I think about charge conferences in a biblical, theological and spiritual way. I know it is the fashion to sometimes disparage them but:
Charge Conference reminds me that as our Book of Discipline says it, “The local church provides the most significant area through which disciple-making occurs.” (Para. 201) That’s a profound spiritual and theological statement. We’ve always known that it is in the arena of a local church where disciples are made and the world is changed. The whole connection focuses on what is going on in local contexts.
Charge Conference reminds me of our individual God-given responsibilities as a Christian and as a United Methodist. People will say things like “The Conference . . .” which is just sort of silly because the NC Conference is made up of all the folks who are members of the local churches. There is no “Conference” apart from us and our individual responsibilities to serve and to rejoice in God’s grace.
Charge Conference reminds me that I’m not alone. It’s true that I have my own responsibilities and gifts as a Christian but thanks be to God I am not alone. I am a part of the church, the Body of Christ. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (I Corinthians 12:27) So it’s not a disaster that I can’t go as a missionary to all the places where UM missioners serve; it’s ok that I can’t go to every mission trip; make every witness that needs to be made; adapt the churches of my district to serve everywhere. I am a part of the Body, connected to you.
Charge Conference reminds me of how God is calling us individually and collectively to serve. Read the rest of I Corinthians 12 to remember that each of us has a job. How powerful to be at charge conference and hear how a community is serving Christ and their neighbors. How wonderful to hear at a charge conference how God is calling someone into representative or ordained ministry. How fine to hear how God used the connection through Pilgrimage, ACS, Breakaway or an adult training to shape the life of a young adult.
Charge Conference exists to make me a cheerful giver. I hear at them – and see at many of them – how the Church shapes lives through our giving.
Charge Conference takes some work but it is a gift. Lay leadership is affirmed; people respond to a call; we make decisions that affect the connection. We become more fully the Church of Jesus Christ.
See you at your charge conference!
Grace and peace,
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HELLO FROM HARVEY – CHARGE CONFERENCE A spiritual and theological review
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