|Jesus: The Model for Christian Leaders|
by Elliott Wright
Orlando, FL, July 31, 2008--The 2008 United Methodist School of Congregational Development opened with a challenge to Christian leaders to live and act like Jesus.
Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Phoenix gave the keynote address at the event this year held in two locations, Orlando, Florida, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Speaking from Florida, she was linked by satellite to the Michigan site. Her topic was "The Spiritual Life of the Christian Leader."
"The spiritual life of a Christian leader is a life that thinks and acts like Jesus," Bishop Carcaño said, bolstering her assertion with biblical citations, hymnody, and personal experience.
The six-day school is attended on a volunteer basis by United Methodist pastors, district superintendents, bishops, and other leaders, some of them lay persons. It is sponsored jointly by the General Boards of Discipleship and Global Ministries. Strong emphasis is put on developing new congregations, revitalizing existing ones, and strengthening church leadership.
Early in her presentation the bishop asked the 300 people in Orlando and the 150 in Grand Rapids to stand and sing the hymn that includes the phrase, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! There's just something about that name."
Bishop Carcaño, who leads the Desert Southwest Annual (regional) Conference, also explored the passage in the Letter to the Philippians in which the Apostle Paul challenges Christians to have "the mind of Christ," who, while he was God, became a human being who suffered and was nailed to a cross.
"'Go for it,' says Paul. Aspire to think and act like Jesus."
The joy that comes from making Jesus the model of leadership, the bishop warned, may put Christian leaders in conflict with the world.
She also stressed that Christian leaders, those who think and act like Jesus, are not always in prominent positions in the church. Among those she cited as models of Jesus Christ were her grandmother Sophie; a young pastor she met in the mountains of the Philippines three years ago; and a woman ministering at the Mexican border to persons deported from the US--notably by washing the feet of weary travelers.
Bishop Carcaño stressed the important symbolism and reality of Christians washing the feet of those in need and one another's feet. She said:
Bishop Carcaño expressed the hope that Christian leaders would not get too caught up in what she described as the current "self-care" movement that reflects the priorities of a narcissistic society. "Self-care," she said, "is pretty common sense ... take care of your life for it is a gift from God ... sleep, exercise, eat right, and spend time with your loved ones." She said:
Participants in the School of Congregational Development engage in ministry tracks, seminars, worship, and visits to area "teaching churches."
The school sites in Orlando and Grand Rapids were linked for several plenary addresses and services of worship, some originating in Florida and some in Michigan.
*Elliott Wright is the information officer of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Aug 01, 2008