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Leading the Laity: We can face change because our God is constant

Posted: September 26 2023 at 05:00 AM
Author: Eugene Williams, NIC Co-Lay Leader

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Greetings on behalf of the conference co-lay leader, Connie Augsburger, and the entire Board of Laity.  

The world is ever-changing and the church is ever-evolving. Change is like the storms of life: You are either in one, about to enter one, or coming out of one. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “Change is the only constant in life.”

The world is always changing and so are its people. As a result, we find ourselves constantly adapting to it. It has been said, “If you are not changing, then you are dying.”

We can embrace change on our own, or events and people will change our situation for us. How successful we are with change depends on how well we adapt. 

To be sure, those stormy seas and our future uncertainty didn’t just recently rear their ugly heads. We have been changing for quite some time. For example, we have been discussing issues related to the philosophical and biblical impact of the LGBTQIA+ community upon our denomination for several years. We haven’t had a General Conference since 2016 and the next one will not take place until next year. 

We are facing decline in membership and the closing of churches. We have undergone redistricting and disaffiliation. We’ve had a retiring bishop, an interim bishop, and a newly appointed bishop within a three-year span. Then, because of COVID, some of our churches were closed for months on end. And some still haven’t fully recovered even as they transitioned to a virtual or hybrid worship format. Clergy and laity are still learning how to use and leverage social media to do ministry. And now, coming soon to a theater near you, is the distinct possibility of sharing a bishop with another conference, much like a two-point charge. We hope to have some clarity after General Conference 2024. 

But we, the positive-thinking lay and clergy of the Northern Illinois Conference, disagree with Heraclitus. We were built for an ever-changing world because we recognize that the only constant in our lives is Christ Jesus! 

Laity, working with and supporting our clergy siblings, will ensure the church continues to persevere. Notwithstanding stormy seas and constant change, we serve a God who sits high and looks low. Though the world is ever-changing, God is still the same. And because Jesus Christ is the only true constant in our lives, we will remain positive, whatever changes and challenges may come. We will do so in love and look at these challenges as opportunities to embrace our beloved community. Matthew 6:34 tells us not to worry about tomorrow. This is where God is asking us to trust that he will give us the strength to face tomorrow, day after day after day. 

Siblings, we can overcome any fear, uncertainty, obstacles, or changes if we just hold to God’s unchanging hand. So stay focused on the mission that our Lord has assigned us: to love one another and make disciples for Christ. May God bless you real good! 

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