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.”