General Conference 2012, a gathering of nearly-1,000 delegates from around the world, which meets every four years, began yesterday in Tampa, Florida.
This morning, Bishop Peter Weaver delivered the Episcopal Address on behalf of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. You can watch the video of the entire morning worship service here (the message begins at the 21-minute mark).
I watched the video and took some notes, some of which I’ll share in this post. Bishop Weaver talked about “Resurrection Revolution.”
Discussing the story of Christ’s resurrection, Bishop Weaver noted …
Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing, teaching. And by the way, I will be with you. And the followers of Jesus don’t even wait to form a committee. They go. It’s Eastertide. And we are still in the resurrection revolution, called to go to new places.
According to Bishop Weaver, the resurrection gives the United Methodist Church hope. Weaver states …
If God can bring to life the crucified Christ, surely God can bring to life a calcified church. Resurrection defines who we are; it’s our identity. We are new creatures in Christ, a resurrection people, disciple followers of Jesus, the Risen One.
Bishop Weaver talked about “who we are” as United Methodists. He also talked about our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world …
It is the bottom line and top priority of our resurrection revolution mission. … Our mission is the out working of resurrection … letting that good news flow through us to others. … It is about a heart warmed and a world transformed.
That last line is one that will stick with me. “It is about a heart warmed and a world transformed.”
Bishop Weaver reminded general conference that it is about mission, not survival.
Now please take note, that this mission—what we do—does not come from a fearful desperation for members to share in our work of saving the church. No, it rather comes from God’s faithful invitation for more disciples to share in God’s work of saving the world. … But frankly, it is not the decline in membership in some parts of our church that is most disturbing. Rather, it is the decline in deep discipleship, discipleship that dares—no delights—in sharing Christ with others and living the radical, Christ-like life that draws others to Jesus so that they too become followers—disciples—engaged with God in transforming the world.
Bishop Weaver completed his statements about the condition of the church with this …
The sad reality is that too many of our congregations are confused about who they are and what they are to do. Too many have swapped the let’s go of the Great Commission for the status quo of no mission.
At the end of Bishop Weaver’s address, he turned his attention to general conference. He encouraged them to ask, “How will this piece of legislation enable us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world?” Bishop Weaver added, “None of this is for the sake of the preservation of our institution. But all of it is for the sake of the salvation of the world.”
I love Bishop Weaver’s question, “Can we focus the Discipline on discipling?” Referring to the 1912 Discipline, he noted their attitude that mission shaped the Discipline.
Now, there’s a challenge for us: Reduce the Discipline to this size [holding a copy of a small 1912 Discipline] while expanding its focus on discipling. Is it possible for the Discipline to be a tool for liberating the vast Eastertide flow that is bubbling throughout the United Methodist movement rather than using it as a tool for regulating a vast institutional structure that in some places is almost dead in the water. Could it happen at this General Conference?
Bishop Weaver encouraged delegates near the end of his message …
This is a time, not for timid tinkering, but for bold believing and fruitful following of the living Christ!
I thought it was a great message. If you watched/listened to the episcopal address, please share your thoughts in the comments below. You can follow events of the 10-day conference at gc2012.umc.org.