Bishop Palmer has invited us to come together as The West Ohio Conference in the study of Galatians: Gospel of Grace over the weeks of the Easter season. While we are not united in our thinking on all matters, we can all be united in our commitment to turn to the scripture for guidance. As we read, study, and discuss scripture together, we trust the Holy Spirit to move in our midst and to speak to us through the living word of God. We hope you will join churches across the annual conference in a conference-wide all-church series on Galatians. Small group discussion guides, worship resources, social media options, and communication templates will be available to you for this series by early April.
Paul wrote his letter to the church at Galatia during a time of great tension. Leaders in the church were suggesting that believers must become Jewish before they could become followers of Christ. Paul responds with intense emotion, stressing that the very gospel is at stake in this decision. He urges the Galatians to trust that they are justified by faith in Christ rather than the works of the law. He encourages them to accept the freedom that grace offers, to be guided by the Holy Spirit to live in unity as they “bear one another’s burdens” and share the fruit of the Spirit.
As we face significant tension over division in our nation and church today, Paul’s letter reminds us of the transformative power of grace and the ways that we might overcome our differences in order to reach even more people with the good news. His words ring through history calling us to trust the gospel of grace and to live in the unity that life in the Spirit makes possible.
As individuals, small groups, and congregations across our annual conference study Galatians together they will be challenged to consider how the gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ sets us free from the burden of sin and the law, and free for unity across differences, bearing the fruit of love in Spirit filled community.
What Is Included?
This series will function at multiple levels.
Annual Conference level:
- Individuals may participate by watching a short video devotional in NewsNet and on social media each week, and reflecting on the theme verse and a quotation on grace each week shared via social media.
- Individuals may participate by signing up for Transforming Mission’s daily reading, reflection questions & prayer at www.TransformingMission.org/Bible and listening each Tuesday to a new podcast highlighting a theme from the chapter for the week accessed by subscribing to LeaderCast at www.TransformingMission.org/podcast
- Districts are encouraged to share information about the series and share the Bishop’s video, scripture, and quotation each week in their newsletters and social media.
- Superintendents are encouraged to lead a small group study in some format during this series.
Local Church level:
- Local churches are invited to utilize this as a worship series during the season of Easter or soon after. Worship resources and preaching helps will be provided.
- Local churches are invited to utilize this as a small group Bible study discussion during the season of Easter or soon after. A brief background for each chapter of Galatians and discussion questions around the weekly theme will be provided.
- Graphics resources will be available for communications about the series and for use in worship slides.
Timeline with themes, key verses, and key concepts:
This series is introduced during the week with participants doing personal study and small group discussion and hearing Bishop Palmer’s video devotion. Each week concludes with Sunday worship that celebrates and pulls together the theme that has been studied during the week.
The series is structured in this way to take place during the season of Easter but conclude by the start of The West Ohio Annual Conference session.
Week 1/Chapter 1: Grace that Transforms
Key Verse: Galatians 1:23
“They only heard a report about me: “The man who used to harass us now preaches the faith that he once tried to destroy.” (CEB)
Key Concept: Just as God transformed Paul from persecutor to preacher through grace, through grace God transforms our lives and worldview.
Week 2/Chapter 2: Grace that Embraces
April 29-May 5
Key Verse: Galatians 2:9-10
“James, Cephas, and John, who are considered to be key leaders, shook hands with me and Barnabas as equals when they recognized the grace that was given to me. So it was agreed that we would go to the Gentiles, while they continue to go to the people who were circumcised. They asked only that we would remember the poor, which was certainly something I was willing to do.” (CEB)
Key Concept: Although they had differences of practice and thought around Jewish law, Paul and Peter came to a place where they recognized the grace of God that was present in the other. This allowed them to continue and expand their ministry reach.
Week 3/Chapter 3: Grace that Clothes Us
May 6-May 12
Key Verse: Galatians 3:26-28
“You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (CEB)
Key Concept: We are justified by faith in Jesus Christ, not through obedience to the law. This is symbolized by our baptism that reminds us we are cleansed by Christ, clothed by Christ, and made one in Christ.
Week 4/Chapter 4: Grace that Forms
Key Verse: Galatians 4:19
“My little children, I’m going through labor pains again until Christ is formed in you.” (CEB)
Key Concept: Through Jesus Christ, born to redeem those under the law, we receive the gift of adoption and we are formed by the Spirit as children of God.
Week 5/Chapter 5: Grace that Bears Fruit
Key Verse: Galatians 5:22-23
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.” (CEB)
Key Concept: Grace frees us from the burden of the works of the law and frees us for the law of love so that we might be empowered to bear the fruit of love.
Week 6/Chapter 6: Grace that Sustains
May 27-June 2
Key Verse: Galatians 6:9
“Let’s not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” (CEB)
Key Concept: Grace frees us and sustains us to work for the good of all, bearing one another's burdens, and doing what is right.