Annual Conference 2009

This week Pastor John and I joined WUMC’s two lay members of Annual Conference for the yearly gathering of the Virginia Annual Conference. From Sunday through Wednesday United Methodists took over the Scope in Norfolk, Virginia and met for worship, visioning God’s future for our church, and planning how to cooperate with God’s work in this world to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

This year two events stand out most prominantly in my mind. The first, is a sermon by Bishop Hee-Soo Jung from Northern Illinois. He preached about people’s tendancy toward a “theology of scarcity.” In times when not everyone has enough food to go around it is most human to want to hoard what little we have instead of sharing with our neighbor’s in need. Our theology of scarcity runs completely counter to our God of abundance. When disciples worried about how to feed the crowd of 5,000+ who had gathered to hear Christ preach Jesus took 5 loaves of bread and two fish from a young boy in the crowd (Matthew 14:16-21). That small amount proved to be more than enough through God’s work of abundance. Every hungry person was fed, and there were twelves baskets of bread left over!

Resting in the power of God’s abunance means that we don’t let fear and a theology of scarcity overtake our decisions to live our lives as disciples. I am proud that our annual conference voted to support our “all things new” proposal to start 250 new faith communities in the next 30 years. Even though it seems like we should hoard what little we have I am so glad that our conference is willing to invest in supporting the establishment of new faith communities. In the next few years the population of Virginia is slated to increase by 25%. There will be people moving into new neighborhoods and looking for a way to live their life with deeper meaning.

How can we be prepared to welcome those new people to our faith community or to plant a new one to welcome people into God’s Kingdom? How will God’s abundance be made clear to us as we live out our calling to share God’s love to all the world? I’m excited to find out!

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