September 21, 2016

I’m excited, nervous, humbled, scared and joyful to become the new Bishop of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church. 
    
My wife Susan and I were as surprised as everyone else that we were assigned back to my home Conference of Missouri. We had talked, teased and wondered what going home would feel like if I were elected Bishop. But we had not let our minds go there, knowing only one other person in more than 200 years of American Methodism had been assigned back to their home Conference for his first term.
    
We couldn’t be more pleased and thankful for being assigned to the Missouri Conference to serve. Susan will finish out her teaching career in Missouri, teaching at Francis Howell School District in St. Charles County. She will also be able to continue in her ministry at the new church start in Wentzville, The Way, where she plays in the band, participates in small groups and serves in mission ministries. Our adult children, Joe and Amy, live in St. Charles and Belton. Our two grandchildren live within 35 minutes of our home. My mother and step father live in Sedalia, and Susan’s 98-year-old father is being cared for in the Missouri Veteran’s Home in Warrensburg. Susan’s family owns a family farm in Garden City. Our brothers and sisters all live in Missouri. Coming back to Missouri is a privilege and a blessing to our family. 
    
I’m confident that God has new ministry for us to do together in the Missouri Conference. I’m thankful for the excellent leadership of Bishop Robert Schnase over the last 12 years and look forward to our partnership in the College and Council of Bishops as he serves his new Conference, the Rio Texas Conference, from his office in San Antonio, Texas. 
    
I ask for your prayers, your patience and your forgiveness as I learn and practice my new role as Bishop. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a great Conference staff, directors, District Superintendents and lay leadership. I’m humbled by the outpouring of support already received from Missouri churches, pastors and lay people as we begin this journey together. 

I’m hopeful that we in the Missouri Conference can be a national model for how to navigate the cultural waters and to reach younger, more diverse people; and how to deepen the faith of those who already call themselves United Methodists. 

    
The times ahead are not clear for the United Methodist Church as we figure out how to become a church in 21st century America and around the world. Opinions vary regarding the state of the church and its future. I’m hopeful that we in the Missouri Conference can be a national model for how to navigate the cultural waters and to reach younger, more diverse people; and how to deepen the faith of those who already call themselves United Methodists. 
    
I believe God needs us to do a new thing together, so that all may know the love of Jesus Christ in their lives and find a community of faith where they can be loved and experience grace; so that together we may transform the world.