“We continue to traverse a new land and live in a strange time,” said Bishop David Bard in opening greetings to the 2021 Virtual Michigan Annual Conference. He added, “In the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Spirit, may we learn once again how to sing the Lord’s song.”
BISHOP DAVID BARD
June 3, 2021 | LANSING — Greetings in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the peace and power of the Holy Spirit.
As we gather for Annual Conference this year, once again virtually, we continue to traverse a new land and live in a strange time. While we can see the end of the pandemic with increasing vaccinations, we are not there yet, and one thing we have learned is that this is a tenacious virus, ready to take advantage of us when we become complacent about public health. So, we will continue to act to foster public health, promote the common good, and care for one another. Thank you for doing this, and thank you for your creativity, ingenuity, and tenacity in ﬁnding ways to connect for worship, learning, praying, grieving, and celebrating. Inspired by God’s Spirit, we continue to reach out in concern and service to the world, feeding, clothing, caring, working for justice in ways that work to keep people safe and healthy. Inspired by God’s Spirit, we continue to ﬁnd new ways to create communities of love and forgiveness, ways that also mitigate the ongoing spread of COVID. Inspired by God’s Spirit, we encourage one another to be vaccinated.
Our theme this year for Annual Conference ﬁts our circumstance: “Singing the Lord’s Song.” The phrase comes from Psalm 137, where an exilic community asks the poignant question, “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” We have found ways to sing the Lord’s song, to be in ministry for Jesus Christ in this strange time, in this foreign land. Yet the times keep getting stranger. On the other side of the pandemic, we will have to answer questions about how we will be the church in new ways. We will have to deal with the results of the still postponed General Conference and a likely denominational division. We now live in a country where membership in faith communities is less than 50% of the population. We have to navigate deepening divides. For our spiritual well-being, we need to engage in the long work of racial reckoning. How shall we sing the Lord’s song? This we know, “we have learned to sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land before” (Gil Rendle, Quietly Courageous).
It is my hope and prayer that the work of our Annual Conference will enhance the work of our congregations and ministry settings in making disciples of Jesus Christ so that people can be different and so that the world can be different – more caring, compassionate, kind, loving, and patient in this time of pandemic and beyond, more determined than ever to create Beloved Community. In the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of God’s Spirit, may we learn once again how to sing the Lord’s song in this very strange time.
~ These greetings from Bishop David Bard appear in the Program Guide for the 2021 Virtual Michigan Annual Conference. In addition, the guide includes a complete schedule, the voting items booklet, Worship Notes, Candidates for Ordination and Commissioning, and more. Download the Program Guide here.