When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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See how they love one another!

June 22, 2019

18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, The Message)

The annual gathering of United Methodists across South Georgia is over. The people in Columbus were excellent hosts, working for more than a year to prepare for our arrival and show us in countless ways what Columbus-flavored southern hospitality looks like. So many people worked to plan, organize, and coordinate the many, many moving parts that have to come together to have a meeting of that size flow smoothly and accomplish anything. We were able to worship, fellowship, learn and grow, do business, and leave Columbus feeling that we had accomplished much while we were there.

As we move into the new appointment year, I want to encourage everyone to continue to live into the conversational covenant that we have used for the past several months. The terms of the covenant were displayed as the backdrop of the stage. The HEART principles and John Wesley’s Three Rules were there for all to see as we worked through our business. These are not meant to be our covenant for large gatherings only. These should continue to be our covenant throughout the year as we gather for worship, fellowship, and doing the business of our local churches and districts.

The words in Matthew 28 call us to: “Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life …” The very best way we can train anyone is by setting a good example for all to see. People were attracted to the early church because of the way early Christians loved and cared for each other. Tertullian, an early Christian author, is credited with reporting that the Romans would exclaim, “See how they love one another!”

The year ahead will be stressful as we move toward General Conference 2020, our own annual conference, and Jurisdictional Conference. There is so much uncertainty. The future at times seems so clear and then at other times seems as clear as mud.

I encourage everyone to remember that, while the future may not be clear to us, it is clear to God. If we live in the way Christ has called us to live, demonstrating to each other and to the world that we can love in the way Christ loves, the future will be less of a worry and today will be well-lived.

Please remember to abide by Wesley’s three rules and use the HEART principles as guidelines for every conversation. Include these in your meetings at your church. Post them on the bulletin boards. Include them in your bulletins and newsletters. Let these guidelines become the covenant that everyone uses in all areas of our church. Perhaps, if we do so, we’ll find that people outside the church are able to say, “See how they love one another!” about us.

Dr. Nita Crump serves as Director of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at nitac@sgaumc.com.

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Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.