Blogs


11/21/2016

The Gift of an Experience

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson I recently found myself involved in a conversation about gift giving. This individual was sharing the pressure she feels in selecting a gift for her children or family member. The conversation centered around seeking the perfect gifts to give and then a year later noticing that you are placing those same gifts in the donation pile. She even noted the disappointment felt when finding the gift hadn’t even been used.      She went on to share that she had heard a segment on the ...


11/2/2016

An Attitude of Gratitude

Amy Thompson

As we enter the month of November, many of us take some time to pause and give thanks for the gifts in our life. Gifts like friendship, family, health. This year I am giving pause asking myself how do I show my thankfulness and gratitude throughout the year and not give special attention just around the Thanksgiving holiday? We can all create an attitude of gratitude that extends beyond the month of November. If we would pause daily or weekly we can identify persons, places and things to which ...


9/22/2016

The Witness of the Laity

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson As our former conference lay leader, Brian Hammons, mentioned at Annual Conference in the laity address, the UM Book of Discipline Paragraph 127 reveals the key to the renewal of the Methodist movement is the witness of the laity. What does that mean? It means a challenge lays before the laity of the church to reach out into this world to help others know God. Many of us have various images in our minds when we hear the word witness. I offer this image. A Christ follower seeing ...


8/26/2016

New Beginnings

Amy Thompson

A buzz is around the Missouri Conference. You may hear talk of transitions, new teams for the next quadrennium, a new conference lay leader, a new Bishop. What does all this mean for the laity and local church?


8/1/2016

Faith Walk

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson Amid the endless topics available for my first article as Conference Lay Leader, I would like say thanks to all of those who have touched my life and been a part of my faith walk. While there are too many to name, I want to acknowledge a few as they were present at Annual Conference, making this transition more special to me.    My earliest memories of Sunday School contain Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. While shaping my early learnings of Jesus Christ, they continued to influence my life...


6/1/2016

The Witness of the Laity

Brian Hammons

“The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as the sharing of their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which people will come to know Christ and the United Methodist church will fulfill its mission.” This sentence from the UM Book of Discipline par. 127 reveals the key for renewal of the church.  Did you catch that?  The key to renewal of the Methodist movement is the witness of the laity.  Not just laity ...


5/18/2016

General Conference Laity Address

LAITY ADDRESS Presentation Date: Fri. May 13, 8:45-9:15am SCOTT JOHNSON: Good morning! I am Dr. Scott Johnson, I am one of six laity representatives addressing you today from across the global connection. I am the conference lay leader from the Upper New York Annual conference. It is an honor to be one of your presenters this morning….(PAUSE)… Jesus is clear, “19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, ...


5/1/2016

General Conference – Here We Go!

Brian Hammons

General Conference, the every-four-year gathering of United Methodists from around the globe, begins soon – May 10.  864 delegates and a lot of others will descend upon Portland, Oregon for almost two weeks.  Including 12 delegates (lay and clergy) from Missouri, with 4 alternates.  During the conference we will celebrate ministry, worship, pray, deliberate, and vote on legislative proposals to set policy and direction for the church.  Sounds like a typical Methodist conference, doesn’t it?  ...


4/1/2016

Our Next Bishop?

Brian Hammons

The question was pondered a lot by Missouri conference leaders recently as they interviewed several candidates:  “Could this person be our next bishop?”  I’ll describe those interviews below.  But first, some background:  Bishop Robert Schnase has provided exemplary leadership of our Missouri Conference for almost twelve years.  We’re so thankful for his ministry, and we’re glad that he still will be with us to preside over our upcoming annual conference in June.  With his twelve years of ...


3/1/2016

General Conference 2016 – Preparations Continue

Brian Hammons

General Conference is coming up soon. In just a few weeks, May 10-20, 864 delegates from around the world will meet in Portland, Oregon to celebrate, pray, worship, deliberate, and vote on proposals to set policy and direction for the entire United Methodist Church.  Twelve of those delegates are from Missouri (six lay and six clergy), with four alternates – all elected last June at our Missouri Annual Conference session. I’m honored to serve in leading the delegation, along with Rev. Cody ...


2/1/2016

Four final “Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry”: Simple, discipline, fruit, & spirit

Brian Hammons

To finish up this 4-part series, we explore the last four words on our list of the “Ten Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry.”  As you recall, the ten are:  Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit.  Previous articles discussed the first six.  I hope this series is helpful to you in continuing to grow and strengthen basic practices in your ministry leadership.   Simple brings to mind Basics. Essentials. Core practices. Our need to make sense out of ...


1/1/2016

Next Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry

Brian Hammons

For this first month of 2016, we explore three more of the “Ten Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry.” As you recall, the ten are: Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit. Previous articles discussed Jesus, Mission, and Pastor. I hope this series is helpful to you in continuing to grow and strengthen basic practices in your ministry leadership.   What does the word Field have to do with lay ministry? Well, maybe the image of an empty field isn’t what we’...


12/1/2015

General Conference 2016 -- Our Delegation Begins Preparing

Brian Hammons

Have you been wondering what our Missouri Conference delegates to the 2016 General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference have been doing since they were elected in June? Well, even though the conferences are still months away (General Conference in May, Jurisdictional in July), they’ve already spent a lot of time preparing. In fact, the full delegation of 28 people (14 lay and 14 clergy) have met three times in Columbia and several attended a jurisdictional briefing in Oklahoma City.


11/1/2015

Two More "Words" for a Fruitful Lay Ministry: Mission & Pastor

Brian Hammons

This month we continue with the next two of my “10 Words for a Fruitful Lay Ministry.” As you recall, the ten are: Jesus, Mission, Pastor, Field, Connect, Read, Simple, Discipline, Fruit, and Spirit. Last month we noted that Jesus is “THE Word.” Now we turn to “Mission” and “Pastor.” Leaders in the church absolutely must have a clear focus upon their “Mission,” or purpose, if they want to be successful in ministry. We’re very different from other organizations, as our purpose involves a focus ...


10/1/2015

Jesus: First "Word" for a Fruitful Lay Ministry

Brian Hammons

Have you ever noticed the tendency for leaders to simplify things in communicating? Complex, multidimensional ideas are simplified into a few key words. This helps in memory retention, and also helps focus upon the essential idea undergirding the message. You know what I mean – 3 Simple Rules, 5 Practices, 7 Habits or Levers, Top 10 Lists, etc. You also see pastors presenting many a sermon series with 3-7 messages around a single common theme. OK, I’m about to join the trend – again – to ...


9/1/2015

Press On

Brian Hammons

“Welcome!” Or, “Welcome Back!” These words are heard a lot this time of year as churches and schools enter a new season. Summer is over and fall is beginning. Some experience new places, relationships, and opportunities. Others return to familiar places, but with fresh opportunities in front of them. Whether it’s a new school year with new classes, a new church season with a new sermon series or small groups forming, a new football season, or simply returning to “normal” after a summer change ...


5/1/2015

Preparing for Annual Conference: It's In The Discipline

Brian Hammons

Annual Conference is coming up soon. Are you looking forward to it? I am. Of course, I look forward to all of our conferences as a great time for seeing Christian friends from all over Missouri, learning new ways the church can reach our communities, and celebrating transitions. We’ve had some memorable conferences, inspiring speakers, and helpful themes for past conferences – remember Practicing Passionate Worship last year?


2/25/2015

Elections - Again? Looking Toward 2016 General & Jurisdictional Conferences

Brian Hammons

What is the future of the United Methodist Church as a denomination? That’s a question that’s being asked by many as we approach the season of electing delegates to the 2016 General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference.


1/1/2015

2015: Happy New Year

Brian Hammons

What an opportunity we have! 2015 – a whole year in front of us. 365 days of life, each one a gift from God. As I look back on 2014, there are many blessings; and also many challenges, frustrations, and painful times. Which will I focus upon? Which will I build upon in 2015?


12/1/2014

Good News of Great Joy

Brian Hammons

 I love Christmas. The sights, the smells, the tastes, the sounds, the feelings. Special choir music, caroling to neighbors, and Scripture messages of good news. Reflecting upon blessings of the year, giving to help those in need, and planning for a new year ahead.


11/10/2014

Camping: A Future with Hope

Brian Hammons

The future of Camping ministries in Missouri has generated a lot of discussion in the past few weeks.


9/24/2014

College-Age Years: The Best Years of Your Life

Brian Hammons

That’s what an older adult told me when I was 18 and about to start college. A few years ago. Well, maybe a lot of years ago. Looking back, I don’t really think they were the best years, although they were very memorable and I still have several friendships that began in those years. But they were some of the most pivotal, transformational times of my life.


6/18/2014

Reflecting on Boston

Brian Hammons

The Boston Marathon. Those three words bring to mind tradition and endurance. For anyone who runs, the words carry a sense of awe, difficulty, and maybe ultimate accomplishment.  


5/9/2014

Lay Leaders Will Remember Missouri

Brian Hammons

“Remember the Future.” This was the theme for a recent gathering of United Methodist conference lay leaders from all over the country, and a couple from Europe and Africa.


3/21/2014

Spiritually Engaged Laity

Brian Hammons

During this season of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter, I’m pondering this question: “What would it be like if my entire congregation were filled with Spiritually Engaged laity?” I invite you to ponder that question, too.


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