Gen 1 1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
So begins the biblical story. Out of the chaos waters God ordered the universe and set in motion the complex manifold of systems that brought about and sustains life as we know it. Throughout the intricate evolution that has brought us to where we are, there have been moments of profound change when systems have dissolved and new orders have emerged that define the period to come. Most of the time, change occurs in tiny increments. Sometimes the nuances are almost imperceptible. These small changes seldom produce dramatic results. It is in the times of total systemic upheaval that there is the greatest potential for change to be profound.
We are at a pivotal moment in the history of Methodism in Upstate New York. We have birthed a new conference. This is a moment of great potential for change. This is a time when we are bound by neither the trends nor the practices of the past. We have an opportunity to take a fresh look at all the pieces that make up our potential ministry in Upstate New York; our missional opportunities, our many assets, the tug of the Holy Spirit. We have an obligation here and now to call ourselves back to the basics of our faith. We must begin our creative work by reminding ourselves of our mission as a church, setting aside our comfort and preferences, and ordering our life together around the mission.
So we must first understand who we are in Christ. We must then learn all we can about who we are called to reach. And we must organize as intentionally and economically as we can so that our mission and ministry do the most they can to reach the world for Jesus Christ.
Now is the time for the missional minded across the area to be coming together and raising up what God has revealed. At this stage in our journey, questions concerning our direction in ministry are logically prior to questions about the shape and constitution of our emerging structure. It is my sincere hope that we will not yield to the temptation of taking the easier road; importing the past into the future, or worse yet allowing a select few to be the exclusive voice of God; for if we do, the trends of the past will be the trends of the future, and the spiral into extinction will hasten. Wherever God is using us well, we need to continue our efforts. We need to use those who God has specially gifted. We need to stop pushing preferences, arbitrary limits and quotas from on high, and pay attention instead to where our places of greatest ministry potential lie. We have the power to realize or to frustrate what God is trying to do.
As Christians we are the body of Christ in the world, in touch with the Spirit of God, made co-creators with the Christ, the logos, who was at the beginning. We have the ability, together with God, to bring order to chaos, and so we need not fear this period of wilderness wandering. I am convinced, that if we will boldly rise to the challenge before us, staying true to our calling as people on a mission, that God will bless our efforts and the Methodist movement will be renewed in the Upstate New York Area.