FOCUS ON THE VISION
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Truly it has been a joy to serve the South Georgia Annual Conference during the past four years as Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries and previously in a number of clergy and extension ministry appointments. As I transition to a new appointment in the Virginia Annual Conference as senior pastor of Wilderness Community Church (A United Methodist Congregation), discipleship remains at the heart of my understanding of mission and ministry.
Following the 2017 South Georgia Annual Conference, I had the rare opportunity to dialogue with a first-time delegate whose love of God and passion for ministry was evident in our conversation.
Mr. Clyde Johnson (wife Brenda Johnson) attended the South Georgia Conference for the first time June 4-7, 2017, at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. Clyde is a lifelong member of Grace United Methodist Church in Brunswick, Georgia. He serves as the Administrative Council Chair and is a certified lay speaker assisting Rev. Cleo Gilchrist, senior pastor, as needed in mission and ministry. Clyde, employed as a control systems engineer in the chemical industry, brings an analytical approach to his experience at this year’s annual conference session.
Below is a brief summary of a longer dialogue:
DENISE WALTON: Clyde, this was your first year as a delegate to the South Georgia Annual Conference. What were your initial impressions?
CLYDE JOHNSON: From the moment we arrived, we were greeted warmly in the parking area by volunteers and assisted with directional signs to enter the facility. There was a sense of fellowship and hospitality even in the parking lot. Then we entered the registration area and found people to be kind, courteous, and very helpful.
Second, I immediately noticed the displays and found it interesting to view the different organizations and agencies. Each area in the display was something new to learn and explore, and I discovered that South Georgia United Methodists are very involved in many different areas of mission and ministry.
Finally, I appreciated receiving the Book of Recommendations (downloaded) and referred to the material often during business sessions. Anything not referred to during the business session was found in the consent calendar. The business sessions were organized and I understood what was being presented. I really enjoyed all the Vital Signs moments, each well done and informative.
DENISE WALTON: Clyde, did you participate in any luncheons or training while attending conference?
CLYDE JOHNSON: Yes, I attended the Small Church Luncheon and left with a renewed sense from Rev. Carrie Myers that small congregations matter. I was encouraged to return to my local church and share more information. Also, the Jekyll Island United Methodist Church provided space for lunch meals and the fellowship and hospitality was excellent.
DENISE WALTON: What was the best part of annual conference for you?
CLYDE JOHNSON: Dr. Lovett Weems’ teaching and his book,
“Overflow.” I left the conference with large questions to consider: Who is attending our local church? Why are people not attending? What can we do at the local church level to be better disciples of Christ? In fact, Rev. Gilchrist and I have discussed me preparing a bible study using the book, “Overflow.” I look forward to engaging church members in reflection and dialogue.
DENISE WALTON: What would you share with other first time delegates?
CLYDE JOHNSON: Annual Conference is an opportunity to look at the whole organization and learn more about the ways God is at work in the South Georgia Annual Conference. I would encourage delegates to read the material, attend the business sessions, participate in events offered, and take the information back to your local church.
Thank you Mr. Johnson for sharing your experience with me and the South Georgia Annual Conference! Discipleship is most evident in the local church as we engage in mission and ministry and share those experiences to grow and invite others to grow in Christ.
At Grace United Methodist Church, one voice among many has reflected on the South Georgia Annual Conference and is excited to return sharing good news that we are “Alive Together in Christ.” I believe this represents the mission of the church to make disciples and the vision of the conference to be Alive Together in Christ, at its best!
To God be the glory!
K. Denise Walton
Rev. Denise Walton serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.