Local churches share stories of discipleship
It’s up to the local church to make disciples for the transformation of the world, said the Rev. Rod Miller, conference director of connectional ministries, as he introduced the Discipleship Ministries report at annual conference June 5.
The sharing of these discipleship stories was at the heart of the his report.
• The Rev. Dred Scott and his CCYM group at St. Matthews UMC in Dundalk, who have “played hundreds of gigs in the last five years;
• ROCK raising more than $23,000 for ministry;
• A Pasadena church whose discipleship grew after following “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” as a pilot project;
Following the video presentation, Miller called for the audience to share their own discipleship stories in one-minute speeches and to use the words “discipleship,” “transformation” or “world” in their comments.
Members from more than a dozen churches spoke up with a wide range of experiences, including:
• Foundry’s GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, and Transgender) ministry, which is more than 30 years old;
• A church looking anew at stewardship, and, through help from the conference, increasing giving by 40 percent and the number of pledges by 60 percent;
• Bible studies that transformed several congregations;
• With the help of conference training, a church was transformed to step beyond its walls to the people “across the highway,” and now has ministry with “tons of children;”
• Sollers UMC holds a Friday night family movie night on the side of their building, which attracts people from throughout the
• A church in West Virginia is not only making disciples of youth but its older adults are energized and carrying on local mission to nursing homes and the community.
Conference discipleship staff also gave one-minute recaps of their ministry areas. The Rev. Bruce Haskins reported on the revitalization
and growth of the Shalom Zone ministry in Baltimore. The Rev. Helen Fleming is looking forward to the commissioning of about 100 certified lay ministers in the fall, following more than a year of training.
The Rev. Mark Schaeffer, campus minister at American University, told of training young adults in
service for “the other six days. Please use these young adults when they turn up in your churches,” he said.
“God is on the move in the Baltimore-Washington Conference,” said Bishop Schol.
Three disciple-related recommendations were approved by conference members.
The first, presented by the Rev. Chris Holmes, recommended that proceeds from the sale of the
Annapolis District parsonage be designated for the development of a new faith community and to support Hispanic ministries in the district.
“The Cabinet is taking seriously making disciples, to start new churches, and particularly to reach out to Hispanics in the Annapolis-Laurel area,” Holmes said.
Previously the Council on Finance and Administration put monies from the sale of parsonages into reserve funds, and he was asking for reconsideration that the monies be used instead for missional purposes. CFA has agreed there is no better unbound-outbound reason than reaching out to Hispanics, Holmes said. The sale would net about $250,000.
A second recommendation indicated a language change from “district” to “region” and added “in accordance with the Book of Discipline” (lines 43-44, 3a. in Pre-Con).
The third recommendation, presented by the Rev. Richard Brown-Whale, conference global ministries secretary, asked for approval of a list of Baltimore-Washington Conference Advance Specials. He also reported that the conference recently received an award from the Northeastern Jurisdiction as the conference that gave “the most money to missionary support.” Then he cautioned not to become too proud, that it was not the largest per capita amount.
Following the legislation, the Rev. Wade Martin asked the churches to take a new look at the Discipleship studies and expand the number of Disciple study groups throughout the conference.
To that end, the conference is offering a “train the trainer” class Aug. 15 at the Conference Center, to train church members who in turn will lead others to become Disciple teachers.
Bishop Schol introduced retired Bishop Melvin Talbert, who was in from Nashville to speak at a noon luncheon.
“I’m reminded that you are serving today where it all began 225 years ago,” Bishop Talbert said. “We’re indebted to you for keeping that witness alive all these years. God has placed us in positions of leadership, not to sit back and glorify the position, but to make sure we prepare to take risks, to engage the world, to be a prophetic witness for Jesus Christ.”
The Annual Conference approved the following conference-based Advance Specials for second-mile giving.
Campus ministries, to reach out to young adults at the universities in this area.
Casa del Pueblo Community Ministry, to serve improvement and empowerment needs of the immigrant Latin American community in Washington, D.C.
Christ House, a 32-bed facility for sick and homeless men and women in Washington, D.C.
Columbia Road Health Services, a primary care health center in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
Deaf Ministries, to support projects such as Deaf Camp, Deaf-Blind Camp, Religious Interpreter’s Workshop, Deaf Lay Speaking Class and Deaf Prison Ministry
HIV/AIDS Ministries, to improve the quality of life for people living with HIV/AIDS.
Hope for the City, an initiative to bring healing and wholeness to the residents of Baltimore.
Mount Auburn Cemetery, for restoration and preservation.
NETS (Neighbors Eager to Serve), an ecumenical outreach ministry in southern Maryland that offers many services.
New Church Starts, for assistance in planting new congregations.
SMILE, an ecumenical ministry in the Lusby area, which provides food, clothing and assistance to those in need.
Social HELP Center, serving Washington County, assists people in need with planning effective use of resources and provides financial assistance.
United Methodist Community Services: Four UMCS centers provide services in Baltimore City and operates a communications center out of Linthicum Heights UMC.