Clergy colleagues and their ministry partners were encouraged, engaged, and uplifted during Life Together 2019. It was a time for attendees to fill up their gas tanks and refresh for the journey ahead, knowing that in a couple of days they would head home ready to dive back into their mission fields.
During Life Together attendees heard from Bishop Trimble, enjoyed the company of one another over meals and several get-togethers, and learned more about the Indiana Conference core ministry teams such as Administration and Financial Services, Church Development, Mission and Justice as well as others.
A key highlight this year was an opportunity to look inward, to the deepest parts of ourselves and how we lead in our contexts as we truly discerned an answer to, “How is it with your soul?” — a common Wesleyan covenantal question.
Ruth Haley Barton, author, spiritual director, teacher, and Founder of Transforming Center shared with attendees on ways we can strengthen the soul of leadership. Attendees were given time to reflect and access the inner depths of their soul through an assessment titled, “How is it with your soul? An Assessment for Leaders.”
While attendees looked inward they also looked forward by hearing from several inspiring creative ministry testimonials from The Hub, a coffee shop ministry ran by Simpson UMC in Evansville, an online Bible study out of Cook Memorial UMC where Pastor Annettra Jones ministers to people from around the US through Facebook Lives book discussions, devotions, and faith-building conversations.
Bishop Trimble shared an impassioned sermon titled, “Will You Be A Witness?” In his sermon, he shared that we are an “in-between church”, meaning we exist in between the time after Pentecost awaiting the return of Jesus. He called the attendees to live in the power of the Holy Spirit, be attentive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in their life, and run passionately head first towards our mission of making disciples.
“I think that’s where we are now in the United Methodist Church — the ‘in-between’ church,” He said. “When we talk about being missional, we’re not creating a new story. We’re reclaiming the story that had already been given to us in Pentecost.”
Bishop Trimble continued to call for the strengthening of unity in the midst of a divided atmosphere following the 2019 Special-Called General Conference. Sharing our full mission statement, “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” Bishop Trimble acknowledged that no matter the difference in belief, we are united in our mission. Noting that transformation cannot happen without the saving of souls. It takes each part of our mission statement to accomplish God’s call on us in this world.
The bishop went on to state “According to Barna, a study on American religion, 75% of Christians claim they pray weekly, but only 35% attend church. 34% read their Bible on their own, but only 16% attend or participate in a small discipleship or accountability group. We’ve got some work to do.”
Noting a recent United Methodist Communications survey, Bishop Trimble shared that it appears that those who would identify as Progressive tend to focus on the “social justice” or “transformation” aspect of our mission statement, while those who identify as Conservative focus on the “saving of souls” or “making disciples of Jesus Christ”. He shared, “We are working on two ends of the same mission statement. We both need to be working together. “
During the Clergy Appreciation Dinner, Sunday night in the Great Hall at St. Luke’s UMC, Bishop Trimble and First Lady Racelder Grandberry-Trimble allowed space for clergy to commune, pray together, and share about The Special Session, their thought on the decisions made during the global gathering, our way forward, and re-establishing focus on our mission, particularly around our focus of being a ‘fully missional’ church by 2020.
When asked to share what it means to be a fully missional church. Clergy responded with;
“A missional church is one that goes outside the walls and empowers communities to know the love of Jesus Christ through care and compassion.”
“A church that sees all the people, loves all the people, serves all the people, for the good of the kingdom.”