Morgenthaler: ‘Worship and mission inextricably linked’


By Cathy Farmer

 Bring Jesus to the people, that’s what worship is about!” proclaimed Sally Morgenthaler, a nationally renowned leader in the worship world and the keynote speaker at the May 31-June 2, 2009 Memphis Annual Conference.
Noting that there’s a disconnect between what happens in church and what Christians do ‘out there’ in the world, Morgenthaler encouraged the approximately 1500 United Methodists present for the opening Sunday evening worship service to go home to their local churches and bring the outside world in. “That’s what changes worship...Worship and mission are inextricably linked!” she declared.
Passionate Worship, the theme of the conference, was embodied in three worship experiences on Sunday and Monday. In addition, Memphis Conference United Methodists considered and voted on the 32 proposed Constitutional Amendments (none received the required two/thirds affirmative vote), perfected the 2010 budget of $9,527,104.00, moved to add an Associate Director for Young People to the Connectional Ministries staff, celebrated the merger of Broadway and Northside United Methodist churches in Paducah, Ky. and the merger of Whitehaven with First United Methodist in Memphis.
One church, Water Valley UMC in Kentucky, was closed, while Edith UMC in the Brownsville District celebrated its 125th birthday; Pleasant Hill in the Paducah District and St. John’s in the McKendree District reached the 150 year milestone; and South Pleasant Grove in the Paris District attained 175.
The annual conference offering of $15,214.34 was designated for children in crisis in Matamoros, Mexico. The money will go towards the purchase of school uniforms and supplies, the construction of church buildings, and medical outreach. A team led by Dr. Joe Geary, Paris District Superintendent, is making an exploratory trip to the Eastern Mexico Conference to deliver the funds which will be disbursed through the United Methodist churches in that region.
“Don’t give up hope!” That was the message brought by Dr. Jerry Israel, Interim President of Lambuth University. He reported that the school’s greatest hope for the future is a balanced budget for 2010; the greatest fear that the bad financial news will result in students deciding to move to another institution. “So far, they have not,” said Israel. He also introduced Lambuth’s new Capital Acquisition Plan that could result in Lambuth being eligible for a loan of $6 million by July 30.
Courage To Bear Witness, a collection of essays in honor of Dr. Gene Davenport, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Lambuth University, was unveiled at a book signing on June 1. The book includes essays by such well known writers as Tex Sample, Kenneth Carder and Stanley Hauerwas.
Four clergy were commissioned, four ordained, and twelve retired.
Average worship attendance is 32,711, down 1,093. Church school attendance is 17,032, down 5515. Membership stands at 85,449, down 1,761.