Privileged to Serve With You
What a privilege it is to serve God through the United Methodist Church! I am a fully committed follower of Jesus, and I believe that participating in the Wesleyan movement is the best way to serve Christ. I would do that as a layperson, but the opportunity to serve full-time as a pastor, seminary professor and now bishop is an incredible blessing for me.
Now I get to serve as part of the Texas Annual Conference. I am blessed to have been assigned here. I have heard many wonderful things about what God is doing through the TAC. Being assigned to serve with the laity and clergy of this conference is a great opportunity for the next phase of my ministry.
All such transitions involve a great deal of learning, and I have been spending my time since September 1 hearing about our ministries, our people, our context, our problems and our opportunities. I feel like I have been drinking from the fire hose—so much is coming at me so quickly, and yet it is all important. I am absorbing it as fast as I can, and finding it very exciting to learn what is going on. And I still have more to learn!
God has richly blessed us with resources. The most important resource is our people—the laity and clergy of our conference. We also have significant financial and institutional resources to support the ministry of our people. We have a goodly heritage of missional excellence in Texas and from this base to impact the whole world.
I will have many opportunities to share my perspectives on the work God has given us to do. But perhaps one of the most important for you to know is that I am deeply committed to the mission statement of our denomination. In paragraph 120 of the 2012 Book of Discipline it reads: “The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches provide the most significant arena through which disciple-making occurs.” Those who sat in my classes at Perkins can testify that I can talk for a whole semester about the phrase “to make disciples for the transformation of the world.” It encompasses evangelism, worship, small group ministries, spiritual formation, works of mercy, works of piety, and social justice advocacy.
I am also committed to the purpose of the annual conference as found in paragraph 601: “The purpose of the annual conference is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by equipping its local churches for ministry and by providing a connection for ministry beyond the local church; all to the glory of God.” Along with other bishops, I am committed to increasing the number of vital congregations in our denomination. Vitality is best defined as excellence in making disciples for the transformation of the world. We need vital congregations in our smallest communities and county-seat towns as well as in greater Houston.
We are all working in a challenging environment. The context for the church has changed. Yet these changing times also present significant opportunities. The most important working value for all of us is clarity of purpose and discipline in aligning our resources for missional excellence. I am excited to be engaged in this mission with you all!