Grateful and Hopeful

On my way to the Kansas City airport after UMC Next finished on Wednesday, May 22, I spent some time in the military section of Mt. Moriah Cemetery in KC. My dad died in 2014 and is buried there. After torrential rains on Monday and Tuesday, the sun shone and the ground squished under my feet. As I stood at my dad’s grave, tension, gratitude, sadness and hope roiled in my stomach. Living far away from my dad, had I done what I could for him in his last years? That was some of the tension. Looking at his gravestone, “Cpl US Army” under his name, and knowing we were approaching Memorial Day weekend, I realized I was grateful for his service to our country and his family. He served during the Korean War, in the states. It was a difficult time in many ways, as he and my mother lost a baby who died at birth in an army hospital far from relatives. That was some of the gratitude and sadness.

Standing there, I was grateful for all those who give and serve so others can live with freedom and joy. I’ve heard stories this week of people and families impacted by military service, including those who gave their lives and those suffering while still in this life. And so I said a prayer of thanksgiving and for healing and hope.

My hope that day was wide and vast. It was an honor for me to attend UMC Next, where 600 people prayed, worshiped, talked and began to plan for the future of the United Methodist Church, a future that includes and welcomes all people. Over time, I will write and speak more about UMC Next, held at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas.  Right now let me say that it was eye-opening to sit at a table and converse deeply with people from all over the United States, some of whom came there knowing it was a risk to attend an event for people with moderate and progressive views, when that’s not the case in their areas. UMC Next made four commitments, which you can find at

This Sunday, May 26, we’ll wrap up the series on The Main Things…In Jesus’ Words. Next Sunday, June 2, will include celebrating Holy Communion and beginning a new series, Words to Think About – Part I. In that series we’ll take a look at greed, power, doubt, idolatry and judging others. Power will be the focus on June 9, Pentecost, when we celebrate the coming of God’s power upon Jesus’ followers.

If you can’t join us for worship in person, find the LIVE WORSHIP tab on our website at and watch our service live every Sunday at 9:45 a.m.

In gratitude and hope,  Sharon