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Bishop's Blog Archive


Calling for Swift, Non-Partisans Solutions ©

Today, I joined my fellow active bishops of Texas, as well as several retired bishops living in the state in calling on our state and federal officials to set aside party politics and deliver a solution for the ongoing humanitarian crisis unfolding ...

The Cross ©

It is sign and symbol. It towers over the religious landscape of our day even in a post-Christendom world. It remains both an offense and a glory. The cross of Christ looms before us on Good Friday. Before we arrive at Easter, we must first stop ...

The Question Lingers ©

The question lingers from a sermon delivered by Dean David Watson. “When people look at your Facebook page or your Twitter profile, do they know you are a Christian? Okay, you say, I have repeatedly posted Bible verses with colorful, flowery ...

Iglesia Jeme or Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing ©

We now have a house church in Italy, Texas worshipping 8-10 regularly in Spanish. This narrative, which was shared during our latest Cabinet meeting, slipped in almost softly behind the continuing upheaval caused by the recently concluded General ...

Anchored to the Cross ©

“Every sailor knows you set the anchor before the storm hits.” Those words spoken to me by my spiritual guide (a long time Navy Chaplain) in Tuesday morning’s prayer time brought me back to a profound truth. It is a truth I know well but find easy ...

Breathe Deep, Jesus is Still Lord ©

Dear Friends in Christ, I write to laity and clergy of the Central Texas Conference in the aftermath of the recently concluded Called General Conference held in St. Louis. In the wake of a bruising struggle over the United Methodist Church’s ...

Wrapping Up General Conference 2019 ©

At the end of a very long and trying final day of General Conference 2019, Bishop Lowry and Dr. Tim Bruster come together and share their impressions of GC19 as well as their hopes for the church and the Central Texas Conference going forward. ht...

Reflections of Day 2 of General Conference 2019 ©

Before heading to dinner and some rest following a long day General Conference 2019 Legislative Committee Session, Bishop Lowry stopped and summarized the days events. This was a day that saw WESPATH and dissolution resolutions and the Traditional ...

A Report from Day 1 of General Conference 2019 ©

Bishop Lowry stops on his way out of the Dome in St. Louis to summarize the events of the first full day of the special called General Conference - a day of "surprise to some" delegates, a day of disappointment for some and "cautious approval" by ...

Reflections on General Conference 2019 Day of Prayer ©

Bishop Lowry shares his thoughts following a powerful day of prayer and preparation at General Conference 2019, as well as reiterates his call for a 30 day period of prayerful discernment following GC19. https://vimeo.com/319249501

A Call for Calm, Peace & Discernment during & after GC19 ©

As a long day wound to its end on the eve of the Special Called General Conference 2019, Bishop Lowry stepped away from his busy episcopal schedule of meetings and trainings to record a quick video message to the people of the Central Texas ...

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 ...

God in Action ©

Gil Rendle in his newest book, Quietly Courageous, poses the question of whether many of us operate from a stance of functional atheism. That is, do we believe in God in some vague intellectual sense but engage in ministry as if God does not ...

A Message of Joy for Christmas ©

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people (Luke 2:10 KJV) In his annual Christmas message to the Central Texas Conference, Bishop Lowry reminds all to set aside the hustle...

Advent and Doctrine ©

I confess that I have been unreasonably impatient to get Thanksgiving over and get on to Advent and Christmas. (I readily admit that one of my ongoing sins is a lack of patience.) The ancient words from the close of the Holy Scriptures have settled ...

Keeping Focus ©

The title of my blog site is This Focused Center. It is taken from The Message translation/paraphrase of 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. “Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He...

Knowing Who We Are ©

  Thursday morning, November 1st – All Saints Day, Jolynn and I will leave Fort Worth for ten days. Two of those days are taken up with travel. The first event is a day spent in Georgia attending the Wesleyan Covenant Association (WCA) Global ...

"We Need More Water"& Pie With the Pastor ©

Our Wildly Important Goal as a Conference (what we call the - WIG) is the very mission of the church – “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It leaps off the page of Holy Scripture as the closing paragraph of the ...

LIFE AT A GATHERING © I am about a month into what is usually one of my busiest times of the year. Despite have worked assiduously to get off various boards and committees, I feel like I am constantly on the road traveling to another meeting, ...

Healthy Christianity #2: Beauty and the Beast ©

The great, classic story of Beauty and the Beast tells of a blossoming love between a beautiful young woman and hideous beast. In Disney’s 1991 film version. the title song “Beauty and the Beast,” was written by lyricist Howard Ashman and composed by...

The Importance of Healthy Christianity #1 ©

The unsigned letter was found with the bodies. “If nobody understands, it does not matter. I am ready to die now. Darkness settles over Jonestown on its last day on earth.” (from the RollingStone article: 13 Things You Should Know About Cult Massacre...

A Christian Identity Built on Grace-filled Faithfulness ©

A Christian Identity Built on Grace-filled Faithfulness © As I conclude a five-part blog series built around the issue of Christian Identity as something that transcends political persuasions, identity politics, nationality, gender, ethnicity, etc. ...

Spiritual Disciplines as Identity Shaping ©

Imagine for a moment that you are asked to represent your country in a long distance run at the next Olympic games! With exultant pride you commit yourself to a rigorous training regimen. But … activities have a way of intruding and every time you ...

Recovering the Fullness of the Christian Story ©

Come with me back to a primordial time of deep cultural change where the supremacy of human rulers was challenged at its very core. Caesar ruled the Roman Empire which towered over the Mediterranean world. The Emperor Augustus Caesar had “declared ...

Recovering a Christian Identity ©

The Oscar winning movie Chariots of Fire captures a crucial aspect of Christian identity over politics, country, race or other claims to be a Christian’s primary identifier. The great Scottish Olympic runner Eric Liddell learns that the trials for ...

The Identity Dilemma ©

Two stories highlight the critical issue of Christian identity. Both come from incidents in my pastoral ministry. In the first instance a young adult found himself involved with a mission ministry reaching out to the homeless in our community. He ...

Texas Bishops Invite All to Write to Reunite ©

Dear Friends, my fellow bishops of Texas and I took a few moments away from our duties during this week’s 2018 South Central Jurisdiction Bishop’s Week to reiterate and reinforce our collective call for compassion and care for and the reuniting of ...

Two Important Task Forces Established (c)

At the recently concluded meeting of the Central Texas Conference, as resident Bishop of the Central Texas Conference I shared the important news of the establishment of two task forces to examine and make recommendations surrounding issues of clergy...

The Wildly Important Goal Heading into Annual Conference ©

As we head into Annual Conference (starting Sunday night, June 10th), I offer some wonderful stories of what God in Christ through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst. These are the narratives of churches engaging in the ...

Dancing in a Hurricane ©

I love the phrase “dancing in a hurricane.” It is evocative of what it is like to live in these tumultuous times. In the United Methodist Church, with the dispute over LGBTQ+ issues (same gender marriage, ordination of ministerial candidates in a ...

In Christ, the Importance of Gender Equality Before the Lord ©

Near the conclusion of the spring Council of Bishop’s Meeting (May 4), the council received the ballots from all the United Methodist conferences for five constitutional amendments that had been approved by 2016 General Conference. You can see a ...

Breathe Deep, Jesus is Still Lord! ©

At Noon Friday (May 4), the Council of Bishops (COB) finished our Spring meeting. Our gathering was bathed in prayer and saturated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Together we engaged in deep, honest, tough conversation. As we head home, I ask ...

Act Now to End Racism ©

Recently we as a nation celebrated the ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King on the 50th Anniversary of his assassination. Last fall I asked the member churches of the Central Texas Conference to, in their own appropriate way, commemorate Dr. King’s ...

Evidence of the Resurrection ©

I witnessed a miracle when I was an intern minister (Minister-in-training) at First United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas. For years, the balcony of the church had been closed off but Dr. Jack Heacock, the senior pastor, had insisted that it be ...

Entering Jerusalem ©

On the edge of Holy Week the following story grips my heart. It was sent to me Thursday morning, March 22nd by Rev. Amy Anderson, Pastor of Mart United Methodist Church. I share it (with permission) as sent to me. The additional commentary is my own....

Acting Boldly - A New Video Bible Study Series from Bishop Lowry

The following is a Guest Post by Vance Morton - Director of Communications for the Central Texas Conference The days in which “the church” has a favored status in society are over. The time of “Casual Christianity” is no more. This is now a time for...

Mission and the Way Forward in the Season after the Epiphany

The moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward (COWF) are urging all United Methodists to engage in a time of reflection on missions in the UMC. Specifically, they are asking us to reflect upon where each of us sees mission at the heart of the ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #12 ©

The Union of Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy or Holiness of Heart and Life Reconsidered As we move into the new year, I want to pick back up on a theme, a series of blogs, I started early last fall. I wrote on the subject “Reclaiming the Heart of the ...

Transformation and the WIG: An Update Report ©

Last September Mart United Methodist Church launched a new faith community built around what they call J.A.M. (Jesus and Me). The new faith community is focused on serving pre-K through 6th grade children in the Mart ISD. Pastor Amy Anderson shares ...

The Fourth Sunday in Advent ©

Today, I offer a liturgy for the lighting of the Advent Wreath candles for both the fourth Sunday in Advent and for Christmas Eve. Traditionally (and usually) those are different days. This year, they fall on the same day. In the Methodist traditions...

Advent Gratitude ©

Each Advent season, as we prepare for the celebration of Christmas, we go into overdrive deciding on who we need/want to get a gift. In my better moments, my energy to find gifts is driven by gratitude. As I reflect on the people who have especially ...

The Family Advent Wreath

While serving at Asbury United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, the Rev. Monte Marshall and I regularly put together an Advent Devotional Booklet. At the beginning of each week in the devotional booklet we wrote a short, lectionary based ...

Encountering Jesus on the Journey ©

In the church, we make much of the journey to Bethlehem. The tale is framed by the simple phrasing of verse 4 in Luke’s second chapter: “Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to ...

Why an Emphasis of Christ at the Center?

The words of the great hymn ring out in many a church. The church's one Foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord; she is His new creation, by water and the Word; from heav'n He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, ...

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 #11 ©

Reclaiming a Doctrine of Salvation Last week Dr. Lisa Neslony, West District Superintendent in the Central Texas Conference, wrote in a perceptive email, "What if Christians sought the spiritually lost the way volunteers have been seeking people in ...

Responding to Harvey ©

Prayers, Patience, Donations and Cleaning Kits Needed in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey With so many of you, Jolynn and I have watched the news of Hurricane Harvey (#HurricaneHarvey) with deep interest. For us, it is very personal. We lived in Corpus ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #6

A Movement of the Holy Spirit Professor David Hempton opens his marvelous history of the Methodist movement (Methodism: Empire of the Spirit) with the recounting of an incident which took place at Oxford University in the early 1880s. Hugh Price ...

Reclaiming the Heart of the Wesleyan Way #4 ©

Methodism at Conference Sitting on a shelf above my computer is a little ticket which reads: “Methodist Episcopal Church, Founded A. D. 1784, Quarterly Ticket.” The following quote from Romans 8:16 is printed on the face: “The Spirit itself beareth ...

Christ and Culture in Today’s Chaos, Part 3 ©

As Francis Asbury (the first Methodist Bishop in America) began his great missionary work of sharing the gospel and spreading the Methodist/Wesleyan way of being Christian across the continent, he faced a monumental clash between Christ and Culture. ...

St. Patrick's Day

Here's a little levity from our friends in the Lutheran Church, as presented by Donall and Conall of LutheranSatire...           Enjoy, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Saint Patrick, Shamrocks and the Trinity ©

A year ago I wrote a blog in honor of the great Irish Saint name Patrick. St. Patrick wrote a number famous prayers including one on the Holy Trinity. It opens with the line: “I rise today in power’s strength, invoking the Trinity, believing in ...

We Are Lost (c) Guest Post by Rev. Frank Briggs

I have been out of the office since February 28th with a follow knee “revision” surgery on the knee replacement I had done in October of 2015. I hope to resume activity on a regular basis next week. In mean time, Rev. Frank Briggs, Senior Pastor of ...

Learning Together (c)

Recently I found myself participating in a fascinating discussion at the United School of Theology Board meeting in Dayton, Ohio. As we wrestled with the rapidly changing landscape of theological education, strategic issues and questions dominated ...

Alternative Facts? (c)

On returning home from Kenya, I read in my local paper the next morning about a dispute between officials in the Trump Administration and those who officially report on the size of the crowd at Presidential inaugurations. Personally, being out of ...

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...

The Coming of the Faithful ©

I readily acknowledge that one of my favorite Advent/Christmas hymns is “O Come All Ye Faithful” (No. 234, The United Methodist Hymnal). John Wade’s (ca. 1743) clarion words combined with the soaring music (credited to Wade and a number of others) ...

Reports and Observations from COB & the Extended Cabinet Summit ©

Late last week I returned home (Saturday, November 5th) from a week at the Council of Bishops (COB) meeting and the Extended Cabinet Summit held in Jacksonville, Florida. In the midst of trying to catch up on working that was waiting for me to return...

A Christian Witness in a Bitterly Contentious Election ©

Upon being elected a bishop, I learned quickly that bishops usually cast absentee ballots in national elections. The Council of Bishops (COB) regularly meets the first week of November. This year, without giving it a second thought, I voted early. On...

Insights from Henri Nouwen ©

One of the insightful and delightful people I have had the privilege of getting to know in recent years in Scott Gilpin. Scott serves as Executive Director of Fund Development for Discipleship Ministries. Together we have worked on Fund Development ...

Breathe Deep, Jesus is Still Lord! ©

I returned home from the recently concluded South Central Jurisdictional Conference last night (Sunday, July 17). During the conference, we elected three fine new bishops – Bishops Ruben Saenz, Jr., Jimmy Nunn, and Bob Farr. I am blessed and honored ...

Follow the Prince of Peace ©

To read the official statement from the United Methodist Council of Bishops on the recent deadly shootings, please click here. This morning, Jolynn and I awoke to news of last night’s deadly shootings in Dallas as we prepared for the final leg of our...

A Truth to Remember ©

On this 4th of July I pause to invite us to reflect on a truth to remember. Consider the lessons of time some 70+ years in the past. In June of 1942 the islands of Attu and Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands were invaded and occupied by soldiers from the...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH © PT 2

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given by Bishop Mike Lowry June 6, 2016 PART II – “A Relentless Focus on the Mission” As we move into a new quadrennium the pathway before us is clear. We must retain a relentless focus on our mission – “to ...

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 ...

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 ...

Trust the Tradition ©

Last Tuesday I took an unusual trip. In one sense, it was a journey that had been decades in the making. In another sense I had the appointment on my calendar for about three months and my drive to Oklahoma City took about four hours. Tuesday, March ...

A Message for Lent

Bishop Mike Lowry shares his annual Lenten message of hope and challenges all to pick up their cross and follow the Lord Jesus Christ to Jerusalem and beyond. To view the message via the Central Texas Conference website, go to ctcumc.org/LentMessage...

A Message for Advent

[caption id="attachment_2059" align="alignleft" width="540"] Click on the image above to access Bishop Lowry's 2015 Advent Message - a message that reminds that the Lord Jesus Christ was born in a time similar to our own - a time of political unrest,...

The Coming Victory

Tonight, October 17th, I was sitting in the Cabaret Lounge of the Azamara Journey cruise ship listening to the White’s Chapel UMC Choir (supplemented by a scattering of other choir members from across the Central Texas Conference) singing “Soon and ...

Let Your Light Shine! Event

A member of the Evangelism Task Force passed on the following invitation to a special event in evangelistic training. I offer it as a guest blog while I am on renewal leave with a strong recommendation that readers consider attending. Dr. Tommy ...

A Christian Response to Hate-driven Violence ©

As I sit down to write my Friday (June 19th) blog, my heart is heavy with grief and sadness over the shooting that has taken place at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, a historic black church in Charleston, S.C. I had planned on ...

A New Church Being Called Forth By the Holy Spirit #4

The Building Prior to the Council of Bishops meeting in Berlin, I had been engaged in a series of blogs under the broad label “A New Church Being Called Forth by the Holy Spirit.” During the COB meeting, I took time out to share Bishop Warner Brown’s...

A NEW CHURCH BEING CALLED FORTH BY THE HOLY SPIRIT #3: Smaller. Bigger ©

Texas Wesleyan University has been engaged in an award-winning advertisement campaign for student admissions. The campaign is built around a clever and insightful slogan, “Smaller. Smarter.” The slogan is clever in that it is easy to remember. It is...

A New Church Being Called Forth by the Holy Spirit #2

Aslan is on the Move! © Few Christian writers and thinkers have had such a profound influence on the life of the faith & the church as C. S. Lewis. (Mere Christianity is basic foundational reading!) In his classic Narnia series, The Lion, the Witch, ...

The Easter Promise ©

On Sunday they had entered Jerusalem in triumph. On Friday, they were imprisoned by defeat. The fog of despair and hopelessness settled in. Thus the Easter story opens. “After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and ...

A Hard Truth that Saint Patrick Lived ©

The story of Saint Patrick is one of the most beguiling and illustrative tales in the Christian lexicon. As a young boy he was captured by raiders and taken to Ireland in the chains of slavery. While there he dreamed of freedom and found himself ...

My Lenten Journeys

While the season of Lent is metaphorically a spiritual journey for Christians to the cross and beyond, for me as a bishop it is also a season of various journeys around my work on various boards and agencies. As a bishop I share with other bishops in...

The Way of the Cross ©

Participating in Ash Wednesday services always re-focuses my attention on the cross. This was further emphasized for me in writing a devotional for United Community Centers of Fort Worth and preparing a number of sermons that I will be sharing in ...

The Challenge of Brokenness – Part 3 ©

Reporters covering the White House during the administration of President Calvin Coolidge had a tough go of it. President Coolidge wasn’t called “silent Cal” for no reason. On a Sunday morning, the story goes, President Coolidge went to church. ...

The Challenge of Brokenness – Part 2 ©

  I read the famous psychiatrist Karl Menninger’s semi-classic What Ever Became of Sin? 40+ years ago. Yet down through the decades the books resonates in the uncomfortable pit of my soul. One particular story lingers. It is as follows: On a sunny ...

The Challenge of Brokenness (c)

Stories which circulate on the internet are dangerous citations. Attribution is at best sketchy. Internet tales can take on an exaggerated life of their own. Any yet, I will venture where angels fear to trod by sharing a story passed on to by Rev. ...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #6

A Test of Love © I overheard the conversation; so too did others. In the setting you really couldn’t help it. The puzzled plaintive questioning in the voice was unmistakable and the dialogue surfed the edge of embarrassment. It involved a young ...

A Wow, and a Well-done, and an On the Road Again

Wow! A huge congratulations goes out to all the faithful saints and servants for our Connectional Mission Giving (commonly called “Apportionments”) in 2014. David Stinson, CTC Treasurer, notes that “2014’s payout rate of 95.95% is actually the second...

EPIPHANY: The Light in Our Darkness #2 ? The Dilemma We Face ©

Come journey with me towards an unknown future. Do what the poem bids: “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” (“The Gate of the Year,” or “God Knows” by ...

The Gate of the Year

"The Gate of the Year" is the popular name given to a poem written by Minnie Louise Haskins in 1908. The title given to it by the author was "God Knows". It is one of my favorite poems (despite its Calvinistic leanings), and I offer it as a prayer to...

The Content of our Prayers – Some Unscientific Reflections

Thanksgiving always brings us to a time of prayer and reflection. It is a time of gratitude that gets expressed through our prayers. This is good and an important activity. As I engage in reflection, I have noted over the last year a pattern in our ...

Acts of Repentance, Signs of Hope

Thursday afternoon we gathered to engage in an intensive time of follow up to Acts of Repentance for the Treatment of Indigenous People (which was a commitment out of General Conference 2012). It is a massive understatement to assert that the United ...

My Name is Elizabeth

Anyone who has taken an Intro to the Old Testament class in seminary quickly learns that in Hebrew tradition the naming of someone is critically important. It shares the essence and character of a being. To be named is to be important and ...

LISTENING TO FERGUSON

During the past week I have been out in Colorado (Grand Lake, near the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park) on vacation with my wife and some friends. During that, I intentionally exercised a “media fast.” Upon returning home, we reconnected...

Writing and On the Road Again

For five blissful days I had the opportunity to outline and then begin writing on a possible book about the church as it moves to a new future. A rough draft (or part) of the introduction goes something like this: As the waters of secularity recede, ...

A Meeting in Chicago and Other Activities

This morning (way too early!) I fly out to Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately there will be no time spent at my beloved Wrigley Field (home of the once – 1908 – and future World Champion Chicago Cubs). Instead I will be in a meeting of the Council of ...

Executive Staff Retreat

Former President and General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower was once asked about the relationship of plans and planning for the great D-Day invasion. He is reported to have said something like “In preparing for battle, I have always found that ...

Blown Away

John Wesley famously wrote of his heart warming experience, “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans.” I currently serve on 14 agency boards and/or ...

Predictions for the Future

About a month ago, I ran across an article written by Jim Denison (www.denisonforum.org) on Thom Rainer’s "Fourteen predictions for American Churches for 2014." Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources and known to many in the ...

A Time To Remember

As we come to Memorial Day, I invite us to pause for a time to remember and give thanks to and for those who has served in protecting our freedom. This is not light task but rather an honorable endeavor that often calls for the greatest of sacrifice....

In the King's Garden

The shouts of Christ’s rising slowly fade into the background. Another Easter has come and gone. The sardonic slice of my nature can’t help but remember the old joke about the fellow who only shows up for worship on Easter. Finally at the end of one ...

SIGNS OF EASTER

In life’s all too common journeys, we encounter small signs of a great victory. Those signs were there on that first Easter. The Bible says, “Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb” (John 20:1). She does...

The Glory Road

What leads to human glory? Put differently what defines the path of great success? Or, what delineates the triumph of a life well lived? It is reported that Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations. “He ...

An Inquiry on the Way to Taize

Saturday evening April 5th found Jolynn and me driving over to White’s Chapel UMC to participate in a special Taize “Pilgrimage of Trust” here in the northern part of Texas. Readers may well remember that the Central Texas Conference sponsored a ...

TAIZE IS AN INCREDIBLE BLESSING

This blog is a special plea and invitation for young adults ages 18 to 35 to sign up for the Taize “Pilgrimage of Trust” that will be held at Whites Chapel UMC, April 4-6! You may do so by going to the Central Texas Conference Website www.ctcumc.org....

The Cross Before Us

Last Sunday I preached from the opening chapter of I Corinthians. In my preparation I could not help but be struck again for the … hum…. maybe 300th time …by Paul’s insistence in pointing us to the crucifixion of Christ. Insistently he argues for the...

The Work of Christ and Pursuing a Denominational Strategy

This week finds me engaged with the work of Christ as it relates to our denominational strategy for the mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” That is a mouthful, and I’ve played with differing titles for ...

Journey into the New Year

In my last blog I invited us to walk with the Holy Family on their flight into Egypt. Let’s continue with Matthew’s post-Christmas journey, which is often called the flight of Holy Family. It is well that we remember that God entered this world in a ...

After Christmas Rejoicing

After Christmas, all you can say about Christmas is that it’s over. And as a Christian, holding the gospel story in your hands, all you can say about Christmas is that it’s not over. Now comes the return. Power ever threatened by the reign of God ...

Wrestling with Isaiah and John the Baptist

Recently in my Advent preparations I found myself reading Isaiah 35:1-10. It is one of the great classic Advent texts. The reader may well remember the lines. “The desert and the dry land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the...

Holidays into Holy Days

Thanksgiving is upon us (actually passed by the time this blog is posted) and the Christmas glitter already surrounds us. This year in particular for those of us who claim to be Christ followers (i.e. Christians), we almost cascade from Thanksgiving ...

Statement of the Council of Bishops

Earlier today, The Council of Bishops released the following statement. Bishop Lowry, who is currently participating in the Council of Bishops fall meeting at Lake Junaluska, N.C., has requested that the announcement be posted on his blog in its ...

Proverbs 29:18 for the Central Texas Conference

It is the old King James translation of Proverbs 29:18 that stays with me. Perhaps you recall it as well. “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The new CEB (Common English Bible) translation renders ...

On the Road Again

Fall is my traveling season. (Well, actually all times are traveling times for a bishop in the United Methodist Church). In the past three weeks, I’ve been to Nashville (for Rev. Karen Greenwaldt’s retirement celebration), Chicago (for a Vital ...

Walter’s Membership and the Meaning of Discipleship

This year at the Central Texas Annual Conference we passed a motion to clean church membership. Entitled “Jubilee Membership Year” (page 271 in the Central Texas Conference Journal 2013) the motion reflects deeper theological commitments. In part it ...

CORE STRATEGIES: The Transformation of the Local Church

Tuesday morning I shared in my weekly time my spiritual guide. He lives in Lakewood, Colorado not far from the site of both the recent fires and current flooding. As we visited he shared some of their trials. I offered our prayers and so ask you to ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Wesleyan Spirituality and Theology

My recent participation in the 13th Oxford Institute for Wesley Studies has given me much reason to pause and reflect on the importance of our Wesleyan essence. With this blog I am beginning a series of blogs on core strategies of the Central Texas ...

CABINET COVENANT

September 8th through 11th the Cabinet of the Central Texas Conference gathered for our annual fall retreat. This is a yearly retreat wherein we re-gather, having been out for summer vacation trips and other activities. As a part of this event we ...

In the King’s Company

This coming Monday morning (July 29th) I will be at Perkins School of Theology to preach in the chapel for the Course of Study School. A group of my heroes in ministry are licensed local pastors. The sacrifice is great; the commitment is high; the ...

Breaking Down the Dividing Walls

Since last Friday, I have been in Oklahoma with my wife standing by the bedside of my mother-in-law, Maxine Mitchell, as she slowly passed away (Monday morning July 15th). It has been a sad time for us as a family; as Jolynn put it, “not for what is,...

VBS as Intentional Faith Development

As we move into what have been called the dog days of summer, it is hard to keep the excitement of Pentecost and Easter. They are almost distant memories of our faith and hope. We long for (I long for) some time off; preferably some place cool. And ...

Taking Two Paths Simultaneously

Robert Frost famously wrote, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.” The second of the two speeches I presented at Bishops’ Week (see the Blog entitled Steady in Purpose and Flexible in Strategy) on the topic of...

Lessons from the Dean

Beginning Monday, June 10th we will have the joy and privilege of having Dr. Kenda Creasy Dean as our Conference Teacher. She is renowned for her insight in ministry to youth and young adults. Significantly those insights translate beyond ministry to...

Report from the Border

This week I am at the Forum for Active/Residential Bishops in San Diego, California. The gathering is a continuing education event for residential (non-retired) United Methodist Bishops worldwide. It is a time for discussion and learning. Yesterday ...

Faith Facing Tragedy

Collectively this has been a hard week. News of the tragic terrorist bombing at the Boston marathon was joined last night by the massive explosion here at home in West, Texas. While Boston may be distant, we still reach out instinctively with our ...

Resurrection not Resuscitation

I am fascinated by all the movies and faux-science fiction books on vampires, zombies, ghosts and various other creatures. (Yes, I confess that as the avid science fiction reader that I am, I am offended to find such books in the science fiction ...

Amazing Grace

Read the resurrection story of John 20:11-18. Enter the scene with Mary. Archbishop William Temple wrote, “gradually her sorrow becomes tinged with wonder of what it was that the two apostles had seen when they went into the tomb; so she too looks ...

At the Intersection of Pain, Sin and Love

“There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, ...

Preaching for Tips

The morning was beautiful with the midst slowly clearing the water. The sea was calm. Our excitement was noisy, exuberant, and expectant; somehow all three elements mingled in the joy of our gathering. We had left our embarkation point in two boats ...

Drinking from a Firehose

During the past week, I feel like I have been drinking from a firehose. Friday after work (March 8th), Jolynn and I drove hurriedly up to Oklahoma to be with my mother-in-law, Maxine Mitchell (for whom I ask your prayers along with prayers for ...

The Impact of Glen Lake

One of the truly great and impactful ministries of the Central Texas Conference is Glen Lake Camp (along with Stillwater Lodge). Two events have recently transpired that reinforce the crucial high impact ministry of Glen Lake Camp. First, last Sunday...

Focus on Christ

Lent at its best involves walking with Jesus. I find in devotional time that I am repeatedly drawn back to this journey with the Savior. As a part of my devotion time, I am reading E. Stanley Jones’ daily devotions from The Way. The devotional for ...

Sin – Ash Wednesday – Wesley

Wednesday night February 13th, the Cabinet traveled to First UMC in Cleburne to participate in worship. The worship service was both a blessing and an examination. The Youth Director Peyton Carter preached an excellent faithful sermon on sin and the ...

Still Spending the Power

In my old worn copy of Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (a Christmas gift from my parents in 1974), she describes a scene of vivid illumination. “Then one day I was walking along Tinker Creek thinking of nothing at all and I saw the tree with ...

Gazing on Empty

Twice on our Holy Land pilgrimage I found myself waiting in line to gaze on empty. Despite the incongruence of my phrasing, "gazing on empty" was an activity I took part in with other Christian pilgrims in reverent silence. The first of these ...

Pilgrimage Reflections

I am a believer in spiritual pilgrimages. They focus the heart and mind on the Lord in a different, often experiential, way. All of the senses are engaged, not just our intellect. As I write this blog, we are in the midst of our pilgrimage to the ...

Offering Christ and Preparing for Lent

It is hard to believe that Christmas is gone and we are now into the season of Epiphany. It is worth careful remembering that this period is one in which we reflect the gospel coming to gentiles, non-believers. In all probability the wise men were ...

Approaching Advent

Well, how did you do? Did you survive Black Friday and Cyber Monday with your sanity intact? A friend passed along a story about a “woman who was out Christmas shopping with her two children. After many hours of looking at row after row of toys and ...

????A Time for Thanksgiving

I have a little sticker I put on my note paper from time to time. It reads simply: “The first and last task of a leader is to say thanks.” I don’t know where I came across this statement (except that I am sure it is not original to me!). I think it ...

A Sense of Perspective

One of the joys and privileges I have as a bishop is moving among an extremely wide variety of individuals and groups. In the Council of Bishops the worldwide nature of the church is always apparent. It is heart-warming to see the active compassion ...

A Time for Grace

I write this blog on Friday, November 2nd, four days prior to the November 6th elections. As I write, I find myself reflecting both in thought and prayer on the election, not only on the presidential level but all across the political spectrum. It is...

Responding to Sandy

We all watched with anxious hearts as Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. For us the anxiety was compounded by concern for adult children living in the Washington, D. C. and Boston areas and cousins living in the Hudson River Valley of New York. ...

Minor Disappointment and Great Celebration

This weekend Jolynn & I have experienced the joy of visiting our daughter and son-in-law in the Washington, D.C. area. Saturday I watched the University of Georgia vs. South Carolina football game. It was a disappointment – major for my son-in-law a ...

Gathering of Cabinets

This week found me on the road but in the Conference. Monday through Wednesday noon, I participated in a gathering of the Cabinets (Bishops, DSs, extended Cabinet) of the Texas and New Mexico Conferences (Central Texas, North Texas, Southwest Texas, ...

Champion Sam-I-Am

How did you spend your summer vacation? It is a question asked thousands of school children every September. It is question adults also ask each other. In Rev. Carol Woods’ (West District Superintendent) case I heard one of the best answers I’ve ever...

BEYOND BAD RELIGION

You are invited! Monday morning September 17th I will be leading a breakfast discussion group Ross Douthat’s provocative new book, Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics. The Fort Worth Cokesbury Store is having a Grand Reopening ...

The Challenge of Focus

The invitation came (I think from God) while standing at an entrance to the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle. I was taking a picture of a coffee shop across the street with a long line outside its door waiting to be served. A young man (early to ...

School for Congregational Development

After a couple of wonderful week of vacation (seeing family members and hiking in Olympic National Park), I came back to CTC refreshed and ready to go! I am truly thankful to God and to you, the greater Central Texas Conference family, in being ...

Guest Blog: Schnase's Jurisdictional Episcopal Address, Part 2

At the recently concluded South Central Jurisdiction Conference, Bishop Robert Schnase gave the Episcopal Address on behalf of the College of Bishops. At the five Jurisdictional Conferences I have attended (since 1996), I have had the privilege of ...

Mike McKee Elected Bishop

Just a few moments ago, Dr. Mike McKee, senior pastor at First Hurst UMC was elected as Bishop in the United Methodist Church. It is with great joy that I welcome Mike McKee to the office of bishop in the United Methodist Church. With you, I offer ...

Cleaning Things Up in Preparation for Jurisdictional Conference

Much of this week I have spent on administrative details (with the exception of teaching a PLD group). Many things go under the rough heading of “cleaning things up in preparation for Jurisdictional Conference.” My wife asked me what I did at dinner....

Solitude and Sabbath

What were you doing four years ago? It is a trick question. I don’t expect someone to know. It is an element of my own history that I can remember exactly what I was doing four years ago (July 11, 2008). Then as now, it was a week before ...

Four on the Fourth: July 4th, Virtue and the Wesleyan Way

James Madison famous wrote in The Federalist No. 51 "if men were angels, no government would be necessary." What is often forgotten are the preceding sentences. "It may be a reflection on human nature that such devices should be necessary to control ...

A GATHERING OF THE CLAN

Last Saturday I attended a gathering of the clan. The occasion was a Memorial Service in honor of Rev. Frank Leach. Frank had served (along with his gracious wife Barbara) honorably and with distinction for well over 40 years. Many remember with deep...

MUSINGS

As I worked through accumulated administrative details on my desk, the news of the Supreme Court ruling on the new health care law came in. The next morning, listening to various responses on the both radio and television I was struck again by ...

The Dog Days of Summer

With 100+ degree weather upon us, we are into what someone has called the dog days of summer. Time can seem to drag and life can feel hot and heavy. My wife tells me that when she was young she'd spend time lolly-gagging in the hammock reading ...

Bound for Waco

Tonight (Friday, June 01, 2012) I had the joy of participating in a rousing ordination service at the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference. It was a Pentecost experience full of riotous praise and worship, fine preaching (from Bishop Sudarshanna ...

Broken and Glorious

The governmental structure of the United Methodist Church is broken and yet glorious ministry is still taking place (in spite of or around the broken structure). Observing the legislative committee process of General Conference one gains a deep sense...

A Conversation with Angels

Easter morning I found myself listing to the sermon in our son’s church in Arlington, Massachusetts. Preaching on the great resurrection text from John 20:11-18, the pastor commented that we are invited to overhear a conversation with angels. The ...

Thank God – the Connection at Work

The tree protrudes massively through the wall of the preschool classroom. Just before the tree’s impact in the swirling tornado winds, Pastor Will Cotton (with an outstanding Children’s Ministry and Preschool staff) had led 82 children to safe ...

A Coalition of the Willing

The more I live into the office of bishop the more convinced I am of the claim to work with those who are willing. We are building a coalition (or should I say coalitions) of the willing. Allow me to explain. Recently a District Superintendent ...

Energizing and Equipping

The stated mission of the Central Texas Conference is to energize and equip local churches to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Local churches make disciples who engage (both individually and collectively) in world ...

Reaching More People, Younger People & More Diverse People

“There is one looming adaptive challenge that we can address only through major learning, innovation, and the wisdom of everyone through Christian conferencing. The United Methodist Church in the United States has a future only to the extent that it ...

FOCUS!

Over the weekend I read Lovett Weems little book Focus: The Real Challenges that Face the United Methodist Church. I have long been a fan of Dr. Weems' work. His insight and leadership first as President of St. Paul’s School of Theology and now as ...

Everyday Epiphanies

John Milton wrote: “Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” Recently President Neil Alexander of the United Methodist ...

Tell Conference

A special event is coming up on faith sharing. Most readers of this blog know my deep passion for us to reclaim a Wesleyan way of faith sharing. One of the great leaders in this movement is Dr. Bob Pierson. Bob was a tremendously faithful and ...

The Year of Our Lord (Anno Domini) 2012

As we step in the New Year I wish to challenge the assumption of 2012 as being in the “Common Era” – C.E. Please don’t misunderstand. As a matter of courtesy and the use of the phrase “C.E.” by Christians with others is often a matter of politeness ...

The Advent Journey

During this time Jolynn and I are going on an Advent journey. In some sense beyond the physical, we are walking again from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The common packages of the time go with us. We have strung up lights and set a manger scene on the lawn....

Living With Thanksgiving

The original Thanksgiving proclamation came at a request of both houses of Congress to President Washington. Congress had asked that President Washington “recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer be ...

Time in Jail

I remember reading of a young mother who was so busy with work, home and kids (not to mention husband) that she commented, “Right now an hour spent in the dentist’s chair feels like a vacation!” It hasn’t quite been quite that bad for me, but the ...

Discipleship and Mission

This fall I am co-teaching with Reverends Joseph Nader and Megan Davidson (directors of the UT-Arlington and TCU Wesley Foundations, respectively) a study of The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch. In our study we are learning on a deep level ...

Dr. Sidney Roberts

Monday I joined so many of the saints of the Central Texas Conference in paying tribute to one of the true giants of CTC – Dr. Sidney Roberts. Dr. Mike McKee, Rev. Henry Radde, and Rev. Randy Wild each spoke with grace and eloquence (intermixed in ...

Formation into Christlikeness

This past weekend I attended a Renovaré/Aprentis Institute event with my wife in Wichita, Kansas. (It was her birthday present.) Entitled Formation in Christlikeness: The Process of Change, we drank deep from the well of learning and reflection. ...

Reggie McNeal and Congresswoman Kay Granger

Last Saturday’s Fall Summit with Dr. Reggie McNeal was a blast! As usual First UMC, Mansfield did an outstanding job of hosting (highlighted by an awesome witness in music). Reggie framed his presentation around the idea that it is our job to bless ...

Carrying the Good News

I have come back from renewal leave with enthusiasm and hope for ministry in our changing (wilderness) time. Today, I am at a meeting of the Conclave (the name for the Texas Methodist Foundation’s clergy group for the 11 active bishops in the South ...

Camp Iona

As we moved through our week at Iona Abbey, our time and activity took on the aspect of a church summer camp. One night as we watched the children (many families had come to be a part of the Abbey retreat) perform in a talent show (the word “talent” ...

Columba’s Bay

There is a strong sense of “pilgrimage” in the spiritual raditions of Britain. A “pilgrimage” is a spiritual walk (hike) of refection and prayer. Today it is often a venture into the past history of Christianity as a way of getting in touch with the ...

Blog on Hiatus until September

We are currently at the isle of Iona for a spiritual life retreat. On the way we hiked along Hadrian’s Wall and spend time in Edinburgh (where I was a college student 40 years ago!). I will not be writing a regular blog in the coming weeks but may ...

Prayers for the People of Norway

I ask that all the churches of the Central Texas Conference – pastors and lay people join with me in lifting up the people of Norway in our prayers during this time of great tragedy. We pray that the Lord may hold the Norwegians and their country in ...

To Be Where the People Are

The last two days of our Wesley Heritage Tour with EO were exciting opportunities to look at the inception of the Wesleyan movement and seek insights for application to the current Wesleyan movement (more specifically through the United Methodist ...

Scattered Learning

As I take some time for renewal, some engaging comments come across my line of vision. Take this one from Paul Nixon (epicentergroup.dc@gmail.com) as he began an address to an Annual Conference meeting. “Over the years, conference becomes an ...

Reflections on the 4th

Today I begin a 5-week period of renewal leave. It is a time to rest and recharge. It is a time to reflect and renew. I will be writing about my renewal leave more extensively in The Wilderness Way #60 (see the Central Texas Conference Website, ...

Attempting to Untie the Gordian Knot of Metrics

This week I have been at Bishops’ Conference (formerly Bishops’ Week) on Mt. Sequoyah in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With Gil Rendle’s leadership, we have continued Extended Cabinet work on the theme “Leading in a Radically Changing Church.” Among many ...

Life on the Mountain

I am leaving Monday evening for Mt. Sequoyah, Arkansas. Traditionally the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) of the United Methodist Church holds an event entitled “Bishops Week” every June at Mt. Sequoyah. Rather than spending time on a broad-spectrum...

Battling Negativity

As a Cabinet we are reading The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz. It is a follow up to the book The Power of Full Engagement, which I have commented about in earlier blogs. Among the many insightful and stimulating observations, ...

Different Context – Common Underlying Issues

The last 10 days have been a whirlwind. I started by flying first to Seattle and visiting with the Pacific Northwest Conference’s New Church Development Commission. This was followed by a day long teaching in the Alaskan Missionary Conference and ...

Back on Tuesday

Bishop Lowry has been at a series of three different Annual Conference gatherings since May 31st. Once he returns to Central Texas, he will post an updated blog. Please look for that posting on Tuesday, June 14.

Spring Storms

With so many of you I watched with dismay the news from Joplin, Missouri of yet another major storm causing life-taking tragedy. I ask that you pray for the people of Joplin as they begin the hard task of recovery. The United Methodist Committee on ...

The New Pharisees?

This week I find myself dealing with the Administrative run up to Annual Conference. Tuesday we held a Cabinet meeting to put the semi-final touches on appointments. (It seems they are never final! No matter how nailed down things seem, there are ...

Election of Delegates to General & Jurisdictional Conferences

As we approach Annual Conference, I am aware that this is an election year. We will be voting for lay and clergy delegates to General and Jurisdictional Conferences. As the Bishop of the Central Texas Conference, I want to commend to all a prayerful ...

COB Sends Missionary to Nashville Area

I confess that I could not resist the above headline. Thursday evening at the Council of Bishops (COB) meeting, the Council on a motion from the South East Jurisdiction College of Bishops (SEJC) approved the assignment of Bishop Ben Chamness to the ...

Spring Council of Bishops

Tomorrow morning, I will fly to St. Simons Island, Georgia for the spring meeting of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church. We, that is – the Council of Bishops or COB, meet twice a year (the first week in November and the first week ...

The Journey of Holy Week

Sunday morning I began the journey of Holy Week to the cross and beyond. I was a husband that morning and joined my wife for her Sunday school class and then worship at her church (Arborlawn UMC). The worship – liturgy, music and sermon – was deep, ...

Possum Kingdom Fire

Many have followed the news of the Possum Kingdom fire (and other wild-fires) in Palo Pinto County. Saturday morning Dr. Ginger Bassford, Weatherford District Superintendent, called to inform me that Cedar Springs United Methodist Church (an open ...

Global Leadership Summit

I just returned from the Global Leadership Summit (GLS), a simulcast meeting across the world of lay and clergy leaders in the United Methodist Church. We (the Central Texas Conference) held two major sites for presentation and discussion (Fort ...

A Sacrificial Circuit Rider

Recently a dear friend died – Rev. Burney Cope. Burney was a member of the Oklahoma Conference. More personally, Burney served as my wife’s pastor when she was a middle school aged young person. Later, he served as the Ardmore District ...

Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

Wednesday evening (thanks to the miracle of TiVo) Jolynn and I watched ABC news together. The tragic footage from Japan riveted our attention. Snow fell as rescue workers comb the wreckage. Our hearts ached as we viewed the scenes. Part way through ...

The Great Commandment

In recent blogs I’ve written about the Conference’s apportionment payouts and the implications on Conference finances. More recently, I wrote about the Financial Leadership Forum and the fiscal crisis facing the larger church. Today, I head for ...

Financial Leadership Forum

This week along with a team of folks from the Central Texas Conference, I attended the Financial Leadership Forum. This was a nation-wide gathering of leaders with conference finances (Chairs of Pension, The Council on Finance and Administration, ...

A Time of Loss

An old professor of mine once said that most of us are in grief and loss most of the time. This is especially so for us this day. Saturday evening, First United Methodist Church of Grapevine, the Central Texas Conference and the greater ministry of ...

Musings

As I packed to leave for the Cabinet Inventory retreat I found myself musing about the church. One of the most enlightening and stimulating things I have done in ministry was to visit every church in the Central Texas Conference when I became Bishop....

Inventory Retreat

Next week the Cabinet goes on its annual Inventory Retreat. It is a yearly trek for virtually all bishops and cabinets. We gather away from our various offices (in our case at Stillwater). We always begin with a time of worship and prayer, a time of...

Project 44

Recently Jolynn and I had reason to interact with Project 44. Project 44 is named for the 44th book of the Bible – the book of the Acts of the Apostles. It is an incredibly wonderful ministry that receives cars in donation, fixes them up, and through...

Learning from the Megachurch

I just finished reading Scott Thumma and Dave Travis’ book Beyond the MegaChurch Myths: What We Can Learn from America’s Largest Churches. It makes for fascinating reading. Perhaps the most significant insight is this: “We argue that the greatest ...

Missional Faithfulness

Today at Cabinet meeting we went over Conference financial reports for 2010. There is a part of us that makes a nod and moves on to such reports. Numbers can be numbing (pun intended). Yet … often our numbers represent missional faithfulness. Some ...

Streams in the Desert

Dallas Willard in his marvelously illuminating book, The Divine Conspiracy, opens with story of a pilot practicing high-speed maneuvers in a jet fighter. “She turned the controls for what she thought was a steep ascent – and flew straight into the ...

It Starts With a Baby

Recently I finished reading Gil Rendle’s book Journey in the Wilderness: New Life for Mainline Churches. I highly recommend it. It is deep in its insightfulness about the journey we are on in the United Methodist Church. Near the close of his book, ...

Jerusalem and Athens

Friday, November 19th, I attended Texas Wesleyan University’s Board of Trustees meeting (one of two universities where I serve as a Trustee). It was a day of celebration as we elected Frederick G. Slabach the 19th President of the University and cut ...

CIEMAL

After days of meeting in Panama (first the Council of Bishops – UMC, then the Conference of Methodist Bishops & Presidents – worldwide), today we began our last meeting. (I can’t help but remember Dr. Albert Outler’s irreverent aside to a class on ...

O For a Thousand Tongues

Last night (Sunday, November 7, 2010) we gathered for the opening worship of the Conference of Methodist Bishops (various titles are used) in Panama City, Panama. The stated purpose of the Conference (which is authorized by General Conference, ...

Our Adaptive Challenge

During the past two days, the Council of Bishops (COB) has worked extensively on the Call to Action Report. Yesterday we embraced the adaptive challenge as explicated in the Call to Action Report. (Adaptive challenge/work is change work that engages ...

On the Road Again

Today is a day for finishing up administrative details and preparing to leave. Sunday Jolynn and I will fly to Panama for the fall meeting of the Council of Bishop followed by two additional meetings (one for Methodist Bishop – UMC with Affiliated ...

Set Like Flint

I remember when my son took Texas State History in high school. Somewhere in that class he ran into a quote of William Tecumseh Sherman (the Civil War General and later Secretary of War under President Grant). The irascible Sherman said, “If I owned ...

Surrounded by a Cloud of Witnesses

I am nearing the end of a round of District meetings and other gatherings to both listen and share with laity and clergy alike on the future of the Church and the re-alignment of ministry resources in the Central Texas Conference. Earlier today I met...

Developing Pastoral Leadership

Today (Thursday, October 14, 2010) I have been visiting St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City. They have been gracious hosts of the SCJ College of Bishops. (The South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops meets once a quadrennium with Perkins ...

Making Room for New Leaders

For the past two days I have been at a retreat sponsored by the Texas Methodist Foundation entitled “Making Room for New Leaders – The Third Path Dilemma.” With a wide spectrum group of Bishops, Board of Ministry Chairs, and various other leaders, we...

Preliminary Report on Listening Posts

Last night I went to my fourth District “listening post.” (So far I have been to the Temple, Brownwood, Waxahachie, and Mid-Cities.) My basic schedule is an hour with the clergy, a meeting with the District Superintendency Committee and a little over...

Once Again

Today I renewed my acquaintance with an old friend. I try to meet regularly with a prayer partner for spiritual accountability. During the summer both of us were gone, and this practice had fallen by the wayside. I had on occasions met with the ...

The Leading Edge III

In the last two weeks I have reported on some of the things that came out in the “Leading Edge” meeting of the Senior Pastors of the 100 largest churches by worship attendance in the UMC in the U.S. with 32 active bishops. One of the constant ...

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 ...

Tenth Street UMC

Sunday, September 5th, I had the joy and pleasure of sharing with the congregation of Tenth Street UMC in Taylor, Texas. Our celebration focused on the 110th anniversary of this wonderful Swedish Methodist Church. Originally the Taylor Swedish ...

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 ...

God at Work

Last Saturday I got to see God at work. Oh don’t get me wrong. I know that we all see God at work daily in the sunrise, the love of family and friends, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, etc. But Saturday I got to see God at work in a special way. I ...

Insights from Church Unique

While on vacation I engaged in reading some interesting books. (Some people are addicted to alcohol and drugs. I am addicted to books!) One of them was Will Mancini’s Church Unique. While written for the large regional church, it has great insights ...

Visiting Proximity Makes the Difference

I took Bob Weathers and Frank Leach out for lunch the other day to personally thank them for their interim work at University UMC in Fort Worth. They did a fantastic job. In the course of the conversation, Bob (who can’t help himself) shared the ...

I was in Jail

This past Sunday I was in jail. It wasn’t a permanent stay. Rather, I had the joy and privilege of preaching at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) of Fort Worth’s protestant service. It was a lively and joyous service. The music was led by a ...

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 ...

Canadian Worship Experience

We have recently returned from vacation in Shenandoah National Park and the Canadian Maritime Provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia). It was a wonderful time with family and just special time away for us as a couple. ...

Missions = Hospitality

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday I am at Duke for the Episcopal Leadership Forum. Yesterday (Monday) we heard from three outstanding presenters – Dr. Dana Robert, Dr. Gil Rendle and Mr. Gary Shorb. Each was insightful and challenging. Dr. Robert is on ...

Insights from Bishops' Week

It has been a stimulating time at Bishop’s Week wrestling with both our spiritual journey of faithfulness and the role of the Extended Cabinet (Bishop, Lay Leader, DS, New Church Development, Treasurer and Assistant to the Bishop/Executive Director ...

Bishops' Week Focus

Currently I am in Arkansas at our Jurisdictional Conference Center, Mt. Sequoyah. June 23rd is a day for the meeting of the South Central Jurisdiction College of Bishops. Wednesday, June 24th we begin Bishops’ Week with a decidedly different thrust. ...

Like Christ

In getting ready for the Conference, I finished writing my Episcopal address and find pieces left over. I always feel a bit like Marco Polo who is reported to have said on his death bed, "But I haven't told a half of what I've seen." Here are quotes ...

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 Open Conspiracy of the Forgotten Way

The open conspiracy of the forgotten way of discipleship lifts my life and haunts my steps. That open conspiracy is to be, as the ancients put it, "little Christs." Alan Hirsch writes: "This notion of the imitation of Christ is one of the undisputed ...

The Cross of Life

For a couple of years my wife and I have attended Good Friday services at St. John the Evangelist Monastery (an Episcopal Church monastery located in Cambridge Massachusetts). The quiet contemplative service centers on an adoration of the cross. At ...

I Refuse to Lead a Dying Church

This past Tuesday morning I had breakfast with Paul Nixon. Paul is an effective and highly creative new church start pastor, consultant and coach. He is gifted in helping existing congregations embrace robust vitality for the mission of Christ. He is...

Forgotten Ways V

Tuesday I had the joy of sharing with our Residency (clergy in the commissioned process working toward ordination as a deacon or elder) group. I spoke on the topic of Rediscovering Apostolic Witness. My thesis is a farily simple one. Lay people ...

March 20th Saint Cuthbert Feast Day

Forgive a brief digression from my blog series on Alan Hirsch's wonderful book The Forgotten Ways. March 20th is Saint Cuthbert's Feast Day. Saint Cuthbert is one of my heroes. Cuthbert was a monk and bishop in Northumbria during the 7th century. He ...

The Forgotten Ways IV

Recently my son Nathan sent me an email link to the blog of Walter Russell Mead. Mead wrote in a March 14 blog “Sometimes mainline church leaders remind me of the Pope who showed St. Francis around the Vatican to see the many treasures of the church....

Rediscovering Forgottetn Ways III

I find that every page I read in Alan Hirsch's The Forgotten Ways deeply stimulates my thinking. One of Hirsch's concepts is the notion of what he calls "Apostolic Genius." By this he means "the total phenomenon resulting from a complex of multiform ...

Forgotten Ways II

In the first part of Alan Hirsch's book Forgotten Ways he tries to set the context for the missional church in today's culture. He notes that the Christendom model of cultural engagement (what he calls "evangelistic-attractional") is simply not up to...

Rediscovering Forgotten Ways I.

In an arresting article found in the October 2002 Atlantic Monthly Philip Jenkins (Penn State, author of The Next Christiendom: The Coming of Global Christianity and Lost Christianities) wrote: "As the media have striven in recent years to present ...

Beyond Indifferentism

I have been in a variety of meetings lately with institutions on whose Boards I sit by virtue of being a Bishop in The United Methodist Church. These include universities, hospitals, foundations and ministries. These various organizations are ...

SLOWING DOWN

Recently I was watching a rebroadcast of Ken Burn’s marvelous series on the National Parks. At one point the narrator shared insights from the great naturalist John Muir. Introducing what would become Yosemite National Park, Muir said, “You can’t ...

Connecting Head and Heart

Last night I had the joy and privilege of attending Perkins School of Theology Alumni Award Banquet. The receipent of the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus Award was Rev. Adam Hamilton, the Lead Pastor of UM Church of the Resurrection in Kansas City. In a ...

Spiritual Renewal

The last two days, I’ve been blessed to be at the Clergy Day Apart (an annual one day retreat for spiritual nourishment of the Central Texas Conference). Tom Albin from the Upper Room (a part of the United Methodist Church’s Board of Discipleship) ...

Unity and Mission

Last night I spoke at the Tarrant Area Community of Churches along with Commissioner Roy Brooks (a member of Morningside UMC). I could not help but be struck by the fact that when I was a child such events were unheard of. Today they are so common ...

Pursuing Excellence

I recently read a fascinating article entitled "The Mundanity of Excellence" by Daniel F. Chambliss. Chambliss reported on a detaled study of excellence in swimming. The results are both surprising and facinating. They transfer to insights for other ...