In the past one might have categorized the church as an African American church, but it is a wonderful mix of folk of all colors and from all walks of life. A part-time licensed local pastor, Eddie Vance, serves the church. Rev. Vance does something with computers and technology during the week, but there isn't a screen or a projector in sight. Neither does Clark UMC have a website, or even a Facebook page.
As I watch the General Conference proceedings unfold, I can't help but think about churches like Clark UMC and wonder what implications all of this brouhaha will have on these fine folks. When all is said and done will any amount of legislation change how these people embrace the gospel and one another?
Rev. Vance can preach, my can he preach, but what really shown through was the sense that this is a faith family that trusts in the very real presence of the Holy Spirit to transform lives - one life at a time. Along the way they celebrate victories big and small very publicly. From lifting up the accomplishments of their children, to the welcoming of a new sister into the faith community to the celebration of Holy Communion - every part of worship is about faith in God's transformative power.
Can the pure joy of being in union and communion with one another in worship, as I experienced during our time together that Sunday morning, be measured in ways that are meaningful and faithful?
I saw in the twitter feed that last night, (April 30th) after worship at General Conference, that a challenge was made for annual conferences to each make a certain number of disciples in the next quadrenium, (Iowa's challenge was just shy of 10,800). Dan Dick has an excellent blog (click here) that asks some challenging questions about the implications of such a challenge and what it really REALLY means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I'm not advocating business as usual, I am just thinking out loud here, given how our world is changing, are we doing enough, are we bold enough, to be the Church of Jesus Christ - or will each church in our conference be asked to make 13 new disciples (our fair share to meet the goal) and think thats ok?
Lots to think and pray about.
in Christ, together
btw, please do stop by Clark UMC if you're in SE Tennessee some Sunday - don't be surprised if the worship service goes a little long - they are, after all, following the Holy Spirit and you never know where the winds may blow...