Conference Wide Bible Study Kicks Off This Summer
By Lindsay Peyton
This summer, everyone is invited to join in a Bible study group that spans the state – live and on Facebook. A new video series will take center stage, and voices from congregants across the conference will be featured in the discussion.
To illustrate Methodist values, a video series “Living Our Principles” takes viewers on a trip around the world to see integrity in action.
Audience members can take an armchair seat and travel to the farmlands of Kenya, the rural parts of the Philippines and the coal mining communities of Appalachia. They will hear stories of sexual exploitation in the Congo and restorative justice in Zimbabwe.
Viewers will also learn about how United Methodists are working on big issues around the globe, without leaving your own backyard.
The six-part series, created by Church and Society staff, is so compelling that the Rev. Scott Moore, Mission Center Executive Director, wanted to share them.
“The fact that they put so much time and effort into it, such a high production value, speaks to the importance of this project,” he said. “Social principles are not just something we do in passing. It’s the core of who we are as Wesleyan Methodists.”
This summer, a conference-wide Bible Study will use the videos to introduce and discuss United Methodist Social Principles to the community.
A live, interactive viewing session will be set up either at the Texas Annual Conference in Houston or at a local church, Moore explained. Then, the audience will engage in a discussion about the issues presented in the videos.
The event will also be streamed on Facebook Live, and viewers from across the conference will be able to chime in with their own insights and questions.
The screening and discussion session will also be archived so viewers may access them any time.
Moore said that the summer is an ideal time to introduce the video series, because Bible study groups tend to disband or have smaller attendance in June and July.
“This is something they can watch with us – or they can pull up our archives for Sunday school a few days later,” Moore said.
The technology also allows everyone in the conference to interact, creating an almost conferencewide Bible study group.
“They can be in a little town outside of Texarkana or a member of St. Luke’s in Houston,” Moore said. “We can get the whole conference engaged. This allows people to be more connected.”
While social principles are integral to the Methodist Church, Moore said that sometimes members lose focus.
“Our social principles are unique to us, but so few people take the time to read them and to understand how they impact our faith lives,” he said.
Issues will cover the natural world, social community, economic justice and politics.
Sometimes, Moore said, congregants forget that something like climate change is a Biblical issue and not relegated to the realm of politics.
“But Genesis makes clear that we are creations of God, and we have a mandate from God to care for the earth he created,” he said.
The video series does a top-notch job of taking a Biblical look at important and timely issues, Moore added.
“Too often, we let our politics inform our religion,” he said. “We need to let our religion shape our politics. This series does a great job of bringing those political issues back into focus through a religious lens.”
He said that healthcare, the death penalty, immigration, education and poverty will all be discussed by the end of the summer.
“I hope this sparks some conversations,” he said. “These are issues we all need to address as Christians. They don’t just affect one geographic region or socioeconomic status. They affect everyone.”
Moore added that mission is a way of life – not just something that happens on a trip.
“Historically with missions, we talk about the things we do for someone else in another place,” he said. “We’re trying to provide opportunities for incarnational living right here. Mission means living in community with other people.”