My heart is filled with gratitude and thanksgiving for our very successful completion of organizing the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference of The United Methodist Church last Saturday. This good work was brought to completion by many, many people over a ten-year period of time. One of the sometimes forgotten players in this story is Bishop Ben Chamness who served as interim Bishop 2011-2012. Under Bishop Chamness’ leadership, the Memphis and Tennessee Conference Cabinets began meeting together and in that season a few cross-conference appointments were made. When I arrived in September of 2012 we considered how to continue this journey.
While the cabinets continued to meet and work together, we laid down the conversation of a new conference until we could gain clarity over our mission and vision, and values which we did. Our mission and vision have not changed as we continue to “offer Christ to a hurting world one neighborhood at a time.” This has not changed as we seek to find opportunities to strengthen local congregations. Over time, we continued to collaborate and discover ways to create new relationships and opportunities for growing together.
I am including the video of last Saturday’s message, “What Shall We Now Do?”I encourage you to share it with your congregations as we seek to remember our Why.
In this Advent Season, may our hearts be filled with joy as we celebrate the coming of the Christ Child.
I give thanks that God has allowed me to walk this journey with you.
This week, the Nashville Area Cabinet met to continue the work of the appointive cabinet for this conference year. We began by praying for each pastoral family and each congregation, seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. We are far too mindful of our own human shortcomings as we do this work for we “see through a glass darkly.”
Still, it is the task for which we have been called and which we believe offers us the best opportunity to give the best leadership available to the congregations under our care. Over the last several weeks, District Superintendents have been in consultation with pastors and congregations seeking wisdom and understanding for the work that is before us. We ask for your prayers.
Perhaps you will recall reading the covenant around which we order our lives. The following exerpt relates to our appointive work:
Remember that we belong to the Annual Conference and, as so, our individual contribution to Cabinet Work is toward the economy of the whole. The mission of the Church is our first priority. In our appointive work, we hold these convictions in common and allow them to characterize our work:
- We cannot do enough consultation.
- It is better to make no appointment than to make the wrong appointment.
- We will only reward those who have been fruitful with the responsibility they have been given.
In all our work, we will maintain the practice and spirit of confidentiality by adopting the following practices:
- Hold all cabinet meeting conversations in strictest confidence unless/until permission is granted to share information with others.
- Hold all personal conversations between the bishop and cabinet members in strictest confidence unless/until permission is granted to share information with others.
- Ensure that Administrative Assistants hold conversations with the superintendents and communications between superintendents and episcopal office in strictest confidence.
- Embrace the most confidential use of technology for cabinet and district office communications.
Always during this season, I am reminded of God’s call to Abraham in Genesis 12.
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.
From the beginning of the Methodist Movement, pastors have been sent. It is one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the United Methodist Church. Since 1746 when John Wesley appointed lay preachers whom he called “helpers” to definitive circuits, we have followed this practice. I suspect that sometime in the future, this practice will be modified to address the changes in life patterns of 21st-century people. Until then, we continue to practice the gift of itinerancy.
May each of you be a blessing in the places God has called you.
In the midst of an unusual year, many of our ministries found ways to flourish and grow. Trinity Community Commons is one such ministry. Our guest post today is from Nate Paulk, Director of Trinity Community Commons in East Nashville, a part of East Nashville that has not re-gentrified.
Trinity Community Commons is an example of a ministry that is seeing all the people and investing in their neighbors. For the last several years, TCC has been reaching the surrounding community, building relationships so that when schools went virtual the team at Trinity was able to provide a safe, virtual learning environment for children who otherwise would not have been able to receive online learning.
Seven years ago, I sat alone in an empty church building and wondered how it might be useful to the community.
This past year I caught a glimpse of what was possible. TCC quietly continued to be a gift to its community in ways that I could not really imagine. In a year that was so hard for so many of our community members, the space and the organization of TCC remained a refuge and a beacon of light when it was needed most.
Our team is entering into 2021 with clarity and vision: We leverage sacred space to affirm and activate the worth and potential of all people in our community.
There are so many accomplishments from this year which were unimaginable to me seven years ago. One of the most obvious was our creation of a Virtual Learning Support program for neighborhood families. Additionally, supplies were deployed, people were fed, families were supported, people were connected with resources to help them cope with an unbearable 2020.
All of this was achieved by a team of common people with a shared vision and belief that this sacred space says something about a community. We hold powerful beliefs about our community: that people are worthy of every gift, experience and opportunity that comes their way and the potential held in each child and adult will transform our world.
Thank you for your investment in the work of becoming common. Happy New Year!
TCC Executive Director
Check out these 50 WAYS to take church to your community throughout the year:
These 50 WAYS from our friends at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership include useful tips to:
- Embrace an expansive concept of community
- Get to know the community surrounding your church
- Extend your congregation’s spiritual presence beyond church walls
- Turn your existing ministries outward
- Reach out through community events
- Connect spiritual outreach to community service
- Build authentic relationships
- Prepare spiritually
- Listen and learn
I have just returned from Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C., where I joined resident bishops of The United Methodist Church in a learning retreat. We heard presentations from L. Gregory Jones, former dean and now senior strategist for leadership education at Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C., and Marty Linsky, who, with Ronald Heifetz, has written extensively on the topic of “adaptive leadership.”
The retreat was meaningful. One of the byproducts of our time together was deepened conversation about what it means to be spiritual leaders before, during and after General Conference, the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church which meets once every four years.
A small group of us met daily for breakfast and prayer around this idea and were offered space on the agenda to have a larger conversation with our colleagues about what that spiritual leadership might look like. I’m hopeful that all United Methodist Church bishops will offer prayerful, spiritual leadership in the days leading up to, during and after 2016 General Conference, May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon.
I am asking of United Methodists in the Nashville Episcopal Area these three things:
- Pray and fast each Friday beginning in Advent and continuing through General Conference.
- Have a Day of Prayer on April 1, the Friday after Easter, to pray for all who will be leading and serving during General Conference. This could take the form of a prayer vigil where the church is open 24 hours and persons agree to spend an hour in prayer.
- Pray for the delegations of the Memphis and Tennessee Conferences by name each day:
Memphis Conference Delegation: Click here.
Tennessee Conference Delegation: Click here.
There are a number of groups offering preparation leading up to General Conference and resources are being produced for local congregations to access. Click here for more information.
The United Methodist Publishing House is producing a small guide for the Church which is a re-release of a little guide Francis Asbury published in 1792. The title is: The Causes, Evils, and Cures of Heart and Church Divisions. It will be available in the spring and promises to be a good resource.
There will be other resources forthcoming. One in particular that you will want to watch for is written by Western Pennsylvania Conference Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton: What Are We Fighting For? Coming Together Around What Matters Most.
Your appointive cabinet has covenanted together to be spiritual leaders by Leading, Learning and Loving. I will be sharing more about this in coming days.
In the meantime, I invite you to join me in stepping deeper into a life of prayer as we lean into the season of preparation for Advent, Epiphany, Lent and Easter. As my colleague, Virginia Conference Bishop Jung Jin Cho, prays, “Your Will, Lord, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.” May this be our deepest prayer in the days to come.
Your Servant for Christ’s Sake,
The Jan. 16 issue of the Romans 12 Newsletter produced by the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship includes information about a United Methodist church in Iowa that is working to raise money for Imagine No Malaria and the unique way the church decided how and why to be engaged in mission in a meaningful way.
I want to encourage you to read the newsletter, themed “Running from Malaria,” because it offers helpful information about reframing ministry questions that address global health issues and living as disciples of Christ. A pdf of the newsletter may be viewed and downloaded here.
Because this newsletter talks about Imagine No Malaria, this seems the right time and place to address where we are with our Nashville Area campaign to save 100,000 lives by raising $1 million for Imagine No Malaria by this year’s Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences in June 2015.
Through Dec. 31, 2014, our total giving from both conferences is $292,484.36. The total includes $123,068.01 from the Memphis Conference (with approximately 400 churches) and $169,416.35 from the Tennessee Conference (with approximately 600 churches).
I’m going to round up that total number and say we are 30 percent of the way toward our goal!
I am so proud of all our local congregations that are imagining God’s greater things as they raise awareness and save lives. I have heard and read stories about many creative fundraising events, including volleyball tournaments, chili cook-offs, bake sales, Thanksgiving dinners, children’s events, craft sales, Christmas offerings, t-shirt sales, concerts and more.
Unlike many other diseases that await a cure, malaria was eliminated in the U.S. in the 1950s. Even though it is 100 percent preventable, it continues to kill a person every 60 seconds in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Imagine No Malaria is part of a global partnership to beat malaria once and for all. Over the last 15 years there has been a 54% drop in mortality from the disease.
Imagine No Malaria is our opportunity to respond to our calling as Christians and United Methodists—to show our love through generous gifts. As John Wesley said, “It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving.”
United Methodists are committed to a denominational goal of $75 million for Imagine No Malaria and have so far raised just over $64 million. Our Nashville Area goal is $1 million by June 2015.
If your church has not already worked to raise at least $1,000 for Imagine No Malaria and submitted these funds to your conference treasurers, I hope you will make plans to do so in the coming months so we may celebrate reaching our $1 million goal in June at our Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences.
To learn more and find resources, visit www.imaginenomalaria.org or contact your district office.
~ Bishop Bill McAlilly, Nashville Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church (Middle and West Tennessee and Western Kentucky)
Today I received the below communication (originally dated Dec. 28 from Africa) from Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel, resident bishop of the East Congo Episcopal Area. To remind you, Bishop Unda preached at our 2014 Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences in June 2014. He thanked our Nashville Episcopal Area for raising money in 2013 to construct an Episcopal office and residence in the Congo, which I helped dedicate during my August 2014 trip to Africa. If you wish to offer any financial assistance for the current crisis he describes below, please send to your conference treasurer for “Bishop Unda SOS.” ~ Bishop Bill McAlilly
To brothers and sisters in Christ:
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As I write these few lines, my heart is too heavy because of the situation going on in Beni territory, northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is part of my Episcopal Area. The efforts of our army (are) insufficient to protect people.
People there are killed every day in the neighboring villages and we run the risk of losing all our believers. Two weeks ago, a group of Uganda rebels killed people in the villages (of) Kamango, Oicha and Mbawu. A Methodist family (a father, his wife and their two children) were killed with machetes.
Many people are fleeing to Beni. Our local congregations there are crowded with displaced people who flee from villages for their lives. We need your prayers. But, as you know, food and basic needs must be met. Our evangelization should reach people in need.
I am sending this SOS message to all those who may want to help.
May God be with us all during Christmas, but let’s keep in mind that our brothers and sisters are dying somewhere because of selfish interests.
Bishop Unda Yemba Gabriel
Resident Bishop, East Congo Episcopal Area
The United Methodist Church is in the midst of a reordering – a reordering of the life of the church for greater effectiveness and vitality in mission. This is something we are all striving to understand.
“The paradox of our time: We are at an end and a beginning” is an article written this month by Rev. Tom Hazelwood, Director of Connectional Ministries for the Memphis Conference.
Tom does an excellent job of explaining what he calls “the paradox” — being at an end and a beginning. He writes about the United Methodist Church envisioning a new day, managing transition, coaching for the future and being called to a new creation.
I invite you to click on the link below to read Tom’s words that speak so well to our entire Nashville Episcopal Area that includes the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences.
Bishop Bill McAlilly