E-Note: Tuesday, March 28th

Hello, Friends, and welcome back to our weekly E-Note! I’m thrilled to be back from a Conference- and District-approved Spiritual Renewal Leave. 

Or, as Proverbs renders it, “We may make our plans, but God has the last word.” (16:1, Good News Translation)
The only real, pastoral-related work I did while on Renewal Leave was to officiate a wedding for a couple of young former church members. They are from Starkville but are relocating as soon as they return from their honeymoon in Hawaii, to Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
Yes, that Rolling Fork, Mississippi.
While their new Rolling Fork home is being built, they had arranged to live temporarily in an older farmhouse outside of Rolling Fork. They got word while on Maui that their (temporary) house was devastated in last week’s EF-4 tornado.

While I certainly am not implying that such events make God laugh, it does illustrate the point: we can get so married (!) to our plan that it makes it hard to pivot and adapt when GOD’S Plan occurs.

Call it an effort to control, or an ego thing. Call it a feeling of entitlement if you want to. It all comes down to the same thing: we prefer OUR plan to God’s plan, at least most of the time.But the Christian faith is all about stepping back and making God’s Will more important than our own will. 
Doing so is never easy, and rarely is it fun.
John the Baptizer had the right mindset on this. He never forgot that his job was to prepare the way for the arrival of Jesus. JTB sums it up perfectly in John 3:30: “He must  increase, but I must decrease.” 
Interesting conjunction word, “but”. John is saying that Jesus’ glory must increase, while John’s own glory decreases. One depends upon the other. That’s true for you and me, as well.
I write these difficult things knowing full well that I am a planner. I maintain no fewer than 3 calendars at all times. I love to plan ahead! Maybe you’re the same way.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But be advised, God has a way of imposing His will, regardless the investment we may have in our precious plans! So how do we Christians remain at peace, even while God frustrates our plans?
Simple. Yet difficult. We remember that (say it with me) God’s Plan is Better than My Plan. Or, for you math majors, GP>MP.
Planning is good. In fact, when we plan, we’re kind of acting like God, which is a good thing.
But let’s be prepared-when in doubt, let’s choose God’s Plan over our own! We will never go wrong by choosing God’s Plan over our own plan!
In Joy,
Shannon and I are so very thankful for the opportunity of our Spiritual Renewal Leave. It wasn’t a sabbatical, technically. Nor was it a vacation. It was a badly-needed time to reconnect with God, with each other, and with our place in God’s Plan. I appreciate greatly Corey, who so firmly supported our leave, and so ably filled in for me. Thanks are also due to Jill, for her big ol’ pastor’s heart. And to all of you for your understanding. Shannon and I are back, stronger than before, glory be to God!
We will begin our special Bible Study series on Heaven on Wednesday night, April 12, at 6:00 in the 2nd floor Chapel. Be sure and bring your Bible for this eye-opening study of what we KNOW about Heaven from the Holy Scriptures!
There is much for me to catch up on, so I’ll close. Please remain in prayer for our friends all over Mississippi in the aftermath of these terrible storms. The wreckage is unbelievable. Stay tuned for ways we can help. This crisis is also an opportunity for us to get past doing “good church work” and do the WORK of the CHURCH.
Have a great day, and remember,
“You will discover things in the woods that you never found in books. 
Stones and trees will teach you things that you never heard from your schoolteachers.”-St. Bernard of Clairmeaux

Town Hall Meeting Information

Town Hall Meeting Information


As you have seen in the church’s blue newsletter we will have a Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, March 22 at 6:00 p.m. This meeting will help our church take the next step in deciding our future.


The church council explored several options with a goal of finding the best fit for us as we move forward. We eliminated options for reasons ranging from the presence of the “trust clause,” to lack of Methodist recognition, to questions of the ability of the denomination to support us in transition. As we worked through this process, two options remained; to become an independent church for an interim period or to join the Global Methodist Church.


From a broad perspective, the drawbacks to remaining an independent church are threefold: 1) no connectional support of any kind, including the lack of group pension, retirement and health insurance benefits for our staff, 2) because of the disaffiliation agreement with the UMC, we would not be allowed to call ourselves a Methodist church, and 3) we would not have a book of discipline to follow unless we developed our own, which would be a daunting task. Using these reasons as our basis, the Administrative Council voted overwhelmingly to recommend that our church join the Global Methodist Church.


Over the course of this process there have been key points that were considered in this recommendation, and they are:


Shared beliefs and goals:  The Global Methodist Church launched in May, 2022 after it became clear that there was no path for reconciliation with the United Methodist Church.  The founders of this church are fellow Methodists who believe in the authority of scripture and orthodox theology. The GMC’s stated Mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ who worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly and their Vision is to join God in a journey of bringing new life, reconciliation, and the presence of Christ to all people, and to helping each person reflect the character of Christ.


The GMC has published a Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline which is available online.  Members of the church council who have read this document have been favorably impressed.


Retention of our Methodist heritage and name:  We will be able to return to our original church name, New Albany Methodist Church or use the name New Albany First Methodist Church, if we wish.  Inclusion of the Global Methodist Church emblem is optional.  We can continue to support missions that have always been precious to us. Paragraph 604 of the GMC Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline states, “General Conference shall remember that disciples of Jesus are made at the level of the local church.  The convening General Conference shall endeavor to keep as many resources at the level of the local church as possible…”  Retaining more resources at the local level will enable us to better serve Jesus in our community.


Ready support during this time of change: Because the GMC has an established structure, they are ready to help us and have already done so by sending Lee Ann Williamson, Chair of the Transitional Conference Advisory Team and Church Organizer for the Global Methodist Church in Mississippi to meet with the church council.  One of the first things we will need to do is call a pastor and we have been reassured that the GMC has a pool of qualified clergy. We will be able to interview potential pastors and the ultimate decision of who pastors our church will be in our hands.  The path for our church to join the GMC is direct, uncomplicated, and achieved through an application process.


Accountability and enforcement of the Book of Discipline: The GMC was formed out of the issues that have risen within the UMC regarding their inability to hold bishops, clergy, and churches accountable to The Discipline. We believe this starts with leadership. In the GMC, bishops will be held to term limits (¶501) and will also be held accountable by others, other than themselves (¶807, ¶809). The GMC also employs an administrative complaint process for bishops and pastors so presiding elders and bishops can address issues within the church (¶806, ¶807). Clergy and churches will be held accountable, as well. Incoming clergy will have to pledge that they agree with and will uphold The Doctrines and Discipline of the GMC (¶417.1-2). Local churches and pastors will be required to preach and teach orthodox doctrine and if they stray, they will be held accountable. After a formal warning, local congregations can be disaffiliated by an annual conference (¶354).


Focus on Discipleship: Let’s go back to the GMC’s Mission Statement. It is simply to make disciples of Jesus Christ and while doing so we will worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. All of us, individually and collectively have a job to do. We are called to make disciples and we like that the GMC recognizes that disciples are made at the local church. Their focus is not on bureaucracy-building, but providing us the tools and support to help build God’s kingdom right here in our downtown New Albany location.


The GMC website has a wealth of information and is easy to navigate. Please take your time to visit their page and access the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline. The website is https://globalmethodist.org/.


Ultimately, where we land is still in the hands of all of you. The purpose of the Town Hall Meeting is to allow our church family to meet with Lee Ann Williamson, the GMC coordinator in Mississippi. Lee Ann will share important information and be available to answer your questions. Attending the Town Hall is important to allow you to learn more about the GMC and to prepare you to vote on this issue. We will have a churchwide vote on Wednesday, March 29th, again at 6:00 p.m.


This is an exciting time so please plan to be a part of forming our church’s future!


The Administrative Council