President’s Message: The Church’s One Foundation
As an introduction, you have seen images of people and churches from many different places around our United Methodist connection. The picture you now see is one of thousands of church buildings that dot the landscape of the United States. I chose this particular church because it is the church of my childhood and the place of my baptism. It is located in Star City, Indiana, a small farming community in the northwestern part of that state. Remarkably, the church today looks almost as it did more than fifty years ago when, on a Palm Sunday, I knelt at the altar for baptism and reception as a member, following my six-week confirmation class. On the day I joined, according to the General Minutes, there were more than 350 members; today there are about 170. I am grateful to Bishop Coyner and his staff for sending me this picture less than 45 minutes after I emailed a request for it surely a sign that the world around us has changed since I grew up in that community and took photography as my 4-H Club membership project, using a Kodak Brownie camera and waiting days for the pictures to be returned to me after the film was developed at some unseen laboratory.
United Methodist Church
of Star City, Indiana
First United Methodist Church of Senatobia, Mississippi
Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster stands at the rock where Bishop Francis Asbury preached in 1801,
in Asheville, North Carolina.
Preserved through history, there is in that field a rock. Carved into that rock is an inscription indicating that Bishop Asbury used it as a stand or a pulpit to preach to the people. This picture of me standing by that rock is more than a memento of a historic place in our story. Something stirred in me as I stood there and remembered Asbury's years of traveling, planting churches and preaching the Good News of Jesus the Christ as the solid foundation of life and of the church. On this eve of All Saints, we remember one of the saints of our church and his unwavering commitment to proclaim Scriptural holiness and to reform the continent. Today, we bishops are called to continue that work and to lead the church toward becoming a community (one) of faith (holy) active in love (apostolic), alive as the Body of Christ (catholic).
This morning we gather around a Table that bears the elements and signs of God's grace and mercy, and of the sacrificial love of Christ Jesus. This is "our charter of salvation, one Lord, one faith, one birth; one holy name [we bless, partake] one holy food, and to one hope [we press] with every grace [given to us]." This is our foundation.