In Western PA Conference, what were the big stories of 2006?
Those of us who moved to new appointments, of course, would make that our de facto #1! And, of course, each of us in our specific appointments dealt with issues of great import.
But the following issues tended to be the ones (in my view) which dominated our connectional conversations in our Conference. I've chosen 6, for 2006.
6) Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl
Our people were certainly affected by the celebrations and joy surrounding the team's first Super Bowl championship in 26 years. Excitement was in the air, and, for many of us, it seemed that Christmas 2005 didn't end until Super Bowl Sunday! What a wonderful distraction!
5) Jeff Greenway & Asbury
Rumors abounded, and much of the rumor mill was surely sinful. In my view, we were given a reminder of the importance of prayer and support for a colleague (and his family); this is part of why we have a connection! I would encourage all of us in Western PA to keep Jeff and his family on our prayer lists in 2007.
4) Celebrating 50 years of ordained Women Clergy in American Methodism
Bishop Violet Fisher was a wonderful leader at our gathering in Grove City. I found the celebrations to be extremely moving, and the recognition of what our female colleagues deal with and have accomplished to be long overdue. I pray we can continue to find ways to fight the rampant sexism in our connection and in the Church Universal, which can prevent women from answering the the Lord's call to pastoral ministry, offend the Spirit of God, and deny the Church some of its brightest possibilities.
3) The "Believe Again" strategic plan
None of us can know if the plan will bear fruit, but I think most of us appreciated the attempt to do something. It's an imperfect plan, to be sure, and will require much tweaking as we move forward, but - Hallelujah! - we're trying.
2) Ongoing mission efforts, esp. regarding Hurricane Katrina
What a blessing to see people mobilized for ministry...real ministry! Hopefully, we learned from our Spirit-led efforts in 2005 and 2006, and will continue missional involvement. I have great hopes for VIM (Volunteers in Mission) in our Conference. This can, and ought to be, be a key to revival in western Pennsylvania.
1) Bishop Bickerton's continuing optimism
We are blessed to have Bishop Bickerton as our episcopal leader. Truly blessed. We may not agree with all of his decisions; we may not agree with every idea he supports. But I believe we have a leader who is really interested in ministry, in trying new things, and in taking risks for the Kingdom. As we move into 2007 and the horrors of General Conference elections and legislation, let's continue to give thanks to the Lord for Bishop Bickerton, and promise to keep our bishop, his family, and his Cabinet in prayer every day.
May God bless each of us and our connection in 2007!
Back to Part 1 (Crosswalk) or Part 2 (Barna).