It was already official – but now it has been formalized. A welcome and installation service for Bishop Robert Farr was held on Saturday afternoon, October 1, at Missouri UMC in Columbia.
A large crowd was present for the ceremony, and many aspects of the Conference were represented in presenting signs of the episcopal office to Bishop Farr. Conference Lay Leader Amy Thompson presented the pastoral staff, symbolizing the ministry of a shepherd among his flock. Dean of the Cabinet Cody Collier presented a Bible, imploring Bishop Farr to proclaim fearlessly the prophetic Word in the cause of justice and peace. Rev. Molly Moore of the Order of Deacons presented a picture of water to be renewed in his baptism and to renew us in ours.
Rev. Steve Breon of the Order of Elders presented bread and cup, asking Bishop Farr to keep us in communion with Christ and His church. Rev. Kathy Osiel of the Fellowship of Local Pastors presented a towel and basin, symbolizing that the Bishop is among us as one who serves. Rev. Bruce Baxter of the Board of Ordained Ministry presented a stole, asking Bishop Farr to be our pastor, preacher and teacher. Ivan James of the Board of Trustees presented a Book of Discipline, asking Bishop Farr to guard the faith, seek the unity and exercise the discipline of the whole church. Rev. Lynn Dyke of the Cabinet presented a gavel, asking Bishop Farr to preside over Annual Conference and appoint pastors to their ministries.
Bishop Farr told how when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, his first order of business was to go to the beach where his friends were fishing. Jesus, who was not recognized by his friends, asked how the fishing was going. They had been at it all night but had no fish.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Have you ever thought about throwing the net over there?’ Let’s try something else,” Bishop Farr said.
“Jesus was never into punishment. He was into invitation. I believe God knows what we need to do. It’s up to us to figure out what that is … to try something else when what we are doing isn’t working.”
Bishop Farr said when he was assigned to Missouri, it was mentioned that he could just try this and experiment for four years and if things didn’t work out just move on. He disagreed. “When we experiment in Missouri, we get fish,” he said.
He acknowledged that we are in choppy waters as a church, and as a nation, but is confident that he has been elected for a time such as this.
“Whatever is ahead, I’m going to keep my eyes on Jesus,” Bishop Farr said.
St. Augustine Becoming Bishop
The day I became a bishop, a burden was laid on my shoulders for which it will be no easy task to render an account. The honors I receive are for me an ever present cause of uneasiness. Indeed, it terrifies me to think that I could take more pleasure in the honor attached to my office, which is where its danger lies, than in your salvation, which ought to be its fruit. This is why being set above you fills me with alarm, whereas being with you gives me comfort. Danger lies in the first; salvation in the second.
I also pray and warn you against failing to cooperate with the grace you receive from God. Make my ministry a fruitful one. You are God’s garden, and you should therefore welcome the laborer who does the visible work of planting and watering the seed, even though the growth comes from one who works invisibly within you. Help me both by your prayers and by your obedience, for than it will be a pleasure for me, not to preside over you, but to serve you.
(St. Augustine, 396)