Annual Conference adds fifth Conference priority -- Missions

6/9/2009

During the 2009 Annual Conference a new ministry priority was introduced for the North Alabama Conference.  Missions was added to the priorities of New Congregations, Natural Church Development, Effective Leadership for the 21st Century and Empowering a New Generation of Christians.  All five of these priorities are meant to help the Conference order and focus its work to fulfill its vision of Every church challenged and equipped to grow more disciples of Jesus Christ by taking risks and changing lives.

This new priority was introduced during the Connectional Ministries report on Friday afternoon of Conference.  Rev. Matt Lacey, Director of Mission and Advocacy explained during the report, “God is certainly moving among us, and it is demanded of our faith that we move in the world as well.  Because of this, the North Alabama Conference in 2009 is making missions a conference-wide priority.  This priority will seek to engage churches, individuals, laity, and clergy within the conference, and empower them to move within and outside the conference.”

He added, “With God’s help, the United Methodists of North Alabama will walk among different places, people, languages, and even religions, just as Christ did.  And we, as United Methodists, will not only bring God to these places: we will go to meet God there as well.  We will go not only to bring change, but to be changed; not just to preach and live the gospel, but to receive it as well.”

Bishop Willimon explained that while missions has always been a part of the Methodist movement and has been implied in the other four priorities of the Conference, it was after he had conversations with many young leaders in the Conference he understood the importance of the Conference specifically developing a new priority of missions to complete the picture of the current four priorities.

Rev. Carrie Kramer Vasa, convenor of the Conference Servants Like Jesus Team, also shared during the Connectional Ministries report specific goals that will “put feet” on this new priority.  She noted the goals for local churches and districts for “transforming the world through missions and justice” are as follows:

Local Church Goals:

  • By encouraging every local church to create a covenant each year to include:
  • Participating in one or more hands-on project with a North Alabama Conference Advance Special or with United Methodist Volunteers in Mission  (local, domestic, international);
  • Donating funds through connectional giving to one or more North Alabama Conference Advance Special and/or General Board of Global Ministries Advance Special (missionary support or project) and Special Sunday Offerings;
  • Educating their congregation about ways to support and work on  justice issues;
  • Developing a relationship with a United Methodist Church of a different culture (economically, ethnically, etc. and can be local, domestic, or international).

District Goals: 

  • 10 church per year per district to create a missions/justice covenant
  • By encouraging churches to create a annual missions/justice covenant
  • Creating a District Mission Team to train and consult with churches in their district.  The team will include but not limited to:
  • District Disaster Coordinators (one clergy and one lay)
  • District UMVIM Coordinators (one clergy and one lay)
  • District Mission/Justice Coordinators (one clergy and one lay)

Rev. Lacey says, “Often I get asked "Why can't we just send money?  Why do we have to go there, and waste time, airfare, and potentially risk our lives?"  This question was posed to an African Methodist Bishop, who responded: "No!  We don't want your money!  We want to see your face, work with you, and create new stories with you, for that is what the Gospel is all about.

“We are called to move in the world, and this new priority expresses that the North Alabama Conference is not afraid to move where God calls us.  I hope that you, your church, and Christians all around the world can come together because of it.”

To find  resources to help your church in missions go to: www.northalabamaumc.org/missions

Also visit the Mission Blog a new feature of the North Alabama Conference website, at  www.northalabamaumc.org/missionblog


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