Friday, June 24, 2016

From where I sit: One More Time

By Rev. Dr. Tom Salsgiver, 
Director of Connectional Ministries

I must admit that I never thought I’d be writing another article as the Director of Connectional Ministries — certainly not after writing my last article eight years ago. But God and the bishop both have a strange sense of humor.

I will share over the next several months more about this re-aligned position. However, suffice it to say that among my prayers as I begin this new ministry is the following from Judges 16: “Lord God, remember me and strengthen me one more time.”

The text is part of Samson’s prayer found in Judges 16.

While I’m not handcuffed to pillars nor anticipating death as the house falls down because of my strength, I believe it is a good prayer as I begin this ministry.

Our conference is not the same conference it was either when I began as director of connectional ministries in 2000, or when I left to become a district superintendent in 2008. Much has changed in the world, in our conference, and in our churches and communities. We are a new conference with new strengths and new challenges.

This ministry and where we need to go as a conference and as a church is way beyond the ability and strength of one person. With decisions of General Conference and other Annual Conferences, the United Methodist Church is at a crossroads. With more and more children and youth growing up in non-church homes, we have more people who have no history of what it means to be a Christian or even go to church.

Our communities continue to be blighted by abuse, addiction, poverty, and a huge separation between the wealthy and the poor. We know that there are literally thousands of people within the shadows of our churches that have never been inside our church — and many have never been invited.

Yes, these are difficult times. But these are God’s times!

These are times not unlike the First Century Church — which in the midst of those difficult times grew and grew and grew. It was in those difficult societal times when the church was persecuted and didn’t have many believers. But it was in those fertile soil times that God, through Christians, did some of God’s most powerful work.

So my prayer as I begin this new and expanded ministry is “Lord God, remember me and strengthen me one more time.” May all of us breathe this prayer over and over as we look for new and different ways for God to use the people called United Methodists in the Susquehanna Conference. God will use us, God will strength us — not for the days past — but for the days of our future.

One more time let us pray that God will infuse us with passion, compassion, and a burning desire to make disciples for Jesus Christ as we transform our communities, our neighborhoods, and the world.

One more time, God!

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