New Year’s Eve has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want or need and resolve to follow through on those changes. This is a ritual most of us do on every 31st December, even though most resolutions are broken at earliest in February and at latest by June. But I wonder how many of us lay or clergy sit down to reflect on 31st August and make resolutions for our local church or circuit at the beginning of the Methodist year.
In fact I would welcome the idea to have two covenant services, one in January and the other in September. This I believe will help us to take our new year seriously. Collectively at church council meeting or circuit meeting some decisions have been agreed to be implemented in the New Year. Aside the collective decisions individual members of the church as well as the clergy should take the New Year seriously. How about those leading services in September asking the congregation to make New Year resolutions? Chances are that some members would realise that they have sat on the fence for far too long and decide to join the action.
My local church has made some resolutions for the New Year which include; 10:30am prompt start time, praises as part of Sunday morning worship, regular tea/coffee, and liaise with other faith groups in the community. I hope and pray that these would not be broken in few months time. There are few more ideas floated around that I believe as we go through the year we will have the opportunity to discuss and if agreed implemented. I can say that the new year look good.
At circuit level the year look very challenging. Our budget is still not clear, some unresolved issues from the past, review report to discuss, and a new Superintendent. We’ve agreed in principle the total expenditure but the last circuit meeting couldn’t agree on the assessment each church is supposed to pay. While on this I would welcome ideas from other circuits as to how churches are assessed.
We’re also yet to heal old wounds carried from old circuits to the new enlarged circuit. Perhaps some thought by leaving it for a long time the wound will heal by itself but it hasn’t. We’ll need pragmatic measures to heal those wounds once and forever, and I hope the circuit stewards and the CLT would make that their New Year priority.
Then we’ve the long awaited circuit review report to discuss and implement the various recommendations. Some one told me that the review report has vindicated those who opposed the circuit merger, and that a review ought to have been done before the merger. I hope whatever challenges we face we can trust the Holy Spirit to guide us through the New Year.
Talking about New Year resolution, I would hope that this year members of the circuit meeting would put the needs of the circuit first rather than always fighting for their local church. We must resolve that at circuit level we are one body and we’ve a duty to reason and act for the betterment of the one body. If the mother is healthy the children will be healthy. Entrenched positions on issues will have to stop.
One resolution I would very much welcome is for the circuit meeting not to rush into decisions. It appears to me that in the past we have rushed into certain decisions that on hind-sight we wouldn’t have done so if we had had a sober reflection on the matter and perhaps prayed over it. It is my hope that this year we would seek clarification, have an open minded discussion and get all facts before making a decision. This I believe would go a long way to strengthen unity and progress.
The Methodist New Year is very important hence the decision to receive or welcome new Ministers into their new stations in September. This year my circuit will receive two Ministers (one is the new Superintendent). I haven’t met the new Super so I can’t say anything about him in this article. I had to Google his name to see how he looks so that I could recognize him if I see him around town but it could be a wrong person I saw. I must say that one thing that has already impressed me about the new Superintendent is that looking at the preaching plan, I realised that by the end of the first quarter he would led services in 6 out 7 churches in the circuit. I applaud him for that and I hope he will continue to move around the circuit to conduct services.
Often times Ministers come with very laudable ideas but translating it into action becomes a problem. Either they face opposition from the church/circuit or they soon become involved in church politics and those ideas are left on paper forever.
There are challenges ahead- a new Superintendent to get to know us and for us to know him, a review report to see to its implementation as well as some unresolved issue. I would pray that both the lay and the clergy would work together and support our new Superintendent to make our circuit live up to its expectation.