Monday, November 16, 2009

2009 Charge Conference

The Mount Airy Charge had their Annual Charge Conference Yesterday. This was our first Cluster Charge Conference. That means it was more than just our charge involved in the meeting. Actually we had a total of nine churches represented. There were two churches from the Payneton-Siloam Charge (Payneton UMC and Siloam UMC), two churches of the Smith Mountain Charge (Mount Zion UMC and New Ridgeway UMC), Anderson UMC, Zion UMC, and our three churches of the Mount Airy Charge (Republican Grove UMC, Providence UMC, and St. Andrews UMC). For the Charge Conference all the churches work on a project of collecting canned good and non-perishables for the Northern Pittsylvania County Food Bank. We filled a large pick-up with supplies, as you can see from the pictures.

I'm really proud of the response of our churches. This gentleman was from the food bank and had to squeeze all the provisions into the truck. 

These are the people from the Mount Airy Charge who attended. I wanted to be in the picture with them, so we took a second one. But, I had to leave the first one because my big head got in the way of some of their smiling faces. Besides, I had to wake Joanne for the second photo. 

This is Rev. George Schaefer, the pastor of the Payneton-Siloam Charge. George was our host at Payneton UMC for the Charge Conference. The folks at Payneton did a wonderful job of being hosts. After the meeting we were all invited to gather in the Fellowship Hall for refreshments. It was more like having dinner. The ladies did their church proud.
This is Rev. Larry Davies, the District Superintendent for the Lynchburg District, who presided over the Charge Conference. He had one before he came to ours and was heading to another one when ours was finished. Though he did stop off in the Fellowship Hall for a snack. 
Larry had everyone get up from there seats and introduce themselves to someone they had never met. Then they were to ask that person, "What's so special about your church?" 
After we all took our seats again, he asked for people to tell what they had learned about the church of the person they spoke with. It's very interesting what someone can learn about your church in two minutes.
 These are the pastors of the churches participating in the Cluster Charge Conference. From Left to right they are: Rev. Thomas Wilson of the Smith Mountain Charge, Me of the Mount Airy Charge, Rev. George Schaefer of the Payneton - Siloam Charge, Rev. Harold Thornton of Zion UMC, Rev. John Snyder of Anderson UMC, and Rev. Tom Boggs, a retired pastor who attends Siloam UMC and fills in for some of us from time to time.

These are some of the folks from the various congregations at the conference. Someone was complaining that a lot of the people wouldn't get in the picture. I told them that someone would have get the wooden plank out of the truck (next picture) and chase them into the picture. They actually used that plank to shove the food items to the back of the truck.
This was our first experience with a Cluster Charge Conference and it went rather well. I can see pros and cons to the format. I like meeting members of other congregations and hearing the wide variety of ministries done by the churches. But, I've liked that my church people got to brag on what they've done in the past year. I mean, new carpet may not be a big wow to some, but it is when you only have a few people in a congregation. It's hard to do all that bragging if each church only has about 5 minutes to share. But again, maybe its time for us as churches to put the emphasis on our ministry and outreach; and not on our maintenance and improvements. In my sermon that morning I spoke about how we need to be open to the possibility that God is bringing us into something new. So maybe, just maybe, this is part of God doing a new thing.

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