Bishop's Blog Archive


Elements for Consideration in a “Deeper Conversation” over the Future of the United Methodist Church ©

Last week, I joined with other bishops in signing a letter that called for a “new form of unity in the Methodist witness.” Collectively, we went on to say, “We believe God can use our current brokenness as a springboard to multiply our Wesleyan DNA ...

Seeking New Expressions of Methodist Witness ©

I have joined a group of United Methodist bishops and issued a letter calling for deeper conversations regarding new expressions of the Methodist witness. It is my deep conviction that God in Christ through the Holy Spirit is calling us to a new form...

Amid the Fluid Chaos ©

For those following larger issues in the United Methodist Church in America, it is an understatement to assert that this is a time of fluid chaos. Conversations, and even threatened action for or against the recently concluded General Conference, ...

Easter Reflections ©

The fire rages. The steeple consumed in a reddish-orange blaze topples. Unrehearsed, a collective gasp erupts from the watching crowd. A great symbol of the Christian faith, Notre Dame Cathedral is gutted. On Easter morning itself, seven ...

A New Thing ©

After the called General Conference in St. Louis, I (along with others) was asked to write a brief article for Circuit Rider, an online magazine put out by The United Methodist Publishing House. The writers were asked specifically to not re-argue or...

Lessons from a Christian Hero ©

It is the morning after St. Patrick’s Day and I find myself musing about what this great Christian hero would teach us. I invite us to get past green rivers, green beer and the wearing of the green for there is a towering Christian who stands both ...

The Holy Spirit at Work ©

As I write, it is a Sunday afternoon and I have just returned to my office from sharing with Mooreville United Methodist Church in worship. While with those good and faithful people, I saw the Holy Spirit at work. But I am ahead of myself. Though ...

Important Wespath Pensions Information on the Way Forward

Late last week , the Bishops across the United Methodist Church received an important communication from the General Secretary of Wespath (previously known as the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits) Barbara Boigegrain. General Secretary ...

Report from the Council of Bishops ©

I’ve just returned home to Fort Worth after spending a week with my fellow bishops of the United Methodist Church at the twice-yearly Council of Bishops meeting. The meeting, which began with a memorial worship service on Sunday, Nov. 4, was held at ...

Insight on Seeking a Way Forward ©

In the second part of my Episcopal address last week at Annual Conference, I tried to offer some insight on seeking a way forward for us as a larger church. This came at the end of three separate presentations (one by Lay Leader Mike Ford, the 2nd by...

Not My Will, But Yours Lord ©

The news of the latest school shooting swept over me with a sense of despair. Somewhere in my watching I heard one of the high school students say something like, “I’m not surprised. Sooner or later it was bound to happen here.” My heart staggers in ...

He is Alive! ©

No more singular proclamation rings out over the Sunday (Son’s Day!) we call Easter than the claim, “He is alive!” The challenge of the Angel messenger greets us as we flee the cemeteries of our day. “Suddenly, two men were standing beside them in ...

Turning to the Cross and Beyond ©

Tomorrow begins the season of Lent - the forty days of journey to the death of Jesus on the cross for our redemption and the triumph of Christ in the resurrection for our salvation. Historically, this has always been a time for Christians to follow ...

The Vatican and Christian Unity ©

"I pray that they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they also will be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me." (John 17:21) Saturday, October 30th, I found myself with a group from the Central ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #10 (C)

Amazing Grace! Few Christian doctrines have overtaken The United Methodist Church as the doctrine of grace. One could almost argue that the song "Amazing Grace" has become the unofficial anthem of the church. The words ring out: Amazing Grace, How ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #9 ©

A Community of Holiness In a casual conversation recently, a clergy colleague commented to me, "We used to fight over doctrine now we fight over behavior." I am struck by the insight offered in that comment. Churches are to be communities of ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #7 ©

Scripture, Tradition, Reason & Experience: Understanding the Quadrilateral in Wesleyan Theology This blog picks back up on an extended summer blog series entitled "Reclaiming The Heart of the Wesleyan Way." In part five of my blog on this series, I ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #5 ©

Embracing of Our Doctrinal Core A focus of the great historic questions for ordination in the United Methodist Church centers on embracing the doctrinal core of United Methodism. Consider this brief listing of questions put to candidates for ...

A Time for Courage: Part I ©

The following blog posting (A Time for Courage: Part I) is the first section of my Episcopal Address given to the Central Texas Annual Conference on June 12, 2017. The rest of the Episcopal Address will be shared in subsequent blogs. -- Bishop Mike ...

Council of Bishops Meeting and Courage ©

Later today (April 28, 2017) I will drive to Dallas for the beginning of a week on Council of Bishops business. Saturday we have a joint meeting of Bishops and Conference Chancellors. (Ken Adair is CTC Chancellor and Wilson Woods is CTC Associate ...

Christ and Culture in Today’s Chaos, Part 4 ©

Allow me to step back into the narrative of a four part series of posts entitled Christ and Culture in Today’s Chaos. If reader has not read the previous three, I urge him or her to do so before reading this particular blog. Part 4 is based on and ...

Prayers for Cabinet Inventory Retreat ©

This morning I drove down to Stillwater Lodge at Glen Lake Camp and Retreat Center. We begin a three-day Cabinet Inventory Retreat. Our first activity is worship and prayer. With our foundation and focus built on God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, ...

Return and Reflections ©

Someone once said that life is what happens to you on the way to something else. There is an element of honesty in such a reflection, which I discovered while in Kenya to my regret. On Wednesday, January 18th, I stepped into a good sized meeting room...

Cry Glory! ©

Sunday morning I went to worship with my wife. As usual the sermon was excellent, the liturgy challenging and the fellowship a blessing. What towered above the rest, as is often the case at this time of the year, was the music. The Hand bell Choir ...

Come to the Light ©

Happy New Year! No, I’m not a month plus ahead of schedule. This coming Sunday, November 27th is the first Sunday in Advent. Many of us know that the advent comes the Latin adventus or coming. “This season proclaims the coming of Christ in the birth ...

Reflections on Rejection of Religion and Deep Desire for the Full Gospel ©

A series of recent readings have left me in deeper reflection about how we reach a new generation with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Dean Craig Hill’s observation (taken from a professor of his when he was a seminary student over arches my reflections....

Observations from the Wesleyan Covenant Association ©

Last Friday, October 7th, I experienced the high privilege of participating in the first meeting of the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA). It was my honor to preach at the closing communion service and share with my friend and colleague Bishop Bob ...

Statement from the United Methodist Bishops of Texas

In response to Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent press release regarding Texas’ intention to withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program , the United Methodist bishops in the state of Texas have issued the following statement. You will notice in ...

Beware of Nostalgia ©

Two pieces of reading and variety of reflective conversations with a wide and extremely diverse collection of people have caught my attention recently. As he commonly does, Gil Rendle offers insightful reflections on the challenge a nostalgic longing...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH ©: Part 1

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given June 6, 2016 by Bishop J. Michael Lowry PART I – “A New Thing” I am mindful what day today is as I stand to speak to you. This is the day is the 72nd anniversary of what is commonly known as simply ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 3

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 2

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

“In a Mirror Dimly”: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 1

On April first of this year, I had the privilege and high honor of being asked to address a gathering of the United Methodist Scholars for Christian Orthodoxy Conference at Armstrong Chapel United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. The address is ...

Lament, Challenge and Hope ©

I confess that I had initially written a different blog to share today. (It will be published on Friday instead.) However the tragedy of events in San Bernardino, California brought me to a halt. No doubt as with many of you, I watched transfixed to ...

Faith on Trial: Responding to Terrorism in Today’s World ©

Last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris and the subsequent actions seeking to bring the perpetrators to justice rightly captures our hearts and minds in a wide variety of ways. The sheer barbarism of the attacks spreads anxiety and fear among the ...

Musing on Run ©

I returned a week ago from a tremendous learning and sharing ministry in the Philippines. Together with Bishops John Schol, Rudy Juan, Ciriaco Franscisco, and Peter Torio, I was privileged to share in the COB Bright Spots Project on building vital ...

Reflections on the Visit of a Holy Man

I confess to being late to work this morning. I stayed extra half hour at home to watch the arrival of Pope Francis at the White House. The crowds gathered, the pomp and ceremony; the gravitas of press coverage, and the respectful public speeches - ...

A NEW CHURCH BEING CALLED FORTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT #5:

The Three Orthos at the Heart At the very heart of a new church being called forth by the Holy Spirit will be what I call the three orthos. At its core the healthy renewed Christian movement in American will be a combination of orthodoxy, ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #5

Evangelism as Mission © One of my treasured books is an old copy of D. T. Niles classic That They May Have Life (copyright 1951). D. T. Niles was a great evangelist, pastor, leader of the World Student Christian Federation, President of the Ceylon ...

As a Child of the Light

During this Advent time of preparation I find myself drawn again and again back to hymns and music, both ancient and contemporary with everything in between, as a way of expressing my faith. Dr. Shubert Ogden’s phrase – “we do theology in order that ...

LIVING ADVENT

Last Sunday the reality of Advent enfolded us with comfort, hope and joy. I confess that I awoke Sunday morning feeling the worse for wear. The Amazing Grace (our 20 month old granddaughter) with her parents had visited for a week over Thanksgiving. ...

Anniversaries of Joy, Discipleship and Sacrifice

During the past 2 months I have had the joy and privilege of participating in the anniversary celebrations at four difference Central Texas Conference Churches. Alvarado UMC celebrated its 150th anniversary; Morgan Mill UMC and Cranfills Gap UMC had ...

Kenya and Habitat

Over the past three weeks much (though not all) of the focus of my work has been on missions and missional issues facing the church. By missional, I broadly mean engaging in deeds of love, justice and mercy. This falls under the broad theological ...

High Windows

A week ago Wednesday (September 24th) I stood outside the chapel at Maua Methodist Hospital in Kenya. The hospital conducts daily chapel worship every morning with the expectation that all hospital staff will attend. Graciously they had asked that ...

Reflections on The Discipline, Worship and Focus

At the Convocation of Cabinets (worldwide) held at Lake Junaluska in November 2007, Bishop Janice Huie gave a memorable address. At one point in her presentation, she lifted in one hand a Discipline from one hundred years ago. It was a small, ...

Bright Spots and the Mosaic Model

"What are the bright spots in your congregation/Conference?" The question rings in my mind from our recently concluded Team Vital meeting. To briefly back up, Team Vital is a pilot project that has come out of the Connectional Table of the United ...

College and Cabinet

For the past week my time has largely been consumed by two meetings – the South Central Jurisdictional (SCJ) College of Bishops and the annual Inventory Retreat of the Cabinet of the Central Texas Conference. The South Central Jurisdictional College ...

Preparing for Lent

In the late 1970s I read a story that came from Punch (a magazine dedicated to humor and satire). As the story went, a woman went into a jewelry story in Sydney, Australia and asked to look at cross necklaces. The clerk dutifully brought a number of ...

GREAT MISSIONAL GENEROSITY

Numbers never tell the whole story. At the same time, numbers (or metrics) do offer critical insight that must not be ignored. One yearly numbers (or metrics) ritual in the United Methodist Church is a year-end close out of Connectional Mission ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Extravagant Generosity

The incident stands clear in my mind. It was mid-December of my first year at University United Methodist Church in San Antonio. Jim (I’ve changed the name and some parts of this story but NOT the essence of the tale to protect anonymity) called and ...

Saint Aldates, A Vision Alive

It was Sunday morning, August 18th, and as we dressed to go to church the music floated in the open window at Pembroke College, Oxford University. The night before we had been debating whether to go to Wesley Memorial Methodist Church (think First ...

COME HOLY SPIRIT -- A Report from Taize 1

I have been gone for the past 10 days on a Young Adult leadership development trip to Taize. Along with Rev. Larry Duggins (Director of the Missional Wisdom Foundation), Rev. Kyland Dobbins (Director of Mission Experience for CTC) and Leanne Johnson ...

Reclaim the Day! A Pentecost Community

The earliest Christians understood full well that the Church was a community of the Holy Spirit. It was born not by human will or effort but by an act of the triune God on Pentecost Sunday (which this year is to be celebrated on May 19th). The first ...

March Madness

How about Florida Gulf Coast? Or think about Harvard beating New Mexico. With many of you I’ve been following the NCAA “March Madness” playoffs. I confess that I don’t really have a dog in this hunt. There is no team that is a favorite for me. I just...

On the Way – Journeys in the Wilderness

The original identification of Christ followers was not the label “Christian.” They were called followers of the Way. By that, they meant they were following the way of Christ in faithful discipleship. As we met for the first Cabinet meeting of the ...

The Miracle

I cannot help but share the following cartoon which was passed on to me. It is too funny, and yet I am reminded of the claim made by Martin Luther that Christmas is the greatest miracle of all. If we can come to the belief that God lies in the ...

A Different Kind of Christmas

Last Sunday we flew back into to DFW from the Council of Bishops meeting at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia. The weather was cool (if not cold for Texas). Somehow with Halloween over, despite the fact that Thanksgiving has not come, thoughts turned to ...

Inventory and Ministry Matters

I have just returned for the Cabinet’s annual inventory retreat. At this retreat, we take stock of coming retirements, incoming seminary graduates and new licensed local pastors, those pastors and or churches considering or requesting moves, etc. As ...

Extravagant Generosity by CTC!

Way to go Central Texas Conference!!! At Thursday’s meeting of the CFA (Conference Council on Finance and Administration), we were able to fund our Connectional Mission Giving to the General Church (otherwise called apportionments) at 100%! ...

HONORING THE SABBATH ON CHRISTMAS DAY

This was one of those rare years when Christmas Day (and New Year’s Day) fell on a Sunday. In Methodist tradition our high celebration of the birth of Christ is on Christmas Eve. At least originally the notion of Christmas Eve worship was to greet ...

Christmas Eve, Making Disciples and Church Growth

I have shared often how crucial Christmas Eve worship is as an opportunity to reach non- or nominal Christians. A recent article in Ministry Matters (www.ministrymatters.com click on “Articles”, it was posted November 28th) entitled “How Christmas ...

Living with the Common English Bible

A particular delight in my devotional life during the last few months has been discovering the Common English Bible. The Common English Bible or CEB for short is a new translation encompassing the best of current biblical scholarship from across the ...

Community, Work and Worship

In 563 A.D. St. Columba set sail from his beloved Ireland to convert the wild druidic lands of what is today Scotland and Northern England. Exiled from Ireland for a conflict which he helped start and which led to the death of many, Columba sailed ...

Reflections on Worship at Hexham Abbey Church

Sunday, July 24, 2011 Jolynn and I worshipped at Hexham Abbey Church. With people of good will around the world, we joined in lifting up the people and nation of Norway in our prayers. Together we looked to God’s love and grace through our Lord Jesus...

Travels with John

Since last Thursday I have been on an EO (Educational Opportunities) Wesleyan Heritage tour. We have been visiting the hallowed sites of Wesley’s England. Our initial stop in London was at the great St. Paul’s Cathedral. From there we went to ...

Musings on Almost Christian

Since finishing Kenda Creasy Dean’s excellent book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church, I find myself repeatedly going back to ponder its insights. (For those of you who follow my “recommend” books with ...

The Day After

A good number of years ago, a disaster movie came out about an ocean liner that capsized. The plot dealt the survivors climbing out of the capsized ship to the light of the new day. The theme song, “There’s Got to be a Morning After,” highlighted the...

Apportionment Payout as a Missional Priority

In a recent Cabinet meeting we looked at extensive data on our apportionment payout over the last two years. Apportionment Payout is a vital way we live out our collective, connectional, missional priority. Here is some of the data: “In the past 2 ...

Christmas Eve Hospitality

The number 1 attended worship service by non- or nominal Christians is Christmas Eve. Put differently, many of those who attend Christmas Eve worship are not active Christ followers. A pastor and church have a (literally!) God-given wonderful ...

Gratitude

Often the Apostle Paul opens his letters with a phrase like “I thank my God for you ….” I think I understand what he was feeling. I am constantly thanking God for the Central Texas Conference and more personally for the privilege of being bishop of ...

Clergy Age Trends

Recently a colleague passed on to me a summary of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership report on Clergy Age Trends. You can get the report at http://www.churchleadership.com/. Among other highlights the report noted that …. For the first time ...

Leading Edge

As I write, I am attending The Leading Edge meeting with active U.S. Bishops. The Leading Edge is an informal group of the Senior Pastors of 100 largest United Methodist Churches in the United States based on worship attendance. Thirty-two active ...

Understanding Orthodoxy

My August 12th Wilderness Way column sparked a number of responses and questions about the meaning of orthodox Christian belief. They raised questions relative to what I meant by theologically orthodox. While that is a long and deep subject, in ...

Spiritual Vitality & Attendance

It has been a busy week getting back into the flow of ministry after time out for vacation and the School for Congregational Development. While gone I had the opportunity to engage in some stimulating reading: Jesus Wars by Philip Jenkins, Church ...

Back to the Future

Tuesday, May 25th, I had the privilege of joining an ecumenical group for a Conversation with Leaders of the China Christian Council. Brite Divinity School graciously hosted the gathering along with the Tarrant Area Community of Churches. As I ...

The Hedgehog Concept

Last summer I read Jim Collins newest book How the Mighty Fall. It was a fascinating reprise to his marvelous earlier works Built to Last and Good to Great (including the added monograph Good to Great for Social Sectors). Recently I had the ...