Bishop Grant Hagiya asks the 2012 Pacific Northwest Annual Conference Session to embrace hope rather than fear in his message during the Celebration of Appointments Service on Sunday, June 24, 2012 in Pasco, WA. Photo by Patrick Scriven.
I have been getting very positive comments on this year’s Annual Conference session. From the inspiring worship services to the informative speakers, people experienced the spirit of our Annual Conference as upbeat, and well, to reflect our theme: hopeful.
Certainly this is the time for hope. When disappointing statistics and facts concerning the mainline church swirl around us, it is hard to remain optimistic. However, this is exactly the time when we need to stay more hopeful than ever. There are tremendous opportunities emerging for our churches in most of our local communities, and if we can capitalize on these we will be posed for growth and revitalization.
To repeat my closing message, we must react not out of fear but faith. We have been given all we need from our founders and Saints, and we have at our core God in Jesus Christ. We need not fear anything because our faith can handle whatever life throws our way.
One of the hallmarks of good leadership is wise decision making and we tend to make poor decisions when we are under stress, pressure or fear. On a general level, our United Methodist Church is subject to all of these conditions, and it is reacting with poor decision-making. I believe that this is what happened at General Conference this year. We must not let this happen to us!
This is the reason that our Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is in such good shape relative to other annual conferences of our church. Wise and prudent decisions in the past have led to positive results. It is an effective cycle: wise decisions produce good results that provide a platform of stability where future good decisions can be made. But we cannot let fear and stress dominate our agenda. Rather we must be a people of faith, and from this center of faith, wise decisions will naturally arise.
I pray for such faith for your church. If you can follow our lead, and allow faith to overcome your fears, you will be well along the way!
Be the Hope,