upper room daily devotions

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Elaine Stanovsky Elected Bishop

At 12:53 AM this morning, Elaine Stanovsky was elected bishop with fifty-three votes. I suppose I'll be getting a new district superintendent!

Here is an article from the United Methodist News Service about the election.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Western Jurisdiction Elects First Bishop - 2008

The Western Jurisdiction of the UMC is in process of electing two bishops. After sixteen ballots, Grant Hagiya of the Cal-Pac Annual Conference was elected. Voting continues for the second bishop elect. As of ballot twenty, Elaine Stanovsky of the PNW Annual Conference was in the lead with thirty-three votes. A thirty minute recess was called. Voting will continue later this evening. If you would like to follow the WJC's process, the Cal-Pac Annual is giving news updates after every ballot as well as posting other elections within the denomination. Here is their website.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Accountability and Membership

Accountability and membership have been on my mind a lot in recent days. How important is the covenant community to a member who attends worship 1, 4, 8 times a year? How has the church failed its members if some aren't compelled to come for their own spiritual nurture or in order to be with one another to "shoulder the burdens, share the risks, and celebrate the joys of fellow members" (BOD, Para. 218)? And how can the issue of accountability be spoken of with love and care and not in a way that is off-putting, shaming, or just down right annoying? This concerns me not because I want more butts in the seat; that will always be true. It concerns me because the strength of the covenant is weakened, the depth of relationships is hindered, and the nurture of people's spiritual lives is compromised if we aren't engaging in ongoing maintenance of the covenant-. How can we be a community if we don't spend time with one another? How can we be Christians if we don't study and learn together? How can we worship God - our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer - if we never attend worship? And, how can we attend to the hard work of being a community of the baptized if we don't live out our baptism on a daily basis?

It shouldn't surprise anyone that as a clergy person church is more than an activity for me. It is more than just one option among many that vie for my time. Is it possible to build a community of lay person who also burn with a passion for God's gospel, for God's realm, for God's dream for this world? Clergy are here to serve congregations; we aren't here to be the congregation.

I understand that laity have busy lives. They have children, aging parents, hassles at work, vacations, spouses and partners. They have hobbies, illnesses, and families spread all over the United States (and sometimes all over the world). And yet I wonder what the church might do better in order to speak to the deep places in people's lives so that they yearn to come to church, to join a covenant group, to study their faith history, and delve into their faith traditions. I wonder how we might jettison all of the extra fluff that makes church "work" and "superfluous" in order to get to the core reason for our existence. We don't exist to get members. We don't exist to build our budgets. We don't exist for the sake of clergy. We exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. That's pretty exciting. And to do something this exciting requires us to build and maintain a strong and healthy covenant community that rests on accountability within the membership.

If you have had a history of strengthening your covenant, of creating healthy accountability within your congregation, or of growing an informed and invested membership, I'd love to hear more about it.

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