Reflection - June 13, 2017

By Darren McClellan

published 6/13/2017
Dear Friends,
It has been several days now, but my heart is still full from the joy of the 2017 Annual Conference.  What an inspiring time it was!  As I shared with Bishop Graves, it felt in many ways like an experience of new birth.  There was labor along the journey, but the work of the Spirit delivered in ways that only the Spirit of God can. 

I must confess that I have not always had such exalted expectations for an Annual Conference session, but after receiving the episcopal address, I was genuinely convinced that the best IS yet to come.  I left ready to “imagine” all the more!  This sense of renewal, I trust, is real.  As John Wesley declared, grace is the source, (and) faith the condition of salvation.  I pray this experience is true for each of us as we collectively reclaim that which can happen by faith.  In response to God’s grace, let us settle for nothing short of salvation!

As we live into this new day, I want to give thanks and recognition to the many in our district who planned, prayed, and prepared for this session, as well as those who reached particular milestones in their ministry.  During the memorial service, we remembered the Rev. Floyd Dial and Hilda Butts for having finished their race.  On Monday morning, we celebrated first time local pastors Mary Kathryn Allen, Taylor Claire Bean, and Benjamin Reece, as well as the Rev. Marg Perelli for her faithful completion of the Course of Study.  Later that afternoon, we sought to honor the ministry of the Rev. Jimmy Aaron and the Rev. Jody Kranz in their official retirement (though I am glad they are still serving!).  I would also give thanks to the Rev. Jack Purser for his years of service to St. Paul UMC in Bay Minette.

As the host district, we were blessed by the prayers offered before each business session by Mandie Kinsey, Dale Pancake, Phyllis Campbell, Diane Everette, Major Tunstall, Eli Peacock, Denise Park, Tony McCullough, and Ed Glaize.  These intercessions contributed much, I believe, to the intention of our work.

I also want to take this opportunity to welcome those clergy who will be new serving new appointments in the Baypines District this year.  Let us keep these family members in our prayers:

Brennan Peacock (FUMC Atmore), Danny Barfield (Fairhope Associate), John Simonson (Foley Associate), Denise Park (Frisco City), Mary Kathryn Allen (Marlow), Bill Curtin (FUMC Monroeville), Mike Bledsoe (Mt. Zion West/Centenary), Mark Dees (FUMC Opp), Jim Kinder (Orange Beach), Chip Hale (Pollard), Jonathan Hart (Robertsdale), Taylor Claire Bean (Rosinton), Linda Smith (Sparta Hill), Benjamin Reece (St. Paul, Bay Minette), Rick Gillian (Stapleton) and George Weaver (Wallace/Hartwood).

On July 22, we will be holding the Baypines District “Fiesta de Bienvenida” to welcome our new clergy and their families.  The “fiesta” will be held at Gulf Shores UMC on that Saturday from 12-3 pm.  You can expect worship, communion, and hospitality with our friends from the San Pedro Mission, catered Mexican food, live music throughout the afternoon, and plenty of fun for all ages.  Did someone say “piñata’?  Yes, nothing says “welcome to the Baypines District” quite like watching your new friends swing blindly through the air in search of an unrevealed treasure.  Let it be a sign of our longing for connection.  No matter the heckling of the crowd, by faith it can happen!  It is the evidence of things yet unseen!

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of worshipping at Daphne, Jubilee Shores, and Fairhope UMCs.  I look forward to connecting with more of our congregations throughout the summer.  I wish all a Happy Father’s Day this Sunday.
Grace to you,