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martha stokes

Local church connection and district:

Duncan Memorial UMC, Ashland (Three Notch’d District)

Guiding scripture leading into General Conference:

Since 2016, I’ve carried in my heart for General Conference sessions the last line of Esther 4:14:  For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?(English Standard Version)  This year, I have been focusing on the verse chosen as the theme for the General Conference session, Psalm 46:10.  I have come to appreciate – for such a time as this – Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message:  “Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. ‘Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.'” 

Favorite paragraph of the Book of Discipline (we all have one, right?): 

I have two, both from Part IV, The Ministry of All Christians, Section II. The first is ¶126. “The Heart of Christian Ministry—The heart of Christian ministry is Christ’s  ministry  of  outreaching  love. Christian ministry is the expression of the mind and mission of Christ by a community of Christians that demonstrates a common life of gratitude and devotion, witness and service, celebration and discipleship. All Christians are called through their baptism to this ministry of servanthood in the world to the glory of God and for human fulfillment. The forms of this ministry are diverse in locale, in interest, and in denominational accent, yet always catholic in spirit and outreach.”  The second is ¶130. “Faithful Ministry—The  people  of  God,  who  are  the church made visible in the world, must convince the world of the reality of the gospel or leave it unconvinced. There can be no evasion or delegation of this responsibility; the church is either faithful as a witnessing and serving community, or it loses its vitality and its impact on an unbelieving world.”

A brief statement on your call to serve as a delegate:

The most challenging experiences of my faith journey have come as a delegate to General and Jurisdictional Conferences since 2008.  I’ve lived through the highs and very dark lows of serving as a lay delegate to four General Conference sessions. I have questioned how we treat one another, how we forgive each other, and how we continue to grow as disciples of Jesus. Each General Conference has left me with questions about who I am as a United Methodist Christian and how we fail in so many ways to live out in our daily lives what we say we believe. At this point, you are probably asking why Icontinue at this? I believe in the future of The UMC.  I hold firmly my call to be the best lay person I can be which means using my voice, my gifts, and my service to bring about that future.  If my brokenness and questioning can make a difference in the Holy Spirit’s work of transforming individual lives, our local communities, and the world, I will continue to live out my baptismal vows as Christ’s representative in the world – including in this structure of holy conferencing that is a part of our United Methodist polity. We have an opportunity before us that is unprecedented, and I believe and anticipate that this General Conference experience will be a very different one. Just maybe, the Holy Spirit is moving in the most mysterious of ways to mold us into the church that our divided, broken world so desperately needs today. That’s the work of the General Conference to which I feel called.

Specific prayer request(s) for the work ahead:

Prayers for courage and boldness, humility and grace, in all that I do; for wisdom and integrity in my discernment and voting; that I will be ever mindful of God’s presence; and that our love for Jesus will transcend our differences. On a personal note, my husband, Steve, will be having surgery on April 1.  Prayers for successful surgery and a smooth recovery will be most appreciated so my anxiety will not take over life in the days leading up to April 23rd.

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