Vickers Says Mississippi Conference "A Gift to the Church"


By Tamica Smith-Jeuitt, Senior Communications Specialist


Thoughts of the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church will stick with Dr. Jason Vickers for a long time. He recently made his first visit to the Magnolia state where nearly 200 United Methodist clergy gathered to hear him speak over a 
Dr. Jason Vickers addresses clergy of the Mississippi Annual Conference.
three-day period for the Bishop's Convocation. Commenting on the hospitality, Vickers said "The clergy I've met are down to earth in the best sense of that term, absolutely easy to talk to and get to know, it is clear there is a passion for God and a passion for the church but on the other hand, there is a certain salt of the earth character that makes it so easy to be with clergy."

Vickers, who is the author of the 2011 book, "Minding the Good Ground: A Theology of Church Renewal," was invited by the Mississippi Area Resident Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. His book is on Swanson's reading list. During the program, Vickers

Pastors Selber McShepard, Will Dowling and Tanya Evans were among the nearly 200 clergy at the Bishop's Convocation.
guided participants through four phases of reflection on the theme:Contemplating God's Holiness (Exodus 15:11 and Hosea 11:9), Encountering God's Holiness (Exodus 19:23, Deuteronomy 4:12 and Isaiah 6:5), Becoming
Holy (Leviticus 11:45 and Numbers 16:46) and Finding Freedom in Holiness (II Corinthians 3:17). There was in-depth discussion around each topic. Microphones were stationed around the large meeting space for pastor's to address Vickers and Swanson. A wide range of questions came from the floor. 


"What I love about the questions, whether prompted by the book or the presentation, is that they are questions that reflect the day-to-day life of the work in the ministry. They are

Rev. Joe Reynolds is one of many pastors who had a question for Dr. Vickers.
questions close to the ground. They represent the real bump and grind of ministry. Those are the best theological questions," said Vickers.


According to Eugene Stockstill, pastor of Myrtle Ebenezer UMC in Union County, this type of exchange made the gathering well worth attending, "Very refreshing, very informative and it has been a very enjoyable time for me, he said.  


The Rev. Selber McShepard of New Zion and St. Paul United Methodist Churches, (Lampton Charge) said that her enthusiasm came from the teachings and examples. "It is awesome how he shared the way God witnesses to people through healing, through the word, through the sanctuary; he (Vickers) just brings it home, the life of the Holy Spirit, so alive so real," she said.  


Some of the pastors took a hard look at themselves following Vickers direct and tough-talk approach on control. "It has been enlightening. It's been stirring and something that has convicted me and made me want to move out of my comfort zone and realize I can do better with myself to help my ministry and my congregation.  


Vickers who resides in Dayton, Ohio said he was leaving Mississippi impressed by the men and women that God has called and equipped to do ministry in the conference. "The Mississippi Annual Conference may be the well best kept secret in all of United Methodism...truly a gift to the church so I am looking forward to the future and the Mississippi Conference to lead the way forward in renewal," he said.


The Bishop's Convocation was held September 30 through October 2 at Crossgates United Methodist Church, in Brandon, Mississippi. It was sponsored by the office of the bishop and the office of communications and connectional ministries of the Mississippi Annual Conference UMC, coordinated by the Center for Ministry.