Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 CEB

I grew up in a very athletic household. My brothers and I all played sports in a competitive fashion, and one of us always had ESPN on for one reason or another. Basketball was the common love in the house and especially, the Cleveland Cavaliers. This was partly because, before I was a Hoosier, I grew up along the shores of Lake Erie in a suburb of Cleveland. We were, and still are, huge fans of the team even though most of our family is scattered across the country and away from Ohio.

When I describe the work of the UMC, I often use the word “team” to describe us. I often reference how Aleze, Michelle, and I work as a team to serve you all in the district as conference leadership. I want to remind all of the people of the Central District, clergy and laity, that we are on a team together for a multitude of causes. Not only are we working towards the long term cause of Christ by expanding the Kin-dom to those who need hope, but in the short term, we are working together to serve our communities, churches, and families in times when we are separated physically. We see teamwork in pastors working with lay leadership to discover practices and engage in learning to find the best ways to “reopen” their church buildings, and finding ways to keep their virtual expressions just as vital as their in-person expressions. Like the above scripture passage states, we are all baptized as one body in Christ working together across our differences, experiences, talents, and ideas, for a greater good. Just like basketball, we cannot fulfill our missions without others.

In 2016, the Cavaliers played in the NBA finals and were in a position where they had to win three games in a row or lose the championship. Many said this was impossible since it had never been done, yet the Cavaliers worked as a team to fight against impossibility and won those three games to win the championship. The team motto for that season was “all in” meaning everyone from players to fans had to be fully committed in order for the title to be won, just as we have to be “all in” for the cause of Christ together. As Christians, we are people who believe in resurrection, which means we believe that things can be accomplished even when the odds make it seem impossible. I encourage everyone to remember that we are still in this game and we still have to play it well together. We have to be all in on our mission to transform the world for Christ. We have to be all in as clergy and laity in mitigating risk as much as we can as things reopen. We have to be all in on helping our neighbors, and we have to be all in on navigating towards a new and better future, instead of just a return to normal.

With that all said, know that as I approach one year of being your CA, I am still all in on my commitment to serve you, to continue to learn from my colleagues, and to create a church that the world hasn’t seen before. I’m all in, and I hope you are too! Stay well friends!

-Greg O’Connor
Conference Assistant