On June 10th, the Tennessee Annual Conference began its multi-day work together as we’re gathered down here at Brentwood UMC. About 650 pastors and 650 lay persons from across middle TN in one place-a beautiful sanctuary nearly filled to capacity. While there is plenty of time reviewing resolutions and reports, this community is marked more prominently by worship and Bible study this week.

There are few things in this world that can stir my heart more than singing hymns in a sanctuary when the very foundation of the church is probably shaking from the pipe organ and voices reverberating skyward. As good as the music was in our opening worship, I was anticipating the spoken word of a man I’ve watched for years. One of my favorite preachers and mentors, Bishop Joe Pennel took to the pulpit and let us know that God is doing more things in the church than we can ask for and things beyond our imagination. That’s good news! That’s great news when we’re often hearing cries of desperation and decline for the church.

As I took Bishop Pennel’s claim to heart, ‘that God is doing more than we can ask for and things beyond our imagination’ I began reflecting on the last year. Just over a year ago, it was beyond my imagination what a Methodist campus ministry might look like-though I was being sent to plant one. It was beyond my imagination the way that a core groups of students with a passion for God and the church demonstrated love for one another. It’s often beyond my imagination the ways that students care for the suffering in their communities, whether in Nashville, Grundy County, and all around. Lastly, those many persons (really too many to be named) who have guided, supported, and loved this campus ministry are more than I could ask for. Praise be to God who is acting beyond the church’s imagination!

~Rev. Adam Kelchner