Mississippi BMCR: Growing in Discipleship through Covenant Community
By Sherry Johnson, associate director Center for Ministry
Photo right: Left to right: Rev. Sherry Johnson, Rev. Elijah Mitchell and Erie Stuckett discuss the value ofcovenant groups at the Mississippi BMCR Covenant Group retreat at the Priory of St. Moses the Black.
Last year during a planning session, a dozen leaders of the Mississippi Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR) discerned that God was calling them to more fully live the vision of leadership described in their mission statement -- "to train and develop prophetic and spiritual leaders who will provide or create opportunities for black churches to become vital congregations." So they formed a covenant group with guidance from the book, "Covenant Discipleship: Christian Formation through Mutual Accountability,"
by David Lowes Watson.
Since last August they have met monthly-usually by conference call -- to hold each other in loving accountability for acts of compassion and justice, devotion and worship (http://www.bmcrms.org/covenant_groups
). Recently, they gathered for an overnight retreat at the Priory of St. Moses the Black in Raymond to reflect upon their year of discipleship and to discern their next faithful steps. "The group realized the special bond that had been created and was thankful to God for the beloved community that he had created," said Rev. L. Fitzgerald Lovett, pastor of New Zion United Methodist Church in Crystal Springs. Rev. Lovett co-chairs Mississippi BMCR with Rev. Elijah Mitchell, associate pastor at St. Paul UMC in Ocean Springs.
Going forward the BMCR Covenant group plans to savor the mutual support and sense of connectedness they have found by spending more time together. They also hope to share the blessings of covenantal life by establishing other groups. "Covenant groups are needed, especially for pastors, to provide a safe, loving and supportive community where one can experience unconditional love. Broken and wounded individuals can be restored and empowered by the unconditional love they receive from their peers," said Lovett.