It is easy as a mere attendee, and one not actively involved in the programs Mark is talking about, to make comments about how they should be continued. He is correct, it takes a lot of money, along with a lot of sweat equity and prayer, to keep such programs going.
But I agree with Mark. From my perspective, I think these moves are sending the wrong message. The UMC Missouri Conference is seen as pulling back at a time when it needs to be marching forward. Perhaps if it was clearer that there is a change in methods that is still reaching out as much — if not more — people wouldn’t feel as they do. But there is no clear direction, no clear vision, being delivered from the conference to the congregations.
Mark mentions the 100th anniversary at Avondale. As a someone who slowly slide in, with his family, to that congregation, let me say that what I am impressed about Avondale is the sense of family, of community, and the way that family continues to find new and different ways to reach out to the neighborhood around it. It isn’t following some “seeker model”, or some “contemporary worship” motif, or any of the current fads or trends in what churches should do to be hip to attract the hip crowd. Instead, it is using the heart of its members to reach out in ways that they feel led to people who really have needs. Many of these methods may be new incarnations of old methods — and are all the more powerful because they have been forgotten, and people are responding to them based on the heart of those using them.
So thank you, Mark, for speaking out, so eloquently, and respectfully, and thank you, Mark, for being a part of a church that has made my family feel welcome and given us a place to work and share the Love of Christ.
The comments in this blog are solely the opinions of Mark R. Whitaker and do not represent any organization of which I am now or was previously a member, officer or staff person. I say that since I previously served as an Advisory Board member and Chair for youTheology and still serve as the Youth and Communications Director at Avondale United Methodist Church and don’t want to get either of those organizations in trouble. However, I’m not happy with a few recent decisions by the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church and don’t feel it’s appropriate for me to keep quiet about it any longer.
Over the past few years, I’ve heard reports that our congregations and pastors are aging so it would seem that we would want to support those organizations that help young people grow in their faith. Instead, we cut funding/support of youTheology which helps high school students…
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