By Rev. John Partridge*
Thursday morning's worship service began with the praise team with drums, electric bass, violin and electric/acoustic guitar, leading the gathered congregation of Annual Conference in singing a relaxed tempo version of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" followed by "This is the Air I Breathe." These powerful but mellower songs prepared us perfectly to hear a word from scripture from Romans 12:1-12 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. These scriptures urge us to devote our lives to where our giftslie,and to rejoice in what God is doing.
This all led up to the inroduction of Rev. Becky Weamer of Crestline First UMC in the Mid-Ohio district with a message entitled, "Fully Alive." Becky explained that she originally began studying for a career in medicine because she wanted to both help people and make money but, she told us, largely because of her aptitude (or lack of it) in science, it wasn't long before she disciverred that "A career in medicine is not for me" and worse, her studies were making her miserable. From this, she began to figure out what God might be calling her to do. As she explored this idea, and eventually moved into ministry, Becky learned that "Becoming a leader, is becoming yourself." And, as we have heard in scrioture, the glory of God is in a person who is fully alive.
Becky reminded us that Romans 12:1-10 teaches us to "present our whole selves to God" and we must do so again, and again, and again during the course of our lives. Although she tried to be supermom, and super pastor early in her career, she learned what many of us have also experienced, that none of us can do everything. Weamer said, "We *need* each other. *We* are the body. We *belong* to each other." None of us can do the work of Jesus Christ alone and, in fact, when leaders try to do so, we take away the joy of serving from others. Instead, we should become permission givers and encourage others as they do the work of the church alongside of us. We must each do what we love for the glory of God and in service to Christ,and we must always remain in prayer. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 reminds us to be enthusiastic and on fire for God, but we can't do that without prayer.
As she closed, Becky encouraged us to remember that it is God's will for us to rejoice, but also that while we must be who we are, but as we do so, we must celebrate the people around us.
The conference the rose together and closed by singing "Blessed Be The Name" as the praise band led us with enthusiasm and energy.
*Rev. John Partridge is pastor of Trinity Perry Heights in Massillon.