In March the Order of the FLAME gathered at Epworth by the Sea for its annual week of Holy Spirit inspired worship and learning. What a blessed time! Over 130 members of the Order were able to share together as we explored what it means to be a mission evangelist in our current age. When we see Facebook posts proclaiming that the FLAME was the single best training a young clergy had experienced in ministry, we are encouraged that our work is having a significant impact.
At the Order of the FLAME gathering, we explore holistic evangelism using three lenses – word, deed, and sign. In other words, we seek to answer three questions: How do we effectively communicate the good news so that others might hear and respond? How do engage in ministries of reconciliation, justice, and mercy in ways that authentically demonstrate the Gospel? How do we become channels of the Holy Spirit so that lives might be transformed?
This year we were blessed by a variety of answers to those questions, with teaching on preaching for response and communicating the Gospel to the next generation, on reconciliation, multi-cultural worship, and community outreach, and on the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit from the beginning of the Methodist movement to our current age.
In addition to the outstanding teaching and powerful worship, a highlight of our FLAME gatherings is the boundary breaking nature of our time together. The FLAME community connects the entire Wesleyan Methodist family – AME’s, AMEZ’s, CME’s, Evangelical Methodists, Free Methodists, Nazarenes, United Methodists, and Wesleyans. At FLAME gatherings denominational boundaries fade, racial and ethnic barriers are broken down, and cultural obstacles are overcome. This year it was exciting to welcome people from 24 different states, some traveled to Georgia from as far away as California, South Dakota, New York, and Maine. Our farthest members arrived from Indonesia, Romania, and South Africa.
In John’s Revelation we see that one day God will gather all the peoples of the earth and every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. At the Order of the FLAME we are a microcosm of that image – a diversity of people bound together by our faith in Jesus Christ, a reconciled people joined together by our commitment to being mission evangelists in our communities, a Holy Spirit led people linked together by our willingness to become channels of God’s prevenient grace to all people.
We thank God for the many blessings we received during the 2019 Order of the FLAME gathering and we are already looking forward to returning to Epworth by the Sea March 9-13, 2020. We will welcome another class into the FLAME community, which already numbers over 2500. If you are a member of the Order of the FLAME, we encourage you to make plans join us and to nominate a promising young leader to participate in this transformative experience.