The General Conference of The United Methodist Church is in session April 24 to May 4, 2012 in Tampa, Florida. Every four years, United Methodists from around the world gather together to do the work of the Church, to conduct business, to rewrite the Book of Discipline and Book of Resolutions, and to prayerfully discern where we as a global denomination are being led by the Holy Spirit. As you receive this letter, the General Conference will already be in session—please pray for their ongoing work and the discernment only the Holy Spirit can provide!
Our congregations here in Hampden and Winterport are a part of a global connection—and together, we covenant to be in ministry. The mission of The United Methodist Church (here and around the world) is “To Make Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World.” We have a purpose! We have a function! We are a part of a worldwide mission that is growing—though you wouldn’t always know that in the United States.
What happens at General Conference often seems far removed from our everyday lives of service and discipleship, but the decisions made there have profound impact on the way we order our congregations and the vision for Christian ministry we share with one another. If you want to know more about what is happening in Tampa, UMCom and others will be posting news throughout the time General Conference is meeting. If you’re really interested in watching the events without delay, this year, there’s even a General Conference app for your smart phone.
I won’t pretend that General Conference isn’t political—I won’t pretend that the work done doesn’t carry overtones of strife and tension—but I will tell you that I hope and pray all of us, at all levels of the Church of Jesus Christ share the desire to seek Christ and live out of his love for us.
In a recent UMCom article, the Rev. Tom Albin called on all United Methodists to be in prayer for our Church—I want to share that request with you:
John and Charles Wesley taught the early Methodist people, “God does nothing apart from prayer.” The teaching of the Bible is equally clear, “Unless God builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1a, an Inclusive-Language Lectionary)
Friends, our prayers are needed for this General Conference. There is more potential for significant change to occur this year than at any other time since 1968. We need God’s wisdom promised in James 1:2-5. We pray because Jesus promised that if we ask, seek and knock, we will receive an answer and the doors will open.
As we ask, pray, seek and listen, I believe God will act and The United Methodist Church will be transformed.
June 6-9, our Annual Conference will meet in Wenham, MA, to continue the work of connecting Hampden Highlands UMC and Ellingwood’s Corner UMC with the rest of The United Methodist Church. Again, I’d ask you prayerfully support those who will be laboring on your behalf.
Jesus is calling us to make disciples and to transform our world—as we do this in Hampden and Winterport and throughout the Bangor area, isn’t it good to know we are part of a wonderful global family?
Christ is Risen! If he is for us, who can be against us? Alleluia!
The Rev. David Nicol, Pastor of Hampden Highlands UMC
Pastor-of-Record to Ellingwood’s Corner UMC