BWC proclaims ‘We Are One’

June 1, 2017

Bishop LaTrelle Easterling preaches on covenant.
Bishop LaTrelle Easterling preaches on covenant.

By Melissa Lauber

In four languages, members of the Baltimore-Washington Conference sang “They’ll know we are Christians by our love,” as the 233rd session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference opened Wednesday evening.

“We are One: Connected in Covenant” is the theme of this Annual Conference Session, which draws 1,400 United Methodists together for three days of holy conferencing at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington.

Preaching from the conference’s theme in Ephesian 4:1-6, Bishop LaTrelle Easterling spoke of the many instances of covenant throughout the Bible, and explained how “in these covenants God calls upon the faithful to trust and obey, turn away from the former, and to walk with God toward a sacred and bright future.

“I need you to survive,” members of the BWC, including the Rev. Gerry Green, left, and Ella Curry, sing to one another at opening worship Wednesday evening.
“I need you to survive,” members of the BWC, including the Rev. Gerry Green, left, and Ella Curry, sing to one another at opening worship Wednesday evening.

“Our relationships should reflect this covenantal bond,” the bishop preached. “The way we live with one another bears witness.”

She acknowledged that living in a way that bears witness to the Word of God is not easy, especially as we live in a divided world, and called upon the people of the Baltimore-Washington Conference to respond to God’s call to live as a covenant community.

“God knows that opportunities are created in community,” Bishop Easterling said. “God knows that lives are changed in community.”

When United Methodists live in community, they realize that people who disagree with them are not the enemy. Rather, said the bishop, we see the enemies we must face are poverty, addiction, hunger, the persecution of the poor, hate crimes, terrorism, the pillaging of public education and systemic injustice. Standing together, the church can address these enemies, Bishop Easterling said.

“We are the body of Christ together. How we choose to live out our days is our response to this covenant. … If we allow ourselves to be divided we will lose our moral witness to the world,” she said to a standing ovation.

Bishop Easterling was elected to the episcopacy last July and became the leader of the Washington Area eight months ago. “In the time I’ve been with you,” she said, “I have learned a deep truth about you, Baltimore-Washington Conference: you love the Lord, and because of that love, I know you will persevere through differences to continue in covenant.

“Listening to one another is how we bear with one another in love,” Bishop Easterling concluded. “As covenantal partners in mission and ministry, we need to rise up, we need to get up, we need to stand up and run down the road of justice together. … Rise up Baltimore-Washington Conference and show the world, We Are One!”

Those present then broke into spontaneous chants of “We are One.”

Following the sermon, members took an offering and collected $10,051 to assist victims of domestic violence seeking to leave their abusive relationship through the Seeds of Security ministry.

The worship closed with a celebration of Communion and a time of praise.

Following the worship, the conference welcomed Bishop Seung Ho Choi, bishop of the South Conference of The United Methodist Church in South Korea, his wife, the Rev. Se Hee Lee, and others from the South Conference.

The BWC has a covenant partnership with the South Conference. Bishop Choi and his delegation presented gifts to Bishop Easterling.

“Our bonds of unity connect us not just across this Conference or the U.S., but stretch around the world,” said Bishop Easterling.