Above everything

By Bishop L. Jonathan Holston

“Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.’ Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.”—Psalm 46:8-11 (MSG)

“Be still, and know that I am God.”—Psalm 46:10 (NIV)

Three-time national champion coach Dawn Staley, head coach of the University of South Carolina Women’s Basketball team, has oft repeated the mantra, “You’ve got to keep the main thing the main thing.” Her unwavering focus on her mission has influenced the perspectives of players, staff and fans alike, evoking their passion and commitment.

There is a story attributed to Peter Drucker that speaks to the important role perspective plays in how we live our lives; namely: “One day a traveler walking along a lane came across three stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. He replied, ‘I am cutting a stone.’ Still no wiser, the traveler turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. He said, ‘I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it’s square and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.’ A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveler turned to the third stonecutter who seemed to be the happiest of the three. When asked what he was doing, the third stonecutter replied, ‘I am building a cathedral!’

All three were doing the same thing and knew how to do their job. What set the third stonecutter apart was that he understood why he was doing what he was doing – he had a clear perspective on the mission.
Indeed, this recognition of why we do what we do is important in how we live out our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Do we think of participation in the life of our church as something we have “got” to do, or something we “get” to do? Are you simply serving on an administrative committee and attending meetings each month, or do you see your service as participating in building up the kingdom of God here on earth?

When we pause to reflect on the reality that there are dedicated and committed followers of Christ serving in congregations across the globe, it is an awesome realization. As our perspective grows about how many people are part of our mission, we begin to recognize the global landscape, which includes our local community, city, state, nation and world.

While community in a local church is an essential element of our faith, we also share membership in a larger denomination with districts, annual conferences, jurisdictions and a worldwide church body. In fact, we are connected together in ways that bring both challenge and celebration. This special bond is called “the connection.” This connectedness allows us to do more together than can be done individually.

As you receive this edition of the Advocate, The United Methodist Church is sharing with its global community at the postponed 2020 General Conference session April 23 to May 3. More than 800 delegates (lay and clergy) representing more than 100 annual conferences from around the world will assemble in Charlotte for a time of prayer and planning to guide the UMC for years to come.

The 2020 General Conference theme, “ … and know that I am God,” is based on Psalm 46 and serves as a focus of our perspective as we strive to fulfill God’s purpose for the church. It is an expression of our ministry, which makes space for us to give of our time, talent, gifts, service and witness.

I invite all United Methodists in South Carolina to stand with other United Methodist congregations around the world to pray for 1) the leadership of the General Conference as they organize the work that takes place daily; 2) the delegates who have come from around the world to worship, pray, consider legislation, fellowship and praise God for all that needs to be accomplished in this gathering; 3) the bishops who are faithfully presiding in this time of Christian conferencing; 4) the boards, agencies, translators, volunteers and guests who are tirelessly attending to the details and needs; and 5) the queen city of Charlotte, which serves as the host city, in providing a wonderful experience for all.

With General Conference convening in a city that borders our conference, this will be an opportunity for many South Carolinians to broaden your perspective on the global nature of our denomination as you travel to Charlotte to experience the worship, exhibits, and holy conferencing. While we recognize not every United Methodist from South Carolina will be present in person, we know that all of us can engage in prayer for God’s will to shape the future of our church.

This is a time that we can pray diligently and stay alert with our eyes wide open in gratitude.

Get Periodic Updates from the Advocate We never sell or share your information. You can unsubscribe from receiving our emails at any time.