The mission of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the World.” In June, clergy and lay representatives of all the churches in our California-Nevada conference met for 4 days in Burlingame for our Annual Conference. It is a time of worship, of work as we set budgets, elect representatives, and discern how we as a conference want to move forward into the next year. It is a time of connection, where we not only get to see old friends and make new friends, but also get to hear what is going on at the various churches around our conference. One of the essential questions at the heart of the annual conference time is pondering, how are we living into our mission statement, how are we making disciples for the transformation of the World?
We heard from a new church plant reaching young adults in Oakland. The pastor of this new church shared that it started with a small group of young adults who noticed that many of their friends were spiritual but not religious. So they shared their “hunch” that life with God is better than life without God with their friends, and now are growing into a vibrant new community of disciples in Oakland! Their pastor spoke to the way lives have already been transformed by following this “hunch” about life with God.
We heard from another church in Mountain View, a church that has been around for a while but has slowly been dwindling. Instead of maintaining the status quo and waiting for the church to dwindle into nothing, they decided to re-start. As part of their re-start they began a feeding program for the homeless and hungry on Saturdays. They started feeding just a few folks; the numbers slowly grew till they were feeding about 40 people every Saturday. Then suddenly as many as 150 people began showing up looking for a hot meal. The church was surprised but delighted to be able to feed so many hungry people in their community. The pastor commented that the church is located on the corner of Hope and Mercy streets, and said how fitting a location that was as they are discovering the amazing way God’s hope and mercy does transform us and our world.
We heard many other stories of ways churches in our conference are living out our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. And we shared stories with the friends we met of how Asbury is living out that mission here in Livermore. It was a beautiful reminder that we are all of us called by God to God’s work in the world. We are all called. And this week we were reminded once again of the amazing things that happen when we say yes to God’s call.