After more than two years of not gathering together due to COVID, Indiana United Methodist clergy came together for Clergy Covenant Day: Let Your Light SHINE before God on March 30, 2022.
The excitement was palpable as the foyer of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church bustled with clergy, eager to reconnect in person. The group of over two hundred spilled into the sanctuary, buzzing with conversation, where an extended time of worship began.
The worship team led with “Come Thou Fount,” followed by a reading of Psalm 146 in English, Korean, and Spanish. Deacons, Elders, and Bishop Trimble renewed their covenant commitment to serving Christ and the Church. Together, all prayed the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition which says,
“I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.”
Bishop Trimble gave a moving sermon titled, “Faith Under Fire,” where he recognized the challenging and complex season in which pastors have been serving. Calling all to continue in the work of Christ, he said, “My main goal today is to say thank you to all of you. Be encouraged!”
“Thank you for doing what you do without fanfare, for saying ‘yes’ more than you say ‘no’, for remembering that we are called to our familiesand not just the Church, for being honest with humility and patient in uncertainty… We are to shine hope in the face of darkness. Thank you for shining the light!” proclaimed Bishop Trimble.
He then exhorted clergy to remember the “trust clause” of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to God, and God will make your paths straight.”
As we lean into trusting in God, we are kept by God’s grace and able to do the ministry to which God has called us. “Our main business,” Bishop preached, “is to be light reflectors who reflect the grace and love of God to all people. Trust!”
Following the sermon, clergy took part in communion and were anointed and prayed over while the worship team led all who gathered in “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone).”
Dismissed to lunch, pastors enjoyed a time of fellowship and refreshment together. The dull roar of the room served as a reminder of the joy felt by being together in worship and community.
Clergy then assembled together in the sanctuary for the “Servee Award Celebration” where SHINE Awards were given in celebration of the ministry that has taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shannon Stringer, Director of Leadership Development, said, “During that time you have served, loved, mourned, adjusted, prayed, hoped, accepted, moved forward, and thoroughly lived into your role of pastor and servant leader… You have held high hope. You have tackled community and church needs. You have provided leadership in a complex time. You have done remarkable ministry.”
Dean of the Cabinet, Lore Blinn Gibson, presented the “Be Encouraged Wellness Grant” to all Indiana Conference clergypersons. This grant of $275 is given for clergy to invest in fun for themselves. “Your Conference Leadership sees you, supports you, and hopes that through this gift you will be encouraged!”
SHINE Awards were presented to: Pastors Mike Beezley and Annettra Jones Stephens “for engaging in the deep work of social justice awareness and response even in the midst of a pandemic,” Pastor Jason Cason and Pastor Brian Beeks of Monticello UMC “for engaging in the deep work of intentional development of online community and outreach,” and Pastors David Williamson, Rob Fuquay, Jerry Rairdon, Jill Moffett, William Schwein, Cyndi Alte, Aaron Hobs, Lisa Schubert Nowling, Mary Beth Morgan, Jimmy Moore, Donna Goings, and Karen Powells “for engaging in the deep work of interfaith prayer.”
Associate Superintendents, Conference Superintendents, Executive Assistant to the Bishop, and the Bishop were presented with a SHINE Award “for your deep work in holding the trust of your district and Conference, and the encouragement and support you have offered through these extraordinary times.”
With immense celebration, SHINE Awards were also extended to those who showed steadfast leadership throughout COVID-19, “for engaging in the deep and selfless work of being disciples of Christ who continue to serve to the best of our ability, even when the work is challenging.”
These pastors organized mask distributions, cared for shut-ins and the spiritual formation of children, learned how to edit digital worship services, continued to preach the Good News of Jesus, etc. Clergy stood to thunderous applause—an audible affirmation of gratitude that echoed the words from the platform, “Thank you for all the ways you serve.”