The past several Sundays as I have preached in local United Methodist Churches here in Indiana, many of those churches have been involved in mortgage burnings, dedications of new facilities, "Miracle Sundays", and other successful campaigns. Such celebrations are always fun for me -- in fact I tell the congregations that they do all of the work, and I just show up for the party. It is great to see so many of our congregations moving forward, completing building renovations, new additions, or finishing off their mortgages.
As I observe and participate in those celebrations, it seems to be that there are several key elements common in such successes:
- The pastor and a few key lay leaders believe and lead those successful efforts. The pastor cannot do it alone, but must work in partnership with the lay leadership. And yet the pastor must articulate the ministry reasons for the campaign, and the lay leadership must express their hopes and expectations for it to be successful.
- Several persons take the lead in the campaign by giving "leadership gifts" to help the congregation have a sense of momentum.
- Everyone participates and does her or his part, and everyone celebrates when the project is finished.
It is also obvious to me that such successful projects always involve a belief that God is working through our efforts in miraculous and dramatic ways. It really is that simple, isn't it? Either the pastor and enough lay leaders believe in God's miracles, or they don't.
So let me share with you about another miraculous project that is happening. Our United Methodist Churches of Indiana are involved in building a dormitory in Mississippi to house volunteer work teams who come to that area to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Nearly every day I get new pictures of the progress of that project, and it is exciting to see the commitment, faith, and hard work of Indiana volunteers who are building this new building in partnership with the Mississippi Conference. Money is coming into our Area Foundation Office for that project (if you want to help, send a check to 1100 W. 42nd Street, Indianapolis, 46208 and mark it "Mississippi Project"), the work is moving forward, and we are bringing hope into that devastated area.
I believe in God's miraculous work in our midst, because I am blessed with so many opportunities to see it happening. I believe in miracles, do you?
from Bishop Michael J. Coyner