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Deliverance and Sustenance

By Jill Wondel, Associate Conference Lay Leader During Lent this year, my small group has been studying the Psalms. We’ve had wonderful conversations, reflecting on the stories behind the Psalms and imagining both what the author was experiencing and how Jesus and the disciples might have understood these poems and songs. But one in particular stands out to me this time. It’s Psalm 3. The heading at the top of the poem tells us that this Psalm was written when King David was fleeing from his ...


Leadership Amid a Pandemic

Bishop Farr

When I sought the election as bishop in 2016, I never imagined the degree of disruption (the pandemic, denominational issues, racial injustices and political turmoil) we would have experienced this last 18 months. My plan to lead the Missouri Conference to relentlessly lead our churches to become outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers has been greatly impacted by these outside forces. Suddenly we were learning how to lead in a multifaceted crisis and planning for a very ...


No matter what I say…

Bishop Farr

Maintaining faith, courage and energy in the face of these challenging times can be a bit daunting. However, daunting times are nothing new to the Christian faith. As we travel through this season of Lent, we are reminded of the many challenges Jesus faced, mostly from his own religious community. Read some of the challenging moments Jesus faced: Luke 20:1 – The religious leaders questioned Jesus’ authority.    Luke 20:19 – The leaders plotted against Jesus as he spoke about taxes and ...


A New Year in Unusual Times

Bishop Farr

The year 2020 was full of many “firsts” and a season of “we’ve never done it like that before.” Sometimes the changes were easy and sometimes they were extremely hard and long. It was certainly a year of adjustments. Now onto 2021, will it be more of the same? No doubt we are still living in a time of uncertainty, a time of crisis. However, the Bible and our faith points to a journey of hope. We just experienced a world changing birth in Jesus Christ reminding us that God is present with us ...


I Claim Christ

Bishop Farr

Fall and spring are my favorite seasons of the year. In spring,everything comes back to life from a season of cold, darkness and dormancy. New life begins to spring forth and baseball begins. In fall, the colors change; the air changes. Everything seems to be in change mode and we escape the hot humidness of summer. Football begins, school begins, and the church season starts to point us toward Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. 2020 has unfolded in a way that no one expected. At this time ...


Leading Through Anxious Times

Bishop Farr

Bishop Farr shares encouragement about leading through anxious times.


Laity Leadership: Grounded In Solid Faith That Includes Making Space For Discernment

By Amy Thompson In our society today we see many images of leaders. Amid all these images, it can be hard to determine who might be a good leader and worth following. In thinking about leaders and what makes them good, my attention often turns toward the work of Ken Blanchard with servant leadership and to the readings in the Maxwell Leadership Bible by John C. Maxwell. Both identify that leadership is influence. Ken Blanchard goes on to say, “anytime you seek to influence the thinking, ...


Electing the 2020 Delegations

It is the season in the life of the church where leaders across the Conference along with Conference staff are preparing for Annual Conference. The residents of Springfield, Missouri will be invaded by laity and clergy from across our Conference on the weekend of June 7th. Our Conference theme this year is New Places for New People which lifts up one of our three conference priorities. It will be exciting to celebrate the stories of how new places are touching new people in communities across ...


A Commitment to Questions

By Jill Wondel As a delegate to the special session of General Conference, when I agreed to write this article, I thought I would write about my experience in St. Louis. But then, near the end of the Conference, someone made a motion to pull a group of petitions called the Simple Plan to be voted on separately. The Simple Plan would have simply removed language about homosexuality from the Book of Discipline and was offered by members of the LGBTQI movement. Because of the way the votes had ...


God Calls All of Us

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson God calls all of us. Throughout scripture, we are told about God's call on our lives to be in ministry. We hear these words in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, “There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; and there are different ministries and the same Lord; and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.” God calls all of us for ministry. We, the ordinary people, are called by God and filled with the Spirit to create extraordinary ...


Working Towards Resolution

Amy Thompson

The General Conference of the worldwide United Methodist Church has called a Special Session. It will take place for a few days at the end of February in St. Louis. Methodists from the Missouri Conference and the Illinois Great Rivers Conference will be providing radical hospitality. We will welcome 864 delegates from around the world along with numerous guests. This Special Session is a result of the work of General Conference 2016 when the Commission on the Way Forward was organized to work on...


Witnessing in Our Daily Life

By Amy Thompson A couple of months ago I was serving in the Welcome Center at my church on a Sunday morning. I entered into a conversation with a church friend. She mentioned that she would like to read something about witnessing in your daily life. By the end of our brief conversation, I offered to share a book with her that could be helpful in sharing Jesus with others. When I found Purple Fish by Mark O. Wilson on my bookshelf, I noticed the dog-eared pages, the writing in the margins and my...


Radical Hospitality

By Jill Wondel In the summer of 1996 I gazed out the window as my plane landed in Kiev, Ukraine. It wasn’t my first international trip, but it was the first trip I would take to a country entirely foreign to me, the first time I would live in a place where English was only spoken through a translator. Our guide met us at the airport, got us through customs and took us to the train station where we would board an overnight train to Kharkiv – our home for the summer.       It was then that I ...


Blessings Bucket

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson The beginning of this year marked a new journey for me as a new professional adventure began. The decision to pursue this new adventure was based in a lot prayer and reflection. The new professional adventure allowed me flexibility with my work schedule and provided the opportunity for me to pursue work that addressed prevention as well as intervention. As with any new adventure, I experienced a range of feelings from excitement to fear but amid the feelings found peace.      A ...



Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson I remember one of my first small group experiences as a young adult was about prayer. Several members of the group wanted to learn how to pray, so our group leader found a book that would guide us in learning all about prayer. It was during that time that I formed a foundation in understanding the importance of prayer. My prayer life has been shaped over the years through further studies and readings, through experience, and through the influence of others.      As our ...


Three Priorities

Amy Thompson

While at Annual Conference, the Bishop introduced to us the three conference priorities that have been affirmed by the Mission Council and Cabinet. During my laity address, I provided a brief introduction about the three priorities before the directors providing leadership shared the specific goals and strategies. The following is an excerpt from my address: Priority One – New  Missional Leaders Essential to the work of the conference is increasing our new missional leaders. We become missional...


5 Cups of Coffee

Amy Thompson

We are all called to be in relationship with God. We are called to be active in the world sharing God’s love with others. Sometimes it is difficult to respond to the second call. We sometimes do not know where to start. Our own uncertainty about identifying and using our gifts and talents leaves us sitting in the pew. Our own discomfort in trying something new keeps us from reaching out. Growing in our own discipleship means taking time to explore our gifts, our passions and our opportunities. ...


What Leading Meant to Me

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson It’s June and time for Annual Conference. The theme this year is Freed-2-Lead. As I attend meetings and talk with directors and district superintendents, I find myself in many conversations centered around leadership. As we explore leadership in this conference, it causes me to pause and wonder how laity approach leading within their church, their ministry areas and their community. On a quest to understand the perspectives that our laity hold, I reached out to laity across our ...


A Time of Connection

Freed 2 Lead is grounded in scripture as we consider the words of Paul in Ephesians, “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” We are all gifted. We are all called to respond in ministry. Some of us are called to lead others in ministry. The theme for the 2018 Missouri Annual Conference is Freed-2-Lead where clergy, laity and guests will be ...


Hurricane Maria Relief

Amy Thompson

Imagine this... the sunshine with rays reaching far and wide. As you are walking, you look to your left and see the beach with debris, broken palm trees. Your eyes move slowly to the many shades of blue in the water that is crashing the beach. The sound and view are amazing. Now as you look to your right, it’s not what you see but what you hear. You hear voices, laughter, clapping and the hum of a generator. You see a concrete building with the windows open, and the front doors wide open with ...


Begin with Knowledge

By Jeff Fothergill At our Church Council meeting a couple of months ago, we spent time discussing what it means to be a “sent” church. I’m not sure if we touched all the bases, but it was clear that we couldn’t get there without laity involvement and support. Of course, that’s easy to say but more complicated to do. Whether you’re looking to inspire involvement in your church or get more involved yourself, every journey needs a starting point. Here’s a model to consider; begin with knowledge ...


Rural Ministry: Matching Assets to Opportunities

By Lori Kiehl As the Mark Twain District Lay Leader, I want to invite you to North Missouri to engage with problem solvers of small rural churches. The Mark Twain District’s Rural Ministry Now conference is meeting the challenge of helping rural churches thrive by providing training to church leaders on Saturday, February 17 at the Northeast Missouri Fairgrounds in Kirksville from 8:30 am to 4 pm. The focus will be “Missional Engagement: Matching Assets to Opportunities.” We will discuss ways ...


The Lay Leader

By Mitch Ross What does a Lay Leader really do? The United Methodist Church Book of Discipline outlines responsibilities for lay leaders, but that is the easy answer.       To answer candidly, we need to recognize the role of laity in the church. “The witness of the laity, their Christ-like examples of everyday living as well as sharing their own faith experiences of the gospel, is the primary evangelistic ministry through which all people will come to know Christ and The United Methodist ...


The Four Weeks of Advent

By Amy Thompson Advent is the season of the church in which we prepare our lives for the coming of Christ. Growing up, my favorite part of Advent was placing our advent wreath with its three purple candles and one pink candle next to our nativity scene. In the four weeks leading up to Christmas, we would read stories and scripture related to the themes of hope, peace, joy and love.   As a child, my interest was in the stories, but now as I think of these themes, I wonder do we really ...


Prayer Circles of Thanksgiving

Amy Thompson

By Amy Thompson The month of November reminds us to be thankful as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I along with many of you offer thanks for our health, family members, friends, employment and healing. I also offer thanks for the strong clergy and lay leadership that exists throughout the Missouri Conference. I offer this thanks throughout the year not just around Thanksgiving by using my prayer circles that I have created in my prayer journal. My prayer journal has webs of circles (literally ...

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