It appears that I get to be the first of the three of us to post!
This past summer after I was elected as a delegate to the 2012 General Conference, I got to thinking and decided that since I attend a United Methodist university, SMU, there had to be a way for me to get course credit for being a delegate to GC. This semester I am enrolled in an independent study, which is focused on my work as a delegate. Along with reading legislation and other related things, I have been reading about the early beginnings and history of Methodism, especially in relation to our structure and conferences.
Recently I have read Ferguson’s Organizing to Beat the Devil and I have skimmed through some of the minutes from annual conference sessions in England during the mid to late 1700s. It has been very interesting and inspiring to see how our church has evolved over the centuries. Through reading the minutes it was interesting to note the differences in the topics discussed at conference and in the amount of people who would gather. Wesley would meet with often only about 10-12 others to discuss issues of doctrine, articulating what they actually believe. They discussed the rules for singing which are found in the front of our hymnal. They would also discuss appointments, finances, and the main issue of how they related to the Church of England. It was very interesting to see the confidence with which they discussed and resolved these issues, there was no evidence of bickering or disagreement; when Wesley said it, it was settled. These early Methodists had their act together, they knew how they were going to organize and they knew how to make disciples, as their statistics showed they added to their number year after year.
Ferguson’s book also superbly shows how the Methodists in America grew year after year. The book goes into depth about how the organization of the church transformed over the years into the structure that we have today. It was interesting to see how the cycle of organization took place, by the end of the book it made logical sense to see how we got the structure that we have today, and how the pattern shows that now in 2012 is the time for that organization to shift again. At this year’s general conference we will again organize ourselves to beat the devil, or in more correct terms organize ourselves to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
In light of my previous readings, I am excited about the chance to be a part of The United Methodist Church by serving as a delegate to General Conference; I am excited to serve in the same manner just as those saints who have gone before us did, and I am excited to take part in organization, a practice and custom of Methodists since the beginning.
I am also very excited to take this Lenten season, the season of preparing our hearts, as a way of preparing spiritually for this experience. I am grateful for Steve for sharing his blog, and I am excited about posting even more as we continue on this Lenten Journey.