I believe Mission Central began in the mind of God. However, it entered my mind as a possibility when the decision was made to move the Conference Offices to a new location in Mechanicsburg.
I wanted the good people in our churches to view the new building as a center for the mission God has assigned to us. But how?
Then I remembered! Recently I had been in Houston, Texas planning for a gathering of all the members of the Methodist/Wesleyan family in North America. While there, the pastor of Houston First Church had taken me to a place just outside the city to see something amazing.
I found myself looking at a large warehouse. Inside I was introduced to the man, an ex-convict, who started it. While in prison he watched church services from First UMC, Houston, on television. He eventually contacted the pastor and asked if he could attend First UMC after his release. The pastor assured him that he would be welcome, but feared he would never hear from the man again.
One Sunday after worship a man unfamiliar to the pastor at First UMC shook his hand saying he was the prisoner who had contacted the pastor from prison. He was now free, and felt inspired to raise one million dollars in order to start a new mission project. The warehouse I was visiting was that mission project, created almost single handedly by the former prisoner…and what a creation it was!
Filled to the corners with a mind-boggling array of goods, the building was a center to which people came in great numbers, to donate useful goods, volunteer time and raise money to send materials across the planet, that would make a difference in millions of lives and numerous countries. “We could do this at home!”, I thought. Of all the annual conferences in the Northeast, our conference always gave more to missions than any other, although several conferences were larger than ours. Just imagine if we could do this close to our conference center, then together we could be a power center for God.
That’s how it started. A few men and women from across this part of the Keystone State gathered every month and began the planning, but God made it happen.
To go back briefly to Texas…one man raised a million dollars to get that ministry off the ground. If one man could do that, surely, the tens of thousands of us in this conference can raise the money to make the warehouse we call Mission Central fully paid for.
PRAYER: O God, thank you for speaking to our hearts and inspiring us to respond to the needs in our community and world-today and into the future. We are grateful that You choose us-sometimes in spite of our circumstances-to accomplish Your work in the world. Help us remember that even when things seem impossible, You go before us and prepare the way to accomplish Your purposes. AMEN.
(Bishop Neil L. Irons)
June 17, 2015 The Vision of Mission Central (downloadable pdf)