Renewal, Rest and Revival


By. Rev. Trey Harper, Director of Spiritual Leadership

The end is in sight. This season of disaffiliation is almost over. There will undoubtedly still be those who are called to different fellowships, and with the approaching General Conference, there will still be anxieties, but the United Methodists of the Mississippi Conference have survived. We are leaner. We are battered, but we are still standing, and that is a glory sighting, because as Bishop Lewis always reminds us, “people still need Jesus.”

There are a lot of unknowns about 2024, but even with those, we do know that God is still moving among us and calling us to stop focusing on ourselves and start focusing on the field that is ripe for the harvest. In order to continue to give our best to Jesus, we have to do some serious soul care.

For the office of spiritual leadership, 2024 is all about renewal, rest and revival. As you are already aware, Bishop Lewis has called forth a spirit of prayer for the Mississippi Annual Conference. We will share the first fruits of this new ministry with our Mississippi Conference Congregational Prayer that is being composed from the prayers of the faithful across our state and beyond, and this is just the beginning.  As we continue to seek God’s voice, there will be many opportunities to engage and nurture prayer in our lives and in our congregations.

We are also very excited to announce the Collaborative Leadership Healing Conference that will be held Saturday, February 10, 2024 beginning at 8:00 a.m. at Crossgates United Methodist Church in Brandon. You are encouraged to register and join our United Methodist family of the Mississippi Conference in this time of transition to share space for grief and to be empowered to move faithfully toward God's call to heal, discern and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. You will spend time with Rev. Romal Tune in reflection and prayer, and with intentional group space looking forward to God's preferred future. With the support of healing teams and spiritual directors, we will move forward into the glory to be revealed. Registration information can be found here.

Rev. Trey Harper, director of spiritual leadership
Photo courtesy of Greg Campbell Photography, Inc.
Renewal of mind, body and spirit also requires rest. Over the past two years we have provided many opportunities to encourage our clergy to take time away, and that will continue in 2024.  Our annual Spiritual Wellness Retreat will return to Camp Wesley Pines April 18 and 19. Our theme for 2024 is “Healed to Praise” and is found in Psalm 107: 19-21: "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind." This will also continue in our Benedictine Prayer Retreat during the Fall of 2024. Additional information on both events will be coming soon.

Renewal of our minds and spirits and rest for our bodies empowers us to usher in and celebrate the revival that we pray is coming for the Mississippi Annual Conference. Bishop Lewis will be hosting her first “Bishop’s Day Away” with all clergy on Saturday, September 28.  We are working on the details for this event now, but go ahead and put this on your calendar. It is not to be missed. 
In the same way, in collaboration with the office of connectional ministries, we are excited to announce the MSAC Clergy Women’s Retreat October 14 through 16 with Bishop Lewis, and special guest, Rev. Dr. Joy Moore from Luther Seminary. An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, Moore serves as associate professor of biblical preaching. Before joining Luther Seminary, she established the William E. Pannell Center for African American Church Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary and served as its first associate dean. Previously, she was associate dean for church relations and associate dean for black church studies at Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. Immediately before coming to Luther, she pastored a historic African American United Methodist congregation in Flint, Michigan, whose service as a community help center includes weekly distribution of water through the ongoing water crisis.

We are also blessed that Rev. Moore will be remaining in Mississippi for the rest of that week as she serves as the keynote teacher and preacher for the 2024 MSAC Festival of Preaching October 17 and 18 at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Brandon. Our theme, “Anointed to Proclaim” is taken from Isaiah 61 and serves as a reminder that we have all been anointed with the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As the hymnist says, “through many dangers, toils and snares” we have come, but with the ever-present Holy Spirit, we move into a new season of renewal, rest and revival, because we have work to do taking Jesus to the streets.

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