There will be a chorus of salutations next week, as pastors and delegates of the AME Church’s Michigan Annual Conference convene in Detroit.
Some of the attendees who attend the worship services will be adrenaline-charged. For me, it is one of the busiest months of the year. Along with trying to catch up with friends who I haven’t seen in awhile, I’m busy preparing pastoral reports.
The annual conference is one of our largest meetings. It includes more than 50 churches.
I have been an active member since I was admitted on trial to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Grand Rapids in 1992, and by the grace of God have answer roll call every year.
Not only is it a time to report on our work and renew friendships, I have a laundry list of things that must be completed before I leave.
For those who are not Methodist, or who have a different system, once a year we assemble under the leadership of our bishop to give an account of our work. In Michigan, there are more than 50 African Methodist Episcopal churches – from Saginaw to Niles. I’m grateful to assemble for my 16th pastoral report.
I look forward to reconnecting with friends, hearing their reports, and how the Lord has blessed their work. However, I grieve the loss of two pastoral friends whose names will be called for the last time during the conference.
They fought a good fight and kept the faith and will see our Savior face to face. There will be some sadness and tears as we reflect on their life and ministry, but it is great to know that they are in God’s eternal care.
God has put some amazing people in my life who have stood with and by me during the good times and the sad. He continues to make a way out of no way, even when my back is against the wall. He comes in right on time to take away my fears and doubts.
I am in Benton Harbor because God called me into this ministry. It is because of him and my willingness to trust him and “go” when I was asked by the bishop.
As an itinerant elder in the AMEC, we do a great deal of traveling. (Jesus was an itinerant preacher). I have been on the move – pastoring in Detroit and Jackson before coming to Benton Harbor.
My travels have taken me to Toronto for Christian Education Congress with some of the youth from my home church in Detroit, across the Midwest for district meetings, and an alternate delegate to the General Conference twice.
I love my job, and I am grateful for the life God has given me. I try and help families deal with unexpected devastations, such as illness, death and finances. So, when I want to lament about pastoral and financial reports, I remember the hurt and pain that people experience daily, and the sacrifice Jesus made.
So, for me, what I do, I do so that he will be glorified. Challenges will come, but the word of God is near.
Meet those challenges with preaching, administering the day-to-day care of the temporal and spiritual person, as well as reassuring them of God’s justice in an unjust society. There must be a balance between theology and justice, as I teach and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, not my opinion, but the good news to all who come and listens.
We need to listen, hear their concerns, pray with them, visit them when they are sick, love those who may not feel the same way, while helping to shape their lives theologically from the cradle to the grave.
So, yes, I love my job, and I am thankful for the warriors who greeted me when I arrived and still call Union Memorial home. I’m grateful for those who passed this way, kept the faith and expect to see the Lord on that “great getting up morning.”
For those who left, either to another city, state or another church, thank you for the time you spent at Union Memorial. I count you all part of the itinerancy, and part of my pastoral growth.
You poured something in me that no one else could, and I pray every day that what I say or do will touch the heart of God and your lives will be changed through him.
I really love my job. It is the greatest job on this side of Jordan.
Today’s Insights was written by the Rev. Minnie Autry, pastor at Union Memorial A.M.E. Church. Insights is written by area clergy to give different viewpoints on a variety of topics. It is published each Saturday in cooperation with the Berrien County Association of Churches. The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of member churches.