May 1, 2004
By Melissa Lauber*
(UMNS) — “Come to the water, everybody come,” a mass choir of more than
100 youth sang, calling the General Conference delegates to worship May
A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
Bishop Jonathan D. Keaton preaches to General Conference delegates and guests on May 1.
delegates began their Saturday work, which will be spent in committees
voting on petitions, with a worship service that focused on Portuguese
and Celtic traditions. The service included a sermon by Bishop Jonathan
D. Keaton of the Ohio East Area.
preaching centered on Acts 6:1-6, 8:4-6, 35-40 and the story of Philip,
who was one of seven people chosen by Jesus’ disciples for ministry.
referred to Philip as “a drum major for service,” referring to the
verbal requiem that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. used to describe his
that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for
peace; I was a drum major for righteousness … and all of the other
shallow things won’t matter,” Keaton quoted.
one listens to Philip’s story and “the drumbeat of his journey, the
rhythm of his itinerancy and the pep in his step, the preacher cannot
help but label Philip a deacon,” said Keaton. “His witness enlivens the
spirit, warms the heart and lights the way.”
A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
Remy Dou plays with the Miami District Youth Band during morning worship on May 1.
pointed out that the first seven officeholders of the church were
chosen not to talk, but for practical service. “Using disciplinary
language, the deacon combats a situation where ‘people are unfairly
granted privileges and benefits’ denied to others.”
did this in his ministry by bringing justice to the Greek widow,
working among the despised Samaritans, and interpreting Isaiah’s “Song
of the Suffering Servant” to the Ethiopian eunuch, the ultimate outcast.
He baptized the eunuch, who became “water washed and spirit born into a new life,” Keaton said.
challenged the delegates to follow in Philip’s footsteps. When the
doxology is sung, and the 2004 General Conference has been consigned to
history, “I hope and pray the dominant theme of our witness and mission
reflects the faith stance of Joshua, who declared to Israel at a
critical point of decision-making, ‘as for me and my house, we will
serve the Lord,’” he said.
The choir and congregation closed the worship singing, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
choirs that made up the mass choir included Cantemos Youth Choir from
the North Georgia Conference; the Detroit Conference Youth Choir; Jean
Choir, from Jean (Texas) Church; Jubilate from North Broadway Church in
Columbus, Ohio; Drive, the Miami District Youth Band from Florida; and
S.I.G.H.T. from Central Church in Rogers, Ark.
A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
Cantemos Youth Choir leads morning worship at the 2004 General Conference.
here was an overwhelming honor,” said Christine Logan, a member of the
Cantemos Youth Choir. “I hope the General Conference remembers the youth
and diversity. It really is the way people are inside that is
* Lauber is a correspondent for United Methodist News Service.
News media contact: (412) 325-6080 during General Conference, April 27-May 7. After May 10: (615) 742-5470.