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Holly Neal

Photo courtesy of Holly Neal

Holly Neal

‘Fear not! I am with you!’


Holly Neal
January-February 2016

As we move further into 2016 and march toward General Conference, I find myself living in the tension between the loud voices of our world and the still, small faithful voice of God. I believe as United Methodists, we live in this same tension.

To which voice will I (we) choose to listen? The voice of fear, which seems prevalent in our world and within our church? The voice of God's truth?

As we completed the Advent season, I remembered all the times the heavenly messengers arrived on the scene and the first thing they said was, "Fear not." I believe our Lord is speaking this same message to us United Methodists. "Fear not! I am with you."

We listened to God's voice to "fear not" as our leaders challenged our denomination to tackle the killer disease of malaria. As United Methodists, many of us accepted this challenge and worked together to save lives in Africa.

I find myself hopeful for General Conference. I look forward to joining others as we set aside intentional time to seek God's word and way for our personal lives as well as our denomination. I hope that we will participate in praying and fasting each Friday through General Conference.

I pray that during this special time in the church, we will be mobilized to "Therefore, Go" just like the theme for General Conference. I pray that we will not wait for General Conference to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20, NRSV).

Holly Neal has served as lay leader of the Tennessee Conference since 2012 and is a delegate to General Conference 2016. A member of Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church in Crossville, Tennessee, she is executive director of the Cumberland County United Fund.