“For a child has been born—for us! The gift of a son—for us! He’ll take over the running of the world. His names will be: Amazing Counselor, Strong God, Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings…”
(Isaiah 9:6-7a-The Message)

As we have just concluded the third Sunday of Advent, where we have lit the candles of Peace, Hope, and Joy, and we continue in the journey of anticipation and expectation; I have seen, through the varying means, the ways in which congregations throughout the Central District are offering signs of hope. One of the ways, I can give witness is through the kindness and care that has been shown to me, over the last month, as I have been living with a new reality, after the passing of my only sibling (younger sister). The signs of hope have been evident in the many cards, calls, texts, messages, the extending of grace, and gentle understanding. Thank you for being my signs of hope, during this time.

Throughout the Central District, as we have concluded the last of the Charge Conferences (Hallelujah and Praise the Lord), I continue to celebrate the signs of hope through the witnesses of our lay, clergy, and communities across the six counties of the district. Such as West Newton UMC and Pastor Anne Gatts, which expressed that are a “small church that loves big.” They are demonstrating signs of hope in their mission field with the Food Cooperative, where the people of the community have a shared ownership for eradicating the food inequities. It was shared in Charge Conference that West Newton UMC wanted to “not only hand them food and have them go home, but how can they offer people hope and opportunities to get involved.”

Another sign of hope in the Central District was celebrated on Sunday, December 15 when Vida Nueva Ministries and Abundant Harvest UMC, came together to become Abundant Vida Nueva UMC. The hard and enduring work these two ministries did over the last eighteen months was culminated in a beautiful manifestation of God’s Kin-dom, with the coming together of many different cultures, ages, native languages, and ethnicities; UNITED as one in purpose. This coming together is a sign to that specific mission-field that all, indeed, are welcome.

The other week, I heard a powerful message about hope (I apologize I cannot remember who to give this proper credit), but they defined hope as, “a firm assurance, even when the circumstances are unclear.” As we look forward to 2020, a new calendar year, in a new decade, with many unclear situations and circumstances, I HOPE for a body of people, who are committed to the cause of Christ, will be focused on that which they can fix, which is being intentional about our personal and corporate discipleship (Christ-Centered), moving beyond the comforts of our congregational walls (Community-Connected), and living as those who embody the Good News on a daily basis (Missionally-Centric).
Friends, doing nothing in 2020 will no longer be our normal…and hope is not an action strategy. May we who profess to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, demonstrate to the world our ultimate sign of HOPE…that we can be UNITED in mission, and UNITED in faith, as we work toward a faithful future.

Merry Christmas (in advance) and A Prosperous 2020

Dr. Aleze M. Fulbright
Conference Superintendent serving Central District

– Just a reminder…I will be unavailable December 18 through January 1 for rest and renewal. Should a matter arise, please contact our Central District Office (central.district@inumc.org), and I will give attention upon my return.

– Also note, please remember our Central District Day of Prayer on January 2 from 6:00a-6:00p. Here are the details.

– Last thing…will you join me, and the Central District Operational Team in reading the following book over the next five months, beginning in January 2020: Quietly Courageous: Leading the Church in a Changing World