God at Work In Central Texas

A 100-year anniversary is a once-in-a-lifetime benchmark for most folks. That’s why the Centennial Celebration of the Central Texas Conference on Saturday, Oct. 23, is such a significant event.

Every since the Northwest Texas Conference of the then Methodist Episcopal Church split in 1910 to create the new Central Texas Conference, God has been changing lives through the discipleship building in our local churches and many outreach ministries.
Stories of a Bygone Era
There is a now comical temperance picture that has been circulating recently about this bygone era that reminds us of the many colorful stories to be told about our past 100 years. Several members of the conference Student Leadership Team have taken on the task of creating skits to share four specific eras in our history during the Centennial Celebration.
It has been a century of miraculous changes. One hundred years ago, only 8 percent of U.S. households had a telephone. Today, there is a digital phone for almost every man, woman and child, and we spend more time with them glued to our ears than we might want to admit. The digital world has become a major force in God’s plan for making disciples in this new digital age.
In 1910, most Methodists pulled up to the church for Sunday worship services in a horse and buggy; today, the expanding size of our vehicles and parking lots are a necessary consideration in our church planning.
One thing that has remained fairly consistent for Central Texas Methodists is our ability to grow by sharing our faith with others. Even today, while the United Methodist Church is declining in the U.S., the Central Texas Conference has been in a consistent growth pattern for over 40 years.
This conference experienced a decrease in membership only 25 times between 1866 (when the first church was established) and 2010. It has also had the highest percentage of growing churches in the South Central Jurisdiction, and in 2006 was the fourth fastest growth conference in American Methodist. Now that’s a record to celebrate.
The Central Texas Conference is proud of another record. It has paid 100 percent of its General Church support (apportionments) for 28 out of the past 35 years.
Our Strongest Witness for Christ
But that’s not even our strongest witness for Christ over the past 100 years. God’s people and church in the Center Texas Conference have achieved great strides in:
• bringing medical care to multiple communities with the establishment of Harris Methodist Hospital System (now Texas Health Resources)
• bringing early child development and family empowerment to low income areas through what became United Community Centers in Tarrant County (started by Methodist women) and childcare and development at the Methodist Children’s Home and Laura Edwards Childcare Center, both in Waco
• bringing higher education to those who seek a brighter future through the establishment of what is now Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and support to Southwestern University in Georgetown and Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and to connect academic pursuits with the Christian community through campus ministry programs on seven college campuses and two chaplaincy programs in Central Texas area universities
• supporting those who are aging and those with developmental and life problems a the Wesleyan Homes in Georgetown, Methodist Mission Home in San Antonio, and Aldersgate Enrichment Center in Brownwood (started by Methodist men)
• answering emergency and ongoing critical needs in our communities by establishing the Metropolitan Board of Missions in Tarrant County and scores of local church-run food and clothing banks around Central Texas
• coming to the aid of those around the world who struggle to survive in the face of natural disasters and the unnatural disasters created by man through out emergency disaster response and outreach mission ministries
• exposing our young people to the joy of selflessly showing God’s love to others through our CTCYM program that was established after the floods in Missouri in 1992 and continues to send each summer as many as 3,000 youth into the mission field
• witnessing Christ’s love for all in our communities with our faithful worship and discipleship development over the past 100 years
• hosting two of the denomination’s General Conferences, the latest in 2008
• nurturing and celebrating the many among us who have chosen a life of ministry, including more than 100 families that have had two or more members become ordained — seven members of the Barcus family have served in ordained ministry, five members from the Shuler and Robbins families, four members from the Canafax family, and three members from 13 other families
Worship, Entertainment, Skits, Displays, Vision
There are activities and entertainment venues to interest the whole family at the Centennial Celebration, including historical display by 212 churches and ministry groups. They will be worship and a time for favorite hymn sing-a-longs. Plan to come early and stay through mid-afternoon to hear Bishop Mike Lowry talk about our conference vision for the future.
Ticket Orders by Oct. 7
Tickets can be ordered online through Oct. 7 at www.ctcumc.org and clicking on the centennial logo or by contacting Susan Briles in the conference office at 817-877-5222, 800-460-8622 or susan@ctcumc.org.
Centennial Celebration Schedule
Friday, Oct. 22
            Noon – 7 p.m.
            Will Rogers Memorial Center Exhibit Hall open for display table setup
Saturday, Oct. 23
            7 a.m.   Exhibit Hall opens
            8:30 a.m.- 10 a.m. Table setup, exhibits and entertainment
                        Home Grown Bluegrass
                        Korean and El Buen Samaritano Choirs
                        Basin Praise band
                        Tongan and St. James Praise Dancers
                        Jazz Group
                        Quilting/spinning wheel demonstrations
            10 a.m.-11:30 a.m.
            Worship, favorite hymn sing-a-long, introductions & acknowledgements
            From the main stage
            11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
            Barbeque lunch and enjoying the exhibits, strolling and stage entertainment
            1 p.m.   Who We Are and What We Are
            Skits and presentations from the main stage
            2:10 p.m.   
Bishop Mike Lowry on “Our Vision for a Future With Purpose”