By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
Anything worth doing is worth doing well. This age-old adage offers food for thought in new ways as we live in the midst of this fluid time of uncertainty.
For eight years now, we have been seeking “a more excellent way” as United Methodists in South Carolina. This year’s call to action of following God beyond the bounds of expectations gained new meaning in light of a global pandemic and racial unrest that has wreaked havoc on our lives and communities. We have had to rely on God more fully in these months, trusting that when we choose to follow, God will lead us in the direction of the kingdom.
Clergy and church leaders alike have been tasked with making many decisions, followed by evaluation and then pivoting, as we learn more and as conditions change. The same is true of those in conference leadership.
In October, we successfully completed the first-ever virtual South Carolina Annual Conference business session. With the leadership team and presenters broadcasting live from Journey United Methodist Church in Columbia, folks from all across the state logged in to participate. Because of the incredible dedication and hard work of so many people, their investment of time, energy and expertise paid off as we navigated the important decisions necessary for the work of the church.
This was a new thing for us. The need to make adjustments in the way we live out our faith and do our work together was essential. Many people were skeptical or anxious. So many questions were asked and answered throughout the planning process. We made plans, evaluated, pivoted and tried again.
And in the end, after convening virtually for the clergy and business sessions and livestreaming the service of ordination and commissioning, we know that all the effort was worthwhile.
When we commit to seeking a more excellent way, doing things well becomes our standard. We know that the mission and ministry of the church is worth doing, and because of this recognition, we are willing to roll up our sleeves and get to work. Even when the task is complicated. Even when the best next step is unclear. Even, and especially, when we feel like others don’t understand or don’t care.
Every word we speak and action we take can offer the opportunity to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. When we are willing to step up and step out in faith, God will lead us beyond the bounds of expectations. And that, my friends, is where we will be awakened to new hope, new opportunities, new ways to be and new ways to serve. Thank you for your willingness to embrace a new normal and take that next faithful step.