Dear Beloved in Christ:
What shall I render to the Lord
for all His bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord.
(The Book of Worship, 1965)
Grace and peace to you in this Lenten season. We are mindful of the Lord’s bountiful grace and sacrifice as we lift up the cup of salvation and call upon his name.
The theme for the June 5 – 9, 2011 Annual Conference session is Unleashing New Life. We will be lifting up and celebrating the church’s missional focus on Creating New Places for New People and Renewing Existing Congregations. This is one of the four missional foci affirmed by the 2008 General Conference. As we gather at Lakeside, we will re-engage and re-energize our evangelistic call to reach the lost and offer the new life available in Christ Jesus. In a variety of worship settings and teaching sessions we will learn how we can unleash new life and create new places for new people and renew existing congregations. I urge you to review the various workshop offerings online and register for what will be most helpful to your ministry and witness.
In keeping with our theme and missional focus, we will once again receive a Love First Miracle Offering at the 2011 Annual Conference session for creating new places for new people. I invite each of our nearly 1,150 congregations to begin preparing to participate in this miraculous expression of our Wesleyan call and commitment to “offer them Christ.” The needs and opportunities are endless, but God’s grace is even more abundant. Many individuals and congregations are still recovering from the recession, but in God’s economy there is always enough to achieve God’s vision and mission. Alone our impact is minimal, but together we can be used by God to accomplish a miracle. I encourage you to receive a Lenten or Easter offering to bring to annual conference to be used to unleash new life for others!
Our Love First Miracle Offering goal is $250,000. The offering will be used to create new places for new people in West Ohio and around the globe. Half of the offering ($125,000) will be used to build a new church for each of our four mission partners. The other half of our Love First Miracle Offering ($125,000) will go to help create three new places for new people in the West Ohio Conference. A brief description of each of these seven projects is included with this letter.
Many congregations and districts in West Ohio are already partners with one or more of these new congregations and missions. Therefore, designated gifts will be honored. Checks can be written to the “West Ohio Conference” with the project designated on the memo line. Undesignated gifts will be shared among the projects.
The Love First Miracle Offering will be received during our worship on Tuesday morning, June 7. There will be a second opportunity to participate in the offering during our Celebration of Life and Ministry Service on Wednesday afternoon, June 8.
For more information about the projects for our global partners, please contact Rev. Dee Stickley Miner, our conference’s Director of Missions and Justice Ministries at dstickley [at] wocumc [dot] org. For more information about our West Ohio Conference’s congregational development projects, please contact Rev. Sue Nilson Kibbey, our Director of Connectional and Missional Church Initiatives at snkibbey [at] wocumc [dot] org.
Prior to his Ascension, Jesus commanded his disciple to go make disciples of all nations. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave Jesus’ followers the power to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. We are all baptized with this same spirit. We all share the same Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. Our Love First Miracle Offering is one way we can express our commitment to the Great Commission and our Wesleyan legacy of “spreading scriptural holiness across the land.” I invite you to be generous in both your prayers and your giving. I believe in the miraculous power that is released when we are fully available to God and fully dependent upon God’s grace. I believe that if we prayerfully offer ourselves to be used by God for this Love First Miracle Offering, God will bless our efforts and those we seek to reach with the saving, healing power of Christ.
Thank you for your faithful leadership, bold witness and extravagant stewardship. May your journey toward the cross and your preparations for the Easter feast be marked by the sacrifice acceptable to God – a broken and contrite heart.
Yours in Christ’s love,
Bruce R. Ough
The 44th of the West Ohio Annual Conference has come to a close, and we hope you found your time at Lakeside rewarding, spiritually fulfilling, and inspirational. We... (more)