United Methodist Bishop Richard Wills opened the last day of the denomination’s Tennessee Annual Conference by asking congregations to focus on the “true North,” Jesus Christ. The Tennessee Conference, which is made up of the local churches in Middle Tennessee, has been meeting at Brentwood UMC since Sunday. Wills presented his state of the church address as the first order of business this morning.
Wills told the story of the Cuban faith community that worked together without concern for the differences among various congregations. “They were so focused o true north that nothing else mattered,” said Wills. He went on to say how the local faith community needs to focus on Christ as it recovers from floods, closing churches, and less offering receipts.
The strength of the flood response effort was Wills main highlight. “We are busy now training case managers,” he said. There has been a Volunteer in Mission (VIM) team in Tennessee every week since the flood.
“With all that happening, what is your church doing?” Wills asked. He issued a charge to the hundreds of church leaders present to not get distracted from the mission Christ calls them to do.
Wills admitted that some pastors may be getting burned out while they deal with their churches or their own needs. “We have plenty of retired pastors who would be gald to fill in for two weeks so a pastor who has hit the wall may take a break,” Wills said.
Tom Hazelwood, leader of the global United Methodist Committee on Relief, said “people need to be reminded… that they are not alone.” He is present here to remind Tennessee of their ongoing efforts to assist in the recovery.
The Tennessee Annual Conference continues through this evening with a Service of Covenant, Setting of Appointments and Holy Communion at 5:45 p.m.