While there are parts of our United Methodist Book of Discipline that we and fellow UMs are working hard to change, other passages are surprisingly powerful, even beautiful. For instance, par. 201 defines the local church this way: “Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, the church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and the redemption of the world.”
As purpose statements go, that’s pretty powerful stuff.
And from par. 202: “The function of the local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is to help people to accept and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to live their daily lives in light of their relationship with God. Therefore, the local church is to minister to persons in the community where the church is located, to provide appropriate training and nurture to all, to cooperate in ministry with other local churches, to defend God’s creation and live as an ecologically responsible community, and to participate in the worldwide mission of the church, as minimal expectations of an authentic church.”
And those are “MINIMAL expectations.”
Over our 100 years, Glenn Memorial has faithfully sought to live out this vision of the church, being sensitive always to shifting challenges facing our community and church members.
Over the months ahead, it is imperative that we continue our vital and ongoing ministries of outreach and service in the community and, through our UM connection, around the world. At the same time, our staff has discerned four areas of ministry for enhancement and expansion in 2019-20:
Under the direction of the Rev. Blair Setnor, and with the cooperation of our Annual Conference and our Georgia Commission on Higher Education and Campus Ministries, we are building a new ministry for 20-somethings in our neighborhoods and in the graduate and professional schools of Emory University. This is no small task, but one that can offer to young adults, at a critical moment in their lives, a loving relationship with Jesus Christ and a community of support and care where they can grow in faith and service.
(Blair will also relate to our area of outreach and missions.)
It’s interesting that in the words from the Book of Discipline above, the “edification of all believers” and the “redemption of the world” sit side by side. That is an important part of our Wesleyan heritage: Our inward relationship with Christ and our outward relationship with our neighbors can’t be separated. We reach out with love to others while tending God’s love in our own lives.
So, how are things with your soul these days?
Over the year ahead, we will work to expand opportunities to connect with other Christians in Bible study, prayer, and mutual support. Sunday School is a part of this, as are short- and long-term groups that will meet at the church or in homes in the community. The Rev. Brent Huckaby will lead us in this realm of spiritual formation (also continuing his work with The Gathering).
The word for “hospitality” has its roots in the Latin hospes, which means “host,” except that hospes also means “guest.” Confusing? Well, that’s OK. I’ve heard it said that when hospitality is properly practiced, you really can’t tell the difference between host and guest.
Over the coming months, we will work to improve our welcome and inclusion of all who come to worship in this place. Under the direction of the Rev. Connor Bell and Communications Director Jessica Bradford, and with vital help from intern Kevin Lazarus, we will improve our online and community presence, build a network of ambassadors ready to welcome and assist each new worshiper, and enhance our system of follow-up and inclusion.
(Connor, of course, is also our minister to youth and their families.)
Finally, we want to be sure people around us know who we are and what we’re about. That means intentional outreach and invitation via all avenues available to us, but, above all, it means words of personal invitation spoken friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, co-worker to co-worker. We are a loving and embracing church, but it means little to welcome everyone if we invite no one. This might be our simplest goal and maybe the most challenging—invite—and it’s the one we can all start working on right now.
So, there you have it, some goals for 2019-20—hardly earth-shaking stuff, but pretty big nonetheless, and important. Again, we are not diminishing the importance of our many established and ongoing ministries; we are building on the foundation of what we have.
I thank God for the privilege of being in ministry with you here at Glenn, and I can’t wait to watch the Holy Spirit work through this church in the year ahead.