Friday, September 27, 2019 – Later today I travel home from Leadership Institute in Kansas City. I’ve been here since Wednesday afternoon at Church of the Resurrection (COR) with 2500 United Methodists from all over the country. Every year the leaders of COR hosts Leadership Institute to share their learnings and resources from 29 years of growing COR into a church with 22,000 members. This year they focused Leadership Institute on a conversation about the challenges facing the United Methodist Church.

It has been my privilege to be part of Leadership Institute this year. In some ways it was a continuation of last May’s UMNext, as we’ve heard about some of the plans sent as legislation to next year’s General Conference regarding the future of the UMC. We’ve talked about ways of engaging people in our congregations about the future of the UMC, hearing your concerns and hopes. Although we have had some of these conversations at St. Mark’s, we are praying about and planning for other opportunities in the months ahead. General Conference 2020 will be held in Minneapolis beginning May 5 and is expected to consider legislation that will either keep the UMC together in a new form, or break it apart based on positions about human sexuality, particularly the inclusion of LGBTQ people in full participation in the church. So it will be a very important General Conference, which we will talk about more as it gets closer.

The United Methodist Church has given me the chance to be in ministry for 30 years, leading you for the last ten and seeking to serve God faithfully. I choose to be United Methodist because of the church’s grounding in the commitment to grow in love of God (piety) and to serving God in the world—putting love into action in order to help God’s kingdom of love come on earth for all God’s people. It is my church home.

As we wrap up our September sermon series on Making Our Way in Our United Methodist Tradition, this Sunday, Sept. 29 I’m going to talk about the ways St. Mark’s already puts love into action in our church and community—helps people find home in God—and reflect on ways we can grow in that. Tom McKinney, the Executive Director of Interfaith Community Services will share a few words with us. Our whole church family will worship together as it’s a fifth Sunday on Sept. 29.

I have so many hopes and dreams for St. Mark’s and for the UMC. Today my heart is bursting with hope and possibilities. Come and be part of that hope.

Blessings, Sharon