Focus: Final Words
My family and I thank God for our new appointment to 1st UMC, Nashville, Arkansas and Bingen United Methodist Church effective July 1. Our last Sunday in Sheridan with you will be June 10th. Former minister Rev. Don Nolley will preach June 17, and June 24 will be Vacation Bible School Sunday with Annual Conference delegate Zoe Hines bringing a summary of Conference at both 8:45 a.m. and 10:50 a.m. services.
With love and prayers I commend each of you into the capable hands and ministry of Pastor Todd-Paul Taulbee, his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter, Sara. We thank the Lord for the Taulbee family and offer them our love, prayers, and support as they move to Sheridan. I am confident that our church will display the same grace, love, compassion, kindness, and support to the Taulbees which Barbara, Matthew, Catherine, and I have experienced in our time here.
Arkansas Bishop Gary Mueller and his cabinet have communicated clearly in recent months their focus and priority is no longer on making appointments for the maintenance of churches and ministers, but upon the mission field surrounding our church, ie., the unchurched of our community.
In my brief 23 months of ministry with you, I have focused on the mission field. We rejoice together as His Church and thank Him for the 40 new members who have been received into our church membership in the last 23 months which now totals 421. These 40 persons represent just under 10% of our total current membership. In the three previous years, 2013-2016, 42 persons were received into our membership. So evangelism is not only the mission Jesus gave us; it’s the lifeblood of our church.
After Jesus’ Resurrection at the end of the 40 days before He ascended back to Heaven, He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28: 19, 20). His words are also the mission of our 743 United Methodist Churches in Arkansas – the litmus test of all we say and do as we serve Jesus Christ. Jesus chose these words as His parting words!
Jesus set this agenda for His Church. When I hear longtime church leaders say, “We don’t know what our purpose is at our church,” I confess I am amazed. For 2,000 years this has been the unchanging mission of the Christian church to pray for, invite, and introduce people to faith in Jesus Christ.
Please know that I will not return in the future for pastoral care or responsibilities, i.e., weddings or funerals, since you will be under Pastor Taulbee’s ministry. But I will continue to hold you in my prayers and heart.
May the Lord bless and keep you — and may you grow in His grace and love and learn to live out His grace to others as we go about the joyful mission of introducing people to faith in Jesus Christ.
– Bro. Daniel