By Amy Thompson
July 1 began the four year commitment for new conference leadership teams. Laity and clergy that were nominated and elected at Annual Conference are beginning their work under the leadership of their committee chairs. September 1 begins the official appointment of Bishop Bob Farr to the Missouri Conference.
The South Central Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee made this assignment and it is the first time in our jurisdictional history that a Bishop has been appointed to his home conference. This is an experiment of sorts and if anyone is up for an experiment it is the Missouri Conference and Bishop Farr. A challenge in returning a Bishop to his home conference would be that many individuals have a history with this person. In our case, some of you know Bishop Bob Farr as pastor, colleague, consultant, director, and friend. We all must learn a new name for he is no longer in the role of consultant or director. If any other bishop had been assigned, we would use the title Bishop without a second thought. It is important for us to make this distinction in our minds and in our language. Bishop Bob Farr is our appointed episcopal leader guiding us into the future using the foundation we have built around core practices and values. His role will be to provide vision and guidance for the direction of our conference as he works in conjunction with the conference leadership. With his knowledge and experience in Missouri, I expect us to lose no momentum in discovering, teaching and leading with practices that promote fruitfulness in our churches.
While Bishop Farr, the Cabinet, the Directors and the leadership within our conference teams are working on goals and plans for the future, the laity within our local churches should continue to focus on furthering the mission of the church in their communities. As I have heard several times over the last couple of months, the Methodist church rests in the hands of the laity. It is a laity led movement that will grow our churches. So what can laity focus on during this time of transition? Support the mission of the church. Continue to be active in your community through service. Listen for the nudging of the Holy Spirit. Build relationships with new people. Pray for your pastor and church leadership. Invite someone to church and enjoy worship with them. Pray for unity and healing. Witness about the love of Jesus Christ at work in your life and in this world. Grow into acknowledging “Bob” as Bishop Farr, and pray for his leadership. Attend the Welcome Service for our new Bishop on October 1 starting at 1 p.m. at Missouri UMC in Columbia.
As we receive our new episcopal leader for the Missouri Conference, Bishop Farr, I invite all of us to embrace and trust in the hand of the Lord as we discover ways to further live into the mission of the church.