Convocation encourages healthy lives for pastors


By Jeanette Pinkston
United Methodist News Service

DALLAS — More than 500 United Methodist pastors and church leaders gathered to focus on healthy connections during the 2007 Convocation for Pastors of African-American Churches. 

The annual meeting, held Jan. 3-6, was sponsored by the General Board of Discipleship and hosted by St. Luke “Community” United Methodist Church in Dallas. Twenty-three people from the Mississippi Conference attended the event. 

The three plenary sessions and an evening worship and healing service focused on the theme of the gathering, “Focusing on Healthy Connections: Spirit, Body and Mind.” 

No more casualties

The Rev. Vance Ross, a board executive, emphasized the importance of good health. “If the pastor is not healthy, there is no need to expect the congregations to be so,” he told the church leaders. “You are set apart, and you must be healthy. We need to make some healthy connections.” 

The Rev. Safiyah Fosua, director of invitational preaching ministries, transported participants to Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones in a plenary session, “Soul People, Spiritual People.”  

“Spirit is not something you keep to yourself,” she said. “Something happens to Africana people when they move in the spirit together. We (can make) bigger waves if we just move together and come together in the spirit.”  

She challenged the pastors to come together, get strong and discover their identity, and to let the Holy Spirit breathe on their lives, ministries and communities. 

Healthy connections

The Rev. Joseph Daniels Jr., pastor of Emory United Methodist Church in Washington, led a plenary session on community connection and social justice.

“Too many of us are not whole,” he told the gathering. “We are unhealthy and we need to make healthy connections.”  

Daniels cited a laundry list of ills such as HIV/AIDS, prostate cancer, diabetes, black-on-black crime and the negative effects of re-gentrification. Using texts from Ezekiel, Nehemiah and John, he identified the circumstance, described the situation and provided a solution. 

“Economically, many have prospered while the masses are suffering,” he said. “People are living in wealthy suburbs and are spiritually poor and spiritually bankrupt, broken and burnt. We are in trouble. We are present physically but mentally and emotionally in exile. 

“God brings good news. God starts the revival with a prophet. The Spirit of the Lord got in somebody. Broken and burnt walls and dry bones will get up and build. (Pastors) must be the catalyst for change,” he said. 

He challenged the pastors to be disciplined in practicing the spiritual disciplines. They must have prayer partnerships, Sabbath rest, study time, exercise, therapy and family time. 

Time for healing

The Rev. Pat McKinstry, senior pastor of Upton United Methodist Church in Toledo, Ohio, compared today’s church with the woman in Mark 5:25-34 who suffered from an issue of blood. 

“Just as the woman with an issue of blood had an issue, the church has an issue of blood. There is a hemorrhage in the church,” said McKinstry, the speaker for the evening worship and healing service. 

She explained that “medically (the woman) should have died. The life of the flesh is in the blood. Blood is the physical carrier of life. The spiritual carriers of life, we (pastors) must go back to the blood.” 

Citing the story of Cain and Abel, McKinstry said, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries from the ground. Jesus’ blood comes from redemption. We call in all kinds of physicians, except calling on the blood of the Lamb.”