FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN
Our four-year theme is Alive Together in Christ, based on Ephesians 2:5. Each year we will focus on one specific area in which we want to live out this theme. The first of these is worship. This area is so important that in 2016 our annual conference enthusiastically approved a goal of increasing average worship attendance by 10 percent.
At our 2017 annual conference session we launched the emphasis of “Alive Together in Worship” by reading Lovett Weems’ book "OVERFLOW" and then having Dr. Weems as our conference teacher. He presented three sessions of practical strategies for use in churches of any size or location. I am pleased to report that our laity and clergy are following through on our goal. In every district we have large numbers of churches that have identified their 10 highest- attended services over the last conference year. They are now making plans to increase attendance at those same services this year. I plan to give an update on attendance increases in each district as part of Winter Conference at the end of January. Annual Conference 2018 will include a joyous celebration of worship attendance increases in churches of every size. What a thrill this will be.
Being Alive Together in Worship has a direct connection to the magnitude of our disaster response. It is in services of worship that the churches of South Georgia have received special offerings for relief of those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, as well as earthquakes and mudslides in other parts of the world. When we are Alive Together in Worship the effect is to propel us into the world to witness for Jesus Christ with head, heart, and hands.
We are in the middle of Charge Conference season. Our district superintendents are keeping me informed about these conferences and the goals set by each church. I want to reiterate a request I made last year: please identify several younger persons who will accompany your delegate to annual conference. This is the best way to begin preparing these young adults to become our delegates in the future. I have discovered that Jekyll Island is quite an attraction for young adults and their families. Please use this appealing location to recruit several younger persons to visit annual conference this June.
Franz Kafka once observed that the early Church fathers and mothers “…were not afraid to out into the desert because they had a richness in their hearts. But we, with richness all around us, are afraid, because the desert is in our hearts.” The solution is worship. We eventually become what we pay attention to, what we contemplate; and paying attention to our hearts in their longing for God eventually builds us up as children of God, and brothers and sisters of each other.
In South Georgia we’re paying attention to being Alive Together in Worship.