2011 started with a lot of opportunities for our ministry. It was a busy but productive time. Here is a brief recap of ministry opportunities:
January 2 – Preached at Frazer UMC for the three morning worship services and the evening worship service.
January 5 – Conducted funeral for a long time friend.
January 6-8 – Southeastern Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee met in Knoxville, TN, with the Bishops of the southeast. I serve as chairman of that committee. The scope of the work of this committee encompasses, among other things, the plans for electing five Bishops in 2012 and the assignment of all Bishops in the southeast. Leadership of this committee has required a lot of time and energy. The committee consists of the top elected delegate from each Episcopal area of both a clergy and lay person. We have thirty members of our committee. These thirty people really represent the leadership of the Southeast Jurisdiction. You might be interested to know that 35% of all United Methodists in the United States reside in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
January 16 – Preached at St. Mark UMC in Tuscaloosa where Sam Hardie is the Senior Minister. I posted a blog on January 19 about that experience.
January 17 – Spoke to employees of the Central Alabama Rural Electric Coop at their annual training. The employees requested me to give an inspirational talk involving purpose of work, etc. I enjoy the opportunity to speak in secular settings.
January 20-22 – Drove to West Monroe, LA, to speak at the North Louisiana E. Stanley Jones Ashram. Dr. Jones was one of the great heroes of the last century. The Ashram movement in Northern Louisiana is extremely strong. Rev. Jimmy Pyles and several other pastors and lay people have been long time leaders in that movement. I had an opportunity to serve as the guest preacher. I spoke Thursday night, twice Friday and Saturday morning. I received a lot from the Bible teacher, Dr. Bob Utley, and from the experience of being a part of an Ashram movement.
January 23 – 9:00 a.m. – Preached at First UMC in West Monroe. Rev. Jon Tellifero is the Senior Minister.
January 23 – At 11:00 a.m. preached at the Lea Joyner Memorial United Methodist Church in Monroe, LA. Lea Joyner was the first female minister in Louisiana Methodism. She started a church that ministered to a lot of marginalized people. It was a dangerous ministry, and one night a mentally challenged man abducted her and killed her. She left a great legacy in that Annual Conference and the church named for her is one of the growing churches in Louisiana. The Senior Minister, Dr. Wayne Evans, was a classmate at Duke with our Bishop Paul Leeland.
January 24 – Spoke in Prattville, AL, at the YMCA for the annual meeting of the Boards of the various branches of the “Y”. The Board members were invited to bring their spouse. I have always admired Willis Bradford, who is the Director of the “Y” and has a tremendous program in Prattville.
January 27 – The John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries and Stewardship Resources from North Alabama partnered in providing an ongoing seminar for 60 pastors in the state of Alabama. We met from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm in Prattville. Our resource person for that seminar was Dr. Bryan Collier who is Pastor of The Orchard UMC in Tupelo, Mississippi. His church is just a few years old, yet averages about 2,000 in worship at the primary campus. He has three other multi-sites. While our ministry participated in planning, financing, and conducting this seminar for the pastors, I learned an awful lot from Bryan and the pastors gathered.
January 28-29 – Drove to Benton, Arkansas, and preached at the First United Methodist Church of Benton on Friday night and Saturday night. Rev. David Jones is the Senior Minister. So many people in that area had worshiped with Frazer by way of television for several years. It was good to meet many of them.
January 29 – Preached at the Evangelism Conference for the Arkansas Annual Conference on Saturday morning. I conducted a seminar on Saturday afternoon for pastors of the larger churches in Arkansas.
January 30-February 1 – Preached at the Stuttgart Arkansas United Methodist Church Sunday morning through Tuesday night. Dr. David Bush is the pastor. He is a unique and effective leader. During the worship services we had several retired ministers participate plus the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Roman Catholic Priests participated in the worship services. I spoke at the Rotary Club on Tuesday. Stuttgart is an interesting place as it is the Duck Hunting Capitol of the World and also the Rice Capitol. They produce more rice in Stuttgart than any other place in the country. I have a lot of interesting places where churches have arranged for me to stay. I think I have stayed in about every brand of hotel. At Stuttgart they arranged for me to stay in the Bank– that is right – the Bank. On the third floor there are a couple of guest rooms that they use for entertainment. At night I was the only person in the Bank. Someone asked me if I was afraid. I said that if I wasn’t safe in the bank, nobody would be safe in Stuttgart! They gave me a key to the outside doors and the third floor, but wouldn’t give me keys to the rest of the bank!!
Thank you for continuing to pray and support this ministry.
For the Cause of causes,
John Ed Mathison