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The big picture

The big picture
Photo illustration by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

By Bishop Jonathan Holston

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”—Matthew 28: 19-20

“You’ve got to see the bigger picture!” Frankly, I do not know who is given credit for this phrase, but it shares a significant insight.

There is a story attributed to Peter Drucker that speaks to the aspect of seeing the bigger picture; namely: “One day a traveler walking along a lane came across three stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. He replied, ‘I am cutting a stone.’ Still no wiser, the traveler turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. He said, ‘I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it’s square and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.’ A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveler turned to the third stonecutter who seemed to be the happiest of the three. When asked what he was doing, the third stonecutter replied, ‘I am building a cathedral!’

“All three were doing the same thing and knew how to do their job. What set the third stonecutter apart was that he could see the bigger picture.”

Indeed, this recognition that we are a part of a larger picture broadens our understanding of a global landscape, which includes our local community, city, state, nation and world. While community in a local church is an essential element of our faith, we also share membership in a larger denomination with districts, annual conferences, jurisdictions and a worldwide church body. In fact, we are connected together in ways that bring both challenge and celebration. This special bond is called “the connection.” This connectedness allows us to do more together than can be done individually. We are part of a much bigger picture!

As you receive this edition of the Advocate, The United Methodist Church is sharing with its global community at the 2016 General Conference session May 10-20. Delegates (lay and clergy) representing 131 annual conferences from around the world will assemble in Portland, Oregon, for a time of prayer and planning to guide the UMC for years to come.

The 2016 General Conference theme, “Therefore Go,” is based on the Great Commission and serves as a support for our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It is an expression of our ministry, which makes space for us to give of our time, talent, gifts, service and witness.

I invite all United Methodists in South Carolina to stand with other United Methodist congregations around the world to pray for the following: 1) the leadership of the General Conference as they organize the work that takes place daily, 2) the delegates who have come from around the world to worship, pray, consider legislation, fellowship and praise God for all that needs to be accomplished in this gathering, 3) the bishops who are faithfully presiding in this time of Christian conferencing, 4) the boards, agencies, translators, volunteers and guests who are tirelessly attending to the details and needs, and 5) the city of Portland, which serves as the host city, in providing a wonderful experience for all.

While we recognize not every United Methodist from South Carolina will be in Portland, the bigger picture is that all of us can engage in prayer for God’s will to shape the future of our church. This is a time that we can pray diligently and stay alert with our eyes wide open in gratitude.

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