The Mountain is Calling!

>The tyranny of the urgent things is killing me. By this time every year I have already been to Mt. Mitchell at least 3-4 times, but not this year. Cindy’s mother has been sick and in and out of the hospital at least 5 times in the last three months so that’s been a priority. Appointment-making for the Cabinet was tough this year with so few retirements and churches cutting salaries out from under positions. There were fewer moves but more attention needed and received for each one. Lately, I’ve been under the gun of trying to make a R-1 Visa application work for a new Korean pastor. We have to resubmit all kinds of info and I’ve pored over detail after detail because we really need this to work out. The Korean pastor is a model of faithfulness. He gave up being a medical doctor in Korea making $300k to being a full-time local pastor here with a Duke M.Div. making in the $30k range. He’s a great guy and that church is going to grow!

Conference whipped me, not at all for the usual reasons. It wasn’t the parliamentarian bit although I can’t have a brain-break when I’m trying to follow all of the discussion and anticipate what amendments or motions might be made. Actually Conference was pretty bland, except for the good preaching and the hoopla over the consitutional amendments. I’m glad we came out 85% to 15% against the worldwide UMC ones. A lot of my energy at conference went to clergy in the Columbia District. I was all over the map literally with 3 trips to McLeod’s Emergency Room in Florence, to driving back after a conference session to see one of the clergy in a Heart Hospital in Columbia. There hasn’t been any let up since last week. Cindy’s mother was back in the Emergency Room, one of our clergy had a heart procedure, another had a purported mild heart attack and hospitalized. Another’s mother died, and another former clergy died yesterday. Wow! I’m praying for everyone to get healthy and stay that way!

So, this coming Tuesday (Cindy doesn’t know yet, so it’s iffy), I’m headed to Mt. Mitchell to be alone, sit and read, hike out to Mt. Craig, and stoke the fire. Yes, at 6684 feet, you need a fire even in June. As John Muir said, “The moutains are calling and I must go!” Where do you go to to escape the tyranny of the urgent?

Annual Conference

Annual Conference is upon us and I hope we have part revival, part business, and all holy conferencing. I love Annual Conference! Now, of course, there are moments when things get tedious at best, and I’m on a short leash by being parliamentarian. As age progresses the restroom breaks become very much anticipated! I’ve thought about wearing sunglasses this year because the glare from the stage lights creates a haze after a day or so. I bet many people think the same thing about the glare off of my bald head.

This is an important conference for me. My middle child, Josh, is going to be commissioned Sunday night. That’s an incredible milestone on his way to ordination. He’s exhibiting such marvelous gifts for ministry at Bethel in Rock Hill. He and his wife Karen are a blessing in so many ways!
This conference is also important because of the Constitutional Amendments that we will be voting on on Monday. If you know me well, my passion with these surrounds the 23 worldwide UMC amendments. If they are passed we could see connectionalism go down the drain, and a regionalistic diocesan polity take over. Wesley’s words, “The world is my parish!” would be changed to “my neighborhood.” Sure, our neighborhood is our parish, but if we are to truly be global Christians, we cannot fragment who we are into regions that dispose of our unity.
I hope I don’t have to speak on this issue because parliamentarians are supposed to be impartial and not speak, or even vote by voice or show of hand. Nevertheless, this issue is too important to not speak. We’ll see. This isn’t about conservative or liberal – it’s about our ecclesiology; i.e., Connectionalism. I look forward to seeing how it all shakes out.
My favorite thing about Annual Conference is renewal of relationships. When one gives their life tothe ministry their church membership is literally transferred to the Annual Conference. It is my local church, and I love the fellowship with laity and clergy as we get to see each other, sing, hear good preaching, and make those all-important decisions that will shape our life together for years to come. See you Sunday!

Doing the Right Things or Doing Things Right?

Church questions without clear answers make my mind kick into overdrive: What are the limits to Equitable Compensation in a missional language barriered situation? Can an affiliate member or an ssociate member be on SPRC? (An associate member can, but not an affiliate – Go figure) Do you have to go to District Board of Church Location and Building when the purchase, etc. of a building exceeds 25% or 10%? Well, I turn to the BOD and get most answers, but sometimes it’s a judgment call. The BOD can and should be permissive if it can expedite ministry. I know people expect me as a Conference Parliamentarian to be a “strict constructionist” when it comes to the BOD, but I’d rather do the right things than do things right.

Sounds like heresy among methodical United Methodists, but isn’t this what we should be about? Doing the right things is much more important than doing things right. I listened at the Bishop’s School this week to Jorge Acevedo of Grace UMC near Ft. Myers, Florida say how it’s great to be flexible enough to do cutting edge ministry. He’s a good leader. The diffrence between managers and leaders is whether one values doing things right or doing the right things!
That’s sort of the crux of the matter, isn’t it? God needs us all to be leaders more than managers. To do less is only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I look forward to starting Charge Conferences this Sunday and I hope/long to hear how leaders have been leading and everyone has been daring to dream new things and actually do them. I think I’ll get sick, really sick, if I hear a “woe is me” attitude or hear a same-old-same-old report. I know that there are people who don’t know the transforming power of Jesus all around us. The traffic around Columbia is radically less on Sundays! I look forward to hearing what’s happening and how I can help us do the right things more than doing things right.