The Rev. Melanie Carey sets aside church policies, agendas, structures and rules to assert that people matter most.
MELANIE LEE CAREY
Clergy Assistant to the Bishop
Several years ago, I was in San Antonio, Texas facilitating a workshop with The National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. San Antonio is one of my favorite cities to visit. I love the River Walk and the Zoo and The Mercado (Market) among other things. While I was visiting The Mercado with some of the participants in the workshop, I was given this wreath, which was purchased at The Mercado.
The wreath is originally from the Central American Country of Guatemala. The people who gave me this wreath said that they appreciated so much the workshop we were in and how they as participants were valued as people first and foremost. They gave me this wreath to serve as a visible reminder that above all people matter most in ministry.
I have never forgotten that powerful lesson and since then I have kept the wreath and placed it in each of my various offices. It is with me now in my office in Lansing and it will be moving with me to my new local church appointment at Farmington Hills Nardin Park UMC in July.
Ministry is about people. Church is about people. Yes, we have buildings, and organizational structures and rules of order and even The Book of Discipline. All of those are important, but most important are the people. In Jesus’ ministry we see over and over again how he valued people most, particularly people who were the most vulnerable or with the least amount of power. He put people first and it made all the difference. Jesus asks us to do the same.
On March 28th, registration opens for our Annual Conference meetings this June. This year we will be doing something new: meeting at The Breslin Center on the Campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing. It is a new venue for all of us. It is exciting, but also different from the way any of us have done things before. For this reason especially I urge those of you who are members of the annual conference (Clergy and Laity) to register online!
The Conference meeting will include times as separate conferences ( Detroit and West Michigan) and times as The Michigan Area, meeting together.
And while we are busy preparing for our time together with logistics, rules of order, agendas, legislation, celebrations, ordinations and commissioning, celebrating retirements and perhaps even endorsing Episcopal Candidates, what matters most are the people—you and me and each one who attends and visits the conference, and the surrounding community members.
Our relationships with one another and our surrounding community are what matter most and in particular as we come together in a new place and with new people, it is important for us to keep this focus in mind.
One of the blessings of serving as the Clergy Assistant to the Bishop for the Michigan Area has been the people I have met across the entire state of Michigan! I am grateful for the new friendships I have been able to make as well as renewing ones that I had previously. What a blessing to be able to meet so many amazing people across our United Methodist Connection!
With all the changes happening in our world, in our annual conferences and even in our local churches, we can easily get caught up in agendas, and structures and logistics and forget that our relationships with one another matter most of all. When we come right down to it: that is what the church is really all about.
Let us remember that ministry is about people and may we model that in our local churches, districts, conferences and when we come together in East Lansing in June.