Archive for May, 2016

Ed 09I encourage you to read an article in the Washington Post by  Rev. Tom Berlin, pastor of Floris UMC.  It pretty accurately describes where the UMC is on the whole human sexuality debate as a result of our General Conference action this week.  It’s been a tough, sometimes painful week, but I think most of us delegates believe that God’s spirit broke through in an unexpected way and that we have found a way forward even though the future of the UMC isn’t clear.
I believe this is due to the prayers many of you, along with thousands around the world, as we gathered in Portland.  This is the fifth General Conference I have attended and I don’t recall such a sense of the spirit and good will among delegates, even though we may strongly disagree on the issues of sexuality.  Don’t get me wrong, it certainly was not all bliss.  There were some very low moments where delegates were down right hurtful.  But for the most part I sense there was a more positive spirit.  Again, I attribute this to the spirit of Christ and the prayers of many, many people and churches.  I am deeply grateful to those of you who prayed and thank you for being with us delegates on the journey!
— Ed  Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development
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IMG_0063There’s a lot of media coverage regarding the debate going on at General Conference over a number of issues, including human sexuality, but you likely haven’t heard the exciting news of our denomination’s church-planting efforts, not only in the U.S. but also overseas.

Our General Conference delegates learned (through our Advanced Daily Christian Advocate materials) that in the prior three years at least 2,300 leaders have been trained and equipped in the U.S. for church plant efforts, and that at least 325 churches have been established.

Furthermore, we have launched 574 new churches outside the U.S. from 2009-2012, exceeding our goal by nearly 200 churches!  Churches are being planted in continents all over the world, but here is a snapshot of our growing presence in Southeast Asia…  Though not an officially registered denomination in Laos or Vietnam, we now have 48 churches and 24 faith communities in Laos and 322 churches in Vietnam.  We have 154 churches in Cambodia and nine churches in Mongolia, as well as two faith communities.  Praise God!

The United Methodist Church is growing significantly worldwide.  Membership has increased dramatically in Africa and the Philippines.  May such growth begin to be experienced here in the United States as well.  Consider how your church is making disciples and multiplying the Kingdom.  Don’t get caught sitting on the sidelines, join the action of what God is doing all over the world!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development and Indiana Conference delegate to the General Conference

IMG_0054Rev. Sergio Reyes, pastor of Iglesia Cristiana Getsemani, was apologetic.  His Fort Wayne United Methodist Church has started a new faith community in another state–Ohio.  He was apologizing to the West Ohio Conference’s superintendent of the Northwest Plains District, the director of new church development, and the pastors of the two United Methodist churches in Hicksville, Ohio, explaining that he hadn’t meant to start a new congregation, it just sort of happened.

A couple from Sergio’s Fort Wayne church lives in Hicksville, Ohio, about a forty-minute drive.  They drive to Fort Wayne because Getsemani offers worship in Spanish, which they prefer.  They asked if Pastor Sergio would lead a bible study in their home this spring on a Saturday night after the workers at the local egg farms were done with work.  “Could we invite some friends and co-workers to the bible study?” they asked.  And the study grew quickly to 12 people, then 30 people, and now around 50 people, including some children!

Sergio explained to the West Ohio United Methodist leaders that the bible study group has run out of space in the house and can’t grow any more unless they find a bigger place in which to meet.  The group of leaders quickly acknowledged that God was truly moving and that one of the two Hicksville UMC buildings surely could be made available.

So pray as this ministry moves from a house to a church.  Pray that the host congregation will welcome the newcomers, nearly all of whom are brand new Christians, with Christ’s love.  Pray that God’s spirit will continue to touch not only the lives of the fledgling Hispanic congregation, but also the host congregation’s members and all the residents of the Hicksville area.

Sergio says that the people are hungry for the word of God, and already attenders to the bible study are asking him to start new bible studies in other parts of northwest Ohio.  Of course, his hands are already more than full with all the church planting going on in Indiana as well as co-pastoring his Fort Wayne church with his wife Rev. Janie Reyes.  But someday, who knows, God may raise up leaders from the Hicksville bible study who will help expand the movement throughout our sister state.  Praise God!

— Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director for Church Development