Pastor’s Ponderings-June

To the church of God as found at Marion Salem Church, called to be saints together with those in every place who call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ: You are miracles of God’s grace and mercy!

The Allegheny West annual conference concluded on Saturday, May 24th. It was once again a true blessing and breath of fresh air to be at a Global Methodist conference. Previously, I felt like I was looking behind my back and I had to keep my radar up for those who were unfriendly towards conservative / traditional viewpoints. Being on the Mt. Vernon Nazarene University Campus was freeing! The level of mutual support and love that was expressed by each person I met was incredible.

One of the hardest things about leaving the United Methodist Church is the relationships that were broken. There are people that I greatly miss, some I agree with theologically and they are not able to leave, others I disagree with, yet we were friends. So when I arrived at annual conference it was good to see several folks whom I had not seen since the last conference met in March and others who I had not seen in more than a year. One of our conference teachers this year was Dr. Bill Arnold, one of my seminary professors. He was actually the first person on campus that I told about the triplets when the doctors said, “Tell no one,” and Emily and I said, “We’ll ask everyone to pray!” Dr. Arnold is a blessing to know and I am thankful he has been able to join the Global Methodist movement. Dr. Arnold recently lost his mother so his family could use prayer support.

Dr. Steve Seamands, another one of my seminary professors, was also supposed to join us for conference as a teacher. Unfortunately the week before conference his wife unexpectedly passed. He and family definitely need our prayers. I hope to be able to catch up with him at another opportunity in the future.

Another friend that was at conference and a great encouragement to me is Dr. Tom Tumblin, you might recall his brother, Bruce Tumblin, filled in for me back at the end of April. Dr. Tumblin spent about an hour with me again this conference as we caught up on happenings and he also continues to pour encouragement and learning into my life.

I am incredibly blessed to have known these men. Yet, I also got to see friends from seminary who pastor in Pennsylvania. It is wonderful to get to work along side them in the same conference now. I also had the joy of seeing old friends from where I have served previously. Finally, this annual conference provided a greater opportunity to meet new people than before because we shared 3 meals together each day and had margins in the schedule to chat. The conference secretary, Linda, was a charming pastor from Pennsylvania with wit and humor that made even the most mundane announcements instant “core memories” for years to come. I got to eat breakfast with her and her husband on Saturday, as well as worship with them that day.

The point is this—it is a new day! There was not a single contentious moment at conference. No disruptive protests. No heretical “teaching.” No distracting items of business or meaningless virtue signaling. It was the wider Church gathered as the body of Christ, celebrating the ordination of those who have dedicated their lives to Christ and a time of worship and filling that is more akin to revival than business. Get ready Salem – the best is yet to come!