The following interview was posted on the South Georgia Abide website. Allison Lindsey is a member of St. Mark UMC in Douglas, Ga. and chairs the Conference Nurture Team. She formerly served as the Director of Connectional Ministries.
Where do you see God moving among us?
I have always felt very blessed for the doors that God has opened wide for me through The UMC. I have been given a front-row seat to see Him at work - "here, there, and everywhere". It's been an honor to serve as a Director for the General Board of Global Ministries for the past 10 years and see God at work all over the world through The UMC connection!
I am seeing God through the health and vitality of my local church, St. Mark UMC in Douglas. We are a smaller congregation and God just continues to bless this congregation in all areas of ministry, through growth spiritually, numerically, and financially. God's presence is so evident in these ways and it reminds me of the importance of "keeping the main thing the main thing", which is our focus- discipleship.
I see God and his prevenient grace in the new expressions of faith communities, committed to remaining United Methodist, and the ways God is meeting each one where they are and providing for them in the most profound ways.
I see God at work through our Conference leadership in their commitment and creativity through difficult decisions that our current climate is requiring to be good stewards of our resources and mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!
I see God at work through the local churches, the conference agencies, the age-level camping and retreat ministries, and throughout other Annual Conferences in our connection. I love hearing the stories on all these levels- testimonies of God at work!
I see God at work all over the world currently in the North Katanga Annual Conference through the partnership with South Georgia, work in Syria/Turkey is ongoing following the earthquakes with UMCOR, partnerships and ministry happening in war-torn Ukraine. Also through local churches engaged in short-term mission journeys to have God's hands and feet and share His love. The list goes on and on!
I have seen firsthand and understand the value/strength in our connectional structure when it comes to mission and outreach and know that I am a part of that, beginning with my local church offering plate, through our apportionments - all around the world. That's such a powerful witness and impact. One that makes me so proud to be United Methodist!
Tell us about the ministry you’re doing now.
My (I guess you would call it) vocational ministry is full circle now and back in a local church! I am serving as the Director of Discipleship quarter-time at St. Mark UMC in Douglas and enjoy teaching, age-level ministries and filling the pulpit on occasion. At this stage in life, my family is truly my highest calling. I love being home and keeping up with my grandson, Mac, who will be two in May. What an amazing opportunity to see him grow up and have an influence on his life and faith!
I will forever be grateful for my time serving our Annual Conference and I continue to stay plugged in various ways. We joke about the fact that I cannot tell Kelly Roberson "no", so I am working on different communications projects, social media, and writing for The Advocate. This has been perfect for me and so uplifting because I get to share the stories of the awesome ministry happening across South Georgia.
How has disaffiliation been a part of the work you’re doing?
I am very fortunate that right now the conversations and discernment within my local church have been to wait until the General Conference 2024 and see the outcome. I personally am very thankful that our conference has paved a way for churches to do this. My knowledge of The UMC, our conference, and serving as a delegate in previous GCs has enabled me to help provide accurate information to questions and to change the narrative to the misinformation that others have been told or heard.
I also recently wrote an article for The Advocate on the United Methodists in Thomasville, a group that has been birthed out of disaffiliation and I am following this group closely. Seeing their genuine faith and trust in where they feel called and led by God, is inspiring. I know there are many others coming together in new ways and I have no doubt there will be many more stories to share as we move forward together.
What does it mean to be a South Georgia United Methodist today, especially in light of the ministry you’re doing?
I know this sounds cliche but, I believe what it means to be a South Georgia United Methodist today is the very same thing it meant yesterday, the day before, last year, etc. Our calling is the same in living out The Great Commandment and The Great Commission. It is so simple yet we manage to make it complicated. I pray that my ministry reflects this each and every day both at home and out in the world! Sharing the good news, discipling one another, and giving ourselves fully to God to be used for His purpose. There are so many distractions pulling our focus away from the heart of our purpose and ministry- we must stay focused on our mission!
How can churches and individual United Methodists across the conference support this ministry?
First and foremost, keep the main thing the main thing- share the good news and focus on discipleship. Do not let the issues in our denomination distract or paralyze you or your church from making disciples and being a positive witness to God and our faith. I think more so now than ever, we need to be walking alongside one another, building one another up, encouraging and supporting one another in ministry. Sharing where we see God at work in our personal faith journey and in our churches are powerful ways to accomplish this. There is much hurt as a result of the disaffiliations, voting, and uncertainty and this will take time to heal. How can God use us to be His hands and feet and to build bigger tables? Moving forward together will look differently, no doubt, but God is already there and I can't wait to see where that leads. The world is watching and I hope we are being the light and salt He has called us to be in the midst of our chaotic reality right now. Hindsight will be a gift as we move forward. If we will do the hard work of deep reflection on where we have seen God, we will see Him in ways we are not able to right now.
Where do you see hope for South Georgia and The United Methodist Church?
I see great hope in the ways that laity are birthing new and creative expressions of being the church. What I see happening feels like peeling away the layers to get back to the basics of what it means to be the church. In a sense, it feels to me like what the early church was in Acts 2. I see hope when I see a minister come out of retirement out of love for The UMC to shepherd a new community and the support that has been given through the connection. I see hope because I see so clearly that God is indeed at work. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) used to have a saying BE HOPE. Hope is powerful in the transformation of lives and essential to showing God's love in the brokenness of our world. I think that is a great calling for each of us as Christians for such a time as this - BE HOPE!