Reflection - September 6, 2016

By Darren McClellan

published 9/6/2016

Dear Friends,

Greetings to you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ!

It is my privilege to greet you today as the new superintendent of the Baypines District.  After a brief stint with the Mobile District, this is now my second appointment to the cabinet this year as directed by Bishop Paul Leeland.  It has been a valuable lesson in extreme itineracy!  Naturally, I look forward to completely unpacking these boxes of books and keeping them on the shelves for a good long while.  I may have taken a circuitous route in getting here, but I am eager to begin this work among you and look forward to all that God intends to reveal through us in our life together.  I am incredibly fortunate to follow in the footsteps of my friend and mentor, the Rev. June Jernigan, who has left this office in immaculate condition.  I also give thanks to all within the district who have sought to receive me with such warmth and hospitality.

My wife, Kristi, and I come with our three sons, Joshua (12), John (10), and Max (6).  Trying to explain the role of a District Superintendent to these three has been a humbling discussion.  Since they do not see an immediate congregation before them and they haven’t heard dad preach all that much anymore, they can’t figure out what I do.  I can’t blame them.  I used to wonder the same thing about DS’s myself. The best they have surmised thus far is that “You drive down to that office to sit and just think about the church.”  Let it suffice to say that they are less than impressed.

They do have a point; but as is often the case, my sons’ observation lit a fire within me.  Surely the mission calls us for more than just thought, but prayer and action as well!  How about the building of Christian community?  In time, I hope to refashion their lackluster perception of this office and its role of making disciples for the transformation of the world.  This is a grand task, and one which I embrace with passion.

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of preaching both services at Foley UMC.  In spite of the usual lull of a Labor Day weekend, the congregation was abuzz with signs of new life and leadership.   Dr. Nolan Donald is off to a great start there, and he and his wife, Susanna are rejoicing in the birth of their daughter, Esther Joy.  I am excited about what God is doing there in Foley!  As I begin making my way out into other areas of the district, I look forward to visiting with our other newly appointed clergy and churches soon.  With charge conference season drawing nigh (or so my calendar tells me) there will be little opportunity for me to “ease in” to this new role.  That said, I’m ready to make up for lost time in building relationships and learning the lay of the land.  I appreciate your support in this important time of transition and for the establishment of trust. 

In the interest of connection and communication, you can expect two regular elements of correspondence from this office each week.  There will be a word of reflection from me on Monday.  This will be followed by a brief newsletter on Thursday with specific dates and details for your more immediate attention.  My hope is that this rhythm of devotion and discipline will be helpful for us all.

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that the