Episcopal Address: The Main Thing
By: Sherri Gragg En Español
Bishop Scott Jones anchored his Episcopal Address with Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16. This passage, which the Bishop asserted has weighed heavily on his heart as of late, challenges Believers to live lives of love, unity and maturity as the Body of Christ.”
“As United Methodist Christians,” the Bishop said, “the main thing is our mission. We were not born out of doctrinal disagreement but out of a deep compassion for people in the suburbs in England who were not being reached for the gospel.” He reminded the attendees of the United Methodist Church’s mission statement: “To make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
The Bishop assured listeners that the Book of Discipline not only clearly states the mission of the United Methodist Church, it provides clear and concise instructions on how to achieve that end. From Ephesians 4, the Bishop highlighted “four words to live by:” Love, Unity, Truth, and Ministry. He admonished the gathering to cling to these principles and “Keep the main thing the main thing.”
In his exposition on the role of “Love” in the Texas Annual Conference, the Bishop began by reminding the conference attendees of some of their successes in both Harvey recovery efforts and in ministry to children under the Bishop’s “We Love All God’s Children Initiative.” He challenged the Texas Conference to continue to seek new and creative ways to participate in the initiative.
In regards to “Unity,” the Bishop expressed deep sadness over the division within the UMC, and warned that true unity was not possible apart from adherence to the rules of the Book of Discipline. He challenged the Conference to faithfully join him in continuing to “Pray Our Way Forward.”
As the Bishop reflected on the third word, “Truth,” he repeated Paul’s challenge to “speak the truth in love,” (Ephesians 4:15). Rather than avoid one another during time of conflict, the Bishop urged members in disagreement with each other to spend more time together. We must approach each other in “convicted humility,” the Bishop said, and avoid the pitfalls of demonizing one another or speaking in anger.
In conclusion, the Bishop encouraged both laity and clergy to focus on “Ministry.” “The most important thing we can remember in difficult times,” said the Bishop, “is that we are not in this alone. It is God who is doing the work of saving the world.”