Why I Chose United Methodist and Itineracy

So when the apostles were with Jesus, they kept asking him, ‘Lord, has the time come for you to free Israel and restore our kingdom?’

He replied, ‘The Father alone has the authority to set those dates and times, and they are not for you to know. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’
— Acts 1:6-8, NLT

I went to seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary, which is not Methodist, but Wesleyan. United Methodists was the largest denomination present of the student population. I had classmates who were also from the Nazarene church, Salvation Army church, American Orthodox Church, Free Methodist Church, and many other Wesleyan traditions. One common question I got from people who weren't United Methodist was why I wanted to be an Elder in the United Methodist Church and be a part of the Itineracy system.

What is the Itineracy?

I'll start by explaining what the Itineracy system is. The Itineracy can be defined as:

a distinctive pattern of deploying clergy for service in United Methodist congregations.
— www.gbhem.org

In other words, it's our appointment system where Elders (or those of us who have accepted the vows to preach and serve the sacraments) are appointed to churches every year. The thing that is most commonly misstated is when a person's appointment is to a new church or charge, people say, "He/She was reappointed," when a person moves. That is true, but every pastor that year was reappointed.

You see, our Bishop appoints every pastor every year, whether it be to the church he/she is currently serving or to a different church. No matter what, the person is appointed. The language that is more accurate is that the pastor was appointed to a new church or moved.

Why Did I Choose this System?

For so many, when you look at the system from the outside, it seems stressful and it feels like there's no rhyme or reason to things. But, I love our system. The reason I love it is because our Bishop looks at every church in our conference and prays about where God is leading the conference as a whole and each individual church. Then, he asks God for direction in where pastors should be in the coming year. He then speaks to his District Superintendents (D.S.) about the churches and pastors in their districts and how they are all doing.

This system reminds me that my work in the local church is important, but it is also a part of something bigger. The vow I took at commissions is to go where God sends me, when he feels it is time. Our system relies on the lay persons in each church to help carry the spirit of the church through the years and to guide us.

Transition

Bishop Graves, our resident bishop, spoke these words in his message to our conference yesterday,

I know for those moving and for those churches receiving a new pastor, this can be a stressful time. But instead of allowing the anxiety to overcome us, what would it look like to focus on the opportunity we have to live into God’s call for our personal ministry and for our churches? Change is always hard but it also presents a unique chance to start fresh and positively impact our local churches.
— Bishop David Graves, Apr. 24, 2017

You can watch all of Bishop Grave's message here. I'm praying for my future and your future. I'm praying that God will bless Navarre and bring forth new leaders through this time of change, helping the church stay strong. Ultimately, I'm praying for God's Kingdom on earth.

Blessings,
Faith


Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

The Cross for Humanity

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Romans 12:1-3, NLT


Fish Love?

When Christ died, he died according to the scriptures, because of the love he had for us. He knew we couldn't love him unless he loved us first. God wanted a relationship with us and he knew that we couldn't ever properly learn how to worship him without first being able to learn how to love him with true love.

We love all the time though, right? Rabbi Abraham explains above that we love so that we can get something in return. God loves because he has created us, and has given a portion of himself to us. All God asks in return is that we love him back and worship him. But we have repaid him with worshiping other things life: ourselves, success, power, money, perfection, etc.

“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
— Matthew 22:36-39, NLT

This week, we are looking at how the revolution that Christ started when he died and rose from the dead has effected all of humanity. He has changed the world. I hope you'll join me as we join Christ in this Revolution. See you Sunday!

Blessings,
Faith

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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.

We Hate Change

Change is Inevitable

Change is one of those things that is inevitable. People hating change is also inevitable. Sometimes I wonder how we can get through life without hating everything but then I remind myself that some people actually go through life hating everything. I try not to be that person, but I’m not always successful. I worked with a guy who loved to say growing things change. He wasn’t wrong, a tree that’s growing is going to change size and shape as it grows, but the snarky version of me that others rarely see would always think “dying things change too, and this change is going to kill us”.  

Even trying to find some sort of constant is almost impossible. The ocean is in a constant state of motion, eroding shores, water levels rising, even the tides change all the time. Mountains are about as close as I can come to thinking as constant but given enough time earthquakes and rain will even change how the mountain looks. Everything changes whether we like it or not. 

The Railroad

In the early 1900’s the transportation industry was ruled by trains. Railroad tycoons almost monopolized the whole industry and it looked like nothing was going to beat trains. That is until cars came along, and then a few years later planes took off (I couldn’t help myself there). The train industry hit it’s peak in 1916, and then slowly faded to a mere shadow of it’s former glory. New companies emerged like Ford and Boeing that revolutionized and changed the face of transportation in America. 

What would have happened though if those original railroad companies would have remembered why they existed? Well, their business was to move people and products from point A to point B, but somewhere along the line they got in the business of running a railroad company. I might have lost you there, I know it sounds like the I just said the same thing but there is a fundamental difference between trying to move things from point A to point B and running a railroad company. The first one is what we would call the mission, the second one is what we would call the method. If the early railroad companies would have always tried to move things efficiently we would now have car and airline companies called Amtrak and Union Pacific because those modes of transportation are more effective in most situations. Instead, they did their absolute best to manage the railroad company that they had built. But with a decreasing demand for trains, increased regulations, they went from a $6.3 billion industry in 1929 to a $3.1 billion in 1932. 

Church's Mission

The mission of the church has always been to go and make disciples. Sometimes in the midst of all the changes we try to cling or hold on to the ways that we have made disciples in the past. I remember open air tabernacle meetings and week long revivals. There were the campus crusades with the Billy Graham movement.  In medieval times there were just crusades trying to make sure the Christian sites remained Christian and not Islamic. Now we have digital Bibles, we can watch youtube sermons and listen to podcasts, or even listen to our churches sermons online. 

Our methods have changed a lot over the years. The people who are leading have changed. And at moments like this it is really easy to try to hold onto the past and do what we can to maintain our church. But unless we focus on the mission of the church, unless we continue to put our focus on making disciples, we are trying to run a business and not living out the Gospel. Change is hard. We don’t like change, but when you have an encounter with God you are forever changed and we want to see people’s lives changed. If we ask them to change everything to follow God, we have to start getting a little more comfortable with our own changes.


Nathan Persell serves as our Youth Director. When he's not leading devotions and playing basketball with teenagers, he enjoys disc golf and bike riding. Learn more about Nathan here.

Revolution

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

1 Corinthians 15:3–5 (NRSV)


This Sunday is Easter, or as I prefer to call it, Resurrection Sunday. Many people will flock to churches all over the world who have not been in church for quite some time. There is something special about the day that even entices nominal or cultural Christians to make an effort to attend.

If you are looking for the most important day to celebrate as a Christian, this would be it. Notice, that the Apostle Paul says that the fact Jesus’ resurrection is of “first importance,” and he is correct.

In the remaining verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul tells us why Jesus’ resurrection is of first importance; if it didn’t happen then our faith in Christ makes no sense. Without the resurrection, our faith is a fairy tale or worse a hoax.

In the opening verses of his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul says that Jesus was, “descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power… by resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:2–4). Jesus’ resurrection was God’s stamp of approval on all that Jesus said and did.

The Resurrection

The resurrection also demonstrates that God did something important in Jesus’ death on the cross. By taking upon himself the penalty of the sin of the world, Jesus released us to be who God created us to be all along.

It is very significant that Jesus was crucified on Passover rather than the Day of Atonement. These two Jewish holy days are important, but for different reasons. The Day of Atonement emphasizes forgiveness; the Passover emphasizes the Jews’ release from slavery to be God’s ambassadors in the world.

Easter is about atonement in a sense, but it is more about freeing us from the bondage of sin so we can be God’s ambassadors in the world – that is the Revolution! On the cross, God inaugurated a plan for the rescue of the world and the establishment of the kingdom of God. The Revolution continues when we personally join in and become God’s co-workers in the restoration of the world.

Blessings,
Alan


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Alan Cassady serves as Senior Pastor at Navarre UMC, and has been at the church since 2011. When he's not preaching and teaching, he enjoys sci-fi movies and FSU Football. Read more about Alan here.

Dying Well

Do you never think about [death]? Why do you not? Are you never to die? Nay, it is appointed for all men to die. And what comes after? Only heaven or hell. Will the not thinking of death, put it farther off? No; not a day; not one hour.
— Rev. John Wesley, "A Word to an Unhappy Woman”

This might seem to be a strange post for Holy Week but I think it's a perfect one, because the reason we, as Methodist, die well, is because of Christ's death and resurrection. Let me back up and explain.

Living Like You're Dying

The early methodists were known as people who died well. They had grace and assurance of God's love and forgiveness for them, so they did not fear death. Furthermore, John Wesley (the founder of Methodism), made it a point to share the stories of those who died and went on to glory. Wesley knew that if we are going to die well, then we must live well. We must live every day honoring God so that we are ok if it is our last.

The country song "Live Like you are Dying" has it right in the title, but wrong in the words. It's not about taking extra vacations (although you should spend plenty of time with your family). We should live every day in a way that if we were to die, we would be proud of the lives we lived when we stood before God.

Lent and Easter

If you read my post on Lent, then you know that Lent is really about a time for us to mourn Christ's death. If you go to an Ash Wednesday service, you'll hear something like, "From ashes you came, and to ashes you will return. Repent and you will be forgiven." The point of this is to remember that we all will die one day.

When Holy Week comes (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday), we really crank things up. On Maundy Thursday, we relive Christ's last supper in different ways, then on Good Friday, many people go into mourning on an extreme level. Many churches cover the cross in their sanctuaries. The Catholic church always cover's the crucifix and it's the one time the Christ candle is burned out and the tabernacle is emptied. Christ has left the building.

But then, on Easter morning, Christ overcomes death and returns to life! For us as Christians, this is our reminder every year that when we die, our death isn't permanent. One day, we will be physically resurrected and rejoined with everyone we love in the life everlasting.

Ushering into Glory

A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure to usher a young girl, just a few years younger than me, into glory with her family. I always consider this to be one of the most unique honors I have as a pastor because it's a living testimony of this girl's life. I get to listen to her family share of the life she lived for God and we get to ask God to welcome her into his loving arms. In the end, we pray that he will care for her until we all get to meet her again one day.

This is the hope of our faith. It's the most beautiful thing to watch people, who in their grief, still see God at work. I want to live my life in a way that people will look back on it and know that I spent every day dedicated to God. This was one of the things Wesley wrote in his death accounts, and I hope someone can say it about me when the Lord takes me home:

She was a woman of faith and prayer; in life and death adorning the doctrine of God her Saviour.
— John Wesley

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Faith Parry serves as our Associate Pastor, and has been at the church since 2015. When she's not preaching and teaching, she enjoys documentaries and TV. Read more about Faith here.