December 20, 2016

It’s hard to believe the New Year is upon us! Yet, it’s harder to believe that six months have gone by since my election to Bishop and only four months since assuming the responsibilities as bishop-in-residence for the Missouri Annual Conference. The first four months have been a whirlwind of activities!

I’ve received countless phone calls, letters, and emails and participated in hundreds of conversations; not to mention meetings, meetings and more meetings! It has been exciting and I’m thankful for all the help I’ve received over the last six months.
    
I’m reminded of Paul’s writings to the Philippians 3:12-16:

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.”
    
As the New Year begins, I give thanks for each person in ministry in the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. Amazing ministries are happening! Yet work remains to be done. There are lives to change, communities to heal, brokenness and anxieties to address, and ministries yet to happen.
    
From our Listening Sessions, I hear hints of future action steps: placing more emphasis on social justice; providing resources for youth and children’s ministries; offering peer learnings for clergy and laity; and a host of other ideas and issues. These sessions provide an excellent opportunity for conversations, learning and getting acquainted with laity and clergy.
    
The Missouri Conference overflows with impressive talent and opportunity to be fruitful in ministry. I look forward to what Christ is doing in and through a people called Methodist in Missouri. I look forward to my first appointive season as your Bishop and appreciate all the help and patience the people of Missouri have given to me as I learn to adapt to this new role as your episcopal leader. May God bless and anoint you and your church as this New Year begins afresh with what God is doing.