By Bishop Bob Farr
It’s Annual Conference season in Missouri and across America. In Missouri, Annual Conferences for Methodists have been gathering for 202 years! This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the United Methodist Church, formed April 23, 1968.
Annual Conferences are the building blocks and connective tissues of the Methodist Movement. Conferences connect our local churches who are spirit-led communities of people confessing Jesus as Lord and living together as the body of Christ in the world. The local church is the primary vehicle for preaching the word of God, administering the sacraments and living out our mission.
The body of Christ is not singular; it is plural. The Apostle Paul said, “The head cannot say to the foot, ‘I don’t need you.’” Just try to walk without your foot. We are connected. The Methodist Movement has always emphasized the connections of the local church to the whole. It may well be easier to just do your own thing, but it is not the Biblical understanding of the body of Christ. John Wesley said there is no such thing as an isolated Christian. I believe he would affirm there is no such thing as an isolated church.
Annual Conferences are the bedrock of our movement, and I am excited about this year’s session of the Missouri Annual Conference. I look forward to seeing all the faces, friends, colleagues and people I have never before met. I look forward to our speakers, workshops, worship celebrations, ordination and yes, even voting.
The Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church is a vital and vibrant place to be in ministry. It’s amazing to see our people doing exciting, new ministries. Many of our leaders are trying new things, risking new ideas and reaching out beyond themselves to transform their communities.
In Chapter 4, of the Missio Dei and The United States: Toward a Faithful United Methodist Witness Study Guide, published by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, I quote one of my favorite passages, Romans 8:28. “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose.”
Notice it says, “together.” We are more likely to accomplish God’s purpose when we work “together.” We are on a mission together. Not our mission, but rather, we are joined in God’s mission. Mission is best understood as the sending of God into the world. Together let’s join with God on God’s Missions. Let us be Freed to Lead – Together! See you at conference!