Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Renewal 2021


“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Dear Friends,

I love the rhythm and variety of the four seasons that we experience in North Alabama weather. Fall brings the beauty of turning leaves. Winter’s crisp air and occasional snow cleanses the earth and atmosphere. Spring bursts on the scene with budding branches, blooming flowers and fresh rains. And then there are the long, warm days and the renewing change of pace that come with summer.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 speaks of seasons. Of course, it is referencing not only weather seasons but also rhythms of life, including birth/death, planting/harvesting, weeping/laughing and mourning/dancing. Perhaps if penning the passage today the author would add to the beautiful litany, “a time to work and a time to renew.”

I associate summer with renewal. I first experienced this when a student, then later as a pastor and most recently in my role as a bishop. Summer is my season of regrouping, re-centering, recalibrating and recharging.

Today I am returning from three weeks of renewal time that have been especially meaningful. In addition to spending significant time with family, I:

  • walked every day (and even ran on occasion);
  • spent time reading Scripture, praying, worshipping and journaling;
  • was inspired by watching the Olympics;
  • organized my calendar through June 2022;
  • developed a sermon and several other communication pieces;
  • reflected on best practices for transitioning to lead North Alabama and Holston Conferences as of September 1, 2021;
  • played the piano most days;
  • enjoyed several movies with Lee;
  • attended a family wedding;
  • and finished some fun projects that have been on my radar for months.
  • I also shed some tears as I learned of the deaths of two giants in the faith who were influences in my life. Their departure from this earth leaves a hole in my life. The poignancy of their passing seemed fitting for a renewal leave.

Now, feeling fresh and renewed as I return to my normal routine, I am ready for another year of service and work. Grateful for the opportunity I was afforded to rest and renew, I am also excited about what God has ahead for us in the North Alabama Conference as we continue to move toward our vision and mission.

My time of reflection and recalibrating allowed me to imagine a future with different rhythms as I enter a new season that includes additional responsibilities. Though I anticipate that some of my previous patterns will remain the same, other aspects of the ebb and flow of my life will by necessity be adjusted. This includes doing more delegation and developing different systems to accomplish some parts of my work.

I hope that you also have had the opportunity to experience renewal this summer or at some other time in the course of the year. The details of when and how we experience renewal are not the point. The key is that we regularly experience the rhythm of not only work, but also times of renewal in our life.

Heading into this new season we call fall, here are a few questions I invite you to consider. “What patterns and practices in your life need a reset? What in your life is due a recalibration? What rhythms are you longing to resume?” Renewal restores but it also refocuses us for the next chapter of life and ministry.

After all, “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
North Alabama Conference

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