Mrs Jarena Lee , Preacher of the A.M.E. Church, Aged 60 years in the 11th day of the 2nd month 1844, Philadelphia 1844In the spirit of the motivational slogan, "There's no 'I' in team," I'm throwing this one out there: "There's no 'God' in Charge Conference." Literally, the word, "God," cannot be spelled out of the letters of the words: "Charge Conference." For those of you non-Methodists reading this post, bless your hearts, Charge Conference is another term for tons and tons of administrative paperwork, record-keeping, and yearly reports culminating in a meeting sometime in the fall. For many of us pastors, Charge Conference is the bane of our existence...I am only just learning what a bane it is, as this is my first official Charge Conference in which I am responsible for compiling, seeking out, and producing copies of said reports, records, and paperwork. My play on words aside, in the last month, I have really come to express my thoughts that God can't have any part in Charge Conference preparations...they are so rigid, so orderly, and well, doesn't the Bible say something about love keeping no records, and if God is love, then??...you get the picture. I am grasping at straws for some way to allow myself just a little bit of hatred for all of this business. I want God to say to me, "You know, it really doesn't matter. Don't worry your pretty little head over it." But in actuality, God has been saying something quite different. I've tried putting my fingers in my ears to drown out the words, but still God says to me:"There is something holy about this work you're doing. There is discipline there, and you need discipline in your life. There is hope in the numbers and the reports and the record-keeping, because it is in these details that we see I [God] am still at work, and that my church is still working toward my[God's] kingdom." Much as I'd like not to hear it, this work of Charge Conference is important. And, I'll go ahead and say it, there is grace in Charge Conference. Literally, the letters of the word, "grace" are there, but realistically, God's grace is there, too. In all of the details of the life of the church, there is the gift of God's love. There is the church. There is a bit of evidence for the Kingdom. There's a connection of the past and the present church, and much like this photograph of an early Methodist preacher shows, we're all a part of the connection. There's a reminder of where we have been and a looking forward to where we will someday be. Now, I'll try to remember that as I stop procrastinating and get back to the grace-filled business of Charge Conference preparations.
P.S.: For those of you saints who have helped in the completion of above-mentioned forms and records, God bless you and grant you many stars in your crowns!