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Lent Book Study Part 3 of "Multiplying Love" by Paul W. Chilcote
Episode 9718th March 2024 • Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble • Bishop Julius C. Trimble
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Bishop Julius C. Trimble is the Resident Bishop of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.

Bishop Trimble has the personal mission to encourage all people with the love of Jesus Christ to rise to their highest potential. It is his commitment to his personal mission that led Bishop Trimble to create the “To Be Encouraged” Podcast along with co-host Rev.Dr. Brad Miller.

Bishop Trimble says, “I am compelled by Jesus to share with you an encouraging word or two about Jesus, theology, the Bible, the pandemic, the environment, racism, voting rights, human sexuality, and the state of the United Methodist Church.”

To Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble is to be published weekly and is available at www.tobeencouraged.com and all the podcast directories.

https://www.inumc.org/bishop/office-of-the-bishop/

Episode 098 is the recording of Bishop Trimble live teaching on the book "Multiplying Love A Vision of United Methodist Life Together" By Dr. Paul W. Chilcote. This podcast was recorded live on March 17, 2024 and is the third of a four part Lenten Book study.

https://www.cokesbury.com/Multiplying-Love

Register for Upcoming Live Teaching by Bishop Trimble on the book "Mutiplying Love" over Zoom

Bishop’s Podcast: 

This Lenten Book Study Podcast Recordings are available at the links below

Web: 

https://tobeencouraged.com/

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fECoFqqNdjI

In this uplifting episode of the "Multiplying Love" Lenten book study, Bishop Julius C. Trimble leads an engaging discussion on Chapters 5 and 6 of Paul Chilcote's book "Multiplying Love: A Methodist Renewal for Discipleship, Mission, and Community."

The conversation kicks off with a powerful reading from Colossians 3:11-15, setting the tone for exploring what it truly means to be a movement of inclusive love and grace as the church. Participants share profound insights on rediscovering the church as a loving, spirit-led movement rather than just an organized religion focused on doctrine and structure.

Drawing from sobering statistics, the group wrestles with the hard truth that many unchurched Americans view Christianity today as more about organized religion than loving God and neighbor. This sparks a poignant dialogue on how the church can better embody and convey the generous, benevolent love of God.


In a moving moment, Rev. Dr. Michael Cartwright offers a heartfelt confession, reflecting on his early ministry years and the need to prioritize "being with" over just "doing for." His vulnerability reminds us all of the transformative power of abiding in Christ's love through authentic relationships.


The discussion then turns to John 15:4-10, the powerful vine and branches analogy, leading to insights on the church's calling to be a community that radiates God's inclusive love and grace to the world. Echoing Wesley's heart, there is a resounding call to be with people where they are, especially those on the margins, rather than expecting them to come to us.


Throughout, Bishop Trimble masterfully weaves in theology, personal stories, and thought-provoking questions that both challenge and inspire. The necessity of leading with humility, kindness, and a spirit of confession is emphasized as crucial for the church to truly multiply love.


By the end, it's clear this is no ordinary book study. It's a Spirit-filled rallying cry for the people called Methodists to reclaim their roots as a Christ-centered movement of unrelenting grace poured out through loving relationships and compassionate presence in the world.


Whether you're a lifelong Methodist or simply seeking to know God's love more deeply, this rich discussion will stir your heart to embrace the high calling of abiding in Christ so you can bear lasting fruit as His sent ones multiplying love.

Transcripts

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A little more time to bounce back.

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I hope that everyone is doing well on this,

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Sunday, wearing my green for those whose

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heritage is that and celebrating that.

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I was at a church early this morning, and they reminded me

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that I needed to come in my green. So there we

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go. I was very mindful of that, and I'm glad that they

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reminded me because that would have not been on my radar at all. So

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there's Bishop. Wonderful.

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Greetings, beloved. As we journey the Lent

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Lenten season together, may the lord be with

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you and also

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with

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Methodist

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that are joining. We have, those that are

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joining now. I was just making them aware we had a

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grand celebration for you and your upcoming

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victory lap as you pivot with passion, but yet you're still

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on the payroll now.

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I've got a few more, places to preach and,

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worship and and gather on the districts and looking

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forward to a joyous annual conference. I don't know if

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people know that any anybody and everybody who's United Methodist can

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come to annual conference. We often think of it as only for

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members of the lay members and clergy members,

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and but, really, others can come. The visitors can come

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and they'll come. And it's gonna be it's Saint Luke's in a local

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church, which we really think will be, fun,

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because we're already being a worship setting, and, they've got a

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huge parking lot that we're gonna have outdoor activity. So,

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hopefully, some of you probably come in anyway, but

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you're all welcome to come for a day or longer.

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June 6th through 8th, just in case people needed those dates. Excuse

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me. June 5th through 8th, just in case people needed those dates.

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And the registration is supposed to open here after Easter because we

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need to get to the resurrection.

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So, bishop, may I offer a word of prayer as we

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begin and, so that we're mindful of the Trimble? Because, you know,

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we're not here long. Yes. Let let let's let's

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join. Go ahead as others are joining.

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Awesome. Will you pray with me? Good

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gracious and loving god, thank you. Thank you for the beauty of

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today. Thank you for the opportunity to celebrate.

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Thank you for the connection via technology

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that binds us together as we continue to explore what it

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means to multiply multiply love in and throughout the

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United Methodist Church in Indiana and beyond. We give you thanks

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for our bishop for his participation and

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leading and leadership, not only of our conference, but at this,

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book study. And so, lord, we say speak

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or you are lit we are listening

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in Christ's name. Amen. Amen. One of

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the invitations that was extended and if anyone is on for

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the first time, we want we want you to

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join us as we continue this commitment. On page

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42 is a prayer, that I've invited

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those of us who are joining together on this Lenten study to pray,

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together. If you have your books and turn to page 42, doctor

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Fulbright has opened us with prayer, but I wanna use this more as a

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litany for a time of discussion.

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And I I did have a chance to, talk with doctor Fulbright

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before. We're gonna really Encouraged you to

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engage in, conversation for this session

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as we look at chapter 56. Am I right? 56.

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Chapter 5 really about just the notion of renewal as

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well. So on page 42,

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new every morning is your love, great god of light, and all day

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long, you are working for good in the world. Stir

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up in us desire to serve you, to live

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peacefully with our neighbors, and to to devote

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each day to your son, our savior, Jesus Christ,

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the lord. Amen.

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Paul Chilcote, unlike some Wesleyan

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theologians, is just as much a fan of Charles

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Wesley as he is John Wesley. And so

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in his writings, particularly this book,

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you will see the reference to the hymns, some of the

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hymns that that are in our hymn book, and the emphasis

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that our theology and the way in which we really live out

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being Methodist in in in in our day

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to day lives includes both the Bible, but also,

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our hymns. Some said say that our theology of what we believe

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is best expressed through our hymns, And,

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I know Tracy is a is a is a trained music

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music person, so she knows music history and and is a practitioner

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and, oh, Lord Glenn Gibson as well. And I know some of you

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others may also know this better than your bishop does. So,

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that's what I I like about Chilco's writing because I know he's just

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as much a fan of Charles as he is John C, and sometimes Charles gets

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kind of the short script, so to speak. The other thing

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is that this book was written we said this in a very

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in response to a book written in 2022 entitled Multiply

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Methodist. And I know one of the authors of that

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book, Bishop Lowry, because we were both consecrated bishop

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in the same year and had spent time in our,

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in our conferences. But we are not taking

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this, opportunity for the Lenten study to reflect on

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this affiliation or or responding to

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those who may who may have chosen Bishop affiliation or who who may

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still be desiring after general conference for more of that.

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What we're focusing on is the invitation

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to multiply love. And what does that mean for the current, and I like

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to say for the vision, which is the subtitle of the book, The Vision of

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United Methodist Life Together. So I hope our conversation

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really, can really can take further

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shape around how you feel about that. What is the vision

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for United Methodist going forward from

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your from your local church standpoint, from you as a

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leader? And maybe if you're like me, I'm a lifelong

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Methodist. Some some a lot of people are on conference or

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not. We we come from many different places. But

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what does it mean for us to to to really,

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cast and embrace a vision of United Methodist life together?

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The other thing is that I'm gonna repeat every time the the,

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what I think one is the most important pieces they read. What if the United

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Methodist Church were known for being the most loving

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church in the United States. I'm not saying that, but I'm not reading it in

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front of me now, but, I think that's that's the essence of it.

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Here it is. It's in the chat. What if the United Methodist Church if

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if that were we were really known for that, then this doesn't require us

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knocking any other denominations or even, for that matter, any other

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faith expression, but actually living out,

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at least in part, how John Wesley

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describe the character of a Methodist and how we we are embracing

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for our annual conference this year, the theme cultivating

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joy. So I really want us to connect

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with that. I'm gonna stop talking in just a minute, but I wanna turn to

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page 55, chapter 5,

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and, begin with the

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reading of Colossians 3. If you have your books turned there, if you you're

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doing it you have an electronic, version,

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or if you have your Trimble, Colossians, the New

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Testament, chapter 3 verse 11 through.

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And chapter 5 is is the opportunity before

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us, and and

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this is an opportunity for us to to hear this. In this image,

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there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised,

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barbarian, Scythian, slave, nor

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free, but Christ is all things and in all people.

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Therefore, as god's choice, holy and

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love, put on compassion, kindness,

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humility, gentleness, and patience. Be

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tolerant with each other, and if someone has

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a complaint against anyone, forgive each other

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as the lord forgave you. So also forgive

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each other.

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On page 56, writes, we don't need to make

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renewal happen. That's god's work.

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But god needs willing partners to tend the flame of the

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spirit's work. Do you want to be one

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of those partners? So let me stop

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there and, ask if there's reflection on the

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Colossians text or your reading in chapter

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5, what reflections do you have there? Of

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course, there's quite a bit in there. And, doctor Fulbright, I don't know if you

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had a follow-up prompting question that we might wanna

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engage in.

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So Bishop has asked the question, friends, based on the reading

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of Colossians 311 through 15 or your reading

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of chapter 5 in its body, what

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ahas, ouchies, or curiosities do you bring to the

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conversation today? There's a note of our Zoom etiquette. You can

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raise your digital hand, wave your physical hand, or you could put

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your comments in the chat. This is a conversation

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today, friends. So, it is hard to be in conversation

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first with someone, plural that are not in conversation with

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you. So Bishop has asked the question based on the Colossians

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text in your reading and or your reading of chapter 5,

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what curiosities, ahas, ouches do you bring to the

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conversation? I do have some promptings, but I'll

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wait.

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Welcome welcome, friends. Doctor

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Michael Cartwright, are you unmuting to share, or are you unmuted by

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accident? I do have something to

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share. Wonderful. I

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I'm a longtime admirer of, Paul Chilcot.

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He was a graduate student when I was a seminarian,

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in the late seventies, early eighties, and,

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I've read his many books with with great appreciation. And and

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this, point that he's making

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about renewable being, god's work and

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us willing partners is a important Wesleyan

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thread and one that that Paul makes in all of his books,

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but I I think it's it's a place where we've had a lot of

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Trimble in the church. If if you

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start from the premise that we've gotta get it right

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and then we can renew the church, we don't

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ever get there. It's, I

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I think Paul is is right that it's the gift of God

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that makes renewal possible, and, then we join in

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God's work. But over and over again, we,

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fuss and feud in the United Methodist Church over

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what it means for us to get it right, and we just never get

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there. C

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comments? Tracy, I think you had your hand up.

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Yeah. A part of this chapter that really, struck

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me was, where he was referencing the Lifeways

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survey and talked about the fact that 79%

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of unchurched Americans think Christianity today in America is about

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organized religion rather than about loving

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god and loving people. 86%

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believe they can have a good relationship with god without being involved in

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church. And so I think even that last

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one can have a good relationship with god.

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I I think that, you know, the message of

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this book reminds us that it's about relationship.

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Our relationship with God and our relationship with one another. What ought to be a

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relationship characterized by love? And, in

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my role, I've been reading my way through the, surgeon general

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study on the epidemic of social isolation in America.

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And and, yeah, we

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I mean, church in America could be an

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answer to so much of that epidemic. And what I really

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noted when I started reading his study was there's a portion of it early

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on where he notes places where people can connect in

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community, and the church isn't even

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identified. Mhmm. So what does that tell us

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about how America now

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views the role of church in cultivating loving community?

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We didn't even appear in the list. Wow.

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Alright. And that is so different. At least my understanding

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of of, the shaping of America,

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you know, a 100 more than a 100 years ago, and particularly,

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if you if you were to I come out of the

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historic African American culture,

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and my parents come out of an African American stream of

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Methodist, and that is so

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counts to what's what's revealed in that. In fact, the every the

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everything relative to community was centered around and

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through the church. But I do have,

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family members, including, at least one of my children at

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one point, basically asked a question, that I think that he he asked later,

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and and that is why should anyone bother to be a Christian,

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period. And I I realized,

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friends, that I pretty much was not for years. I was

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handed handed faith and handed the church.

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You know, it was kinda it was it it was will to be

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a transfer, but I realized, that I have

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family members in a in a real a good a good portion of our society.

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C, basically, as you as you've just, revealed in in the

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study, is you know, that's not that's not

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how we are experiencing

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a spiritual encounter or spiritual growth at all.

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And sometimes I wonder if I really have a a good

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answer for that. What you know, why should anyone bother to be a Christian

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much less be a part of the United Methodist Church?

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Why would anyone want to bother to be a Christian?

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Pastor Sherry Drake, I saw you on mute.

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Yes. I've managed to lose my own image.

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I'm not technical. Emma, are you hearing me now? Yes. We

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are. Okay. I'm waving my hands and stuff. They no.

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I I was just thinking, this, this is such

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an important question to me, in the sense that

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a a few years

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can take a doctor of ministry class where I was trying to see

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about the the the traditions of the church.

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Like what, you know, what, what do we have to put to

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to to carry forward and thought about that verse, where they tell the

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story of the a wise householder goes into his house and brings

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out treasures both old and new. And one of the things that

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I'm loving about this book study is the that invitation

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to take the very, kind of core of our Methodist

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traditions in a way, but then interpret and

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reinterpret and rereinterpret it into a new future.

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And so that gives me so much hope. And I'm

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sorry that we haven't found the way of

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communicating that to those outside of the church

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yet. You know what I mean? So

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It's a really good point. Are there others? Erin, I see your

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hand waving. Yeah.

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Well, first, I wanna say hi to Lisa Trigg. Hi, friend.

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Lisa and I had the opportunity this summer to spend a couple weeks with

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Paul Chilcote in England. And this particular

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chapter highlighted some of the conversations,

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at least that I was in on with Paul. Lisa, you were probably in on

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them too. It's one in particular where on

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page 56, he says, we need to rediscover what it

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means to be a movement. And,

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because as we Trimble to Oxford and to Epworth and and

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Bristol and London and all the Wesley places, we were

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constantly amazed by how the Wesley's ignited

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this revival and started this Methodist movement inside

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the church. And the question for all of us was,

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how can we do that today? And,

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and that seems to be the question that is here too in

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this chapter and throughout the rest of the book is how do we

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ignite a revival within our church today.

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And we have a real opportunity before us, that

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he outlines for us, and it's all centered around love and, yes, relationships are huge.

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C

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that that remains the question, doesn't it? Mhmm.

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And I think the, I certainly connect with the notion

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that a movement, is not

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connected to, right doctrine or

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adherence to the the right perfect

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doctrine, but more as he argues

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to the to the movement of the spirit and to love and to

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being known by love and to loving those

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that often feel unloved more so than if

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we all can agree on, the particulars

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around Amen. Doctrine. Yes. And earlier in the

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book, he talked about the the real the way that the

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Wesleys were really unique in being able to

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take the message to a people who did not feel loved, who

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did not know that god loved them regardless

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and help those people understand that, yes, you have a god. He loves

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you, and, you can live through this into a

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better life. And that was the real fire that

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Wesley had. And don't you know we're in a similar

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situation today, where the bulk of

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our our friends on the streets who are not with us in the churches

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Yeah. Don't know that they really are loved and that they are

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worthy. And and that was part of what Paul said

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too. The movement is outside of our church buildings. It's out

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among people. It's out in the places where you don't expect it to be,

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but it is, and that's where it's most receptive. So it's it's

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the jails and the food pantries and all those gritty

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places we might not want to go. Those are

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that's where we reignite this movement,

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and that's where we've gotta go. This connects real this

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really connects for me, doctor Fulbright, with,

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I know all of us weren't there, but to hear Bishop Bob Farr,

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and the emphasis because I kept wrestling with how good

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we are at mission, but but sometimes we don't

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get the names of the people that we are, quote, unquote, in mission

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with. What does it mean to become missional and for us to

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become missionaries? And the Wesley's and the early Methodist,

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it was a movement because they were essentially missionaries.

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Some argue I'm not an expert on this. Maybe doctor Cartwright can

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help us with this as or one of the other scholars on here. But in

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that some argue that in 1968, when we became 68

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when we became the United Methodist Church, then we

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became a church for its membership. We were we in

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fact, we became much less of, we

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in fact, we gave up the priority of even actually being a movement altogether

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because we've now we're, an institution. We

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had sufficient numbers to brag about our ranking in

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terms of main, protestant

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presence in the US. Now it's very very much a different

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church with growth taking place, not

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not in the west, but taking place in in the

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global global south, and to

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recognize that our membership has has declined essentially

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from 1970 till now,

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in the US and has grown in other places outside of the

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US. So, this notion

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of of of movement versus, maybe

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institutional stability and survival, has

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really has really, really been a an ongoing

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conversation. It's not a new conversation at all.

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But some places, we do actually see see, you know,

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excitement and enthusiasm, and I often wanna I often ask the

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question, you know, what what

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happens in your local church, does it really matter? And

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I believe it does matter. And sometimes it matters what we may

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seem like to us in very small ways, but essentially,

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it's it's it's really, it's really part of what

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what god is doing through the church.

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Other commentary on chapter 5.

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This is Sherry Drake again. Like I said, I cut out a

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picture of myself, so I don't know whether but, may I bring just a

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quick word of of hope that I, came across?

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When we're talking about how we do things, one of the

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things that, I've always been a music lover and have had a

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chance to sing and stuff. And I was absolutely

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delighted to discover that at Ball State University

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in the last decade, one of the most

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the the fastest growing music,

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requests are for people wanting to learn how to

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play traditional church pipe organs.

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And the interesting thing was is that these are young people. I talked to a

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couple to try to find out why they wanted that, And they love

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a mixture of music, but they love the ideas of

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some of the old hymns that are played in the ways

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that we used to celebrate. So our little congregation

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is trying to play around with how it is we might be able to get

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those of us who love the traditional pipe organ because that's what we grew up

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with, together with these younger people who are

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saying that they're really excited about it it too. So end

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of story. That was great that was great story. That was

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great story. Did you have a I'd be 1 oh, I

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see Steve Burris. Steven Lee Burris. He

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wanted this year. Yes, please.

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We can hear you. Okay.

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Just in I wanted to encapsulate this in,

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what I think is a simple phrase. It's not

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about doctrine. It's not about structure. It's

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about attitude, an attitude of love. And we

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can have that even in the environment

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within the local church. But sometimes, the

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little church spends most of its time on saving the structure

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or protecting the doctrine.

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Mhmm. Okay. Yeah. I

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did keep in the chat. Diane offered a great question

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for pondering and further conversation. You want me to read it?

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Yes, please. Diane or, Diane, if you wanna

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unmute, you can read your own question. I just don't see your face, so I

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just wanted to be mindful of that. Go ahead, please.

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I just was thinking as we were talking, what would happen if

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we were asking the question, what can we do for our neighbors,

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rather than how can we get our neighbors to walk through our doors.

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And I was thinking about it because I was in a small rural church this

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morning preaching, and I was just thinking, you know, this church

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wants to grow and wants people to come to them. But what would happen if

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they put all of their effort into going out into the

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community and, being there and being

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present rather than worrying so much about who was

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coming through their doors and how old they were and etcetera,

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etcetera. What if they were what if we were all

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out trying to figure out what we could do in our own neighborhoods instead

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of trying to think that our mission was to get the people in through

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our doors? Great. Great. Great. Great. That's

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that's so consistent with on page 61, the

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top, about the what our primary question should be.

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And do our siblings and the human family know they are loved?

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So so, you know, can we answer that? Do do do the folks in our

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communities know that know that know that they are loved.

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C? I think it's also such a culturally

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right time for what Methodist really

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stands for. And, and I'm gonna put a quote out of that,

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surgeon general's report. I just put it into the chat because one of the things

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that he talks about also is that as we see the

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widening gap between the rich and the poor in America and the decline of the

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middle class, that places where people can establish

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social connection, there need to be spaces that are

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equitable. I mean, it doesn't do me any good to, like,

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you know, establish social connection with people at an art

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institute if I don't have the money to take on a membership.

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Whereas church, you know, as as Wesley

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showed, Wesley left the building because, basically, people couldn't

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afford the building and went out into the fields

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to preach to the poorest of the poor who desperately

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needed to hear about God's love and also

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be brought together in community, in caring community.

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So in some sense, it's it's back to the future. We're experiencing some of the

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same cultural context as what the Wesley's

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ministered in and and how they started.

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Because church holds the power, not the building church. The

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church as the collected people of Christ

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holds the power to truly create

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equitable connection and love and care.

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Right. Right. Doctor Hartline?

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Yeah. They they say that confession is good for the soul, and,

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I'm a a little bit more than a year into retirement. And I've

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been trying to practice what, James Baldwin called,

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doing your first works over, which means to go back and

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examine things. And it's it's sort of

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a an examination of conscience, but it's also about truth

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telling. So as it turns out, I was a pastor of a rural

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church in North Carolina 40 years ago,

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and that was the time of the bicentennial of

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Methodism. And so, we did a number of things. So

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that particular congregation had been,

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sir, had, hosted,

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Francis Asbury in 17/80. And so it was a

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rural congregation, but it was over 200 years old. And,

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it it was a good season for me as a first time pastor,

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but I was a workaholic. I was all

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about doing, and, it wasn't enough about

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being with. So I I look back on

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that season that I was the pastor of that

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church, And, I I,

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I've learned the learned the distinction from,

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Samuel Wells. He says we we

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tend in our preoccupation with our achievements to be

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all about doing for because it

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it seems to offer us the the

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consolation that we're accomplishing something, but,

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we overlooked the opportunities for being with.

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So when I look back 40 years ago, I

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realized that I had opportunities for

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being with those who were alcoholics.

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And I had the opportunities for those,

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to cross the color line every day. I lived in a

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segregated community where there were blacks and whites. There were 4 white churches

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and were black churches, and, I I

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was pretty righteous about wanting

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to propose that our church worship with the other United

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Methodist Church in town, but I I wasn't

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enough about multiplying love in the way that Paul Chilcot

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is talking about it. And so I didn't form relationships with

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with, the people in the town,

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black or white. So, you know, it's it's,

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it's a hard thing to recognize,

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fundamental errors, but, if I had been about multiplying

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love, 40 years ago

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in rural North Carolina,

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I I would not have done some of the things that I did for

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which I got accolades. You know? I I achieved

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things, and I I felt good about my achievements. But,

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meanwhile, 2 of the children that I

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baptized in that church that year grew up in the

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family of an alcoholic. They are United

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Methodist clergy today, and they are alcoholics.

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And it's a a very

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poignant thing to know that that's part of their baptism,

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part of their life, and witness part of the ways in which they,

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have died and been raised with Christ. But I have to wonder

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what what what, what might have been

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if I had been, more

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attentive to, being

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with that family in the midst of it. I I don't have

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any reason to think that I would have kept them from

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being alcoholics, but I I might have offered some

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consolation in the midst of what has been a lifelong struggle.

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So confession is good for the soul. Thank you for

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sharing. Erin, I saw your hand.

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Yeah. Doctor Cartwright, as you were talking, it got me thinking about another

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thing that jumped from Paul Chilcote's pen into my

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head part. I don't know. But he says, you know, all

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crush Christians find their ultimate purpose in servanthood.

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Just as in Jesus' image of the vine and branches, we are gathered

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to learn how to love as disciples and then sent

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out into the world as apostles to share that

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love with others. It seems like we do a

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pretty good job gathering and sharing the message

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with each other. It's the hard part is that going out

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into the world not to do to those other people or even

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for those other people but to share with them the good

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news. And god then takes that and goes from there. And

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what we don't do that good job of is taking it out

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the next step. Just

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thanks for that prompt. Now what is what is

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our work? What is God's work? Yeah. Alright. And to my to my dear

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friend and colleague, Michael, in the name of Jesus Christ, you are

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forgiven. Mhmm. We all are for our,

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looking at as as one who's getting ready to step into retirement. I

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look back look back on all the things that I did not do. But I

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wonder just reading 61 and 62, I don't know if you were

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just just indicted by, but I wonder if

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the god we are offering is not the god that people believe in

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or the god that that they believe. So if

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25% of those who, who,

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from the Baylor Baylor study, really believe that

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the god is a what what's the word

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I'm looking for? 25% believe

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oops. 25% god is a generous and benevolent

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god. So that means that the majority of people really think of god

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more as authoritarian, a critical god, judgmental

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god. So so and then the the second part,

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really second looking at non Christians view of Christians,

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here we turn to 2 different studies, the Lifeways study,

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drew the following conclusion. A majority of unchurched

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Americans, 79%, friends, think that Christianity

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today is really more about organized religion

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than loving God and loving neighbor or loving people.

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86% believe they can have a good relationship with

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God without having anything to do with the church at all. These are I'm

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paraphrasing, but that's essentially what it says. So we've got

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a a majority of folks who, a

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significant number of folks who believe that the god that we are that that that

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the church has to offer is not a gracious necessary.

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I'm I'm adding this myself, but I don't know if you agree. You know, maybe

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they're saying maybe we think that the god we're offering we're

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offering god as love. We're preaching sermons on love, but that's not

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how other people are perceiving or experiencing or receiving what

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it is that we have to offer. I have a a brother-in-law a brother-in-law

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who's passed on now who we had kind of an

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ongoing discussion around whether you really even needed to be part

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of the church to to be a healthy spiritual

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spiritually connected to God. My bias was, well,

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it's in the Trimble. You know? The Bible said Julius as

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Jesus went to the the synagogue, they said, as was his custom. So I'm

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assuming that Jesus went more than just first Sunday every

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quarter. And so I was a firm believer in that where's the

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text Thessalonians, where's the text where it says or Hebrews where it's

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neglect not to gather and, you know, so so I think

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there's an encouragement for us to be community. I'm a I'm a big believer

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that Christian community is essential for Christian

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growth. My brother-in-law was of the belief that, you know,

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people don't have to go to church, they have a relationship with

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God, accept Jesus Christ, and just do good

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things, you know, and that was that was it. So

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now that I got my little therapy session out of the way

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I think it's time to move on to chapter 6, Bishop. Alright. Alright. We we

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we got time limitations on this. Because we got time.

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Okay. Let's go to check. Go ahead, doctor. What what what do you

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So the title of chapter 6, the church as a community of

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inclusive love and grace. So I think it's quite interesting when you talked about

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that Baylor study. It's how are we

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conveying who God is? Because the ways in which

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people experience God is through our words and our deeds. And

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so it's quite interesting that that Baylor study elevated

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the views of persons related to god when it should

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be counter from what our understanding of who god is and the fullness

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of who god is as we understand it is full of love without

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bounds. But yet, sometimes, church people

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don't necessarily, give a good name for

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God. That's just like on Yelp. If someone gives

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only 2 stars to a restaurant or some type of establishment,

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people are not going to go to that establishment, typically, if

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there's only 2 stars. I just wonder what's God's

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yelp right now as it relates to humanity.

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Is god only getting 2 stars? And if that's the case, how can

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we change that? That would be my curiosity. I didn't get to

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preach this morning. So, Bishop, I'll I'll quiet that down.

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I just just need to preach in. What

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I really like about this book, friends, is well, there were a lot of things

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I like about it, but with the titles of the chapter. So the number

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6, to me, it's like period, hard stop.

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This is this is this the church is a community of inclusive

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love and grace. Would somebody be willing to read

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the read the scripture text and then, unmute

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unmute yourself and and read the scripture text on page

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65.

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Who would be willing to share? John, 154 to 58

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through 10. Krista. I would do the remain

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in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can't

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produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine.

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Likewise, you can't produce fruit unless you remain in

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me. I am the vine. You are the branches.

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If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce

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much fruit. Without me, you can't do anything.

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My father is glorified when you produce much fruit, and in this

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way prove that you are my disciples. As the father loved

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me, I too have loved you. Remain in

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my love. If you keep my commandments, you will

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remain in my love. Just as I kept my father's

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commandments and remain in his love.

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Amen. Amen.

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Commentary on, on the reading of the text and

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the and the title of chapter 6, the church's community of

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inclusive love and grace.

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I think the reading of this text, pairs well with what Chokot says

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on page 67 when he says that everything begins with God's

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love. Everything. Ideally, the church embodies this

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love as well. And one of the notes that I had shared is that

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if we are truly a culture of love, it's not what we do, it's who

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we are.

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Alright. I see you on mute. Go ahead.

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Alright. I don't have my copy of his book, right before

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me. I did did read it, this week, and,

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he he, I think he has

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identified something quite telling in his critique of the other

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book, and I I know our focus is not to,

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be preoccupied with what, Jeff Greenway and,

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Mike Lowry wrote. But

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I think this is one of these places where there's a a great confusion

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between the kind of unity of like mindedness

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that, that he identifies as as a

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problem and the kind of unity and love,

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the abiding and the bind that is being described in

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this in this chapter. And so,

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I I do grieve for those who have disaffiliated,

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because they find like mindedness to be

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more

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viable for getting on with the mission that they wanna be about.

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And, as our bishop said,

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you know, the doctrine rightly understood,

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is is about loving, and, rightly used

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is going to is gonna be, for the

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sake of mission. But,

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this this movement to

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recreate the church around like mindedness, it just grieves me

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deeply. It creates

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a mirror image of not a mirror image. It creates,

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more echo chambers, more

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culture wars, frameworks. And so I I do think that

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Paul Chilcot has, named quite

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well, the dimensions of this that extend

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out in terms of polity, institutional arrangements.

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It's just such a well may well wrought,

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vision of the church that he's, describing for

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us here. And I I do fear that, you

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know, there are there are left wing versions of this as well.

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So it may be it may be very easy for us to

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talk about, like mindedness as if

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it's all about, right wing

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patterns of doctrinal uniformity. But, I I see

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it on the left, and I grieve about it there too. And

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so god god help us, and god deliver us from, the

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too easy

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invitation to group ourselves around being like

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minded and everyone agreeing with,

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what they judged to be the most, salient points. And,

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this this vision of living into,

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abiding and divine that that has a lot

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of, a lot of power, but it it

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does create and has a great deal of vulnerability

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because I I didn't have to I have to deal with you

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and you have to deal with me. And

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not not just what what we, what we say we agree

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on. I think it I think

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it would be who was to really become much

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more confessional and Trimble

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in our approach to,

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you know, our Christian identity and faith.

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I really wrestle with the words authentic. Y'all

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know Brene Brown and others have made authenticity and vulnerability

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very popular terms in recent years.

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But even when even when, Chico writes about Wesley

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and and and, you know, the portrait of what an authentic Christian

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looks like, You know, it always it always raises in, you know, I guess, what

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if you're striving? You don't you you're just resting with trying to be,

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I I like the hymn, Lord, I wanna be a Christian in my heart first.

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I wanna be more loving. I wanna be more like Jesus.

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This notion of, oh, what this is an authentic Christian witness,

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so this is an authentic Christian identity.

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I think there's a bit of I don't know. I don't wanna say

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arrogance, but but I think if we can approach,

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where we want to be, where we where we want God with where we

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think God wants us to be with a lot more humility, which I think

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is the reason I think our prayers of confession are

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needed. We don't need to I know in our effort sometimes

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to abbreviate our worship liturgy, we we we cannot

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have exited, our prayers

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of confession, even sometimes in our communion liturgies.

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We've and I always wrestle with doctor.

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I don't know if you've ever had people come to you and say,

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people have come to me and said, Bishop, can I be brutally honest? Can I

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be honest with you in this conversation? I always wondered, well, all

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these previous conversations that we've been having, David,

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do we need to go back and review? I thought we

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were being to the best of our abilities, being honest.

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So I don't know. I I know. I wrestle I know there's limitations

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in our in our in our language in our languages, and that's

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why I really appreciate interfacing with people from other

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who speak other languages and from other cultures and,

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and who sing other songs. Right. One way I love going to Africa

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University and because some of the songs and the songs that they

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sing when they translate them, I said, woah. That is really a

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fresh look at what it means to love God and praise God

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when you hear it from another language and it's interpreted,

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into into English. Bishop,

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I see Steve. Steve, did you have something to share?

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Yes. To, to quote

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earlier, to be brutally frank, and to

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reflect on what, doctor Cartwright said.

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As a former council and ministry director working with Ed

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Finstermacher as it might, turn out. You might

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know him well. And

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and that role, certainly part of it was church growth, and we were all

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about, making sure the churches grew

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and, started new churches, but so much

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of it was about about finding the

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location, getting the people inside the building.

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And I think we've come to especially after the pandemic,

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we've come to a real crossroads because

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those who do remain in the church,

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are are clinging to, the

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structure, the building,

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and to deal with the idea that we might have to walk away

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from that and to to be

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with, as doctor Cartwright said, to be with

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others and to have that to really be the

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main thrust of our service in the name of

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Jesus. And, now we're

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involved in a church now that, will,

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will have to make some serious decisions about the edifice

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at a time when we wanted to be

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out with people making a difference. I I've got

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the the joy in of, being able to be a

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volunteer, chaplain at the YMCA.

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And purpose that goes right along with what doctor

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Cartwright was saying, was to do a ministry of

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presence just to be there with people,

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to be open to talk to them, whether it's about their faith or

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whether it's about what they did yesterday or with the new car they bought or

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whatever it is. And that

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seems so different than what I,

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was charged to do along with many other things in the role of

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council director. It's just a new world,

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and, it's a world that we have to accept

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the reality. We have to make a change. Thank you for

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doing this, Bishop. Thank thank you for joining us, all of

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you. One of the books that, I've also

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encouraged people to consider reading is is Bishop Ken Carter's

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book, Unrelenting Grace, and I think it really pairs

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pairs beautifully with what, Paul

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writes. Because maybe the future and I think the argument there and argument

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here is that our future might not be in our edifices,

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Steve, as you as you as you were sharing, but our future may be

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in our theology and our capacity

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really to be with people where they

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are and the fact that it that our that our strongest part

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of our Wesleyan, way of being

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is the notion of generous grace, you know,

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a a generous unrelenting grace. And I think

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that's best experience as others have said,

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on this this evening and previously,

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relationships. You know? People experience god's grace

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in large part through relationships.

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And I see that when I'm visiting local congregations, and I

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see the way in which, they've made room for people in the

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community, and they are engaged in their communities.

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This is how people are experiencing and how people are experiencing God

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in part in part, how people are experiencing God.

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Awesome. Are there any other insights,

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curiosities, and our concluding minutes together this

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week? My, how time flies when we're having fun,

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and having rich conversation. Doctor, I see you on

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mute. Welcome. I see that. Yes, John. Gospel

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of John right there, remain in me, and I will remain in

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you. I think we kinda have to go back

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there. That's the whole genesis of this

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study. A lot of times, we

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forget to be to be with the Christ,

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and somehow I am in control.

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I am in control. And we

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and if I if I know that I am in control over church and

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building and then all of that, it is difficult for us

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what it means to be and remain in Christ,

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remain in Jesus. So I just kind of as we conclude,

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I like words to kind of take us back to,

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you know, Christ following Jesus means that we are going

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to the margins, not at the center where I

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control everything. I am at the center, and I

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am I have given all the power to control, be sure that

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everything runs smoothly the way that I see it.

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But he said not true. It is not true

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that God and through Jesus Christ has not given us commandments.

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Yes, ma'am. And so if you're talking about it because right here, we read it.

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Sometimes we read this and we we hear the word love and unity, but we

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forget the word commandment. It's this is not something

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that we're supposed to be trying to figure out how to do some new

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new foot fandangled way of of being

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being a a god follower. It says the commandment

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the the commandment is love. I'm

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sorry, You weren't finished making your your

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point. But I was I was I went back and looked at the scripture how

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you how you were raising that. Yes. Yes,

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Bishop. Thank you, though. I think a lot of times a

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lot of times, you know, it is time for us to as a as a

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Methodist, you know, is there something that we have a control over?

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Or is is this a time for us to kind of, release

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that we thought that we have a control over? And then

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going back to the main, you know, main you know,

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the the relationship with the Christ, he said remain in

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me. Amen. Amen.

Speaker:

I see something else in the chat.

Speaker:

Brad Miller was giving his information information about your Be

Speaker:

Encouraged podcast. So, friends, if you have missed the last two

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other weeks that we have been on Journey and you would like to get caught

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up or curious about what was said, if you've missed, the

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be encouraged podcast, we'll provide those this learning

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in addition to today. Also, as we are concluding,

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next week is our final week. My word. It has gone by

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so quickly. And so if you have friends

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that, have wanted to join, but they forget forgot to

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join, invite them to be a part of it because as you see, it's

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more conversational as we are taking leadership from our Bishop,

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and we will be concluding this book, chapter 7 and 8. But

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again, the book is not needed fully in order to gauge in

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the conversation because a lot of it is by our

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experiences, but then also the movement of God's spirit just to remind

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us from scripture what we are called to do as faithful followers

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of Jesus Christ. So, Bishop, in your last minute

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with us this week, is there any concluding things

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that you would like to share? Yes. I'd like to invite us once again,

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beloved, to tomorrow morning or whenever you wake up, I hope it's

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tomorrow morning, that you'd read, the prayer

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from the top of chap page 42. New

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every morning and your love, god. The second thing I saw in the

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chat around, a waitress,

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people going to restaurant and sometimes people come out of church being

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and I I know that to be true. This is not this is not

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hyperbole or or this is this is not

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anecdotal in a sense a study could be done and and and

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certainly facts would bear the bear this out. And here's my invitation

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for the remainder of our Lenten time. When we just I just

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came from a restaurant with some of our family who's in town, and they'll

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leave in town tomorrow. And we had a wonderful experience,

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wonderful exchange with the server. But that

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we have so many opportunities when we encounter people to

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really demonstrate kindness. And, we I don't think we

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we we get extra stars for that. But but

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kindness should really be slow easily from the mouths and from

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the hearts of those of us who are Christ followers.

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And, I I just if we can encourage each other, something

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I need to be encouraged to to to remember that I'm gonna have an

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opportunity tomorrow at some point to,

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to really demonstrate, what I call Christian kindness,

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but but kindness during this season. And I have

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22 of our 3 children, 2 our 2 boys, all

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both served as service in restaurants. One of our

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oldest son for a number of years, and the stories that we

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we heard from people who actually worked in restaurant and service,

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I was I was I was disappointed to hear how some

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people, really, really,

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interact with people who are who are serving them.

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Let us pray. Loving god for our time together, we give you thanks

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and praise. Grant us another opportunity, oh

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god, to not only be receivers of grace,

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but extenders of grace. Grant us, oh god,

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another opportunity at night to rest well and tomorrow

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to to awaken, to give you praise

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and glory with another opportunity, oh god,

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to grow in grace and to extend and

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express the love of Jesus Christ to a hurting and hungry world.

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Bless those who've been able to join us on this Lenten journey with

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multiplying love, and grant us, oh god, a commitment,

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to really strengthen the connection of the United Methodist

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Church in the present day and the days which are ahead.

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It is in Christ's name we pray. Amen.

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Love you, friends. Be encouraged. Have a good evening. Thank

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you, Bishop.

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