On the frontlines, we sometimes feel that our connectivity has been lost, due to the geographical size of our conference. Those too far north/south, cannot “feel” nor understand the needs of our southernmost/northernmost brothers and sisters, and from their perches in the conference office…our IGRC staff just has no idea what we’re dealing with in the trenches. Let me assure you that too, has been proven to be a misunderstanding of how far and wide and connected… is the reach from our staff in the Springfield Conference Center!
The best thing you can do for both yourself and your family is to practice good self-care. As clergy, you support and guide others. When we are tired, fatigued, overwhelmed, apathetic or sad we have a hard time guiding ourselves let alone others. Participating in an effective and consistent self-care plan that rejuvenates you will prepare you to better support and guide others.
We all have problems as pastors, from sickness and death in our families, to divorce, tragedies, etc. It is good for us not to go alone during these events. The problems we face as pastors occurs in addition to caring for the churches we serve. Having Jesus go with us through other disciples sure makes the journey easier.
I will admit that I was quite cynical when the leadership of the conference began emphasizing the importance of clergy covenant groups. I thought that this was just another attempt at forced collegiality. I feared that we would be randomly assigned to a covenant group and required to meet with each other.
Healthy relationships are essential both within the church with your fellow clergy, as well as outside of those doors with your close friends and family. Many of us may feel we already possess the qualities needed to maintain our existing relationships.
In the presence of the unseen Guest, IGRC added it glow to the flame of Coal City UMC and the community to “let our light shine.” I won’t forget good Friday 6-26-15 for a long time.
September 2014, my Cabinet and I visited one of my small, unchartered mission churches in rural Southern Illinois. It is named Cobden UMC aka Jesus es El Senor.
In the wake of a tragic shooting of nine people attending Bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is reaching out to their colleague bishops in the African Methodist Episcopal Church with a message of prayer and healing. The bishops also called upon United Methodists to support victims of violence and to work to end racism and hatred. Their message echoed that of a pastoral letter on racism issued by the Council to the people of The United Methodist Church in early May.
As a United Methodist, what can you do to stand over against the cultural challenges to either one being what Wesley envisioned as a “Christian Conference?” Integrity starts with each one of us.