APRIL 2022
By Superintendent Amelia Cleveland-Traylor
“The cross is the price of true love. Lord, give us the strength to accept and carry our crosses!”
Pope Francis
Earlier this month, we recalled the dark hours leading to Christ’s crucifixion on the cross. Jesus was acutely aware of what was to come. He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to God the Father. His prayers were filled with anguish, though he remained dedicated to the mission before him. We remembered the betrayal of Judas, the other apostles, the high priest, the chief priests, the elders, the Roman leaders, and others. Jesus experienced great emotional pain as members of his inner circle scattered in fear the moment he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Jesus endured mocking, taunting, physical assault, and immense pain for people that did not request or deserve his sacrifice. He was stripped of his clothing and hung between criminals. Yet, he offered grace and mercy to many that would never return his affection or appreciate his gift. That crucifixion was the ultimate display of his amazing love.
Romans 5:8, 10 states
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
At the end of the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter that he would deny him three times before daybreak. Peter swore that he would be imprisoned or die before such a betrayal would ever happen. Peter failed miserably. I have little doubt that Peter suffered great shame any time that he recalled his betrayal of Jesus. He remembered his hubris. He remembered that he denied any knowledge of Jesus not once, but three times. He remembered the look of disappointment in Jesus’ eyes after his final angry betrayal. He remembered weeping bitterly. He felt hopeless and he did not understand what would happen next.
Jesus arose and he remained on earth forty days after his resurrection. One day, he appeared on the shore of Galilee where some of the disciples were fishing. Peter had returned to fishing when he believed there was nothing more for him to do. Jesus began a fire and invited them to prepare some fish and bread to eat. It was during that appearance that Jesus directly confronts Peter.
“When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.””
John 21:15-18 NIV
This encounter with Jesus was a painful reminder of how Peter had failed. At first glance, it may appear that Jesus’ intent was to condemn Peter but a deeper look leads to a different conclusion. Each time that Peter answers “yes, Lord, you know I love you,” Jesus responds by given Peter a command; Feed my lambs. Take care of my sheep. Feed my sheep. Jesus wanted Peter to know that true love is not simply declared. It must be demonstrated. Peter was to show his love for Christ by lovingly caring for God’s people. Just as importantly, Jesus wanted Peter to know that true love is costly. Ultimately, Peter would die sacrificially because of allegiance to and love for Christ.
Many Christians are unaware of the ways that they deny Christ with behavior that is unkind, vengeful, mean-spirited, and selfish. True Christian love requires disciples to overcome their fears, insecurities, preferences, conveniences, and their priorities. After all, Jesus warned that one cannot be a disciple and follow him without taking up one’s cross (Luke 14:27).
Today, I am challenging each of you to count the cost of being a loving follower of Christ. I pray that through the power of the spirit you may be living witnesses to the power of Christ’s love in you and through you. Commit to preach the gospel every day through the life that you live. Whenever necessary, speak the words. After all, Jesus commanded his disciples to “love each other as I have loved you.” He proved it by his death on the cross. This is the true cost of love. 

Have you registered for TRC's Leadership Summit 2022?

This year's Summit will focus on Fueling the Fire. The Keynote speaker is Anthony Headley. Tony is a Psychologist, Professor at Asbury Theological Seminary, Author, and Speaker. We are excited to have him join us.

With the stresses of ministry, compounded by the last couple of year's, we realize that pastors and church leaders have been stretched to their limits. Leadership Summit 2022 will provide practical solutions to help keep the Holy Spirit alive and well in you and your ministry. 

Pre-Conference Events
Worship Workshop 9am-Noon Friday, June 17, 2022
  • We are offering a Worship Workshop lead by Kimberly Hitt. Please consider brining your Worship Leader to this year's Summit so they can participate in this valuable workshop. Kim will cover several topics of leading worship:
  • Diversity in Worship - Why is diversity important to ANY church? Who benefits from musical diversity? What does diversity in worship look like?
  • A heart of Worship Vs. A Call to Worship - Anointing Vs. Technical Training. A desire Vs. A calling. A lifestyle Vs. A Purpose
  • Obstacles in Worship - How to overcome Financial Obstacles. How to overcome the beginning stages of worship & the established worship team issues of established church. How to overcome Spiritual Obstacles.
  • A New Song - Why is a new song important? A Lake Vs. A River mentality? How does creating new worship impact your church?

TRC's La Conexion Gathering 9am-Noon Friday, June 17, 2022
  • Please join Pastor Jose Segura for a time with TRC's Hispanic Leaders from around the conference. 

TRC's Umoja Team (Swahili Pastors) Gathering 9am-Noon Friday, June 17, 2022
  • Join District Leader Ali Mitachi or a time with TRC's African Leaders from around the conference. 
The deadline for getting the hotel room discounted price is May 26, 2022. There are a limited number of rooms at this price, so register ASAP.
The 2021 FMC Annual Report process can be challenging for you. We appreciate the special effort each church goes through to make sure the responses to the Annual Report are accurate. 


FMC's Annual Reporting window will open very soon. FMC has been working to simplify the Annual Reports process for our churches. For this year, they have eliminated all but the statistical questions on the report. They will also have the Annual Reports available in Swahili and in Spanish. 
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.
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

Julie Gray (Phoenix, Light & Life Church) pastorjulie@mylightandlife.org

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

Mark Douglas, Assistant Superintendent mark@markwdouglasllc.com

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

Heather Utley (San Antonio, Tapestry Church) rev.heatherutley@gmail.com

James Leman (Spokane, First) james.leman@spokanefirst.church
Upcoming TRC Committee Meetings

Tuesday, May 3, 2022
MAC Monthly Video Conference
Thursday, May 5, 2022
MEG Monthly Video Conference
Property Team Monthly Video Conference
 Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Finance Team Video Conference

Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Conference Advancement Team Video Conference

Thursday, May 19, 2022
Board of Directors Monthly Video Conference
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
District Leaders Monthly Video Conference

Thursday, May 26, 2022
Nominating Committee Video Conference

HEY Free Methodist Youth Workers!
I hope you’ve heard, FMYC 2022 is happening! We’ll gather on the campus of Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, Colorado June 27-July 1, 2022.
FMYC (Free Methodist Youth Conference) is a week-long event designed for your high school students. (Bringing Middle School students is up to the discretion of the Youth Worker. But again – please know that the event is programmed with high school students in mind.)
The Scriptures tell us that followers of Jesus are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession…” (1 Peter 2:9). We are Marked. Our identity is in Jesus. This next Summer we’ll spend a week together in Colorado, looking at what this means!

On our website you’ll find:
* Promotional material
* Program information
* FAQ & Contact information
We've also encouraged each conference to help with the transportation costs for groups attending FMYC’22. Make sure you contact your local Superintendent for more information!
Find out what is happening around the Free Methodist Church. Click below to view the respective newsletters
The River Conference | theriverconference.org