Recently the Lay Ministry Team held its Fall-Winter meeting at the United Methodist Center at Birmingham-Southern College. The Lay Ministry team meets quarterly and the meeting is moved around the North Alabama Conference.
This month, I wish to thank the District Lay Leaders and Associate Lay Leaders for their tireless work on behalf of the North Alabama Conference throughout the year.
The following people have served as District Lay Leaders. They each represent their District by attending Conference meetings including Annual Conference. They also attending District meetings and visit churches in their Districts.
I offer my special thanks to these people for their diligence and dedication to the Districts and for their service to the North Alabama Conference.
As we approach Christmas and the New Year, I am reminded of the many blessings we enjoy as United Methodists having the freedom to assemble and worship as we please. I also remember our brothers and sister around the world who never attain the freedom we enjoy.
For most of my life, I have read The Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide as my daily devotion to start the day. I think I started reading it when I was in the third grade. I read the print edition to which I have subscribed for many years. Although things concerning the publication have changed slightly over the years, there is much about the publication that has never changed. This consistency is very important to us readers. The size of the magazine has not changed. Each day’s content still includes a Bible reading, theme Bible verse and a brief message from someone sharing his or her personal testimony. The writers of these devotions are from all over the world and The Upper Room is printed in many languages.
Many of the stories in these devotions are read and soon forgotten. Others live with us for a long time. One such story is one I read just recently on Dec. 13, 2014.
It was written by Andy Wayne Clapp from North Carolina.
The scripture Mr. Clapp chose was from Acts 2. The theme verse was Matthew 28:19-20 where Jesus says “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Here is Mr. Clapp’s story or testimony, see if it fits your life or your church.
From the pulpit in our church one can see the seam in the carpet that separates the two shades of red carpet pieces. The seam represents the point where the old sanctuary was enlarged in the early 1990s because this small country church needed more seats for the people to come and worship. Yes, from the front of the church I can see the problem, but it’s not the two shades of carpet. The problem is that in the 20 years after the expansion, no more seams have been needed. The growth stopped. The congregation dwindled. Somewhere along the way, the vision shifted away from reaching out to others. The early church knew how to grow. They did not change their vision or stop reaching out.
With the people’s response on the Day of Pentecost, it might have been easy to turn the focus inward. But instead the early Christians continued to preach the gospel all over the world. Hopefully someday all of or church buildings will have noticeable seams as God uses us to reach out to others and draw them into the family of God.
Thanks to Mr. Clapp for this inspiring message. As we approach the New Year, let’s look at the seams in our churches and our lives and see which way we are going. Are we expanding the kingdom of God or have we stopped growing?
Happy New Year,
Conference Lay Leader