2015 Annual Conference Worship

Bishop L. Jonathan HolstonThursday Morning Worship

*Jon Wilterdink

“Jesus is Calling Us Up" has been the focusing theme for this year's East Ohio Annual Conference. With the work of voting for 2016 General Conference drawing to a conclusion Wednesday evening, the body of believers gathered in Hoover auditorium to worship God.

Led by liturgist Jeremiah See, liturgist Dawan Blue, the Inlet Dance Theater, and the Celebration UMC Praise Choir the congregation experienced an entrance into worshipping God with word, dance, and moving music. The Holy Spirit moved as the congregation praised with energy and vibrancy. The Holy Spirit spoke through the movements of dancers, reminding each of us that Jesus is calling us up to move in rhythms of grace.

The morning scripture reading came from the book of Deuteronomy 30:11-19 & 34:1-4. The scripture reading presented the aged Moses at the cusp of the promised land with the wilderness weary Israelites. As they stood at the boundary, anxious about the next phase of their journey, their leader and prophet Moses stood before them for one last sermon. Recalling the many provisions God provided on the transforming journey from slavery to freedom, Moses concludes his sermon with the call to "choose life."

In response to the word, Bishop John Hopkins introduced the morning preacher Rev. Dr. Charles Yoost. As Bishop Hopkins recalled the many ways the Rev. Dr. Yoost (who celebrated his retirement on Tuesday night) has served in the East Ohio Conference, it was clear that he has served with dedication and impact for the mission of Christ.

Yoost reflected on the many works Moses had to endure as he led the at times cantankerous Israelites through the desert. While connecting to his own journey of ministry, Yoost paralleled the leadership of Moses with Sabbath, frustrations, anxiety, and hope for the future as Moses passed the commandments and covenants onto the Israelites. With passion and authenticity, Yoost shared stories of life changing ministry occurring as laity heard Jesus calling them up to serve and to step out in faith. Yoost admitted that despite his own anxiety over volunteer recruitment and budgetary concerns, God faithfully provided.

Moses stood at the top of mount Nebo looking at the hopeful future of God's chosen people. As Moses preached to the people, his vision focused on the future with the encouragement to "choose life." Yoost challenged the gathered laity and clergy to consider if they are doing the same work. As the leaders of The United Methodist Church, God is calling each of us up to serve, up to the plate, and up to proclaim the name of Jesus to transform the world?

In a flourish, Yoost proclaimed that this call of Jesus comes to anyone regardless of status, race, orientation, or political opinion. With passion Yoost called on the body of Christ to look to the future, concluding with this challenge for the body, "will we choose life?"

Jon Wilterdink, pastor of Hope Ridge and Mentor UMCs.