Laity Day focuses on faith and discipleship

April 18, 2014

Bishop Julius Calvin Trimble joined with Laity across Iowa for the third annual Laity Day with the Bishop to talk about faith, discipleship, and the church.  The event, held at Grace UMC in Des Moines, was also live streamed to several locations across the Conference.

According to Dave Decker, the Iowa Conference Lay Leader, there were about 200 people at all the sites.  “Even though there were a few 'technical challenges,' people were able to ask questions of Bishop Trimble from wherever they were,” he noted.

Bishop Trimble reflected on “Why I am a United Methodist” during the morning session.  “I am so thankful for this opportunity to exercise the teaching role of a bishop on what has become an annual event with the laity,” he said.  “”I am reminded of the blessing and privilege to be called the Resident Bishop of the Iowa Conference of The Methodist Church.”

“I believe in God!” he declared, adding, “The church showed me the love of Jesus.  The church let me to become a student of the Bible. The church was invested in children and youth. The United Methodist Church believes in shared mission. The United Methodist Church believes in evangelism and social justice. United Methodists are shaped by a belief in the presence of grace.”

Bishop Trimble paused several times to ask “Living Our Beliefs questions,” inviting persons to “Share an early memory of your introduction to belief in God. Who brought you to church and to face; or what circumstance brought you to The United Methodist Church,” for example.

Reflecting on the mission statement of The United Methodist Church – “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” – the Bishop noted, “A disciple is one who follows and learns from a teacher. Christian disciples are people who respond to Jesus’ call on their lives. Discipleship is the life we live with Christ and with our fellow disciples as members of Christ’s body in the world. Discipleship is how the church fulfills its mission in the world.”

He observed that United Methodists have shared social principles… this is a way to affirm our heritage that begins with belief in God, creator of the world, and Jesus Christ, redeemer of the world. All of creation and humanity must reflect the good news of the present and final triumph of gods word in human affairs.”

Continuing his “Living Our Beliefs Questions,” Bishop Trimble invited the Laity Day participants to think about “When have you been encouraged, comforted, or inspired by grace is experienced through the church?”  He concluded by asking, “What glory sightings can you share that gives you hope?”

Questions were received, via email, from several of the sites connected via the live stream.  In response to one asking his view of the church, Bishop Trimble said, “The church has believed in me and I believe in the Church.  Hope for the best.  Expect the best.  I believe that The United Methodist Church, for this season, is the best Protestant possibility for me to exercise my faith and for many of you to share your faith with a hurting and hungry world.”

Addressing a second question, about some of the controversial issues facing The United Methodist Church, Bishop Trimble observed, “A healthy church is one that is willing to wrestle with those things and provide space for conversation.  Our Book of Discipline states many things and the Bible states more important things.  As the One person emphasized, ‘there’s nothing that trumps the love of God.’”  He went on, remembering, “Someone asked once asked me, ‘Do you really believe in what you say about the love of God for all people? And when you say all people do you really mean all people?’ And my response is, ‘I believe all people, but more importantly than what I believe, I believe God means all in this world.’  It’s been a part of my ministry to welcome all people and judge no one.”  He concluded by expressing his hope “for a healthier world and a faithful church for my grandchildren,” and offering a challenge “around those things that we know to be fully true – God is God; God is good; we are not God; and we still need God.”

Morning devotions featured a witness and singing by Bob Colquhoun.  He shared his story of faith, travelling far from his beliefs, and dramatic return to God, something he likens to the story of the Prodigal Son.

Rev. Jen Hibben extended an invitation to the May 2-3 small groups: Big Ministry conference and Rev. Katie Dawson gave an update on the Imagine No Malaria efforts of the Iowa Conference, which have now topped $1.8 million.

Conference Lay Leader Dave Decker welcomed Mrs. Racelder Grandberry-Trimble to the gathering in the morning.  He and others participated, along with Bishop Trimble, in the closing Communion service.

Great thanks to the laity and staff of Grace United Methodist Church, Des Moines, for hospitality, including the mid-day luncheon, and for set-up and technical support.  The live stream was facilitated by the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church.