ready for the Easter in Portland (the site of the 2016 GC)?”
Keaton closed reminding the delegates of the hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.”
Minnesota, Dakotas conferences becoming an episcopal area leads reports to NCJ
AKRON, Ohio – The NCJ Conference delegates and guests heard numerous reports on Thursday morning. They included reports about Minnesota-Dakotas, Korean Mission, UMVIM, Nominations, Town and Country, the Bishop Reuben Job Center, and the committee on journals.
Indiana Bishop Mike Coyner presided during the session. Summaries include:
- The Minnesota and Dakotas conferences will become one episcopal area (The Minnesota-Dakotas Area) on Sept. 1 based in Minneapolis with two separate conferences comprising an area of more than 224,000 sq. miles – similar to the size of Texas. Both conferences will be sharing some ministries together. Many meetings are and will be handled through television teleconferencing. Telecommunications has saved the conference $65,000 that would have been spent on travel time. Budget: $120,000.
- The NCJ Asian-American Mission reported that the mission is committed to developing and strengthening the Asian-American churches and Christian communities providing caring assimilation, ministry of Word and Sacrament, and caring outreach to non-Christians. The mission offers convocations, immigration workshops, leadership development and support groups and churches in outreach to new Asian immigrants. Budgeted Korean Ministries $150,000 and Asian American Fellowship $35,000.
- The United Methodist Volunteers in Mission reported that there are three aspects to VIM – honoring the local hosts with an invitation to come to another conference, for incarnational ministry changing the lives of volunteers, and deepening the faith of those served. It’s faith in action. The mission has trained 719 newly trained team leaders. Currently, six conferences have long-termed recoveries taking place now. There are 65 VIM missions ongoing. The mission includes interpretation, Mission Discovery for youth and young adults, Conference Disaster Response, RxConnexion consultations, teach UM for educators, Quadrennial RoundUP held at Epworth Forest in Indiana and Haiti Response. Visit www.umvimncj.org. Budgeted: $25,000.
- Nominations Committee reported the names of people elected to general boards and agencies, officers of the NCJ and to the Jurisdictional Mission Council. Those from Indiana include: Doris Clark to the Connectional Table, the Rev. Lisa Schubert to the General Board of Church and Society, the Rev. Jim Bushfield to the UM Publishing House, the Rev. Kim Reisman to the General Commission on Communications, both the Rev. Mark Dicken and Rita Gather-Gant to the Jurisdictional Mission Council. No budget.
- Town & Country Ministries reported that there are 25,000 small membership churches across the U.S. We need to prepare pastors of these special ministries. Many rural churches feel unheard, need more education, need more encouragement, need more grants , see lack of qualified pastoral leadership with understanding of rural ministry, bemoan much training geared to larger churches, need more laity training. Twenty-five percent of these churches are in this jurisdiction. Budgeted: $12,000
- Hoosier the Rev. Doug Anderson, as executive director, reported that the Ruben Job Center is changing. Bishop Job is moving toward an endowed chair of spiritual formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill. As executive director, Anderson will retire from his duties June 2013 and a new director will come to the center. The Dakota Wesleyan University connection will not change. Hopefully, the support of the Mission Council will not change. The center expanded beyond the jurisdiction to United Methodists across the country. Thank for prayers, financial support and embrace the ministry of the center. Budgeted: $90,000
In addition to the reports, the Rev. Cindy Reynolds of the Indiana delegation, on behalf of the delegation, recommended that a special task force of two persons from each conference be formed to prayerfully and diligently work on the vision and role of the NCJ and prepare actions for change to be considered by 2016 General Conference. Because of the length and detail of the recommendation, the conference requested copies of the recommendation to be circulated before the action would be voted on by the conference. Such a vote will take place at a later session of this conference.