Dear South East District Friends,
Thank you to everyone who attend the District Training Event last Saturday at Christ Church. We had a great turnout of almost 300 people with over twenty break-out sessions offered to train and grow our church leaders. I believe this time together will bear fruit in our local churches and I am grateful for your energy and enthusiasm for this work. I want to personally thank the pastors, staff and volunteers at Christ Church who made everything run so smoothly for the event. I also want to thank our District Vitality and Development Team who organizes the event each year.
For those unable to attend, our theme this year was discipleship. Every church received (or will receive) a copy of A Disciple’s Heart Program Kit which can be a tool for digging deeper and moving your congregation to a greater understanding of discipleship. Often we lament how our congregants are simply Sunday churchgoers rather than everyday Christians on a journey toward perfection (yes, we talked about this on Saturday!). Each of us, lay and clergy alike, can learn from wise and faithful mentors in discipleship. Perhaps this can become a theme for Lent, the Easter Season or a summer study at your church.
On Saturday we were asked to write down the names of spiritual mentors who have helped us grow as disciples. I wrote down names that are likely similar to those of others: my grandmother, parents, a youth director. But I also included a particularly special person in my life named Wilson Boots. A former missionary, pastor and district superintendent, Wilson was newly retired when I arrived in Bolivia in 1997 and he was kind enough to mentor me not only in the ways of serving in mission and ministry but also in the ways of being a devoted disciple. I had my seminary degree already but hadn’t quite mastered being a disciple! Wilson showed me by example how to dig into scripture and then bring it to life in Bible study, small groups and preaching. He taught me how to listen to people, really listen, as if God were speaking through them. He taught me the kind of humility and courage that comes from recognizing God is both guiding our path and at the same time challenging us to forge a path. To this day I seek to emulate Wilson’s example. I fall short most of the time but continually feel his presence and encouragement. (Wilson is now 86, lives in Houston and we talk by phone very regularly where he listens to me share about the opportunities and challenges of our district and he commits to intercessory prayer on our behalf.)
Friends, who has taught you to be a disciple? And who would list you as the one who taught her or him how to live a life of discipleship? This is a gift from God. Let us give thanks!
Grace and peace,
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin L King Jr Ave
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011