2012 Treasurer’s Laity Address by Mickey Wilson
My wife and I spent the Christmas holidays in Nashville, TN with our children and grandchildren. We drove because we took so many presents we could not possibly have shipped them.
In fact we had to rent a bigger car because we don’t own a car large enough to carry all the presents we took.
When we returned from the holidays, all the presents WE received from our children fit neatly in the glove compartment of our car.
I suspect some of you feel that way about your own church.
You bring a carload of gifts in the form of your tithe and talents.
Always volunteering, providing cakes for the bake sale, bringing your car to the youth car wash, contributing extra on camping Sunday and Children’s Home Sunday, digging deeper when there is an earth quake in Haiti or a tsunami in Japan or hurricane here in the states.
Yet, metaphorically speaking, what you get in return fits nicely in the glove compartment of your car.
Some of the people in our churches are like my children.
They could do more, more than simply dropping off a box of fried chicken at the covered dish supper. They could come early and help set up or stay late to help clean up.
But they don’t.
For some their financial situation has changed and they simply don’t have the resources they once had.
Others are getting older and don’t have the physical ability set up tables or even to bake from scratch their famous “orange juice cake”.
They wish they could do more and contribute more but they can’t. They simply aren’t able.
But for others: it is a different story.
This isn’t the Methodist Church they once knew, it is very different than the one they grew up in…Their new pastor is a different gender or color than they are used to…the new pastor is too young or too old.
They don’t see the benefit and in some cases even resent being part of a connectional system.
We need to help these people understand what it means to be a UM, with membership comes responsibility.
You see: I’m proud to be Methodist…When I’m having a conversation with others and the subject of religion surfaces… I’m always proud to say I’m a United Methodist.
I’m a member of First Lakeland UMC….First Lakeland has the words United Methodist on every sign and the cross and flame are predominately displayed throughout the church. I’m not ashamed to be a UM, I’m proud to me a member of the UMC.
But I became a member of the UMC first because my parents were Methodist. Initially I didn’t have a clear understanding of why I was a Methodist. I even wondered why my parents were Methodist and not another religion. After all their friends were Jewish, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians (even Baptist).
When I was young I liked that we were Methodist because of very superficial things; frankly the Methodist girls were prettier than the other girls and they could go to the school dances while the Baptist girls couldn’t.
I liked receiving communion at the altar, rather than having The Sacraments passed among the congregation while sitting in the pews.
When I was in college, I became aware of other beliefs which made us different than some other denominations.
I first understood “open communion “ when I was refused communion at my “girl friend’s” church. At the UMC I attended, our pastor would always say…”this is GOD’s table, not the table of this specific church and not the table of the UMC.” Everyone is invited to receive the Lord’s Supper.
At my girl friend’s church, their pastor said “only those who have been baptized are invited to the Lord’s Table and by baptized, I mean fully submerged not a little water sprinkled on your head and then the congregation giggled.
Although that wasn’t the reason we quit dating, I’ll never forget that day and I can’t imagine attending any church but The United Methodist Church.
I’m proud to be a United Methodist.
As I got older I learned about connectionalism and how our local church couldn’t by itself do what all our churches together are able to do.
My local church couldn’t have founded Boston University, Bethune-Cookman, Duke, Emory, Florida Southern, SMU, Syracuse, University of Denver nor Meharry Medical College: the first medical school in the South for African Americans founded in 1876 and is still the largest private historically black institution solely dedicated to educating healthcare professionals. It is the largest producer of African American with Masters in Public Health and Ph.D.s in biomedical science.
These schools and 270 others are current beneficiaries of our apportionment system.
I’m proud of this.
There are hundreds of other schools that were founded by UMC, Vanderbilt and Northwestern as examples.
In fact: The original nick name of the football team of Northwestern was the “Fighting Methodist.”
They dropped that nick name because no one would attend the games, for fear they would be assigned to a committee and asked to bring a covered dish for the half time intermission.
United Methodist Institutions of higher learning are not just in the US, but worldwide…with African University in Zimbabwe founded in 1992 having an enrollment of 1200.
Methodist hospitals are some of the most renowned hospitals in the world. Steve Jobs, who certainly could have gone anywhere in the world, received his liver transplant from Methodist Hospital in Memphis. Methodist Hospital in Houston is recognized throughout the world.
I’m proud to be a UM.
I’m also proud of the long list of famous Methodists. The list includes former US Presidents, the current President of Liberia, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the current US Secretary of State and celebrities like William Holden, James Arness, Donna Reed and Beonce.
They all are/were United Methodist.
Fictional characters are also portrayed as UMC. Two Jewish writers, wanting to depict their main character as having been raised in a wholesome Christian environment, had the main character’s parents worshiping in a Methodist Church. The Kents worshipped at Smallville MC -- Superman’s parents.
I remember thinking as a child, when I first saw the Kents entering SMC with Superman, how proud I was that Superman was also a Methodist.
I’m proud to be a UM.
As I became more involved in my church and developed a better understanding of UM beliefs I understood why my parents were UM.
Now: As I reflect on my description of the gifts we received from our children, fitting nearly in our glove compartment, I may have been a little harsh.
In retrospect, the gifts we receive from our children far exceed the gifts we give; they may be in the form of grandbabies, or in the manner in which our children live their lives as good husbands and wives and parents and being good Christians. Yes they give us joy in countless ways. Their gifts they give us just keep giving.
HMMMM; Now that I think about it: Our church is like that, the gift we all received from GOD, HIS son Jesus, was probably the size of our glove compartment when he was a baby, but it is the greatest gift of all.
As Methodists we follow the teaching of GOD’s gift , we share, we take care of each other….we believe in sharing our gifts and as a result have hundreds of hospitals , schools, children’s homes, outreach ministries which feed and clothe and educate and care for millions. None of which we could do by ourselves.
I’m proud to be a United Methodist.
Video Intro to Treasurers Report.
Annual Conference video a parody of Bishop Whitaker’s farewell
Rev. Bill Barnes of St. Luke’s UMC in Orlando, FL, plays the role of Bishop Whitaker in a parody of the Bishop’s farewell to the Florida Annual Conference in June 2012.
The Florida Annual Conference and First United Methodist Church of Lakeland are pleased to offer child care for Elementary and Pre-school age children, Thursday, June 14, through Saturday, June 16. There will be age appropriate programming as a part of the care for the children during Annual Conference sessions. In order to provide this service, it is imperative that the child is pre-registered. If you have not pre-registered, there is a very good possibility that spaces will be filled and you may be turned away. Pre-registration ensures that there are an adequate number of child care workers on duty to meet the child/worker ratio (required by law) and also prevents too many workers on duty, which hurts this program financially. If your need for child care changes from your pre-registration request, please notify FUMC Lakeland so they might offer childcare for others needing this service.
Deadline: May 20, 2012 Pre-Registration Is Required
Click Here for more information and registration form.
CAMPUS HOUSING RESERVATION DEADLINE: MONDAY, MAY 28, 2012
The Chaplain's Office at Florida Southern College will coordinate campus housing. To make your stay at Florida Southern College as comfortable as possible, please read this letter carefully and follow the procedures.
IMPORTANT: The Office of Church Relations coordinates only campus housing and campus meals. All other information or materials should be obtained from the Florida United Methodist Conference Center.
The Lakeland Center requires advance notice to reserve rooms. Those requiring a room for their group meals, and those groups planning meals outside of The Lakeland Center, are asked to submit this form so we can publish the day and time of each meal function on the Annual Conference webpage. Deadline - March 15, 2012