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Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble was the keynote preacher for the 142nd session of the Illinois Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Bishop John R. Bryant, Presiding Prelate of the Fourth Episcopal District and Senior Bishop of the AME Church, welcomed Bishop Trimble to the assembly, which met in Des Moines on September 6, 2013 for its yearly gathering.
In his message, entitled, “The Cost of Discipleship,” Bishop Trimble asked, “When is the church at it’s best?” He told the delegates, “The Church is at its best when people on the outside can’t wait to get in to experience radical hospitality and vibrant worship; the people on the inside can’t wait to get out to engage the world sharing life-giving, liberating, burden-lifting love of Jesus Christ.”
“The first duty of a Christian,” he noted, “is to count the cost of following Jesus.” “The first Mission Statement of the Church,” he added, “was, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ The Church is at its best when we take the Love of Jesus seriously and take that love to the public.”
“Counting the cost of discipleship requires a church at its best, one willing to pick up the mantle of struggle, drive out hate with love, darkness with light, and despair with hope.” He cited the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., ones inscribed at the Memorial in Washington, “hate cannot drive out hate and darkness cannot drive out darkness, only love can drive out hate and only light can drive out darkness.”
Bishop Trimble recalled a trip to Nigeria two years ago. As he was leaving he asked preachers why the Church there was growing in the cities and in the rural areas as well. They told him, “When we dig a well, we start a church and leave an evangelist. When we speak the name of Jesus, we expect something to happen! We worship until the Spirit of the Lord comes down: until children are blessed, until the sick are healed, and until burdens are lifted and lives are transformed.”
Bishop Trimble concluded his message with some assuring words. “No matter what you are facing, remember that God's hands are bigger than yours! You got questions you can't answer; got mountains you can't climb; a problem you can't solve; the drama you can't dismiss; a burden you can't handle; a dream you can't seem to reach…God’s hands are bigger than yours!
He invited the gathered assembly to “Pray for your Pastor and your church and your community. Pray for your community. Pray for the witness of justice in the world. Pray for Peace. Pray for President Obama and pray for him and his family by name.” He concluded with an invitation to come to the altar to pray and rededicate a life to Jesus Christ.