A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Opening Worship Service of the 2017 North Texas Annual Conference
Rev. Philip Rhodes, Senior Pastor First UMC Hurst, mixes humor with vision message at opening worship service.
By JACKIE BLALOCK ROBINSON
Who would have thought that a sermon that started with the origin of car air fresheners would turn into a sending forth message for young people who are going into the world for Christ? Rev. Philip Rhodes, Senior Pastor, First UMC Hurst, opened the worship service for the 2017 North Texas Annual Conference, Sunday, June 4, 2017, with a humorous, yet message-filled sermon. The opening service was held at First UMC Richardson.
According to Rhodes, those little green paper trees infused with fragrance were created because of the stench of spoiled milk in a milk truck. Instead of removing what was causing the stench, the creator wanted to ‘cover up the smell,’ not remove it. Referencing Revelations 21, John wants to address a problem in the church instead of covering it up or removing it.
Rhodes said, “The people of that era preferred to blend into the Roman culture to survive. It is all because of self-preservation, and self-preservation is sin that can’t be covered up … it must be removed.” According to Rhodes, self-preservation leads to fear.
“We, as church members, are living in fear because ultimately, we fear change,” said Rhodes. “But John said Christianity was never a movement based in self-preservation but in self-sacrifice.”
Also in Revelation, John saw a new heaven and a new earth. John’s vision became the “burden” for the church. He challenged the congregation to “look around your church and your community.”
“Vision is always birthed through burden. Our burden cannot be self-preservation. If it is, our burden will not be godly,” he said.
According to Rhodes, Project Transformation grew out of “burden.” The founders of Project Transformation got a “burden” for college students, for children in underserved areas, and for churches to deepen their connection to the community around them.
During the Litany of the Saints, the following people were remembered:
Ralph Edward Burke
Wallace Edwin Chappell
James A. Gwaltney
Joseph R. Hale
John T. Lancaster
Merwin K. Turner
Lawrean Isaacks Chappell
Faye Katheryn Day
Mary R. Houseman
Stella Ruth Mooring
The music of the evening was amazing. The Ubuntu Violins, a ministry of Grace UMC and Lakewood UMC, provided the Gathering Music. The combined choirs’ melodic voices were ‘music’ to our ears! And, a beautiful dramatic reading from Genesis 1 and Revelations 1 was rendered and accompanied by the combined choirs, a string quartet, and Clara Lindh, soloist.
At the end of the service, more than 100 young adults were commissioned as interns at local churches, Bridgeport Camp and Conference Center, Connect to the Kingdom, GO Camp, Lydia Patterson Institute, Project Transformation, and QuadW. The offering for the evening will go to support Project Transformation and the Camping Ministry of the North Texas Annual Conference.