Looking Back, Looking Forward
Happy New Year! The month of January is named for Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and transitions who is often depicted as having two faces: one looking back, the other looking forward. January is a good time to look back at where we’ve been and to anticipate the future.
Looking back, I am so incredibly grateful for my first six months at DUMC as your Senior Pastor. I have been blessed by all of the people I have met in the church and the community, as well as the many experiences we have shared together and the relationships we are building. I look forward to continuing to build relationships and grow in faith together as “devoted servants, drawn to Christ, and dedicated to making disciples.”
The Advent/Christmas season was such a special time at DUMC, and I marveled at the many different events that we shared---worship, parties, dinners, concerts, pageants and much more. So many people worked with passion to make these events special; they overflowed with joy and faith and touched the Damascus community as well as our members. As I greeted those who were arriving for the 5:30 production of the Living Nativity, one young boy (not a church member) greeted me with a big smile as he entered the courtyard and announced, “I’ve been here before!” To which I replied, “And we’re so glad you’re here again. Welcome back!” Clearly, DUMC is someplace special for this boy and his family. As we move into the new year and other important seasons of the Christian year (such as Lent, Easter, and Pentecost), I look forward to continuing to experience the many different traditions that make DUMC special, as well as creating new events and new memories together.
As we look into the future, not just as a local church but as a denomination, there are some important things ahead in the UMC that we need to keep before us. The Council of Bishops has called a Special Session of the General Conference of the UMC to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The General Conference is the top policy-making body of our denomination, comprised of equal numbers of laity and clergy from United Methodist Conferences around the world.
The purpose of the special session is to receive and act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops. The 32-member Commission was authorized by the 2016 General Conference and appointed by the Council of Bishops to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and exploring options to strengthen the unity of the church. Because this special session of General Conference has the potential to make major policy changes in our denomination, it is something of which we all should be aware. Please see page 3 of this Beacon for more information on the special session and on opportunities to gather at DUMC to learn more.
May God’s grace, peace, and hope surround you in the New Year, and may you share God’s love with others.
Grace and peace,