The above phrase taken from the Greek New Testament is the motto of the Theological School of Drew University. Our hymnal translates Jesus’ teaching as “freely you have received, freely give” (The United Methodist Hymnal: 1988, #389). Dr. Robert Bull, my advisor and Patristics professor, intimidated us by translating the motto as “those to whom much is given, much more will be expected.” I am most comfortable with a literal reading offered by the late Dr. Jack Beaudean and Dean Thomas Ogletree: “given gifts – give gifts.” Most importantly for this meeting tonight I offer you what has become my statement of mission at SUMC. As a person gifted for ordained ministry I am privileged to work among a people Growing to Serve the Crystal Coast as we grow together in faith, in fellowship, in service, and in Christ. One of the great discoveries this past year is that we are empowered to serve the Crystal Coast because we are a people blessed with many gifts (I believe the phrase was “blessed to be a blessing”).
Among our DISCIPLE graduates we find folks gifted as teachers of DISCIPLE and Sunday School, administrators, healers, helpers, prophets, counselors, construction workers, and even a parish nurse or two. Within our congregation we have discerned God calling us to: (1) be concerned for our community and the environment, (2) care for the elderly and those living alone in fresh ways, (3) create more activities for 20-somethings, (4) continue our active involvement in the White Oak Ecumenical Outreach Ministries and The Hem of His Garment, and (5) assist those needing help in life transitions through Stephen’s Ministry and by facilitating other support groups. This represents the continuing maturing of a congregation that knows itself to be in mission to this community and to the world. This discerning of gifts and service opportunities has taken place against the backdrop of a Growing to Serve capital campaign that has raised over $170,000 to date and pledged an additional $770,000 by June of the year 2000. Additionally, the education program coordinated by Louisa Ringo grows with our average Sunday School attendance growing to over 150 persons and over 60 persons taking part in DISCIPLE studies, youth and children’s ministry have expanded under the leadership of Cindy Bingham and Melissa Broadwell, and our missional outreach continues to advance under the leadership of Sue Redfearn.
In connection with my responsibilities for youth ministry I served on the staff for Conference Summer Breakaway program in June. I am also a member of the Conference Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. My responsibilities are limited to the United Methodist – Episcopal dialogue and forging conversations with the AME Zion Church through my contacts with Dean Albert Aymer of Hood Theological Seminary (Livingston College, Saulisbury, NC). I also assisted the Heart of Carolina and Cape Fear Emmaus communities by serving as spiritual director for the July boy’s Chrysalis, and as an assistant spiritual director for the January boy’s Chrysalis, January men’s CYAC (Carolina Young Adult Chrysalis), and September men’s CYAC. I anticipate participating on the Board of Directors for Carolina Chrysalis and CYAC in the coming year in my capacity of working with the youth ministry.
My continuing education came at a “First Things First” event sponsored by our district, a Conference PLAY (Preparing Leaders – Adult and Youth) retreat, and serving on the staff of Summer Breakaway. I continue my practice of taking a monthly retreat day with eight sisters and brothers in ministry. My spiritual renewal is further enhanced by my regular reading of Richard Foster’s Devotional Classics, Eugene Peterson’s Living the Message, and Henri Nowen’s Bread for the Journey.
I am blessed to serve with a senior pastor who offers wisdom from the pulpit and sage advice in private conference, and who models spiritual maturity, a gracious wit, and great pastoral integrity. Cindy, Ann, and I are blessed to serve in ministry with Ray, Melissa, Kristin, Leah, and Lauren Broadwell.