Sometimes "Thank You" Is Not Enough

Bishop Paul L. Leeland


 Sometimes “thank you” is not enough. It doesn’t always capture the depth of our gratitude and we don’t always recognize the sacrifice that has been made by others. However, I did think about the sacrifices made by congregations in our Alabama-West Florida Conference when I looked at the large stack of certificates awaiting my signature in gratitude for the acknowledgement of paying 100% of their Missional Giving. As United Methodists, we truly represent a Movement within the world. Thank you!

This Movement, of which we are a part, represents 340 United Methodist missionaries who share the word of God and the love of Jesus Christ in more than 60 nations. Seven of these missionaries are directly related to our Alabama-West Florida Conference. What a Movement of Christ being proclaimed throughout the world. Thank you.

As I signed the certificates of a vast majority of our local churches completing 100% of their Missional Giving, I thought about the United Methodist students attending Huntingdon College, all of whom receive a 50% reduction in their tuition. What a gift from our United Methodist churches and an investment in our future leadership representing an amazing Movement of the Holy Spirit as we prepare for the years to come. Thank you.

We could record a significant list of communities and people directly impacted by our local congregations. Such a list would include:
• Women who do not have to spend the night on the streets in Mobile, AL, because of our support for Mobile Inner City Mission
• Alleviating the fatal disease of malaria throughout the world
• Breaking the cycles of poverty because of our CIRCLES of Transformation initiative
• Creating new congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ
• Conference staff who work with congregations of small membership churches who cannot afford additional church staff
• Offering retreats and events in our camping ministry where many of our current clergy leadership experienced the Presence of Jesus Christ in their lives.
What a movement. Thank you.

For all who completed their goal of 100%, I want to say thank you. And for those congregations who came close but did not quite make 100% this year, let me thank you as I encourage you to remain faithful to the covenant shaped by our sisters and brothers who work on our conference budget to represent these missional priorities. If we can contribute to other meaningful missional initiatives in our community and around the world while still remaining faithful to our covenant, then I say, “Thanks be to God.”

Gil Rendle, in his book, Back To Zero, acknowledges the great Movement our United Methodist Church has become and reminds us, “Ours is a church that would be a movement. We cannot dismantle our institutional side because we do, in fact, need some form of infrastructure to organize and align us. But if enough of us shift from self-interest to missional purpose, we have the capacity to birth a movement within our institutional self” (p.67). Gil Rendle acknowledges there are different types of movements and his primary question is “what kind of movement are we seeking?" I would encourage all congregational leaders to read this insightful resource in our search to rediscover the Methodist Movement. I believe the covenant set by our sisters and brothers expresses a major movement impacting our annual conference, our denomination and our world. So, I say once again, “thank you.”

Each person representing a local church can find a complete list of all churches who were faithful to the covenant set by our sisters and brothers, many who sacrificed to remain faithful, completing 100% of their apportionments, allowing us to be a presence, a witness for Jesus Christ, a United Methodist Movement throughout our world. This complete list of 2011 Missional Giving is found here.

Sometimes “thank you” is never enough. It isn’t enough for the wonderful work you have accomplished this year. Still, there is no other word that captures the depth of my appreciation. Thank you.

With Appreciation,
Paul L. Leeland