Hope in the Mountains

The UMC Family blog has been dormant for half a quadrennium! As we gear up for General Conference 2019 (and a 2018 annual conference revote on a constitutional amendment — which I will post on shortly), I (Diane) discovered a draft blog post, which I had never published. But I want to publish it now:

Dad, you are my model for ministry, and I pray for a double-portion of your humble, hope-filled spirit. Thank you.

We deliberately didn’t post through annual/jurisdictional conference of 2016. The Northeastern Jurisdiction has strict rules against any form of episcopacy campaigning— rules which we whole-heartedly support. I think it helps people to focus on how God is moving through the jurisdiction. My father, Joe Kenaston, was discerned by the West Virginia Annual Conference as their episcopal candidate in the NEJ. After he prayerfully withdrew, I had little to say — except to quote my father’s withdrawal speech:

I have great hope for this church. I live in one of the most impoverished areas in the United States of America. And yet the people of southern West Virginia–with the ravages of the flood, with the economic devastation that has happened in our state–the people have hope. The theme for our district in southern West Virginia and for my ministry has been ‘Hope in the Mountains.’ And I believe that there is hope not only in the mountains but also in our jurisdiction, and in The United Methodist Church, if all of us will lift our eyes up to hills from whence cometh our help. Our help cometh in the name of the Lord. 

Holy ContradictionsNow, as I read those words in 2018, I reflect on how easy it is for me to lose hope for our denomination. I even published an essay in Holy Contradictions about how perhaps our calling is to the cross: to die as a denomination, trusting that God will resurrect new life in a Christian church that is bigger than one mainline Protestant expression of it.

It is people like my parents who remind me to temper my cynicism about the present — what feels like impending denominational death — with hope for the future.

Back to summer 2016. During a conference season that risked being all about Dad, we were ecstatic that my mother was surprised by the Susanna Wesley award. She brings her disciplined love to all that she does, as a mother and as a disciple.


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(You may enjoy reading this interview with my mom about General Conference).

As we prepare for 2019 and beyond, I invite you to pray this Wesleyan covenant prayer which means so much to our whole family:

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

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