Amid the Fluid Chaos ©

For those following larger issues in the United Methodist Church in America, it is an understatement to assert that this is a time of fluid chaos. Conversations, and even threatened action for or against the recently concluded General Conference, swirl around our local churches. Yet, even in the chaotic swirl of activities and events, God is at work! Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look! I’m making all things new.” He also said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5 CEB)

God is at work in Texas and the people of the CTC are again proving to be the hands and feet of Jesus. This week we received two important thank you letters.

  • From Bishop Scott Jones in the Texas Conference: “Thank you for your very generous donation of $50,000.00 to the Texas Annual Conference for Hurricane Harvey recovery programs. . . . Recovery from the catastrophic damages caused by the storm is an ongoing effort.” 
  • From Bishop Robert Schnase in the Rio Texas Conference: “I have learned once again of your generosity toward the Harvey Relief efforts within the Rio Texas Conference in the amount of $75,000.00 Your contributions mean so much to the persons and areas affected.”

Many folks have engaged in hands on ministry for those recovering, including Rev. Mike Ramsdell and his wife Rhonda. To all of you who have so participated, God bless you for your ministry! I wish to add an emphatic thank you to all in the Central Texas Conference, especially those congregations who have been so faithful, for your generosity towards the Hurricane Harvey Relief efforts. Well done!

God is at work in our conference. Our focus on the WIG (our Wildly Important Goal of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”) continues. The Holy Spirit is moving in our congregations and communities in remarkable ways. For instance...

God is at work in our conference. Our focus on the WIG (our Wildly Important Goal of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”) continues. The Holy Spirit is moving in our congregations and communities in remarkable ways. For instance...

  • Revival is breaking out in Eastland, Texas! A Wednesday night worship experience called Reflect & Reconnect (R&R) has united Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Churches of Christ, Pentecostals, Methodists and a Jewish rabbi for a time of praise, prayer and testimony. The weekly event has spilled over into three community-wide revivals that have drawn more than 1,200 people.
  • The City of Waco has almost doubled in size since 2010. As congregations have sought to deal with this changing mission field, clergy and laity alike began praying for ways they could more effectively reach those who have not experienced the love of Christ. For more than a year, the leadership of three congregations have engaged in dreaming big dreams, praying, and discussing what the next faithful step might be. This past week Robinson Drive, Austin Avenue, and First United Methodist Church of Waco voted to merge into one Church. Both Austin Avenue and Robinson Drive will be campuses of FUMC with regular worship services on Sunday mornings and new faith communities beginning in the coming year.  
  • Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth, reports that we have recently approved our 39th New Faith Community. We have New Faith Communities in every District of our conference, in every type and stripe of church. This is a “Praise God!” response of faithful experimentation in “making disciples of Jesus Christ.” 
  • Jeff Roper, Executive Director of the Roberts Center for Leadership and Administration, reports that the local churches of the CTC have now enjoyed 15 straight months of growth in average worship attendance. Amid the swirling chaos of our time and society, this represents remarkable growth in faithfulness and fruitfulness! We have growth upon growth in a time when people are supposed to be turning away from churches! Together we are living out the WIG!

“Author and historian Tonya Bolden captures a dynamic encounter between Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. Shortly after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 that required that runaway slaves be brought back to their masters, Frederick expressed his despair to Sojourner. Slavery seemed so permanent. The problems seemed insurmountable. He was losing hope that they could ever end slavery. Sojourner chastised his lack of faith with four little words: ‘Frederick, is God dead?’

Those words appear on her gravestone as a sign not of her doubt but of her deep faith in a God who can change the world if we will only use our lives to join God’s dream and to interrupt everything that stands in the way.” (Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: Prayers for Ordinary Radicals; Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, pg. 119-120)

As we come to Memorial Day, I ask you as individuals and your congregations to take time for a prayer of thanksgiving for the faithful sacrifice and service of so many,  On a personal level, I can not help but think of my father shipping out to the Aleutians as a freshly commissioned Ensign on the PC 819 (Patrol Craft – Subchaser #819) during World War II, or my older brother Scott serving as a Marine Lt. in Vietnam. Please take time to pray for the safety of those serving in combat situation and pray for the peace of world. May all live in safety and well-being.