Q&A Get to Know Your Delegates
The General Conference has been delayed amidst the global coronavirus pandemic. Instead of heading to Minnesota in May 2020, delegates will wait until 2021 for the event. The location and dates will be announced later. While the debate about a possible separation in the church will be delayed, there are a number of matters, including setting a budget and electing members of the Judicial Council, that still must move forward. Delegates are making critical decisions in the interim. In the Texas Annual Conference, 18 delegates have been elected. Let’s meet one of our delegates, Pastor Kenneth Levingston.
Pastor Kenneth Levingston has spent 35 years serving the Texas Annual Conference. He was appointed to Jones Memorial UMC in 2008.Growing up in a small town in northern Louisiana, he was not a cradle Methodist, raised in the Baptist tradition instead. He moved to Houston with his mother and sister when he was 12, settling in the Fifth Ward neighborhood, where he was shaped by the love of Christ and a caring community. He still remembers when Opal Wagner, aUnited Methodist lay person,saw him with a group of boys playing tackle football in the street. She pulled her car over and invited them to the Vacation Bible School at her church Brooks Chapel UMC. “Sister Opal Wagner led me from VBS to a deep love for the United Methodist Church,” he said.“God used her to change the course of my life and for that I am grateful.” Pastor Levingston has pastored congregations in rural, urban, suburban and multicultural settings. He believes and teaches the word of God in a manner that is relevant and challenges others to live like they belong to Jesus. He is passionate about “following Jesus and doing what Jesus did.” Pastor Levingston’s life reflects his belief that living a higher way means submitting one’s self to love and service to others.
Q. Why did you want to throw your hat in to be elected as delegate for general conference?
A. I serve now and have served as a delegate to General Conference, because I want to be of service to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Serving as a delegate to General Conference is a tangible way to help shape the direction of our denomination in ways that more fully look like the Kingdom of God. I served as a reserve delegate in 2008 and as a delegate in 2012, 2016, 2019 and 2020.
Q. How would you describe your job preparing for General Conference?
A. Preparing for General Conference is a full-time commitment. Members of the Annual Conference elect delegates to not only represent them, but more importantly to follow the Holy Spirit. I seek to alwaysby guided by scripture in the decisions I make for the good of the whole church and the glory of God. I served as a member of the Judicial Administration Committee as reserve in 2008 and as a full member in each General Conference since.
Q.What is your reaction to the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation?
A. I am hopeful and prayerful.
Q. What do you think will be the future of the Church?
A. I am certain and so thankful that the ultimate future of the church is not in our hands. Jesus is still Lord,and scripture teaches that Jesus is the foundation of the church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. I envision the stream of Methodism represented by the United Methodist Church will branch into more vibrant streams of Wesleyan Christianity. I hope and pray that like Paul and Barnabas, each stream will bless and bring more and more people to saving faith in Jesus.
Q. What gives you hope or makes you feel excited during this time?
A. My hope lies in the fact that God will prevail. My hope lies in the fact that God has a great work for Methodists to do in this world. I am excited that we Methodists still have a chance to spread scriptural holiness across the land, to offer salvation to the lost, to practice social holiness, and live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Please pray for the delegation, and let us know your heart for the church of Jesus Christ.