By Dick Barrett
As I look toward finishing my time of serving as conference minister, I am grateful to God for the opportunity to have worked with all the many great people of Ohio Conference — the leadership teams, the staff, the pastors and other credentialed leaders, delegates, and congregational members and attenders.
In the midst of challenging times — the COVID pandemic and the many polarizations that exist in our world, nation and churches today — I have witnessed much grace and a strong desire from almost all to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. During these challenging times I have seen both women and men continue to respond to the call of God on their lives to become pastors and those who are in ministry to remain steadfast in their calling.
On a negative note, I have witnessed the closing of some churches and a decline in both attendance and active participation in many. I have seen those on the opposing sides of many different issues, especially regarding sexual ethics and marriage, continue to push their positions without consideration and respect for those on the other side. I have also witnessed the fallenness of humanity, both within and outside the church. At times I have been a part of that.
Perhaps the most disheartening aspect of my time serving as conference minister has been the focus on so many of the issues, agendas, and causes of our day at the expense of the primary gospel message — that God sent his Son Jesus Christ, to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost (1 Timothy 1:15).
Our primary task as Christians is not to save or change the world. Our primary task is to point people to Jesus, who welcomes all who acknowledge their own sinfulness, repent, and put their faith in him. He is the one who transforms lives. I am most grateful to him who called and chose me to be one of his followers.
My prayer for Ohio Conference, as you look to the future, is that you focus on the primary gospel message in the midst of all the possible distractions, for the glory and honor of God the Father and Jesus the Son.
With deep appreciation and love,
Note: Dick Barrett will retire from his role as conference minister in mid-October.