General Conference Sermon – Day 2

by | May 11, 2016 | General Conference News

Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

Bishop Gregory V. Palmer delivers the episcopal address during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. Photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS

By Deaconess Marjie Hrabe

The Episcopal address was given by Bishop Gregory V. Palmer on May 11, 2016. Opening with prayer, his words resounded in my ear.

…consecrate me now to thy service, may we lose our will in yours.

This was a reminder that there is comfort in letting go when you give it over to God. The Bishop went on to say that ever since he knew he would speak this day the word humility had been most present in his thoughts. He had an image of us all laying prostrate on the floor in an act of submission or humility. In the image, we were saved from our own excessive pride and self confidence.

when the army looks like it will lose and they don’t know what to do … but our eyes are upon you. -Jehoshaphat, 2 Chronicles 20:12

Bishop Palmer affirmed that courage is found in waiting, not in quickness to act. We need to remember that waiting is also a discipline. But we give lip service to this discipline because we have become overly institutionalized and very self-sufficient. We needed to begin with prayer to cleanse our hearts so we didn’t give in to the mentality that many had after the 2012 General Conference.



A waste of money

We are called here by God. We need to remember that in 2016. Because God has work to do through The United Methodist Church. We are PRISONERS of Hope!!! We have a life giving message that is for EVERYONE. Bishop Palmer has seen too much of what we can accomplish give way to discouragement and the lack of desire to create change. Ask to be freed for JOYFUL obedience, he exclaimed!

Someone the Bishop dealt with regularly told him that we (the church) are so superficial that we won’t risk saying something that we have to apologize for later. Do we lack the spiritual infrastructure to be in real relationship?

Our willingness to turn on each other, instead of towards each other, is killing the mission and message of God. The right decision can be undermined by doing the wrong thing. Not just us, but the church as a whole is being judged by how we treat each other. He reminded us that it is a choice to live below our privilege.

One piece of Jewish mysticism tells that we each have an angel that goes before us announcing, Behold , the image and likeness of God! If we could recognize the value in the other before we think and act we would better represent the Church. We need to decide if we will push each other away, or lean in. If we chose to pay lip service to the great commission we fail.

He admonishes that you could wake any Methodist in their pew and ask them what the great commission is and they would be able to answer. But our mission statement, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, have become pretty words because we do one without the other. We feed the hungry, but do not address the root cause. Too many of us are complacent or fearful of the survival of the church and our faith in Christ is not at work in our lives. And because we don’t want to been seen as a Jesus freak we worship a little Jesus and say that it is the job of those who have been through seminary to preach about the big Jesus. We don’t confront the sin. We will go on a mission trip, but only if has a tourism component to it, instead of coming home and confronting the structure that created the problem. Life in Christ is not a test where we get to cherry pick what we do—evangelism over social. John Wesley would not recognize us today.

We should not demur, resist, or disobey our calling. Remember our baptism, to do all in our power to raise them (and ourselves) up in faith. Are our congregations taking this seriously or do we leave the sanctuary to eat chicken salad and lemon bars? We are called to always be moving towards perfection together and for each other. We need to discover again the call to be full time Christians!!! The only unanswered question is, will we go? We don’t need more information, we have each other. Do we trust and obey? Do we accept, knowing that Christ already said He will be with us?Photo courtesy of M. Hrabe

The audience was clapping and cheering all the way through this sermon and many of us were brought to our feet. The message spot on. So, on this very day I lay myself aside and allow the Holy Spirit to be at work in and through me. I will make mistakes, own them, and apologize for them. I will continue to grow in my faith and encourage others around me for I know that God has good work to be done through The United Methodist Church.

Editor’s Note:

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Author: DSC Communications

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