Sorry to be MIA, but March has been an incredible ride at about 90 mph!
The first of the month had our annual Spring Children's Consignment Sale at the church. I confess I was not trained at such things in seminary or through most of my church career. The fact is it's a huge event with 40% of the proceeds going to church mission projects and partners. So, I've come to love this hectic week which involves over 200 volunteers, finds 60-70,000 items in our fellowship hall, and brings in a tremendous number of the community into the church. It's well worth the effort as the church gains about $30,000 for mission!
Then I enjoyed a few days of "regular" church work. This included re-reading all the material I was to have covered for the North Georgia United Methodist Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. That's the group that is charged with oversight of everyone desiring to become clergy members of the conference. The candidate has typically completed (or almost completed) seminary, submits reams of material including background check, psychological exam, reference letters, as well as submitting information in theology and doctrine, called and disciplined life, and practice of ministry. This 2 1/1 day "retreat" saw around 50 candidates come before the BOM. It's an exhausting, exhilarating, emotional time for everyone involved as some are accepted and some are deferred (we didn't have anyone denied this time though that complete "no" is also an option).
I arrived back at church on Wednesday in time to prepare for this past weekend's Trinity Outreach Celebration. That is our annual event with emphasis on mission in worship, in study, and in service. It's also a time we receive pledges for the coming year for service participation and mission funding. Of course, we anticipated with the current economy that the funding might be down. Many of my colleagues who use this approach reported funding down, one saying she'd seen her pledges drop in half from last year. I can honestly say I have NEVER had so many obstacles thrown at an event as we experienced in the past 2 months at this highlight of my work year:
*We lost our main speaker 2 weeks before TOC due to health problems,
*my laptop crashed twice and I completely lost videos and photo folders of our last year in mission and the 5 year photo story of outreach
*my committee chair for the event had some significant family issues which seriously distracted her
*& in this last week my son was diagnosed with mono.
But the clergy and laity of the church pulled together. My clergy friend at Roswell UMC shared the name of a missionary they'd experienced in their celebration and he made himself available to us. Jamie Winship did an incredible job for us, and I'll tell you more about him in a later blog. Danny Key, our music minister, did his usual superb work with the band and with the youth choir for the weekend. And, all in all, many people seem to be energized in expressing their faith in practical ways. While our funding is down a little, the energy and enthusiasm for mission by ALL ages, and the level of participation in mission and ministry will take an upswing.
So, this week I do some cleanup. I eat, and rest, and find a normal rhythm again in life and ministry. And then this weekend I go to a conference for campus ministry at Daytona Beach!!