Spirit Alive: Sharing Stories that Make You Proud



Spirit Alive is a weekly blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.

December 22, 2015

Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog that looks at different aspects of mission and ministry throughout the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference and beyond.
February 9, 2016

With Heart, Soul, and Mind:

Sharing Stories that Make You Proud

At first glance, it seemed like such a simple exercise...but it turned into an experience of standing on "holy ground."
At the January meeting of the United Methodist Association of Directors of Connectional Ministry, which was being held in Portland, we were all asked to introduce ourselves by saying our name, our annual conference...and then to share a story that responded to the question: "When were you most proud to be United Methodist?" At first, it seemed easy enough to do, but it quickly turned into a very powerful and lengthy experience lasting nearly two hours.

Person-after-person shared an amazing story from their life that took us everywhere....from Africa University to the Philippines, from a women's residence in San Francisco to a church in the heart of Ferguson, Missouri, from a food pantry in Alaska to the Katrina relief effort, from one United Methodist Volunteer in Mission expedition to the Imagine No Malaria campaign, from the inner cities of the United States to the far reaches of the world.
It was a tour de force of experiences and life journeys in United Methodism. The stories where peppered with words like open communion, hospitality, generosity, relationships, seeds, connection, and witness. The stories were also filled with tears, laughter, inspiration, and hope. Some spoke about their deep personal connections with United Methodism and their sense of call to ministry that has been such an important part of their life stories. All of us were hanging on every word that was shared. By the end of the two hours, I felt like I had been literally baptized by these powerful words and  stories.
In fact, when it came to my turn, I said to Ken Sloane, from the Board of Discipleship who had asked the question initially: "Wow, thanks for that question, Ken. I feel like I'm standing on holy ground. Perhaps we need to ask ourselves and the people in our churches this question more often, so that we can reclaim who we are as a people. In fact, this very experience we are sharing today could be used as one of those times when I am proud to be United Methodist."
From there I went on to share just "one of the times" that I was most proud to be United Methodist. It took place in 2010 on a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission trip that I led to Manaus, Brazil, in the heart of the Amazon. What struck me most about that experience was that while our team spent a significant amount of our time putting up the walls of a church building that measured 75 by 100 feet, we were but a part of a much bigger chain of UMVIMs teams that over time were involved in this project. You see, when we got to Manaus, the roof and foundation had already been completed by previous teams, and when we left the Amazon other teams would come there to finish the project. I was proud to be a United Methodist who was a part of something this big!
I wish we would share these kinds of stories with each other more often. There is a lot for us to be proud of as United Methodists, but all too often we don't take the time to inspire each other with the stories we carry in our own hearts. In fact, why don't you try this exercise right now: "When were you most proud to be United Methodist?" If you are like we were during our meeting in Portland back in January, it may be hard to confine your thoughts to a single story.
Maybe you could even ask others this same question in church on Sunday. I bet that the conversation will take you to some places that you have never been before! Enjoy the stories....
Blessings on your journey,
Spirit Alive is a twice a month blog and email by Rev. Lowell Greathouse, Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference. It seeks out where the spirit is alive in our congregations and communities.

Lowell Greathouse
Lowell Greathouse is the Mission and Ministry Coordinator for the Oregon-Idaho Conference of the United Methodist Church. He looks for places to find where the spirit is alive and help them grow in vitality and fruitfulness. Share with him at lowell@umoi.org