Therefore, my beloved…, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
—1 Corinthians 15:58
Daily we are reminded of our need and desire to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. All creation is groaning to be transformed, to be renewed to God’s original plan. We have a message of hope to bring to the broken and grieving persons, communities and nations of the world. The need of humanity is great, but the message of hope is greater!
Looking back on 2014, it is my prayer that the ministries of our local churches, districts and conference have increased hope among us. I pray that hope has spilled over into our communities.
It is my prayer that we have spoken out against injustice, paid attention to the marginalized, given bread to the hungry and shelter to the homeless. It is my prayer that we have proclaimed good news to the broken-hearted in our pews and in our streets.
It is my prayer that we have reached out to all who seek and need the love of God with our arms, hearts and doors wide open. It is my prayer that each of these efforts has increased our passion for ministry and inspired us to think about doing ministry in new ways.
Looking ahead in 2015 it is my prayer that we will be steadfast, immovable, and abounding in the work of the Lord, because the radiant Light of Christ needs to shine in the darkness. As United Methodists we have a unique heritage that calls us to holiness of heart and life, to works of piety and works of mercy. The benefits of regular worship, fellowship, sacrifice and Bible Study—especially during the holy season of Lent—must find their way into our everyday lives.
Many congregations begin a new year with Wesley’s Service of Covenant Renewal. The service invites us to re-visit our membership vows and to re-commit to the promises to live the life of Christian discipleship and to support the ministry of the local church with our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. Let us do the same for the work of the Annual Conference, renewing our commitment to bringing hope and transforming the world in the name of Jesus Christ.
In the coming months there are rich learning opportunities available to equip us in this calling. They include:
- Our annual Tools for Ministry sessions on each district, offering numerous courses that help prepare and advance leaders in many areas ministry (March 7);
- Our third Faith Sharing Training Event, this one titled “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore” and featuring the provocative ideas of Thom and Joani Schultz (March 21);
- A Youth Rally (May 3) and a Young Adults Retreat (May 29-20), promising exciting, creative learning and fellowship opportunities for both groups; and
- Conversations on Intercultural Communications, seven gatherings in our conference to stimulate dialogue and learning about relating to others in diverse cultural settings.
Each of these important events, intended for laity and clergy, will give us necessary resources to be faithful and innovative in our varied ministry contexts. They will nudge us to leave our comfort zones to witness freely, as we engage new persons and new communities in ministry in the name of Christ.
Please look for more information in our conference communications media and be sure to register soon. And let us pray for one another as we abound in the work of the Lord.
May our vibrant message of God’s love be grounded in steadfast hope, as we spread the love of Christ far and wide throughout this year.
By The Rev. Dr. Christopher Jacob Kurien, Director of Connectional Ministries