“…So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Message
The month of October is one of few times in the calendar cycle that provide evidence of a changing season. Oftentimes during October, we are able to witness the fall colors adorn the trees, and the weather shifts from the warmth to a crisper breeze. October is also a month of appreciation in the United Methodist Church. It has been a tradition and practice to express appreciation for our clergypersons, with Clergy Appreciation Day celebrated on October 13, 2019. Additionally, in October we celebrate and appreciate the ministry and calling of our laity, with Laity Sunday celebrated on October 20, 2019 (UMC Discipleship-Laity Sunday).
I would like to express how much I appreciate the shared leadership of this Central District with the 109 congregations, 128 clergypersons or those serving in supply, and over 34,159 United Methodists…I am grateful to serve as your Conference Superintendent! I believe a greater sense of appreciation manifested itself in a recent Charge Conferences.
On Sunday, Liberty UMC began sharing around the four questions that each congregation was asked to prepare and present during Charge Conference. The example Liberty UMC provided was one of great encouragement. The laity of this smaller membership congregation began discussing how they could be a help in their local community. So, after hearing an idea from another congregation in Kentucky, they took it upon themselves to raise funds as a means to assist some people in their community. The laity of Liberty UMC, collected over $1,500 and went to the local Waffle and Steak Restaurant, and shared the money among three servers who were working that day. This expression of love, not only assisted a server in securing a place to live, but Liberty UMC became the talk around town as “that church that helped.”
It was through this example, and I am sure there are a host of others across the Central District, where the commitment to be Christ-Centered, Community-Connected, and Missionally-Centric, is resonating and making an impact. We need laity and clergy to share beyond the walls and identify creative ways to pay attention to the needs of others. I believe people are looking for a renewed hope in God, a revival to their foundational beliefs about Jesus Christ, and a reintroduced confidence in who call themselves faithful Christ-followers…that we indeed practice what we preach, and that our actions align with our intentions.
So, as we celebrate LAITY AND CLERGY this month, may we always remember the power of God’s Spirit at work in us and through us, and the power of love that connects all of us in miraculous ways! We Appreciate You!
Dr. Aleze Fulbright
Conference Superintendent Serving Central District