“They” start this week. They are the 2020 charge conferences. In our United Methodist family, a charge conference is one of the most obvious and certainly one of the strongest ties that keep our family together. Charge conferences are times to celebrate what a local congregation is doing for God and for their neighbors, but they are also times to celebrate how we are tied to Christians near and far, people who have preceded us and who, God willing, will follow us. A charge conference is a celebration of what it is to be a connected church.
And charge conferences are happening (virtually) in the current pandemic. I actually find a lot of hope in that fact. And the hope is held in what I described above: that a charge conference ties us to others and reminds us that we are tied to God. To be tied to God is our hope in every time but especially so at this time. Tied to God means that no matter what happens to our local church, to us as individuals, or to the routines to which we have been so attached, we will be fine because God’s will is being done in and through us. Tied to God we are tied to life and the Life of the World, Jesus, who has promised to keep us.
Charge conferences are hopeful to me because it reminds me of our forebears: people who have been faithful and lived as the Church through wars, pandemics, times of unrest and reform, and through sufferings I have never, thank goodness, even had to contemplate. I am strengthened by their witness and “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” find anew that I can press on “and run the race set before us.” [Hebrews 12:1]
And charge conferences remind me that it is God who does the work. We are simply hands and feet for Jesus in the world. I find that reality incredibly hopeful. If you listen to many charge conferences you will hear folks talking about doing extraordinary things, ministries and acts of grace and frankly probably don’t lie within them, but are certainly from God. When a charge conference becomes that sort of celebration of grace you know that you are on holy ground.
So, yes, we will be doing charge conferences in this season of pandemic. Why? Because we need to be reminded of the God who is Lord of the Church and who is caring for us now as ever before.
Thanks be to God. See you at charge conference!
If you would like to view past editions of Hello from Harvey, follow this link: https://capitaldistrictnc.org/category/from-the-ds/