By Amy Thompson
The month of November reminds us to be thankful as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I along with many of you offer thanks for our health, family members, friends, employment and healing. I also offer thanks for the strong clergy and lay leadership that exists throughout the Missouri Conference. I offer this thanks throughout the year not just around Thanksgiving by using my prayer circles that I have created in my prayer journal. My prayer journal has webs of circles (literally circles drawn on the page that overlap at times) that include names of people, positions, geographic areas, district names, and focus areas across the conference. These prayer circles guide my daily prayer time as I remember and give thanks for the leadership in our conference.
Most recently my prayers of thanksgiving circled around the Bishop, Mission Council and Cabinet. In a recent press release, you received the news that the Bishop shared his new vision statement for the conference and the Mission Council affirmed this new vision. The vision for our conference now reads: The Missouri Conference will relentlessly lead our churches to become outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers. The key words in this vision statement for me are outwardly focused, spiritually centered and relentless. When I hear the word relentless, I think about pursuing, not giving up.
When I hear the words outwardly focused, I think of hands and feet in the world, making connections in our communities, extending outside the walls of our church, having a known presence in our communities. When I hear the words spiritually centered, I think of prayer, scripture, communion, in service. During my time within the prayer circle related to the Missouri Conference, I give thanks for the Bishop seeing and sharing a vision for our conference that will impact the Kingdom of God.
I give thanks to the members of Mission Council for their time and energy in affirming the vision and guiding the strategic planning for the conference. I give thanks to the District Superintendents and the Conference Directors, as members of the Cabinet, that will provide the strategies, guidance and leadership that will support this vision. With further discernment on the strategic planning for our vision statement in November by the Mission Council, I look forward to creating some new prayer circles that will focus on the future work of the conference in relationship with our local churches. It is with excitement and great anticipation that I will continue my prayers of thanksgiving and begin to shift my prayers to that of inspiration and action.
I invite you this month to create your own web of prayer circles for your local church. Consider circles that include prayers for discernment for living out your church’s vision, for dreaming God size dreams, for being the hands and feet of Christ in your community. Create a prayer circle to acknowledge with praise and thanksgiving the work that God is doing in you and through you.
As the words in Psalm reminds us: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name (Psalm 100:4). Praise be to God for the leadership within the United Methodist Church in Missouri. Much thanks and praise given to God for the gift of your service, your time and your talents in helping others to learn of and know Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God.