I have been a member of Barrie Free Methodist Church for 11 years. I have been involved as a ministry leader for 8 of those years, 2 of which were spent in Ghana, West Africa on a short-term mission assignment. My husband is an Associate Pastor at our church. By default, that makes me a Pastor’s Wife… but I still don’t know a lot about our denomination.
I still get a little confused with terms that we Free Methodists like to use, such as “symposium,” “development,” “initiatives,” “annual reports” and “delegates.” Especially when they are all in the same sentence.
Perhaps that is an admission about me. I’m your average person in the pew, or rented chair, at a Free Methodist Church. I was attracted to the church by their love and acceptance. I was built up by the church through their teaching. I was inspired to enter into ministry with their guidance. I am dedicated to the church in order to share in the grace of God through this committed body of believers.
I also know that those multi-syllabic terms are important because they describe the movement of our denomination and they represent our dedication to keep it real. We are committed to learning, sharing our faith in Jesus Christ, and encouraging each other to live a life of “ongoing transformation that impacts our families, our communities and our nation” …and beyond.
Since calling Barrie Free Methodist Church home, I’ve moved beyond the terminology to greater understanding. I have observed General Conference and have been inspired by all those churches gathered together for a common vision. I’ve taken a history and polity course and have been thrilled to learn our beginnings in 18th century reformation are as relevant and impactful now as they were then. Although I’ve begrudgingly filled in my share of annual reports for my church, I’ve always been thrilled to read how God is working in each area of ministry to his glory.
I now know that when our Global Ministries Director, Dan Sheffield, talks about the upcoming Regional Gatherings, he’s really talking about going on a 10-day cross-country Road Trip with Bishop Keith Elford for the purpose of hearing from lay leaders about the needs of the church and community and envisioning ways to meet them. Those Road Trips can be exhausting for our leaders. But it’s what they do because it makes us who we are.
I invite you to learn more about who we are, to be reminded that there is so much to learn from each other. I may be contacting some of you in the future – you might have a story of your own to share. But I do hope you will catch the ongoing vision of building healthy churches. We can do that by getting to know each other.
Loreli Cockram will be posting her thoughts and insights regularly on this home page. She may be contacting you for details about a local story we should all hear about! Feel free to keep her up-to-date about local ministry endeavours by e-mailing Loreli directly.