From Our District Superintendent
September 14, 2014
Perhaps you will not recognize the name Linda Gill, but I am certain she blessed you on one of the most important nights in your life. Linda was the organist at First United Methodist Church of Montgomery for 19 years. As you know, the ordination service for the annual conference is held there most years. Linda's musical offerings from "the King of the Instruments" were most appropriate and fitting for that occasion. Unseen, from the organ bench in the choir loft, Linda led us into the nearer presence of God on that high holy night. Linda lost her battle with cancer over the weekend and we lost an amazing musician whose gifts enriched the lives of so many through her majestic music. I had the privilege of serving with Linda for 6 years at First UMC, Montgomery. She was the organist when Abigail and I were married. We celebrated many wonderful worship services together. The thoughts and prayers of our Pensacola District are with her husband, Wayne, their children Steven and Susan, and with the entire Gill family as they mourn Linda's passing.
Reflecting on worship experiences, I am sure several of you have seen the article on worship attendance declining across the church. Thom Rainer's article attributes less frequent attendance as a significant factor in explaining the downward trend. I do think his argument has merit, as church members consider themselves "frequent" attenders when they worship as little as once a month! This is a significant change from a generation or two ago when "frequent" attendance would mean once a week! There are a myriad of reasons as to why this is the case and I would encourage you to consider what those are in your particular setting (i.e. increased affluence and resulting leisure, travel; mobility and more frequent trips to see relatives; travel sports programs, etc...) What I would remind us to consider is, regardless of what the reasons are, we now have an increased pastoral care responsibility to keep abreast of what is going on in the lives of those in our churches that consider our congregations their church home but whom we do not see as "frequently" (pun intended!). This is yet another challenge for us in our difficult work of pastoring, but one that should not be overlooked simply because we are not seeing members on a regular basis. (I am including a link to the Rainer article here.)
As you continue in your preparations for Charge Conference, I would remind us that District Conference will be held on Sunday, November 2nd at the Navarre United Methodist Church at 4 p.m. The District Committee on Nominations will be meeting in the upcoming weeks to identify leadership for the district. Should you have persons that you would like to be considered for leadership posts, please let me know as soon as possible. Additionally, if you are a lay person interested in being considered as a delegate for General and Jurisdictional Conference and would like to be a nominee from the Pensacola District, you are asked to submit the Laity Profile Form, which you can access here. We will be electing five persons at the District Conference that will be our representatives to the 2015 Annual Conference, where voting for the delegates will take place.
Last call for the Covenant Bible Study! If you are interested in taking the 1st module on Tuesday afternoons at 1:30 pm, beginning on Tuesday, September 23rd, please let Mary know as soon as possible. This study, open to clergy only, will gather at the District Office for eight weeks. I will serve as the facilitator. Registration will close on Wednesday.
This week, I will be in Montgomery for a Cabinet meeting. I will be returning to Pensacola on Friday night. If you have need of me, please feel free to email or call, but know that it may be some time before I am able to get back in touch with you because of the Cabinet schedule. Thank you for your leadership. I am grateful for each and every one of you and am thrilled we are off to such an outstanding start to the 2014-15 year. Let us continue to pray for and to encourage one another and celebrate what God is doing in our midst!!!
Blessings and peace,Jeremy
About the Pensacola District
The Pensacola District is one of eight districts comprising the Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. True to biblical mandate and denominational priority, we are committed to proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ; discipling residents, tourists, and snowbirds alike; establishing new congregations; and nurturing existing ones.
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