Delegates urged to follow Philip’s lead

Translate Page

“Come to the water, everybody come,” a mass choir of more than 100 youth sang, calling the General Conference delegates to worship May 1.

The delegates began their Saturday work, which will be spent in committees voting on petitions, with a worship service that focused on Portuguese and Celtic traditions. The service included a sermon by Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton of the Ohio East Area.

Keaton’s preaching centered on Acts 6:1-6, 8:4-6, 35-40 and the story of Philip, who was one of seven people chosen by Jesus’ disciples for ministry.

Keaton referred to Philip as “a drum major for service,” referring to the verbal requiem that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. used to describe his own legacy.

“Say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness … and all of the other shallow things won’t matter,” Keaton quoted.

When one listens to Philip’s story and “the drumbeat of his journey, the rhythm of his itinerancy and the pep in his step, the preacher cannot help but label Philip a deacon,” said Keaton. “His witness enlivens the spirit, warms the heart and lights the way.”

Keaton pointed out that the first seven officeholders of the church were chosen not to talk, but for practical service. “Using disciplinary language, the deacon combats a situation where ‘people are unfairly granted privileges and benefits’ denied to others.”

Philip did this in his ministry by bringing justice to the Greek widow, working among the despised Samaritans, and interpreting Isaiah’s “Song of the Suffering Servant” to the Ethiopian eunuch, the ultimate outcast.

He baptized the eunuch, who became “water washed and spirit born into a new life,” Keaton said.

Keaton challenged the delegates to follow in Philip’s footsteps. When the doxology is sung, and the 2004 General Conference has been consigned to history, “I hope and pray the dominant theme of our witness and mission reflects the faith stance of Joshua, who declared to Israel at a critical point of decision-making, ‘as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,’” he said.

The choir and congregation closed the worship singing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

The choirs that made up the mass choir included Cantemos Youth Choir from the North Georgia Conference; the Detroit Conference Youth Choir; Jean Choir, from Jean (Texas) Church; Jubilate from North Broadway Church in Columbus, Ohio; Drive, the Miami District Youth Band from Florida; and S.I.G.H.T. from Central Church in Rogers, Ark.

“Singing here was an overwhelming honor,” said Christine Logan, a member of the Cantemos Youth Choir. “I hope the General Conference remembers the youth and diversity. It really is the way people are inside that is important.”

* Lauber is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.

News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.

Related


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
General Church
With some congregations considering leaving The United Methodist Church or just wondering about its future, Ask The UMC offers a series of questions and answers to help clear up some common misperceptions or misinformation around disaffiliation. Graphic by Laurens Glass, United Methodist Communications.

Ask The UMC: Is The United Methodist Church really... ? (Part 5)

Do we have to choose between The UMC and the GMC? What happens if an elected delegate disaffiliates?
Judicial Council
Bishops process into worship at the 2019 special session of the General Conference held in St. Louis. Amid increasing church disaffiliations, bishops are speaking out to address misinformation they say is being spread about The United Methodist Church’s future. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News.

Bishops push back against recruitment tactics

Bishops are trying to set the record straight on misinformation being spread about The United Methodist Church’s future. They also are working toward building a church where traditionalists, centrists and progressives will all feel they belong.
General Agencies
The General Council on Finance and Administration board at its online meeting Aug. 19 designated how to use proceeds from the sale of the agency’s headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee. The agency staff members are moving into the nearby Harry Denman Building, which is also home to Discipleship Ministries and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Grappling with mixed news on giving, church exits

Board members of The United Methodist Church’s finance agency discussed the potential impact of rising church disaffiliations even as they celebrated an uptick in giving and the sale of the agency’s building.