Saturday, a week ago, we had a grand celebration of 200 years of Methodism in Alabama. Thanks to our North Alabama Conference Historical Society for providing us this opportunity to celebrate our heritage. From the Flint Circuit, we’ve grown to a strong, far flung Conference. This past month I’ve preached in two of the churches of the Flint Circuit (Shiloh and Ford’s Chapel). They have a grand 200 year history. The best of all, both churches are growing
The week before, at our Cabinet Retreat, I asked the District Superintendents, “What Biblical text have you found most helpful in your current ministry?”
One DS responded with Joshua 1:9 – “I was with Moses, I’ll be with you.” Joshua was reassured by God that even as God had supported and led Moses in the past, God would stand with Joshua in the present and future.
We have a wonderful past. We have huge challenges in the present. We wonder if we can show half the risk, creativity, and faith in a living, moving God that was shown by our forebears 200 years ago.
To us, as to them, God promises us that we need not face these challenges alone. God says to us, “I was with Lorenzo Dow (1803), I’ll be with you.” “I was with Matthew Parham Sturdivant (1808), I’ll be with you.” “I was with James Gwinn (1808), I’ll be with you. Therein is our hope for a future.
The last words of John Wesley were, “The best of all, God is with us.”
As we tackle our present challenges, as we hold ourselves accountable to the Conference Priorities, as Jesus demands our obedience to his Great Commission and the Great Commandment, the best of all is, God is with us.
William H. Willimon
“The weather is so bad today, there’s nobody out and about but crows and Methodist preachers.””the Methodists around here are few in number, poor, and much despised.”
– Comments heard in early 19th Century Alabama