April 01, 2016

Ash Wednesday came in just under the wire for the March issue, and Palm Sunday is still a few days away as of press time for April. But in that time in between there has been a lot going on in the Missouri Conference during the Lenten season that has nothing to do with Lent, as we get fully into what is going to be a very busy 2016. 
The Compass event at Platte Woods UMC was exciting to visit. Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber was an engaging speaker. When I came back to Columbia I immediately got her books. From the library, of course. I was impressed, but not radicalized. It was very interesting to join the Journey groups between sessions. To hear our pastors ask for advice and offer opinions seemed to be the modern version of Wesley’s vision for conferencing. It made for a challenging story to write, though. I dropped in on two Journey groups during their discussions, and heard two sessions from Bolz-Weber, plus questions and answers. I ended up with several pages of notes. Hopefully, I managed to cobble it together into something resembling a coherent story on pages 8 – 11. 
Covering Bishop Schnase is always interesting. On Sunday mornings we get used to having a 20 minute cap on a sermon. Bolz-Weber keeps hers at half that, at 10 minutes max. Yet people can listen to Bishop Schnase talk about the principles of Just Say Yes! for two hours on a Sunday afternoon (after having already been in a worship service) and feel like they are just getting started when it’s time to close. 
The fire at Sedalia took me back to my daily newspaper days: hear about something happening, rush to the scene, interview available sources and have a story out within a few hours. With a monthly magazine, that’s not the pace things usually move at around here, but in the case of Sedalia, it seemed necessary to get information out as soon as possible. 
Sedalia has an interesting, historic downtown that people never see if they are just coming in on US 50 or 54 for the Missouri State Fair, or in our case, the Festival of Sharing. Churches are an important part of that downtown, and First UMC was a great feature of it. Read the story on pages 14–16, and you’ll see its in role in the community went well beyond having a majestic sanctuary for worship and weddings, the church was a hub for ministry. 
Although I’m empathetic with the grief they must be experiencing over losing that living piece of history, I can’t think of a church that is better equipped to deal with a loss such as this. I’m not just saying that because they have a second campus they can shift worship and ministries to, it’s also that they have a vibrant congregation full of loving and supportive people who will help each other and move forward together as they plan for their next chapter in ministry in that community.