From the Superintendent: July 2024

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Happy Annual Conference New Year!

For those who are unaware, the Annual Conference New Year begins on July 1 of each year. It is when some congregations receive new pastoral appointments, and others make recommitments to further the ongoing ministry in the current appointments. I am reminded of Hymn 383, “A Day of New Beginnings”, and one particularly stanza from the hymn, “Christ is alive, and goes before us to show and share what love can do. This is a day of new beginnings; our God is making all things new.”

Additionally, we as the Indiana Annual Conference have been living out the vision to CULTIVATE JOY over the last year! From the Strategic Direction definition, to CULTIVATE JOY means, “Joy comes from the deep certainty of God’s love and presence in our lives. To cultivate joy is to intentionally work in God’s field to bring the fullness of welcome and salvation to all.”

I began to reflect on this definition more, as I travel around the district and continue to hear the many concerns emerging from the realities of the local church experience. And I begin to wonder, what would it mean if we really lived into this understanding to CULTIVATE JOY. To CULTIVATE JOY is not predicated on who is appointed as the pastoral leader, or the decisions that were made at General Conference. To CULTIVATE JOY is not dependent on who is elected President of the United States of America, or even who is welcome in these Americas. No, to CULTIVATE JOY is a conscientious decision to know the unlimited nature of God’s Love for us, individually, and be committed to sharing that love to all in whom we encounter. To CULTIVATE JOY is to understand and witness the fruitfulness of ministry is contingent on lay and clergy, serving together with a Kin-dom mindset, and not fostered by personal agendas. To CULTIVATE JOY is whispering the simple prayer, “Lord, not my will, but Thy Will be done!”

Moreover, Jesus’ words from John 15:11 (AMP) is an outline for understanding what it means to CULTIVATE JOY, “I have told you these things so that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy may be made full and complete and overflowing.”

I offer lament because I believe we have given the name of Jesus Christ a bad representation, and we have made being a follower of Jesus Christ as a secret society. I would offer, the days are long gone when we could simply rely on our signage to bring people into the church and hope they will join. No, to be about the business of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” requires a greater intentionality of a living faith, both individually and collectively. I am not suggesting that we must live perfect lives…Absolutely Not, but we do strive for Christ-like perfection.

Friends, there is a world needing to know Jesus, and we have the Good News to share! May we be those for which CULTIVATING JOY becomes contagious and others, not only want to “come and see” but want to be part of seeing that transformation in the world.

In the JOY of Service…

Rev. Dr. Aleze Fulbright