The 2020 Michigan Conference has now ended. This is one time we can truly say that “We have never done it this way before.” The theme for this year’s Conference was Sowing Seeds: Rooting, Tending and Reaping. The Bishop lifted up a very inspirational message during opening worship. If you can, please share the Bishop’s message with those in your church who were not able to view it on Sunday evening. We can be like the sower in the parable, scattering seeds wherever we can, so they may take root and grow.
There were several videos presented which shared stories of how we are doing just that. HAPI (Haitian Assets for Peace International), which is headquartered in Grand Rapids, was one of the featured missions shared during our time together. All of them can currently be found on the 2020 Annual Conference website in case you missed them or would like to view them again.
We cannot possibly share how we are transforming lives in the two days of Annual Conference. In his opening devotion, Rev. Brad Kalajainen asked us to consider six questions about what we do and who we are as faith communities. As the Midwest District Superintendent, I encourage each church to continue to reflect upon these questions as we shape who we are and how we can serve in the present and the future. Are we conversational, invitational, relational, glocal, digital and foundational? And if not, what can we do to accomplish these things. As we answer each of these questions, we can begin to cast new seeds, connect with people in new ways and create new paths for persons who seek to answer the Lord’s call upon their lives.
I don’t want to overlook the issues which are before us. We are in a new kind of liminal space. Richard Rohr describes a liminal space: “where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy.”
We have had to place the future of our denomination on hold for a while longer. We have been made painfully aware of the hurt and injustice our sisters and brothers of color have and are experiencing. Conversations about racism are necessary in order to learn how we can make significant changes in the ways we perceive and relate to one another. Our commitment to care for the least must continue. Food pantries, ways to shelter the homeless and ways to ensure children have a safe and nurturing environment in which to grow and thrive will be needed. We will still be called to respond to disasters like the breaking of the Edenville Dam in Midland, or the devastation of Hurricane Hanna. May we sow seeds for our common Christian walk. May we have faith that one day we will be able to yield a harvest which is thirty, sixty or even a hundredfold. And Amen.