In some ways this worship service has the same elements that we have at Community weekly: we gather with singing, we hear God's Word, and we hear a sermon; but, then in response to God's Word and activity the Bishop recognizes and sets a part people to perform the task of pastoral ministry throughout the Annual Conference.
This year at Annual Conference, particularly at the Service of Ordering of ministry, the Holy Spirit was moving in the hearts of the people. Bishop Swanson of the Mississippi Annual Conference preached about how each and every one of us was commissioned by God. We are sent by God into the world to do ministry. We are sent by God to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, set the captive free, and to proclaim the good news. People, no matter how imperfect we may be, are God's plan for spreading the good news of Jesus Christ through the world. Bishops Swanson and Lewis altered the program for the worship order and had people come forward to respond to God's call to serve in their lives. Bishop Swanson walked up and down the isles among thousands of people, seeking those who were called by God. The people who came forward were greeted by Bishop Lewis (our Bishop) and then prayed for by the ordinands (those about to be ordained as elders and deacons). Then we resumed the worship order with licensing, commissioning, and ordaining of pastors. Bishop Swanson's message really resonated with me, we are commissioned by God. The Church is commissioned by God and sent into the world to do ministry. Do we see church in this way? Is this our primary understanding of what God is calling us to do. We are called to go and serve.
In the church office, we keep track of all reported persons who serve through the ministries of the church on a regular basis and it is a relatively low number. Yes, we collect and give away a lot of food through various programs, the UMW circles have particular mission projects, and there are three teams from Community going with the Appalachia Service Project. But as a whole, our congregation is not missionaly engaged as we should be. That has to change if we are going to reach new people, and going to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. At Annual Conference, Bishop Lewis defined a disciple as,"a lifelong learner who influences others to serve." If we are not serving, then we are not making disciples for the transformation of the world.
By the grace of God, we have new chances to serve all the time, they are renewed each morning. Chances to serve others in the name of Christ. Chances to be the hands and feet of Christ in the world. So I am challenging you to pray about how God is calling you to serve? How is God calling you to use your gifts to serve God's Kingdom and to transform the world?
Get Involved in Service
Here are some links to learn more about how you can serve through ministries of Community United Methodist Church:
Stop Hunger Now @ Community UMC
Wesley Community Service Center (Portsmouth)
Judeo Christian Outreach Center (for information click here, to serve click here)
Beach Bags for College Park Elementary School
Grace and Peace be with You,