Rev. Bandon Vetter, who serves Legacy United Methodist Church, in Bismarck, North Dakota, encourages attendees at the closing worship to join the party. Photo by jlynn studios.
Annual Conference 2019 closed with a time of passionate worship during which Rev. Brandon Vetter exhorted all Dakotas United Methodists to dare to reach and love boldly by “inviting people to the party.” Returning to a key scripture drawn on throughout Annual Conference, he drew on the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. He described how this woman’s evangelism was daring, bold, and effective in bringing the love of Christ to her community.
Acknowledging the uncertainty facing United Methodism at present, he warned against the impulse to close ranks and become protective and fearful. To illustrate the severity of this fearful attitude, he described his dog’s long journey to trust new people (or even recognize him wearing glasses!). Taking inspiration from Kierkegaard, he taught about how, when we don’t dare to reach, we lose ourselves. Brandon challenged us to “live questionable lives” that invite our neighbors to see Christ by asking us why we choose to live differently.
Vetter’s message reminded us that daring to reach means taking risks. He asked, “are you ready to risk and reach out with God’s holy love?” Throughout Annual Conference, attendees were equipped with tools for evangelism, but Brandon sent us out aware that all this information and inspiration actually requires taking the risks of not doing business as usual. One of my favorite quotes from the sermon was “in the Kingdom of God, the greatest risk is to take no risks at all.”
During the service, those in attendance were led in music and passionate praise by Dan Weigel and members of the worship team from Bismarck Legacy. Just before the sermon, an offering was gathered to support our young people traveling to Kansas City for Youth 2019, $3,600 was collected. It was inspiring to see the outpouring of generosity as the Holy Spirit swept through the room. Worship culminated in a time of Holy Communion, led by Bishop Ough and the newly licensed, commissioned, and ordained clergy.
Inspired by the words of Rev. Vetter and filled with the Holy Spirit, the Dakotas Conference received Christ together at the table and returned to their ministries ready to take the risk of sharing Christ by living differently and loving boldly.