Starting Sunday evening, May 2nd, I will be at the Council of Bishops meeting and remain for an additional two days for a meeting of a Task Group of Bishops and General Secretaries on aligning our church with the Four Focus Areas: combating the diseases of poverty by improving health globally; engaging in ministry with the poor; creating new places for new people and revitalizing existing congregations; and developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world.
My particular work is with the area of creating new places for new people and revitalizing existing congregations. It is a stimulating time and as we go forth, I am reminded of a quote by Nelson Henderson in which he said, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade we do not expect to sit.”
It’s no secret that we’re looking at amazing and large spectrum issues that involve us moving through the wilderness of our time (from a Christendom culture to a post-Christendom culture). I like to say that no one knows for sure what they’re doing. We do know, however, who we are traveling with – and that person is God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amid all the controversies of our time – debates over war and peace, health care, racism, poverty – it’s important to remember that the church is engaged in significant issues that affect not just those who claim to be Christian but those who do not know Christ. Bishop Ches Lovern taught me that great churches deal with great issues. As we meet as a Council, I ask for your prayers for the Council as a whole and for the church and its leadership. I cannot help but remember a marvelous piece of writing that Garrison Keiler shared about Methodists. He wrote, “I do believe this: people, these Methodists, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you could call up when you are in deep distress. If you are dying, they will comfort you; if you are lonely, they will talk to you; if you are hungry, they’ll give you tuna salad!” His marvelous little insights provoke me to remember that this is not my church or your church but is truly God’s church. And in our own humorous way are simply but part of it; gifted by God to take part in the struggles of our time to advance the kingdom of God. Please keep us in your prayers as we reach out.