Pastor's Blog
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November 2, 2016, 3:12 PM

What Are You Talking About?

Are you bi-lingual? Maybe even multi-lingual? Are you able to speak one or more languages fluently? I’m not talking about knowing a few words that everyone else knows, like “adios” or “adieu.” I’m talking about being able to carry on a conversation with someone in a language other than your “native tongue” – can you do that? My first experience with a language other than English was in college, not long after I received the call to be a pastor. I decided I should switch majors to religion rather than music, and I thought it would be a good idea to study Latin. I bought the books, engaged a tutor, and tried my best to learn, but no luck. I just couldn’t seem to negotiate all of the different rules and word forms and sentence structures. It was so “foreign” to me – frustration was the result, rather than a broader ability to communicate.

Some people feel like that when they engage the church. The church speaks a language all its own, using words that make sense to “the natives,” but are quite “foreign” to those who are unfamiliar with the tongue. We throw around words like redemption and salvation and communion and fellowship and hymns and anthems and postlude like everyone should be familiar with them because we’ve been using them most, if not all of our lives. Add to that the additional set of vocabulary that each particular religious “system” uses, and it’s no wonder new persons leave a church service with this dazed and confused look on their faces.

A word that’s part of the United Methodist vocabulary is “conference.” The general meaning of that word is “a formal meeting for discussion.” We conference when we have conversation with one or two or twenty persons, according to this definition. In United Methodism, this general meaning of conference applies, but the word means more for us. We use it to identify specific groups and geographical regions that exist within the church. For example, the group of folks who meet every four years to determine the direction and mission of the United Methodist Church is called the “General Conference.” It’s made up of lay and clergy delegates from all over the world. Then there are the “Jurisdictional Conferences” which refers to both geographic regions (we are in the Northeast Jurisdiction) and primary purpose – election of bishops. Each Jurisdictional Conference is broken down into “Annual Conferences” - a reference to both a geographic region (we are in the Western PA Annual Conference) and a group that meets “annually” for conversation. Annual Conferences are then divided into “District Conferences” which is more a geographic designation than anything else (we are in the Franklin District), and each District Conference consists of “Charge Conferences” – each local church that either stands by itself or is yoked with other churches. Charge Conferences meet annually for the purpose of setting pastoral salaries, electing local church leaders for the coming year, and other items of both local church importance and issues important to the denomination.

Christ UMC, Franklin is the Charge Conference we belong to, and our annual meeting is coming up this Sunday, November 6, at 1:15pm. We will share communion at all three worship experiences, enjoy a light lunch following the 11am service, and then we’ll “conference” together -  caring for the needs and issues that need to come before us. All participants in the life of Christ Church are invited to attend, but only those who are formally members are permitted to vote. To be honest, some of what we’ll experience on Sunday is simply what we’re required to do. But it will also be an opportunity to talk about the ministry of Christ Church and where we’re headed in the months ahead.

Now that you know a bit more of the Methodist lingo, I hope you’ll be able to join us this Sunday for “Charge Conference!” As always…

Keep Lookin’ Up!
Pastor David


11-04-2016 at 6:38 AM
David Parker
Our prayers will be with you on Sunday as Charge Conference meets and fellowships and gives thanks for what has been and envisions and testifies as to what is hoped for, and prays committing again in love for Father, Jesus And Holy Spirit ourselves to You and to one another, and to all you love in this world Amen I will be preaching on the New Covenant Charge as Melody Kimmel, , the pastor recovers from surgery. Alice Jean and I send our love inHim, David
11-03-2016 at 2:47 PM
Tish Way`
You're "right on", pastor David, about understanding of the "Methodist lingo. and having grown up with it, I still don't "understand" at times! You've done a great job of helping with the understanding of conference and I hope we have a good attendance from our congregation. Finding out and knowing more about our church helps us to become better citizens for the Kingdom. Thanks!!
11-02-2016 at 2:09 PM
Pat Mann
Last year was my first "exposure" to Christ Church Charge Conference which I felt was very informative regarding the future of the church in Franklin. I look forward, once again this year, to sit and listen. May the Lord have his way & will for Christ Church of Franklin.
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