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TOM Talks and people listen

Teaching moments were offered throughout Annual Conference on the topic ENGAGE with.

Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Conference

Nine TOM Talks were shared throughout Friday’s and Saturday’s sessions. The “Transformational Outreach and Ministry” presentations focused on the 2018 theme of engagement. The Rev. Paul Perez, Associate Director of Mission and Ministry for the Michigan Conference, provided context: “We will hear from some of our own firebrands in Michigan. How they are putting Old Man Wesley’s advice into action” The hope is we will catch a few of their sparks.”

Perez continued. “In highly contentious and unsettled times are we a big hot mess? … John Wesley’s answer to spiritual malaise was missional.” His advice to those in a “discipleship funk,” is to “be vulnerable with the vulnerable.”

TOM Talks show us how to be vulnerable with the vulnerable. Here’s a TOM Table of Contents … 

ENGAGE with Community

  • Matt Witkowski –Trinity Community Ministries: “You cannot get to know the neighborhood inside the church building.”
Matt Witkowski, Director of Trinity Community Ministries in Grand Rapids, offered five tips for getting started in community building. ~mic photo/Hannah Hazen

ENGAGE with the Poor

  • Rev. Julie Liske — Circles Grand Rapids: “Togetherness is more than aid. Love causes togetherness.”

ENGAGE with your Neighbors

  • Raquel Owens — Justice For Our Neighbors: “Everyone has a skill set to welcome a stranger.”

ENGAGE with the People (Con la Gente)

  • Sonya Luna — Michigan Hispanic/Latino Ministries: “Go home and welcome God’s people and you will welcome Jesus.”
  • Rev. Ellen Zienert — St. Johns 1st UMC: “Just listen to where your heart takes you and do not be afraid.”
  • Rev. Patty Gandarilla — Detroit Centro Familiar Cristiano: “If God did it for me and was vision was born at the age of 7, God can accomplish this in them as well.”
  • Rev. Sari Brown — Harbor Beach and Port Hope UMCs: “I can tell how our ministry has shaped people. In talking to people I learned some of these people became family to them.”

ENGAGE with the World

  • Rev. Rob Cook — Lansing Mt. Hope UMC: “Your church can overcome privilege, prejudice and racism.”
  • Rev. Eric Mulanda — Lansing Mt. Hope UMC Associate: “I stand here as a reverse missionary.”
  • Rev. Dr. Darryl Totty — Detroit Second Grace: “This is a simple but effective process. We can do this!”
Sonya Luna, Board of Global Ministries missionary for Hispanic/Latino Ministries in The Michigan Conference, introduced videos of three ministries around the conference. ~mic photo/Hannah Hazen

ENGAGE with youth

  • Rhonda Goode — Indian River Youth Director: “The parents, school and community have embraced Glow as a moral compass and safe gathering place.”
  • Sarah Alexander — Motown Mission: “We teach a lot about serving alongside which is different than ministry to.”

ENGAGE with schools

  • Rev. Shawn Lewis-Lakin — Birmingham 1st UMC Associate: “Pray for us. After Parkland and Santa Fe we know there is support. But that support is needed everyday.”
  • Rev. Alex Fernandez Cornerstone: Heritage Hill: “The young mother said,I just had to come to this church because I was certain there was some sort of agenda or motive for why you work in the school. I found out today you just love my daughter.'”
  • Rev. Kathy Pittenger — Waterford: Central UMC: “The principal said they hadn’t done a summer book exchange for years. We said, ‘How about ice cream?’ and organized a book drive and ice cream social.”
  • Christy Miller-Black — Flint: Court Street UMC: “Educators and administrators are just as busy as we are. Just keep calling. Don’t give up. Let them know you aren’t going away.” 
  • Randy Hildebrandt — Missionary God’s Country Cooperative Parish: “We make a big mistake when we have the attitude, ‘We’re here to fix you.’ We went in cleaning the kitchen floor.”

ENGAGE with those struggling

  • Gregory Timmons — Exec. Director Flint Recovery: “There’s a mountain of fear, doubt and worry and you are the only church that continues to have a presence, on a daily basis, in Flint gathering resources.”

ENGAGE with churches

  • Naomi Garcia — Associate Director of Congregational Vibrancy: “Things happen when people know God will do it, and yet we behave as if God’s not trustworthy.”

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