The Friday evening worship service began with soul-stirring music delivered by the choir from Prospect United Methodist Church in Maxton. The music set the tone for a celebratory event of the ministries of the laity. The Order of Deacons led the worship service.
Guest preacher, Bishop Gregory Palmer presented a plaque to Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and Gary Locklear, Conference Lay Leader to celebrate the conference effort on behalf of Imagine No Malaria which raised almost $1,121,000.
There was discussion of the Mission of Hope for Sierra Leone which deals with the rebuilding of Rotifunk Hospital in Sierra Leone to serve to over 145,000 people. It was apparent in the presentation that this ministry would take more than just financial assistance; the true need is “hands” to change the plight of the people in Sierra Leone especially the morbidity and mortality rates of children and infants. The 70 percent level of illiteracy has a direct impact upon gainful employment that could be utilized to help pull the country and its people out of abject poverty but also provides an opportunity for the Church to be in practical life-changing ministry.
The stage was set for Bishop Palmer’s sermon, using Luke 24:28-32 as the biblical foundation. Bishop Palmer reiterated that each person needs to live into the fact that everyone they meet is a beloved child of God. The question was posed that if people who we encounter for the first time would leave with the impression that they were beloved and treasured.
Bishop Palmer also reminded the gathered that Christians are to be the Church and to not spend time trying to save the church. The Church belongs to God and only God can change the church. This sermon set the tone to reinvigorate and reorient the thinking of both the laity and clergy to understand that the Gospel is a gift to be shared and to realize that we all are the beloved of God.