The Spring 2019 Council of Bishops meeting took place May 5-9 in Chicago. Throughout the meeting I experienced rich covenant group sharing, meaningful worship and candid discussion about the present and future of the United Methodist Church. The Council of Bishops intentionally put hope in the center of our conversation even as we grappled with the reality of the deep differences and brokenness that exist in our beloved United Methodist Church. A summary of the week’s outcome can be found here.
In addition, the Council put forth a common word to the larger church. Particularly note that we feel called as a Council to a season of deep listening. To augment listening by all bishops, a Servant Listening Team has been nominated which will intentionally hear the various conversations taking place across the church. As implied by the name, the role of the Servant Listening Team is to listen as opposed to influencing, negotiating or leading.
The Council recognizes the Annual Conference unit as a strength in our denomination’s polity and structure. Longstanding relationships, shared mission and common goals make the Annual Conference a natural arena for encouraging local churches in their ministries, initiating new faith communities and having difficult conversations.
During this season in the Christian year known as Eastertide, Christ-followers celebrate that our crucified Savior lives in our hearts, church and world. We wait expectantly for Pentecost when God’s Holy Spirit is poured out upon the church in fresh ways, increasing our effectiveness in reaching others for Jesus Christ and in making us “one with Christ, one with each other and one in ministry to all the world.”
I do not know what is ahead for our denomination, but I serve the One who does. As such, I am leaning into my relationship with the Triune God, grateful that numerous colleague bishops, clergy and laity around the world are doing the same.
I look forward to being together with many of you at Annual Conference in Huntsville on June 2-4. As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
North Alabama Conference