As we approach the close of January 2014, much of what happened during Christmas 2013 is a fading memory. However, I remember well a very special Christmas gift given to me by the District Lay Leaders.
I received it at the District Lay Leaders’ Christmas meeting. Following a delicious lunch, Conference Lay Leader Steve Lyles invited the group to present me with a Christmas gift - which consisted of a statement from each of them. One by one they described how the power of teamwork is moving us as an Annual Conference toward “Deep Change.”
Before I share their statements, here is a reminder of two principles of “Deep Change” as we are defining it in our Annual Conference. 1.) Though North Alabama Methodism has many strengths, we are not yet all that we can be. Thus we are called to “Deep Change” as individual Christians, churches and an Annual Conference. 2.) Any deep organizational changes must first begin within the hearts of the leadership and members of the organization. This means that “Deep Change” in North Alabama Methodism starts with you and me as the Holy Spirit continues to conform us to the image of Christ.
The Lay Leaders’ statements included the following:
- “I’m humbled, honored and excited to be part of a team working side by side with clergy that are progressively seeking deep change in our denomination rather than waiting and reacting to a declining system.”
- “I am very happy and honored to be a part of the Operational Team for (my) District. . . .The overall notion of spiritual leadership of loving, learning, and leading fits my thinking of what leadership is all about.”
- (By serving on my District Superintendent’s executive team) . . . “I have a new vocabulary and attitude and have insight I did not possess before. It has also given my Superintendent and me a deeper trust level.”
- “The thing that stands out most in my mind occurred during the first meeting with Craig Robertson (Spiritual Leadership, Inc. consultant). Many times Craig used the phrase 'we are here because we love Jesus,' at least that is what I heard him saying. That has caused me to reevaluate that phrase in my life and actions since then. It has caused me to recommit myself to a greater effort in making my actions depict me as a Christian who loves Jesus. Others need to be able to look at our actions and know we love Jesus.”
I left the luncheon feeling thankful that our District Lay Leaders are doing their part to move us toward “Deep Change” in our Annual Conference. Our emerging vision, mission, values and initiatives are God-sized. It will require all of us working together, empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, to reach them.
Yes, the District Lay Leaders’ Christmas gift gave me a glimpse into specific ways in which God is moving through teams across the Annual Conference to bring “Deep Change” to North Alabama Methodism. Now that is a Christmas gift I will long remember.
As always it is a privilege to serve as your Bishop.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett