|This is me in my new office. I would|
love to have you stop by to visit!
Within my new position as the Crossroads District Superintendent of the Oklahoma Conference, I have not previously wrestled with what it means to be called by God to "superintend" over an area.
As a United Methodist Elder, I am called to Sacrament, Word, Service and Order. Of course, the ordering of the church means that we are responsible for implementing the Book of Discipline within a local congregation. This is our methodical and agreed upon way of living out the Christian ideals together as a church. While I have operated in this role for four different local churches (three in Crossroads district) in my career, I have now taken on the wider responsibility for a larger gathering.
This is a little daunting considering all that the church faces right now:
*Returning from a global pandemic - the first time in people's lives where the physical doors of the church were closed to them for more than one Sunday.
*A widening polarization of how people identify politically.
*The looming General Conference (which may or may not happen in 2022 depending on world-vaccination rates) which will wrestle with schism through a legislative process.
As a pastor, any one of these items would be stressful in trying to hold a congregation together. It becomes important during times of stress to revisit one's narrative. As we define ourselves by fundamentals rather than as reactions to various stimuli, this helps us to hold onto healthy boundaries that might otherwise erode under the anxiety of the moment.
For me, Wesleyan grace is my touchstone understanding of identity.
*I am loved fundamentally simply for being through God's preceding or prevenient grace.
*I am made right with God in Christ through justifying grace.
*I am seeking to become more Christ-like daily through God's sanctifying grace. This means that I endeavor to increase my love for God and my neighbor so that it occupies more of me. The beauty of this grace is that it's not exclusive but all-inclusive.
For God so loved the world...
Jesus challenges my notions of family and makes it difficult on me to categorize people into friends and enemies. As I think about the very difficult situations that the apostle Paul found himself in, I remember that above all, he prioritized Christ.
This is what I hope to do as a superintendent. Sometimes this priority may seem to get lost in all the forms we require. We do like to gather data! But hopefully we can look at the larger story this information is providing - that we are seeking to share Christ with a world that is trembling.
I look forward to superintending my area! I look forward to working with the pastors and the laity as an encourager and a reminder of who we are.