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...

As the Storm Rages: Part III ©

This Blog is part three of a three-part blog series pulled from my 2019 Episcopal Address delivered on June 11 to the lay and clergy members of the 109th Annual Meeting the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. To view the video ...

Q&A from Reflections and Response to GC19 Meeting ©

On May 1, Bishop Lowry and the CTC Cabinet met with the Central Texas Conference clergy and lay leadership to reflect on and respond to the decisions made at General Conference 2019 and the subsequent Judicial Council rulings on those decisions. ...

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...

Intended Consequences of a WIG Focus ©

Later this week, Bishops and delegates to the Special Called session of General Conference 2019 will gather in St. Louis. It is not an understatement to assert that this General Conference will have a crucial role in determining the future of the ...

Stay Focused ©

When I began writing my blog back in 2010, I entitled it This Focused Center based on a version of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 from The Message (a paraphrased translation of the Bible by Eugene Peterson) “Our firm decision is to work from this focused ...

District Sharing’s on the Way Forward ©

Over the fall season, I made a total of 10 presentations (two in each geographic district of the CTC) on the upcoming called Special General Conference 2019 to be held Feb. 23-26. This General Conference will receive and act upon the report of the ...

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 ...

Unashamed of the Gospel ©

On Saturday, Nov. 3, I preached the opening sermon at the 2018 Global Gathering of the Wesleyan Covenant Association held at Mt. Bethel United Methodist Church in Marietta, Georgia. Below is the text of the sermon. It was entitled “Unashamed!” and ...

Beyond Political Identity: Grounding Ourselves in the Word and Way of God ©

Next week, I will be on renewal leave for a time of study under Dr. Kenneth Collins, Professor of Historical Theology and Wesley Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. For some time, I have been concerned that for many American Christians (and ...

Council of Bishops Spring Meeting ©

On Saturday, April 28, Jolynn and I will fly to Chicago for the regular spring meeting of the Council of Bishops (COB) of The United Methodist Church. The agenda is packed with significant items coming before the worldwide gathering of bishops. ...

Commission on A Way Forward Report Update

The following was released by the Council of Bishops late in the afternoon last Friday (Feb. 23). As I share it with you here, I ask that you continue to pray for the Council of Bishops and the Commission on A Way Forward, especially this week as the...

Signs of Hope, Help, and Home ©

It was Herb Miller, an executive in Evangelism for the Disciples of Christ and prolific author on the subject of faith sharing, who wrote that virtually everyone comes to church for one of three reasons (if not actually a combination of all three) – ...

Reflections on the Council of Bishops and the Way Forward ©

As I write, I am finishing a week of work at the Council of Bishops (COB) meeting in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. The COB (all United Methodist Bishops around the world, both active and retired) met Sunday night through Wednesday noon. The Active ...

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 ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #3 ©

Being Methodical – Embracing Spiritual Disciplines The great Christian theologian and spiritual mentor Dallas Willard opens his epic book, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God, with a profoundly insightful tragic story. He ...

The Challenge of a Global Church ©

Thursday morning, May 4th, the Council of Bishops held its usual opening worship service. Often during our worship we are led by newly elected bishops. This is one way of getting to know them. Thursday morning five newly elected bishops (four from ...

Reflections on the Recent Judicial Counsel Ruling ©

As you have most likely already read, the UMC Judicial Council released its ruling on the validity of Bishop Karen Oliveto’s election and consecration by the Western Jurisdiction. In its decision – Decision 1341 – the Judicial Council ruled that the...

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 ...

Reflections on the Upcoming Judicial Council Decision ©

On Tuesday, April 25, Mike Ford, Central Texas Conference Lay Leader, and I sent the following letter (via email) to all the clergy in the Central Texas Conference currently under appointment as well as the Lay Leaders of our local churches. We'd ...

Membership on “The Commission on a Way Forward” ©

Bishop Bruce Ough, President for the Council of Bishops has announced the selection of membership on the “The Commission on a Way Forward.” He has noted in his press release that the Commission is made up of 8 bishops, 11 laity, 11 elders, and 2 ...

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 ...

A Great Work of Justice ©

One of great ministries taking place in the Central Texas Conference is Methodist Justice Ministry (MJM) under the leadership of Rev. Brooks Harrington. MJM is an outgrowth of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth, Texas. Their website (http://...

Flood Relief for Our Neighbors ©

The pictures and news reports are graphic. The flooding is historic in size and scope. The impact has been described as “catastrophic” by The Central Texas Conference’s Coordinator of Disaster Response Rev. Laraine Waughtal. Already the response by ...

On the Road Again ©

This week finds me on the road again for the greater United Methodist Church. Last week I preached at Winters UMC for their 125th Anniversary. This last Sunday (August 14th) I had the joy of teaching the Warm Hearts Sunday School class at the ...

Statement to the Clergy Executive Session

of the Central Texas Conference Of the United Methodist Church Shared with Opening Plenary Session of the 2016 Central Texas Conference, June 6, 2016 As most, if not all of you are aware, the recently concluded General Conference of the United ...

Preparing for Conference ©

Today (Tuesday, May 31, 2016) as a spent time in my morning devotionals, one of the assigned texts for my reading was Matthew 7:15-20. 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. 16 You ...

Council of Bishops Letter to the Church ©

[caption id="attachment_2220" align="alignright" width="360"] Bishop Lowry presiding over a plenary session at General Conference 2016[/caption] Members of the Council of Bishops delayed their leaving Portland, Ore. following the end General ...

A Strong Witness from Lay Leaders ©

Friday, May 13th, the Laity Address was given at the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon. Listening to Lay Leaders from Upper New York, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, Zimbabwe, and the Great Plains Conference, ...

Report from General Conference ©

The quadrennial gathering of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church began Tuesday afternoon. The opening worship was inspirational. With over 40% of the delegates coming from outside the United States, the diverse international flavor ...

We Are More ©

On May 10th the United Methodist General Conference will convene in Portland, Oregon. Quadrennially (every four years) General Conference meets as the highest ruling body of The United Methodist Church. General Conference alone can speak for the ...

In a Mirror Dimly: The Future of the United Methodist Church, PT 4

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 ...

A Significant Denominational Report on Congregational Vitality

The United Methodist Church has been engaged in a committed emphasis on building vital congregations who “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Bishop John Schol from the Greater New Jersey Conference has been the lead ...

A Time for Prayer ©

This Sunday night, February 28, at 9:45 p.m., I will pause for a special set-aside 15 minutes of prayer for the upcoming General Conference meeting of The United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon in May. I invite others to join with me and with ...

The Sons and Daughter of the San Antonio Episcopal Area are Going Home ©

Rio Texas, Central Texas & the Work of a Bishop By now many regular readers of this blog are aware that I will be serving as one of four bishops providing episcopal supervision to the Rio Texas Conference until Sept. 1. Bishop Janice Huie (Texas ...

Ministry and Mission Celebrations ©

Amid all of the bad news we hear, often the good news gets lost. Many of us have experienced the reality of two manifestations of the church existing side by side within the same Conference. On the one hand there are those places of shrinkage, ...

A Call for Prayer and Healing from the Council of Bishops

Once a quadrennium, the United Methodist Council of Bishops meets intentionally outside the United States, which reminds us that we are truly a worldwide church. As we gather in Berlin, I ask for your prayers, especially for those Christians ...

The Most Important Issues facing the United Methodist Church

Fascinating and instructive poll results were published in a recent article written by Heather Hahn of the United Methodist News Service (UMNS) entitled “The most important issues facing The UMC today.” The poll was a survey “by email of 509 U.S. ...

Off to Conference

As I write this blog we are finishing last minute preparations for the 148th meeting (counting all the various predecessors!) of the Central Texas Conference. Annual Conference is central to the notion of what Methodist’s are about. John Wesley, the ...

Annual Conference Focuses on Making Disciples

I am often asked, “What is the theme of this year’s Annual Conference?” For me, the answer is always the same. Our theme is “to energize and equip local congregations to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” The theme ...

Joyful & Triumphant - Really?

I realize full well that it is January 17th but I am still stuck on Advent and Christmastide and their resulting connection to Epiphany Season. The word “epiphany” means a manifestation, a making known, an appearing. For Christians in particular the ...

Celebration and Reflection

Last Friday I flew to Nashville, Tennessee for a special retirement celebration. With many (including a large passel of bishops and General Secretaries), we honored Rev. Karen Greenwaldt for 32 years of service to the general church at the General ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Accountability

I was fascinated by the leadership advice offered in comment about his own organization, The Pittsburg Steelers of the National Football League. Head Coach Mike Tomlin commented, “We seek to have a no excuse culture.” The comment came back in 2009 ...

CORE STRATEGIES: New Churches

A remarkable event took place at the 2013 meeting of the Central Texas Conference. During the Center for Evangelism and Church Growth report, four specific initiatives related to our core strategy of new church development were launched. 1. Lance ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #8

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #7

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #6

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #5

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #4

(This Blog is a part of a series of blogs sharing insights from the “Findings, Implications, & Recommendations” reported by Dr. Weems about the Central Texas Conference. This report analyzes key trends related to church size and clergy deployment ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #1

One of the absolutely crucial areas of concern for the United Methodist Church is leadership development. In a real sense, this is always true for any organization (church, business, military, non-profits, etc.) anywhere, at any time. The Call to ...

COME HOLY SPIRIT -- Report from Taize 4

Today [May 25] we left for Cluny right after worship. The great Cluny Abbey fills me with awe. It once was the “major ecclesia” – the largest church in Christendom. Cluny Abbey started over 1,000 satellite abbeys. Its influence spread far and wide. ...

“Yes, UMCOR is here!”

It is easy in our day to take the United Methodist Connection for granted. It is easier still to view “apportionments” as taxes. A variety of recent events not only challenge but also decisively set aside any sense that the connection is unimportant ...

Emerging from the Bubble and Coming Home

Last week it felt like we were living in a Methodist bubble during Jurisdictional Conference. Our attention was focused on the election of three new bishops, hard decisions about the future of the church, and where bishops would be assigned. Jolynn ...

On the Road Again

Saturday Jolynn and I flew out to Philadelphia. We spent the Memorial holiday time with a cousin and her family in northern New Jersey. The family R&R was a welcome joy after the hectic schedule of recent weeks and a nice rest before the next round ...

Guaranteed Appointment

Among the various actions taken by General Conference was an overwhelming vote (originally on the consent agenda) to end guaranteed appointments for ordained elders in the United Methodist Church. In brief, “under this new legislation, bishops and ...

General Conference and the NFL Draft

How is the United Methodist Church's General Conference similar to the National Football League's annual draft? The answer is that, like the NFL, we won't know for sure what we really have for a couple of years. When NFL teams draft players, it ...

Remember the Future

At recent meetings with other SCJ bishops as we looked forward to General Conference, Bishop Robert Schnase called our attention to agenda for the first (“general”) conference of preachers under John Wesley. He noted a threefold purpose for such holy...

GCFA Report on Finances and Generosity through Apportionments

Recently I received a letter from General Secretary Moses Kumar of the General Board of Finance Administration. I pass on a significant portion of that letter. It is good, for which I give you and God thanks! “The lingering effects of the recession ...

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 II

Last week I participate in a meeting of the “Leading Edge” group made up of the Senior Pastors of the 100 largest churches by worship attendance in the UMC in the U.S. I wrote about it in my earlier blog entitled “Leading Edge.” Out of that meeting ...

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 ...

Identify our Core Values: What I Learned in Meetings

Last Friday afternoon (continuing until noon on Saturday) I participated in a fascinating meeting that has remained on my mind and be lodged in my prayer life. (The previous 5 days were spent meeting as a part of the Council of Bishops (COB) in ...