Kindness, Confidence Encouraged
Missouri Conference Welcomes Two New District Superintendents with Installation Services
By Fred Koenig
You only get installed as a District Superintendent once. Rev. Melissa Dodd had a few ideas about what she wanted to share with her district during her moment.
First, she considered focusing on the need to adapt. It seemed timely, with technology changing things so fast. She could reference the popular book Canoeing the Mountains.
But she’s also very connectional, so she considered using her time to talk about the beauty of the United Methodist connection as it extends across the district, Conference and the world.
But her heart kept drawing her back to her core understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
“How we treat each other matters,” Dodd said in her sermon during her installation service at Cameron UMC on October 14. “I’m not talking about how we treat people who love us well. Sure, we would take a bullet for them. I’m talking about how we teat those who really get under our skin.”
Dodd reflected on how the very basic truth of how we interact matters is often the first thing to go out the window. It happens when you’re in a hurry and stuck behind a slow car. It happens when you read something on social media that you disagree with. Hostile reactions are fundamentally unchristian.
“Jesus said something like thinking about hate is right up there with murder,” Dodd reminded the crowd. “Interacting with grace and love is not a new concept.”
Dodd noted that in her new role as district superintendent, she now serves as a regional extension of the Episcopal office. But all Christians are called to a higher standard.
“As someone who claims Jesus Christ as savior, we are called to serve as extensions of God,” she said. “That doesn’t end when we are on Facebook or at a football game.”
Dodd said serving as an extension, or the hands and feet, of Christ shouldn’t be a guilt trip, but rather a privilege and honor that is wrapped in grace.
“How you treat your waitress matters,” Dodd said. “It is so simple. It seems ridiculous that I need to stand up here at an installation service and say we need to love each other better, but we need to love each other better. How we interact matters because we are an extension of Christ.”
The music team from Good Shepherd UMC in Kansas City provided the music for the service.
The following week Rev. Mi Hyeon Lee was installed at the Mid-state District Superintendent in a services at Community UMC in Columbia. Lee began her message by recalling that when she was asked by Bishop Ann Sherer-Simpson to meet with her while Lee was in seminary, she told Lee that she was ready to serve as pastor. She then appointed her to Salisbury. Lee wasn’t so sure she was ready. But her District Superintendent looked into her eyes and said “I believe in you.”
“Those words gave me encouragement in my ministry,” Lee said during her service of installation. “When I was called to ministry, God was telling me, ‘I believe in you.’ That’s what I want to tell you all today: I believe in you.” Peter received a vision three times from God, telling him it was time to shift his ministry from Jewish to Gentile, Lee said. God believed in Peter.
“We too have to shift to be better disciples,” Lee said. Jesus told Peter to go and meet people where they are – not to hesitate. There’s an urgency in the need to make new disciples.
The Apex Praise Team from Wesley UMC in Jefferson City provided music for the service. Following the service there were 28 pies served that were contributed by Mid-State District Churches, and people voted on their favorite pie. Jefferson Avenue with a chocolate peanut butter pie and Midway Locust Grove with a spicy sweet potato pie tied for first place.