The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.Philippians chapter 3, verses 8 thru 11; from The Message (Msg)
This evening I’m finding myself pensive. In 1956 I was blessed to be born into a Methodist home. In 1967 I became a Methodist Preacher’s Kid. In 1968 I became a United Methodist and a United Methodist Preacher’s Kid. In 1972, I became a follower of Jesus. In 1974 at the ripe old age of 18, I began this journey as a pastor to 2 small congregations. And if my recall is correct (because I don’t have a memory problem accord to professor of physiology Dr. Joe Cooney–I have a recall problem), in 1975 I attended my first North Alabama UMC Annual Conference at Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center. If someone who is reading this has a different recall along with documentation, then please correct me. Otherwise, without documentation, your recall may be wrong. After all, I’m telling this story.
Why this pensive state? In the morning, December 10, 2022, the North Alabama UMC Annual Conference will convene again at the same place. Now it’s known as the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. It all begins at 10:00 a.m. The order of business is simple. Approve or deny the disaffiliation of approximately 200 of the 638 congregations in the North Alabama Conference.
In case you haven’t connected the dots, I began my service to Jesus in the United Methodist Church at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center and I will end my service to Jesus in the United Methodist Church at the same location 47 years later. I do so with a very heavy heart. I do not take any joy into Saturday morning. However, I do take confidence–confidence that this is where God wants me. April, 1974 I said yes to God’s call to His ministry; in October of that year I accepted the first step by becoming the pastor to those 2 small churches. I admit I did not foresee December 10, 2022. But then, why should I? So, sometime between 11:00 a.m. and Noon I will count as rubbish my credentials in the Tribe of the past 48 years and embrace something far better–following Jesus!
Though I am not overjoyed at what will happen this time at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center, I am at peace where God is leading. Joshua was 82 years old when he took over for Moses. So, at 66 years old I’m not too old for this new challenge. And with God’s peace, I am excited at the potential for this new opportunity. December 10 is a touchstone moment for me. I cannot tell someone else what to do. I can say what God is doing in this third Great Awakening. Unfortunately, it appears that the United Methodist Institution will not be a part of it.