“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43: 19
Just these lines to ‘ask’….
Have you attended an annual conference? As clergy, I have been attending the VA Annual Conference since 1999; before that I attended the Western North Carolina Conference at Lake Junaluska. For VA United Methodists, we change cities every two years, between Roanoke, Norfolk, and Hampton. I have often thought that if you haven’t attended a session; you have missed seeing the ‘big picture’ of our denomination; its connections and ministry presence; its witness for the Gospel of Jesus Christ all around the globe! I am excited that we have the potential of live broadcasting worship from Annual Conference in the local congregation. I hope and pray for us to do this next year, 2018 at Ramsey Church.
Last month’s conference will remain in my memory for years to come. The theme was from Isaiah 43- A New Thing. We are enjoying the gifts of our new Bishop Sharma Lewis; she is definitely ‘stirring up the gifts’ of the laity and the clergy, with inspiring and prophetic preaching, and her signature ‘high heeled’ style. While our previous Bishop Cho’s thing was ‘PRAYER’, bringing the VA Conference to a spiritual renewal through covenant prayer, this Bishop’s’ thing,’ as she puts it is ‘JESUS’ pronounced “JEEE-SUS!” As we have grown to know and appreciate our new Bishop’s gifts and calling; it seems a mighty answer to prayer for our VA Annual Conference. Those who attended enjoying rousing worship, with spiritually and musically gifted guest leadership, and the teaching and preaching of two additional bishops in our connection.
In the midst of local opportunities for mission in our Hull Street Neighborhood, and in the midst of our vital mission minded congregation, God is calling the people of Ramsey to a new thing! We have been planted in ‘good soil’ and we are ‘bearing fruit’ in Ramsey’s ministry presence in our community. What ‘new things’ is God leading Ramsey Church to do to lead others to Christ?
A shared vision comes from passionate leadership- both clergy and laity. It is birthed out of a heart concern- a growing discomfort in doing things the way we’ve always done them, a growing recognition, that we can no longer accept things the way they are. A shared vision brings clarity, focus- a plan, a map of where we see ourselves going as a congregation and growing into our shared future. A shared vision carries with it a moral conviction, an awareness of not only things that ‘could’ be done, but things that ‘should’ be done in our community. Andy Stanley calls this ‘visioneering’- finding God’s shared vision in our midst- at the intersection of the leaders’ passion; the congregation, and community’s needs. When and where they intersect is when God speaks.
Our Long Range Strategic Planning Committee is in the midst of important spiritual work for our congregation. I am so thankful for their leadership, their listening, and their insights. God is at work in our midst- please pray for our Ramsey Church, and as we pray may we look forward faithfully and expectantly – God is doing a new thing in our midst!
Grateful as always to be your pastor and your friend- Pastor Deb