October 2020
By Superintendent Amelia Cleveland-Traylor
There have been a couple of times in my life I have been in extreme darkness.

In 1992, my husband and I were a part of tour group that hiked through some caves in Colorado. It was fascinating to imagine early settlers and explorers making their way through the caves. To demonstrate the enormity of explorers’ tasks, the tour guide decided to turn off the lights in the caves. The group stood in total darkness. It was amazing. No matter how long we stood there, we could not see our hands. I’ve often wondered how they made it through.

In 2004, my husband and I were short term missionaries to Malawi. One evening, we were awakened in the middle of the night. A pastor’s father had become ill and he needed help. Outside of the cabin, there was no light except that provided by the stars. There were no streetlights. No stop lights. No road signs. No property lights. When we left the safety of the camp, we were completely disoriented and unsettled. How would we ever get where we going when we could not see? Would we be able to return to safety?

These are examples of physical darkness that could be troublesome. Yet, there is a darkness of the soul that is much more dangerous. This often comes as the result of pain, loss, betrayal, or tragedy. During these times, it is hard to remember anything good. Pleasure has less meaning and there is a desire to feel less. The future appears dim.

In this world, there are many sources of darkness:
·      Coronavirus pandemic
·      Gun violence
·      Hate crimes (alternative lifestyles and religious persecution)
·      Anger
·      Racism, sexism, xenophobia
·      Political divisions
·      Poverty (hunger, homelessness, joblessness, limited education)
·      War
·      Rampant Fear

The human body is designed to do something called accommodation. Because of accommodation, the body naturally adapts to the circumstances prevalent in any given moment. This explains why a noxious odor becomes less offensive with time. This is also why one can begin to see once the eyes have adjusted to darkness or bright lights. As a result of accommodation, it is absolutely possible to live in darkness and become unaware of the darkness!

Are we there now?
American politics are very polarized. Those who share our views are considered good while those who oppose our views are evil. We formulate strong opinions based upon limited information. We have little tolerance for honest discourse and we often stand confident that our positions and perspectives are right. Others are, therefore, wrong. These widely held positions are prideful and dangerous because we lose the opportunity to reach anyone on the “dark side” as long as he/she is viewed as evil or an enemy. There is a so much darkness around us. There are so many are without hope.

In John 8:12, Jesus said
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." 

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16), Jesus said

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

We, as disciples of Christ, are challenged to carry the light that Christ has deposited in us to all in the world. We simply cannot afford to withhold the light or avoid the dark. Too many are dying to see Jesus. Let us allow our lights to shine before all so that they are able to see Christ for themselves.

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man.
Ps 112:4

Be the light!
Please join us in welcoming Pastors Julie and Marvin Gray to TRC's family. They were recently appointed to Phoenix Light & Life. Julie will serve as their Lead Pastor and Marvin will be an Associate Pastor. They come to us from the Wabash Conference. We look forward to see what God has in store for their new congregation and the Phoenix community.

Julie's call is to help the Bride of Christ be beautiful--thriving locally and globally by helping churches take strategic steps forward, growing leaders who delight in their relationship with God, and walking beside groups, families, and individuals on their journey with Christ.

She recently served as President of the Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy along with her duties as Lead Pastor of Aldersgate Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis.

We are very excited to have these phenomenal leaders join us in our mission to MULTIPY CHURCHES, MOBILIZE LEADERS, MEET HUMANITARIAN NEEDS, AND MAKE DISCIPLES.
From Mark Dowley
Chief Operating Officer, Free Methodist Church – USA
Re: Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness
Dear FM Pastors and Leaders,
Many of you applied for and received funds from the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) established by the Federal Government for financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. As you may know, those loans can be converted into grants, essentially forgiving the loan.

Many lenders are now ready to move forward with the process of converting your loan into a grant. Please reach out to your lender as loans under $150,000 are being fast-tracked for approval.

While your lender will have the details, here is a link to a website that might be helpful to you.

As always, you are in our thoughts and prayers. 

We are busy finalizing the details of TRC's River Institute. Below is a description of what will be offered. The next opportunity to sign up for the courses will be communicated in the next newsletter. STAY TUNED!

An organization devoted to equipping the leaders of TRC through educational offerings, training opportunities, and ordination coursework to the Glory of God.

  1. Educating Leaders through conference, resource materials, and coaching
  2. Equipping Leaders through specific trainings including church planting training, revitalization programs, and multiplication coaching.
  3. Empowering Leaders who desire ordination in the Free Methodist Church through providing essential courses, ministry assessments, and coaching. 

There are many different offerings for leadership development within TRC. Due to the tremendous geographic and language challenges, courses can be redundant or inaccessible. The River Institute is a means for organizing all of the coursework, training, and coaching into a single vehicle.

The River Institute organizes the educational offerings so that the essential courses for ordination, are offered regularly in multiple languages using online, hybrid, and face-to-face coursework. Instead of each region trying to find someone to teach History and Polity, the River Institute developed a schedule that is posted online. With the use of technology, we offer courses by the best and brightest all over the conference and denomination. Additionally, for those with language limitations, it is almost impossible to find someone teaching courses in their native language. 

The River Conference has partnered with Asbury Theological Seminar to provide a platform for the River Institute. This partnership delivers the theological training. In general, each Institute contains five Modules, and ​Asbury Seminary will grant a non-degree certificate for completion:

  1. FM History and Polity
  2. Wesleyan Theology
  3. Church Administration
  4. Homiletics and Hermeneutics
  5. Pastoral Counseling and Self-Care
Expected Learning Outcomes
Wholeness is pursued, not a truncated understanding of the gospel, and that the five core freedoms of Free Methodism are grasped.

  • all races to worship together in unity.
  • women and men to be treated with equal respect regarding the use of their gifts equally in the church, in the home, and in the world.
  • the poor to be treated with dignity in the church, and with justice in the world.
  • the laity and clergy to be given equal authority and decision-making positions within the church.
  • the Holy Spirit to inspire our worship.

There is a nominal cost to participate in the River Institute of $1000 to complete the courses listed above.

Please email any questions to Pastor Kasey Martin (institute@theriverconference.org)

Our Fall 2020 gatherings in each District are listed below. However, a decision has been made to hold the Colorado/New Mexico and Spokane Summits virtually due to the rise in COVID-19 cases in those districts. As we get closer to the other dates, we will make a decision as to the capabilities of hosting these in person. Look for more information in your email.

Our Colorado/New Mexico District's virtual Leadership Summit went well. We look forward to the remaining district events. Please make sure you register by clicking the appropriate event below.


We encourage churches to invite their Staff, Board and other leaders to your District's gathering. Mark you calendars and plan on attending.
The Art of Neighboring
A copy of the book that we will discuss at our upcoming Leadership Summits was mailed to all TRC Lead Pastors. We are excited to delve into this topic and encourage you to read this book prior to your district's Summit.

If you are a lead pastor and have not received your book, please contact the conference office.
TRC signed up to take advantage of Amazon.com's "give back" campaign. Amazon Smile is a program where you can designate a charity to receive a percentage of any purchase made on Amazon.com.

If you buy things off Amazon, please consider designating TRC as your charity. How to get started:
www.smile.amazon.com - find The River Conference of the Free Methodist Church, Lakewood, CO on the charity list, select it. Now every time you order something from Amazon, you must enter through the smile.amazon.com website, you'll see what charity you're supporting in red letters. Then start shopping. Amazon will automatically deposit donations into our checking account.

If you buy things off Amazon, please consider designating TRC as your charity.
Around the Conference
TRC COVID-19 State Resources
Below are the websites for all the states in The River Conference that have current information on COVID-19. Stay informed. These websites have the most current information for each state. Simply click on the state and it will take you to the corresponding website.

Ben Forsberg (Phoenix, Citizen's Church) ben@citizensofphoenix.org

Ryan Stoops (Caldwell, Deer Flat Church) ryanstoops@deerflat.org

Mark Douglas (Pueblo, Light & Life) pastor@pueblolightandlife.com

Ali Mitachi (Abilene, Portland Avenue) mitachilw@yahoo.com

James Ford (Corpus Christi CPP) jesusandjames@yahoo.com

James Leman (Spokane, First) james.leman@ffmwired.com
Upcoming Committee Meetings

Tuesday, November 3
MAC Video Conference

Thursday, November 5
MEG Video Conference

Tuesday, November 10
Finance Team Video Conference

Thursday, November 12
Property Team Video Conference

Thursday, November 19
Board of Video Conference
Tuesday, November 24
District Leaders Video Conference
Find out what is happening around the Free Methodist Church. Click below to view the respective newsletters
The River Conference | theriverconference.org