By Jeff Finley
General Conference 2011 officially concluded Sunday, July 17, with honors, reflection and Communion.
The service began with a time honoring Art Brown, the retiring executive director of Free Methodist World Missions.
The tribute included an “Art Appreciation Tour” video with previously recorded footage of Bishop David Roller at an art museum combined with photos of Brown in different geographic settings.
Brown and his wife, Sylvia, the former director of SEED, also were honored by Bishop Matt Thomas who described the couple as cheerleaders for missions.
“The worldwide membership of the Free Methodist Church has gone from just a little over a half million to just under a million under the time Art has been involved as leader of Free Methodist World Missions,” Thomas said. “Ministries have been begun in 29 new countries under his leadership. More than 50 missionary families and individuals have been sent out.”
“Sylvia and I are just phenomenally blessed — blessed by the God of the universe who’s chosen to be our friend and to give us a job to do,” Art Brown said, “and blessed by a church that’s shown confidence in us, not only by giving us a job but encouraging others to jump right in.”
Bishop David Kendall thanked the volunteers stationed in prayer tents around campus during GC11.
“They have been quiet. They have been unseen. They have been unheralded, but they have put us in touch with God,” Kendall said. “They have helped us cultivate an environment where we can hear what God has to say to us.”
Kendall prepared GC11 participants for Communion through relevant biblical passages such as Isaiah 25:6-9 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-22.
“The whole gospel now is at the table, but will we come to the table? Will we step up to the table?” Kendall asked.
He said GC11 participants heard from God during GC11 in ways they did — and did not — anticipate.
“Even when we got messed up a little bit, tangled in our procedures, we heard from the Lord,” he said.
He pointed to new plans such as designing a comprehensive urban church-planting strategy.
“We are resolved to embrace a new norm, flowing from Holy Spirit shaking to which all leadership groups will be accountable for frontline ministries,” he said.
Kendall reminded the audience that all people are invited to the table.
“God’s sent ones have been in the kitchen. They’ve had a taste of it, and because the taste is so sweet, so good and so satisfying, they can’t help but show and tell the many who — whether they know it or not — are dying for a taste of their own,” he said.
He said at the table, we find wholeness through brokenness.
“At the table, we find life through Jesus dying, but not just life from Jesus –- also life with Jesus as he continues his ministry,” Kendall said. “At the table, the whole gospel offers the whole solution for all that’s gone wrong.”
After a time of worship through song, Roller and Thomas joined Kendall on stage to read Scripture and prepare the gathering for communion, which was served by six international bishops from different parts of the world.