ANNUAL CHARGE CONFERENCE: OCTOBER 6, 2019
REPORT OF THE PASTOR: “THE STATE OF THE CHURCH”
“…Grace, mercy and peace from God our Creator and the Lord Jesus Christ.
For by grace [we] have been saved through faith; and that not of [ourselves],
it is the gift of God. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace
given us, each is to exercise them accordingly…”
(II Timothy 1:2, Ephesians 2:8, Romans 12:6)
These now familiar words from Holy Scripture have begun my Charge Conference Pastor’s Report for the fourth successive year. As I said last year, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” In just a few short months as of March 1st, I will have completed five years as your Pastor. We have made great progress together, with time-after-time evidence of the power of the Holy Spirit, and the love of Jesus Christ with us through times of celebration, grief and stress, too. “To God be the glory, Great things He has done!”
We have, indeed, moved forward with great devotion, dedication and promise. With the continuing expansion of our Church Council, currently at twenty-nine leadership slots, every facet of ministry within Boiling Springs UMC is represented—including youth, young adults and seniors. We have profited much by the input this varied group of disciples brings.
Some of our accomplishments this year include the following..
• The expansion of pastoral care efforts to our sick, shut-in and homebound members, assisted by our In-Touch Ministry volunteers, so that those folks for whom coming to Sunday Worship is no longer possible, receive a visit by me or one of our In-Touch volunteers at least once every three weeks.
• A resurrection (pun intended) of our Young Adult Ministries area, to include those folks in the 20-35 year-old age group in the life of the Church, through study and fellowship events. Tamara Bowdler is our new Young Adult Coordinator.
• Family Ministries has taken on a new perspective, through social events, service projects and other events within the Church. Sonya Craft is our Family Ministries Coordinator.
We would be remiss if we did not mention some areas in which we need a bit more emphasis, or where we do have concern…
• Boiling Springs UMC has, in the recent past, functioned well financially without a formal stewardship program. When an issue, a need, or a mission needs funding, our Church goes about raising funds for it—and that issue is addressed, that need is met, and that mission is funded. This seems to be the “working-well culture” of our Church here. With additional effort already underway by our Financial Ministries folks, and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, it is our prayer that success will be ours.
• And now for the first “elephant in the room.” The General Conference of the UMC will be meeting from May 5-15, 2020 in Minneapolis, MN, to discuss among many other issues, the LGBTQ+ question, any possible revisions to our United Methodist Book of Discipline, and how we will proceed as a denomination. This is OUR General Conference, not some far-and-away distant supervisory body away from our feeling and thinking. Walt Crozier is our lay member of the South Carolina Annual Conference who in turn, along with other Annual Conference members, elect delegates to General Conference. They represent us—they ARE us! We are a participatory denomination, with lay representation and clergy representation serving jointly. We will await in prayer, the results of that meeting in Minneapolis, and what is decided.
• And now for the second “elephant in the room.” There has been some talk within our denomination, and certainly within our Boiling Springs UMC congregation, of disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. My opinion is this: Let us wait for General Conference in Minneapolis to conclude. Regardless of the decisions made, strategies will be brought forth, providing mechanisms to address all the concerns of all our members. This should and must be done in an orderly, judiciously and Christ-like manner, with the Holy Spirit as our guard and guide. To do otherwise would only seek to divide the Church, and we would do a great disservice to the memory of those saints who met under that “brush arbor” one hundred and ninety years ago.
To quote my favorite hymn, which I quote often, “To God be the glory—Great things He has done!” We know that greatness in anything does not come without hard work, dedication and sacrifice. May we continue “…striving for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus our Lord” together! There is no time to waste. May Almighty God continue to bless our continuing journey together.
In faith, hope, love, joy and peace,