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The Wilderness Way #30

Published: 1/28/2010

By Bishop Mike Lowry ©
            In the Wilderness Way #22 I challenged the Central Texas Conference in four ways. 1) To have at least 100 young people at Exploration 2009 a GBHEM (General Board of Higher Education and Ministry) event designed to encourage young people in their call to ordained ministry; 2)   To commit to 2,000 new shares for Church Growth and Development; 3) To have 200 churches present at the Fall Summit led by Bishop Schnase on the Five Practices for Fruitful Congregations; and 4) To improve Conference communications. Before launching a new Wilderness Way series, I want to report back to you on how we did and share a few other items of interest. 
            First, we did not have 100 young people at Exploration 2009. We did have (as best we know) the largest number we have ever taken to such an event. I asked Joy Roberson (who was the Conference staff person working on this event) to do some research. She came up with the following: “I used the numbers from table assignments by conference for the Friday night dinner and came up with 1-Texas (7 tables), 2- Central Texas (6 tables), 3- Arkansas (5 tables). We had 57 registered and by the document GBHEM had sent me Texas had 42.” This is a great step forward on the focus area of building a new generation of principled Christian leaders! My deep thanks and appreciation go out to all involved and especially to those young people who are exploring their God call.
            Second, we did not have 2,000 new shares. We did not have even 200 new shares. We had 28 new shares for Church Growth and Development. Path 1 of the four focus areas which we have adopted as our major conference goals is new church development. Without significantly stepping up in this area, Methodism’s long-term future in Central Texas is greatly diminished. Even more to the point, new church development is about reaching our children and grandchildren with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Doing better in this area is not optional. It is a must!
            Third, we did not have 200 churches at the Fall Summit. But, we did have over 1,000 people! It was a fantastic event with a special word of gratitude to the staff and members of First United Methodist Church of Mansfield and all who worked so hard in putting the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations Fall Summit on. We had 1,071 participants from 167 churches. Well done, thou good and faithful servants!
            Fourth, we are taking major strides to improve Conference communications. Thanks to a whole team of people led by Dr. Georgia Adamson and Carolyn Stephens, we have a new Conference website up and running! If you have not yet checked it out, I urge you to go to
            In other news, I have announced that Dr. Randy Wild will be the new Mid-Cities District Superintendent beginning at Conference 2010. Rev. Connolly Dugger is retiring and will be greatly missed. 
            In keeping with last year, I am sharing the following clear openings that we as a Cabinet are aware of today. If you are interested, I invite you to visit further with your District Superintendent. The clear openings are: St. Barnabus, University in Ft. Worth, Bartlett, and Bethesda. There may be more later when we have received notice of planned retirements.
In a tough economy, we finished the year well with a 94.07% pay out. Through good stewardship, the CFA (Council of Finance and Administration) was able to continue our outstanding record of payout to the connectional church at 100%. The total amount for all Conference income was $10,946,878. Again, a great well done, thou good and faithful servants!
Together we are advancing the Kingdom of God.  I am blessed to be your Bishop.