"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the one true church, apostolic and universal."
This preface to a Modern Affirmation in our United Methodist Hymnal (page 885) defines the church in relationship to God's Spirit made known to us in Jesus Christ.
The season of Pentecost, beginning this year on June 5 and spanning throughout the summer, celebrates the beginning of the church when the Spirit of the Lord filled the lives of the 3,000 Jewish believers gathered for the wheat harvest, the first harvest seven weeks (50 days) after Passover. They were open to the Spirit of the Lord and God changed not only their lives, but the lives of millions of believers during these past 2,000 years.
The operative words are "the Sprit of the Lord" - God's presence, Christ's presence in our midst when we gather as a community of faith.
The Sprit of the Lord was witnessed in the parking lot of Baker's Chapel United Methodist Church in DeGonia Springs, Ind., as that community of faith celebrated Easter in lawn chairs with a backdrop of pick-ups and SUVs. Their building was gone, blow away by a November tornado, but the Sprit of the Lord was in their midst and their congregation will grow spiritually as well as numerically.
The Spirit of the Lord was witnessed during the eight-week volunteers in mission build at D'Iberville, Miss., as 255 volunteers gave shape to the vision of a permanent volunteer center to house and feed hundreds of volunteers who are coming to the Gulf Coast region to help thousands of Hurricane Katrina survivors recover their homes and businesses.
The Spirit of the Lord was witnessed by the record number of dollars in the millions given generously by Hoosiers to storm survivors in 2005.
The Spirit of the Lord was witnessed this year in the completion and dedication of a surgical suite and ward at Kissy Hospital near Freetown, Sierra Leone. See page 7.
The Sprit of the Lord was witnessed during the Christmas Offering for Children of which more than $76,000 was given to children's ministries in Indiana, across the United States and around the world.
The Spirit of the Lord was witnessed in the Recovery with Christ ministry in Fort Wayne which provides a fresh start for people addicted to and dependent on anything.
The Spirit of the Lord was witnessed by more than 7,000 United Methodist Women including Hoosier United Methodists who just met in Anahiem, Calif. for their quadrennial meeting.
The Spirit of the Lord was witnessed by the faith taken by the North Indiana Conference in basing their connectional giving beyond the local church on the biblical tithe rather than an apportioned amount determined by a formula based on membership and congregational finances.
As the annual conferences of both North Indiana's and South Indiana's United Methodists prepare to meet the first two weeks in June to consider the merging of both conferences into a new conference with more than 1,200 congregations they do so in the Spirit of the Lord for it is only in the Spirit of the Lord that the church is one true church, apostolic and universal.
Daniel R. Gangler