Sunday November 10th at 6:30pm Faith UMC will have its annual “Charge Conference” meeting. If you are a life long United Methodist, chances are you have heard this term before, and probably know what it means… or at least know that it’s an annual church meeting. Our Faith UMC family has lots of people who are new to the United Methodist Church, so this week’s blog is about United Methodist structure.
I know, not terribly exciting, is it?
The structure of our denomination and this particular annual meeting are important, because they are part of how we function as the Body of Christ. When we accept Christ as our savior, we become part of the Body of Christ, which in the global sense is all the Christians in the world, regardless of denomination. This is what we mean when we say “Church” with a capital C, or say “the Church universal”. Joining Faith UMC means that you are part of our congregation and also part of the denomination. Our structures are meant to connect congregations so that all United Methodists can share with one another – information about mission needs, good ideas about worship or education, and so on. Most importantly, we connect so that collectively our efforts in mission can be magnified. Together we can make more of an impact than individually.
For example, in 1904, a group of women from First Methodist in Houston came together to take care of women and children of immigrant railroad workers just north of downtown. The families of these workers struggled to have enough to eat, and some of the families were in deep poverty after their husbands and fathers lost their lives in the harsh working conditions. Just one church began the outreach, but soon other Methodist women joined in the efforts.
This area, immediately north of downtown Houston, still has a high concentration of families who live near or below the poverty line. The ministry established by a small group of women at First Methodist continues to this day, now supported by Methodists from all around the Houston area. http://www.wesleyhousehouston.org/ Faith’s United Methodist Women visited Wesley House this week, and donated books and $100 toward their ministries. Diana, the director of Wesley House asked us to collect toiletries for their elder program participants. Watch for a collection box in the hall near the cry room.
As United Methodists, we have an annual meeting to do something less interesting than a visit to the Wesley House, but still very important. At a Charge Conference meeting, leaders of the church will vote for leaders for the coming year. The Lay Leadership Development and Selection committee has been hard at work, praying and asking people to serve on committees such as Finance, Mission, Trustees, and Children and Youth Ministries. Our District Superintendent will be at the meeting to hear reports from ministry areas, to hear about our programs and our outreach to our community.
It sounds dull, but it is important that we recognize meetings like this can set the tone to empower people for ministry. There was a charge conference meeting at First Methodist Houston in 1904, and I’m sure the women who reached out in ministry with the poor near their homes did so because their church gave them a strong foundation. We are able to reach out because we are strengthened as disciples through worship, through classes and Bible studies, through fellowship with others. We are able to reach out because church members come to an annual meeting and set the course of the local church.
Will you come to the Charge Conference meeting? Help set the course, so that people are empowered to reach out in mission.
Read more about the structure of the United Methodist Church here: