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Moving through Advent

Changes in the office do not change the course of God’s unfailing love.

Director of Connectional Ministries, West Michigan

It has all gone as planned…sort of.   

There have been delays, distractions, disappointments, and now the weather is what it usually is in December. Of course this is why the goal was to move the various offices earlier in the fall. Three dozen staff persons, in multiple locations, have worked incredibly hard and long behind the scenes to assist with this transition as we become one conference.  

So here is some trivia related to these office transitions I have mentioned the past few months:

  • How many computer/electronics components have been recycled? More than 1,200 pounds.
  • How many pounds of excess paper files have been recycled? More than 3,000 pounds.
  • Number of cans of old dry paint that have been disposed of? 40, plus 4 five-gallon buckets.
  • Latest date on a can? 1980’s  
  • When was 11 Fuller built and how was it first used? 1904; 50 years as an elementary school.
  • When did it become the Conference Center? 1964
  • What was the date of the oldest Sunday School resource found in the building? 1957 Cokesbury display. 

More importantly, all the while as staff have been sorting through 53 years of ministry supplies, equipment and records, they have stayed focused on serving local congregations. They have coached clergy and consulted with congregations. They have met early deadlines required to be ready for Annual Conference next year in Traverse City. They have vetted banking and health care benefits providers. They have shifted from a 20-year-old data base and web management system to more contemporary models. They have sought to comply with every changing legal, tax and HIPPA parameter. 

So, can I just suggest that before you “go off on them” on Social Media, make a phone call to talk with somebody and maybe even share with them a word of appreciation for all their conscientious work in the midst of change, even as they are uncertain of exactly if or what their role will be in the new conference. 

Two weeks ago all the details were released in regard to the nine new districts. This week the new superintendents and director positions will be communicated. The Nominations Committee has begun their work, guided by the boards, agencies and committees that are coming together from each conference. Over 400 persons who used to have a position on the two conferences’ nominations report will now be released and encouraged to volunteer their service on their district or in their local congregation. There is a lot of change for a lot of people! 

I am reminded of the Scripture text as the Apostle Paul wrote, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow (I Corinthians 3:6).” This is indeed the reality of us all. We may begin something or we simply help it take the next step. Ultimately it is God who provides the increase and if there is any blessing or praise for what has been accomplished, it belongs to the Glory of God. 

In the midst of way more details at work and at home than could possibly be cared for in the short amount of time available, Linda and I paused from it all. We drove across the state to a public university where a longtime friend of ours is a director of choral music. Soon the auditorium was filled to capacity. It wasn’t long before the choral and instrumental music of this Christmas season moved the tears down my face. “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty Father, Prince of Peace….Yea, Lord we greet thee; Born this happy morning….  Still, Still, Still,….  He rules the world, with truth and grace; And heaven and nature sing…. Silent Night, Holy Night…”

It has all gone as planned…sort of. 

I imagine that is how God has felt. Created the world; it was good. Gave us freedom; we turned it into rebellion. God continued through the ages with patterns of judgment and grace, only to realize it was going to take God’s Son, Jesus Christ, here among us for us to “get it right.” And we still struggle… 

But again we will celebrate God’s coming to us; in human flesh; of humble beginnings; appearing first to those most outcast and alienated; demonstrating love to all and peace on earth. I am praying that we will all take the time necessary, even if it is not convenient nor is it according to plan, to pause and “Worship Christ the new born King!”


Note: “If you make my Word your home, you will indeed be my disciples. You will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:13 New Jerusalem Bible.)” Each article I write for this column is based in the guidance of a particular Scripture passage. I pray that these reflections, stories and information will assist you in your own witness and service as a Disciple of Jesus Christ.


The Michigan Conference