Episcopal Address 2017
Bishop Scott Jones delivered his inaugural Episcopal Address to the Texas Annual Conference on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at The Woodlands United Methodist Church.
Bishop began by sharing 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Bishop reminded the delegates that “we are God’s people by the grace of God.” God’s people, Christians, were described in the second century by Aristides as “they love one another … they don’t consider themselves brothers in the usual sense but …through the spirit in God.”
He reminded the audience that we are supposed to be that community today.
Bishop Jones has been meeting and talking to both clergy and laity and in all nine conference districts to learn more about “who we are as a conference.” He identified three challenges and four blessings.
He first talked about challenges. The TAC doesn’t reflect the ethnic make-up of our geographic area. In the 58 TAC counties, the ethnic breakdown is:
18% Black or African American
The membership of the conference is:
16% Black or African American
He stated the need to do a better job of outreach to our neighbors who are ethnically diverse and that our mission field is at our doorstep.
The second challenge is the increasing hostility to Christian values. “There is too much racism, too much fear of immigrants, too much sexual immorality, too much greed, too much hatred, and too much poverty.” As Wesleyans, we must be committed to both personal and social holiness.
The third challenge is increasing practical atheism. Bishop Jones explained that as the “behavior of everyday people who act as if God is irrelevant to their lives and to the fate of the world. They prefer to attend soccer practice on Sunday morning than to worship God. They value entertainment more than serving the poor. They make important decisions without regard to moral principles.”
The bishop went on to highlight four blessings in the conference as:
- a high level of clarity about our mission,
- commitment to forming transforming lay and clergy leaders,
- commitment to cultivating growing, vibrant, missional congregations, and
- commitment to investing in the young.
Finally, the bishop shared his vision urging “all of the congregations in our conference to be widely known and respected for loving all the children.” He also declared that every church in the conference be given a copy of Sue Nelson Kibbey’s Flood Gates: Holy Momentum for a Fearless Church. He closed by stating, “I think, using her eight flood gates, we can unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in our midst. We can love all the children. May it be so.”
Video of the Episcopal Address