NEPTUNE – Starting this Spring, a new Relay series will highlight miracles taking place in our midst. Building off of the 2018 Annual Conference theme ‘Miracles Everywhere’ the series seeks to shed light on often overlooked miracles in our lives, churches and communities.
“A miracle doesn’t have to be a huge moment,” said Bishop John Schol. “We can shift our perspectives to see that miracles are happening all around us. Let’s strive to open our minds and hearts, shifting our perspective to see the miracles that are everywhere.”
In 2017, a Relay series profiled “Apostles in our Midst” highlighting apostolic mission within GNJ and the apostles behind the ministries. This year’s article series seeks to not only build upon the resulting stories of apostolic leadership but also the more personal, intimate and relationship-centered miracles occurring across GNJ.
Whether it’s a specific ministry, person, or instance where one has experienced a miracle or has been a miracle to someone else, The Relay wants GNJ to go public and share God’s miracles throughout our connection.
“As the church navigates through liminal times (a transitional time on the edge of what God has next for the church), the Spirit is calling GNJ to address our adaptive challenge and engage in new possibilities with courage,” said Rev. Hector Burgos, Connectional Ministries Director. “We are called to continue to imagine and discern innovative ways to effectively be in ministry in and with the community so that we cultivate transformational leaders who make disciples and grow vital congregations to transform the world.”
Eric Drew, Director of Worship, is helping compile and strategize a ‘Miracles Everywhere’ sermon series package for GNJ pastors. He said that it is not us but God who performs the miracles.
“It is shifting the focus to God, not what we do,” said Drew. “It is by the power of God that makes miracles happen, not by our own doing. We need to glorify God’s work through us.”
In a recent worship service for the staff of the Mission and Resource Center, Bishop Schol shared that we tend to focus on why things happen in the midst of hardship and unexpected situations.
“We need to focus on what we can do and who can do,” he said. “It is about shifting our attitude to actively seek how we can turn those situations around and become active participants of God’s miracles.”
Story Submissions Sought
The Relay invites readers to share their miracle stories. If you have a story you would like to share, please email Josh Kinney, Editorial Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please share this information with other church leaders and members.
“God is creating signs and wonders in GNJ and there is even more God wants to do,” exclaimed Schol. “God wants to continue working through the United Methodists of Greater New Jersey so that miracles of healing and transformation occur across GNJ and around the world.”
Living the Miracles
One example of exactly that is GNJ’s commitment to serving as living, working miracles to the people of Puerto Rico following last year’s devastation from Hurricane Maria. United Methodists in Greater New Jersey are already preparing for a miracle for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Puerto Rico. On Dec. 27, 2017, a team from GNJ embarked on a trip to Puerto Rico to assist with the organizing of recovery efforts. Bishop Hector Ortiz invited Bishop John Schol and a small team to meet with his staff and leaders about the long-term recovery of the island based on A Future With Hope’s Sandy recovery ministry and talent. In 2017, GNJ raised more than $400,000 for hurricane relief.
Additionally, a container of relief supplies sent by GNJ to Puerto Rico was recently released by U.S. customs and delivered to the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico Metro area distribution center to be spread among impact areas.
The United Methodist Committee on Recovery (UMCOR) has begun coordinating Emergency Relief Teams (ERTs) to Puerto Rico. The first teams to be deployed will be Specialized Early Response Teams and will be oriented to address circumstances unique to this location and situation beyond the general scope of work for more traditional ERTs.
Several ERT training sessions for disaster response will be held in February, March and April. Additionally, a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) leadership training session will be held March 10 at Westwood UMC. Click here for details.
For more information on GNJ Disaster Response here.