Bishop Urges Church to Embrace God's Unlimited Imagination
By Melissa Hinnen
March 19, 2012, Plano, Texas--Just weeks before General Conference, directors of the General Board of Global Ministries were challenged to "leave the upper room" and embrace God's call to create missional congregations. Bishop Bruce Ough of the West Ohio Annual Conference, who also presides over the worldwide mission agency of The United Methodist Church, opened the spring board meeting by urging directors to "call on the Holy Spirit to unleash God's unlimited imagination."
His words were preparing them for anticipated changes at next month's General Conference. General agencies, including Global Ministries, are potentially facing restructuring as a way to meet an adaptive challenge for the denomination to remain "a vibrant, relevant, and effective witness."
Bishop Ough framed his remarks around the decisions the disciples in the upper room had to consider after Jesus ascended. Describing the situation as "ripe for innovation, new learning, fresh ways of engaging one's context and shared wisdom," Bishop Ough connected the disciples' challenge of "being his [Jesus'] witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" to the adaptive challenge facing delegates at General Conference.
According to Bishop Ough, "Jesus gave his disciples an impossible adaptive challenge and then told them to wait until the Father let loose on them and the world God's unlimited imagination." He brought the analogy a step further saying, "Jesus knew his disciples did not need technical advice or tools; he knew they needed the gift of God's unlimited imagination and authority."
Bishop Ough assured the directors that elements of Global Ministries' work will continue even though the actual structure itself is likely to change after General Conference:
- Connecting the church in mission remains essential.
- The United Methodist Church is a global church.
- The United Methodist Church will always be in ministry with the poor and will address diseases of poverty.
- The original adaptive challenge to make disciples for Jesus Christ has not changed in 2,000 years.
- Creating vital and missional congregations is at the core of Global Ministries' work.
The need for Global Ministries and the entire church to pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit will never change "no matter what earthen vessels we are given to carry our spiritual and missional treasure."
In conclusion, Bishop Ough affirmed the importance of creating vital congregations that are missional and effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. He reminded the directors that, while this is what the church is commissioned to do, Jesus instructed his disciples to first "wait and watch and pray for the Spirit-gift of God's unlimited imagination."
Download the full text of Bishop Ough's address.
Immediately upon opening the meeting, Bishop Ough took a moment to pray for Bishop Ed Paup who is gravely ill with a malignant brain tumor. Paup is the previous General Secretary of Global Ministries. "Loving, God, we pray that you will embrace your son Ed and hold him and Carol close to your heart. We ask that in these moments your balm will be upon them and that they will know the assurance of your grace and presence."
Christ United Methodist Church is hosting the directors in Plano, Texas, as they gather for the last time this quadrennium. Bishop Ough expressed deep appreciation for the directors and offered them praise for their dedication to Global Ministries, quoting the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:3-6.
Photo Caption: Board of Directors Spring Board Meeting 2012
Photo Credit: Cassandra Zampini