#BeUMC: Missional People of God

5/18/2022

Here in Mississippi, generosity is one of our core values and we know that it extends far beyond financial giving. Generosity is how we express hospitality, care for all God’s creation and offer healing to a broken world. At the 2016 Session of the Mississippi Annual Conference our teaching, being and doing centered around how “Generosity is The POWER of We,” and we studied Matthew 10:5a and 8b, “Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus, ‘Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.”

God has been so generous to us with countless blessings—beginning with giving up His only begotten Son—that one may wonder what the appropriate response to God’s generosity should be. Praising God definitely tops the list, but in addition to thanking God with our words, we are blessed to be a blessing and put faith and thanksgiving into action. Rev. Haven Boyd, associate pastor at Laurel First United Methodist Church in Laurel, reflects on how generosity can be channeled to influence, connect and impact families and communities.
 
Rev. Haven Boyd (left) with parishioners from Laurel First UMC delivering food for those impacted by ICE Raids. Photo courtesy of Rev. Haven Boyd
"Growing up in The United Methodist Church, I was taught that loving and serving one’s neighbor was essential for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, and through the grace of God, The United Methodist Church continues to be in service to its community in the Mississippi Annual Conference.

In 2019, while serving as an associate pastor at Laurel First UMC, our community was struck by the injustices of broken systems that plague our communities. On what seemed like a normal school day, children would soon find that their parents and caregivers had been ripped away from them. A child is one of the most vulnerable members of our society, especially when they have had family members, housing, food and financial resources stripped away from them. Confronted with this reality, the congregation of Laurel First UMC acted without hesitation as they felt the call to love and serve one’s neighbor. Laurel First UMC went beyond its walls and partnered with Immaculate Conception Catholic Church to assist with financial donations, provide warm meals, shop for groceries and donate food and hygiene items. We assisted in coordinating food and supply drop offs from other United Methodist churches in the Mississippi Annual Conference and served diligently in sorting supplies and delivering food boxes to families, aiming to provide a safe and sacred space for families living in fear. Our hope was that all persons affected by these injustices would be able to come and receive the most basic human needs so that they may be able to live sustainable lives. Laurel First UMC laid politics and opinions aside to serve and love their neighbors in the community.”
Volunteers pack boxes with food and supplies for those impacted by 2019 ICE Raids. Photo courtesy of Rev. Haven Boyd

Boyd is referring to August 7, 2019—the day that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents –more commonly known as ICE, raided several work sites here in Mississippi. ICE agents arrested approximately 680 people in the largest single-state immigration enforcement action in U.S. history. This left many children without a parent to come pick them up from school, facing a sudden and traumatic separation from their families not knowing why they were taken, or when they would see them again.

Boyd continues and explains that through the connection of her congregation, conference and other ecumenical organizations, they were able to impact their community and put generosity into action.

“This is why I choose to continue to serve The United Methodist Church. This is why I continue to #BeUMC. From the formation of my own faith and relationship with God to, in turn, being called to be in service to churches within The UMC in Mississippi. The generosity and support towards impacting the community to restore livelihoods and care for the brokenhearted fulfills the mission of The UMC by making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”


Share Why You Think It's Great to #BeUMC

United Methodists around the world are sharing why they choose to #BeUMC. Why are you United Methodist? What makes you optimistic about the future of our congregation’s ministry and mission? Create your own photo, video or written post about your personal experiences, values, hopes and heritage and send them to news@mississippi-umc.org. Don’t forget to include #BeUMC in your post!

#BeUMC honors the core values that connect the people of The United Methodist Church. No matter the challenges we face, God is with us, and we continue to have opportunities to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world! Now is our chance to embrace our Wesleyan heritage and envision a promising future. This grassroots effort, built upon powerful stories of congregations and people living their faith, celebrates what draws us to The United Methodist Church and what we aspire to be. The United Methodist Church is founded on a Wesleyan theology of grace, anchored in Scripture, and based in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the continuing movement of the Holy Spirit.

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The Mississippi Annual Conference—empowered by love, generosity, justice and apprenticeship—forms spiritual leaders, faith communities and connections so more disciples of Jesus Christ transform the world.
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