Reflection - September 27, 2016

By Darren McClellan

published 9/27/2016
Dear Friends,
On behalf of Kristi, Joshua, John and Max McClellan, I want to express my sincere appreciation to all who were able to gather for our welcome reception last night at First UMC in Atmore.  Special thanks to Dr. Debora Bishop for serving as our host, to Rev. Bill Price for his gracious introduction, and to the United Methodist Women for their coordination of the abundant array of food (my boys particularly appreciated that element of the evening festivities!).

As was shared with the assembly last night, the development of Christian community has been the centerpiece of my practice of ministry thus far, and one which I look forward to carrying into my new role as district superintendent.  I believe that we are created for community, called into relationship, and made competent by our connection to God and to our neighbors.  The divine intent is holiness, or growing into the image and likeness of God.  When speaking of the gospel of Christ, John Wesley said Solitary religion is not to be found there. ‘Holy solitaries’ is a phrase no more consistent with the gospel than holy adulterers. The gospel of Christ knows of no religion but social; no holiness but social holiness.  I have always loved that line!

For this reason, your reception for me and my family brings great joy to my heart and mind.  As I said last night (and as you will hear me say over and over again) we all need people.  How often the good news of 1 Peter 2:10 rings in my ears and echoes through my imagination: Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  In your prayers and support of your new district superintendent, you have shown mercy.  Humbled by this grace, I respond in delight for the gift of being within the community of the Baypines District.  As a family, we rejoice in the knowledge that you are our people!

With this foundation now in place I wish to reiterate the words that have shaped my sense of vocation from the moment I read them nearly 25 years ago.  Coming from his letter to the Colossians, Paul writes,
I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured  understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:2-3).

Encouraged and united in love...enriched by the treasure of Christ.  That is my goal for the clergy, laity, and churches of this district.
I am saying this so that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments.  For though I am absent in the body, yet I am with you in spirit, and I rejoice to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ (2:4-5).
So glad to be with you!