1208 Greenwood Buys their Building

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1208 GREENWOOD BUYS THEIR BUILDING
As August came to a close, 1208 Greenwood Free Methodist entered into a deal to buy their building, which was originally bought by the conference many years ago when Communidad Agua Viva was looking for a place to call home. They are excited to continue to do ministry in their direct neighborhood as several have moved into the houses surrounding the church over the years.

Women in Ministry MEG Sub-Team

During this past Annual Conference, our Ministerial Education and Guidance Board reported on a significant initiative regarding Women in Ministry. An important element of this initiative had to do with the creation of a MEG subteam chaired by an ordained women who would provide advocacy for other women elders in our conference who feel marginalized by complementarian theology and/or institutional bias. During our most recent MEG Board meeting, ordained elder Heather Castle was chosen to give leadership to this important component of our MEG Board. The Southern Michigan Conference is firmly committed to shifting to a culture whereby we fully embrace, adopt and enact our egalitarian understanding of Scripture at all levels of congregational life.

New Lead Pastor at Dearborn Free Methodist

Executive Pastor Erick Ewaskowitz will succeed Dustin Weber to become the next Lead Pastor at Dearborn. The video-recorded announcement from Superintendent Bruce Rhodes (see below) announcing the impending change was made this past Sunday. We are grateful for the excellent leadership that God has provided for the Dearborn church. Please join us in prayer for the Weber’s, the Ewaskowitz’s and the Dearborn church during these days of transition.

Mission Igniter Executive Director Named

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Pastor Dustin Weber has been appointed to the Executive Director position of Mission Igniter which is the church multiplication incubator for the Southern Michigan Conference. Dustin’s experience in the mission field combined with his effective pastoral leadership at the Dearborn Church has uniquely positioned him for this strategic role. His appointment will begin on October 1st of this year. With many new opportunities for multiplication which have occurred since Annual Conference, we are grateful to be able to place this leader into position now to keep our current momentum.  

Battle Creek Freedom Forum

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Forced labor and sex trafficking are forms of modern-day slavery. People are treated as objects to be bought, sold, used, and abused rather than as beloved children of God. The traffickers and clients are both part of the problem. When we purchase products produced by forced labor, or turn a blind eye to what is happening around us, then we become part of the problem, too.

Human trafficking is a global issue. Anywhere between 21 million and 46 million people are trafficked worldwide in this $150 billion industry. 25% of those trafficked arechildren. It takes place in every country on every continent, including the United States. According to the Polaris Project, the most reported cases in the U.S. are in California, Texas, Florida, Ohio, New York, Georgia, and Michigan.

We live in a wounded and broken world that needs healing. As followers of Jesus we are on a mission with God. This mission is holistic. It’s about partnering with God in establishing shalom (freedom, peace, flourishing, hope, joy) in our neighborhoods, our cities, our world. This work is centered on Jesus and is empowered by the Holy Spirit. As the Body of Christ, we can cooperate in the work of healing the wounded and restoring that which is broken. 

View and distribute the brochure here and RSVP for this event on September 16th at Cornerstone Community Church by calling 269.979.5478 or by emailing sparklesforever@comcast.net.

SPEAKERS

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Ildikó Kóber

Ildikó Kóber is the coordinator of the Set Free Movement in Hungary. She connects agencies involved in the fight against human trafficking, provides training for at- risk populations, raises awareness among faith-based groups, and runs a life skills program for prevention and rehabilitation. 

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The Winckles

Larry and Katie Winckles have served as Free Methodist missionaries in Budapest, Hungary since 2000. Larry is the Europe Area Administrator for Free Methodist World Missions and can provide an overview of the Europe-wide situation. Katie is a member of the Budapest Mission Team and has valuable insight into the brokenness of European society. 

Congratulations Dependent Scholarship Recipients!

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Five students have been approved to each receive the full $900.00 SMC Ministerial Dependent Scholarship for the fall semester at Spring Arbor University.  These students are children of pastors who serve in the Southern Michigan Conference.  It has been a pleasure to receive their grade reports and to see how well each of them is doing academically.  

The scholarship aid is made possible by participation of our SMC churches in giving to the “Ministerial Dependent Scholarship Program” through a monthly assessment on their invoice from the Conference.

Congratulations to these five students receiving scholarships!

  • Timothy Babcock (Sr.)
  • Jonah Engle (Soph.)
  • Natalie Forney (Jr.)
  • Hannah Glei (Soph.)
  • Rebecca Glei (Sr.)

A Letter from Superintendent Rhodes on Charlottesville

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Dear Friends in Christ:

In recent days, white supremacism as expressed in the sin of racism has once again raised its ugly head in America causing racial tension, violence and death.  I wish to be clear that we reject all forms of racism as being antithetical to the Gospel of Christ.  

First and foremost, we follow Jesus who taught us to love our neighbors.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus clearly implied that our neighbor represents people that are dissimilar to us.  Throughout the Gospels, Jesus fleshed out what love really looked like when he reached out to people of all races and ethnic backgrounds and invited them into His Kingdom.  Certainly, anyone who claims to love and follow Jesus must do what he did.  Followers of Jesus must be the most loving people in the world.  And out of the strength of that love, we must repudiate hatred and bigotry in all of its forms as a matter of Christian conscience.  

In addition to love, the gospel of Jesus is also a gospel of truth. When existing systems and structures discriminate, marginalize and treat people unjustly, we must not only stand with those negatively impacted but we must advocate for them and work together in order to bring justice.  If the church ever loses it concern and voice for justice we will set ourselves adrift from the transformative power of the Gospel.  

Despite all that Jesus clearly taught on the matter, it is clear that the early church needed the ongoing leadership and revelation of the Spirit in order to fully come to terms with their own racial preferences and to be delivered from them.  The Apostle Peter is probably one of the best examples of this truth, where in Acts chapter 10 he entered into the house of a “Gentile” (something that was against Jewish custom) and was astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out upon non-Jewish people just as it was the Jews on the day of Pentecost.  This paradigm shift in the heart of Peter led to the continual growth of the church.  As Peter came to terms with his own racial bias he said: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”  Acts 10:34

The mostly white congregations and leaders that comprise the Southern Michigan Conference need to remain open to the on-going paradigm shifts that the Holy Spirit wishes to reveal to us about race issues in America. 

  • That happens when we acknowledge the clear sin of racism and begin to recognize how it is empowered in the systems and structures of our own society.
  • It happens when we open our own hearts to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.
  • It happens when we intentionally build bridges of relationships with people of various races and ethnic groups.  

We urge all of those who claim to be Free Methodist Christ followers to fully live out these powerful truths so that as our own hearts are liberated we can bear witness to the liberating message of love and truth for others who are hated and discriminated against in our world today.

Whatever race or ethnicity you identify yourself with, the Free Methodist Church values, welcomes and embraces you.   We are grieved by the cancer of white supremacy which was heinously on display in Charlottesville.  We stand in solidarity together as we affirm the rights and dignity of all people regardless of race, creed, ethnicity or gender.  We reaffirm the roots that are central to our history as a Christian movement.  These abolitionist roots recognize and affirm that all people are equally valuable and possess intrinsic worth because they are created in the image of God. 

As such, we are privileged to join together alongside of you in the mission of Jesus as we seek to reach and welcome all people into the Jesus community. This community will be finally and fully realized in its rich diversity when we worship Jesus saying:  

You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign upon the earth.  Rev. 5:9,10

We long for the day when the divisions and hostility of this fallen world will give way to a united diversity of people under the leadership of a Good and Great God.  Hallelujah!  Until that time, let us seek to be people who have been fully liberated by love and fully transformed by truth so that we can liberate others.  

Come Lord Jesus!

Bruce D. Rhodes
Conference Superintendent

The Bishops' Response to Charlottesville

Free Methodists have a mission to love God, love people and make disciples of all nations. We love and embrace all people as we seek to bring wholeness to the world through healthy biblical communities of holy people. Our denomination’s founders spoke and acted against the institution of slavery while also opposing class distinction, and we continue that legacy of opposing racism in the midst of new expressions of hatred and violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and other cities and states.

Without a doubt, racism is the pinnacle evidence of evil among humanity. It is pride, hatred, fear, disunity, elitism, ignorance and disrespect of God’s creation and God Himself — all wrapped into one of sin’s many expressions. Free Methodists must work to undermine it, seek justice to prevent it, and love people out of it. It was our original and present call. We categorically condemn any claims from any group committed to white supremacy. Jesus is supreme. We can only be complete in Him, and only by following Him will we arrive at where we need to be and where we deeply long to be.

We commit to respect and seek the flourishing of all persons of all ethnicities, which means all Free Methodists should repudiate the hate and bitterness being fomented by people and groups in the name of the United States or Christianity. We call on government leaders to name and denounce the evils driving the varied white supremacist groups. We call the church to pray for Charlottesville and all people killed, injured or traumatized by this weekend’s tragic events.

Board of Bishops
Free Methodist Church – USA

For further thoughts, visit Bishop Roller's blog...

Join the 10/36 Prayer Chain

God is leading our Conference to become a multiplying movement of disciples, leaders, groups and churches. As our Superintendent cast vision for the establishment of at least 10 new congregations in the next 36 months, he also challenged our Conference delegates to a three-step faith response of significant prayer, significant giving and significant obedience. As a result, 80 people indicated a desire to join the prayer team which was formed for this initiative. They will begin receiving a special email prayer communication beginning in early August. If you would like to be added to this list and join in the groundswell of prayer commitment, simply fill out your information below.

Subscribe to the 10/36 mailing list

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Nearly 60 people either made financial commitments or indicated that they wanted more time to pray about their commitment.  To date, $36,000 has been committed over the next three years.   If you would like to contribute to this multiplication initiative, you can contact our Conference Business Administrator, Mark Dowley at MarkDowley@smcfmc.org and share with him your commitment to this Kingdom venture.  

29 churches indicated that they would mobilize financial resources toward the accomplishment of this vision.  This is a significant improvement over the financial commitment of our churches to “Church Planting” in recent years and we are encouraged by this faith-filled response on the part of so many of our churches.

15 leaders felt personally called by God to this vision of church multiplication.  Follow-up conversations with some of these leaders are already underway.  

If you would like to watch this year’s State of the Work Report so that you are better informed, check out the video below: