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Bishop's Blog Archive


New Faith Communities, Missions and CTCYM ©

While I am on renewal leave, I have invited Rev. Mike Ramsdell, Executive Director of the Smith Center for Evangelism, Missions and Church Growth to share a guest blog.  This report was originally published June 19, 2019.  Bishop Mike Lowry At ...

Summer Reading and the WIG ©

As a part of my summer reading, I have enjoyed 8 Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches. With our focus on the WIG – the Wildly Important Goal of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world – the words leaped off the page: ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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...

Immigration and the CTC

Members and Friends of the Central Texas Conference: On June 13, the Central Texas Annual Conference overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the current U.S. "zero tolerance" policy on immigration's practice of separating children from their ...

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...

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 ...

Recovering Doctrinal Greatness Through Advent/Christmas Hymns ©

Even when announced and printed in the bulletin, as I turn in my hymnal to #211 “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 211), the words from this great hymn slip in on me and catch me by surprise. They manage to be at once both a...

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 #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 ...

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 ...

A Time for Courage: Part III ©

The following blog posting (“A Time for Courage: Part III) is the third and final section of my Episcopal Address given to the Central Texas Annual Conference on June 12, 2017. Part I was posted June 19th and Part II was posted June 21st. I remind ...

A Time for Courage: Part II ©

The following blog posting (“A Time for Courage: Part II) is the second section of my Episcopal Address given to the Central Texas Annual Conference June 12, 2017. Part I was posted on June 19th. --Bishop Mike Lowry, Resident Bishop of the Central ...

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 ...

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...

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 ...

Guest Post from Rev. Frank Briggs

Below is Rev. Frank Briggs', Lead Pastor at Lighthouse Fellowship, Day 6 of Lent, which he posted March 6th. He is posting on Facebook a Lenten devotional to help and guide us through this season of remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus for all. ...

Conclave and Kenya ©

Like many of you, my year has begun with a full slate of ministry activities. It began January 3rd with a day and a half in the office to answer emails and plow through paperwork accumulated from the Christmas – New Year break time. The afternoon of ...

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 ...

An Opportunity not to be missed ©

N.T. Wright, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St. Andrews University in Scotland, author and retired Anglican bishop of Durham, England is coming to Perkins School of Theology at SMU November 15-17. Perkins ...

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 ...

Discipleship as Spiritual Formation

Last Fall Bishop Ken Carter, The Florida Conference, wrote a series of blogs on “Fresh Expressions of the Church.” Taken as a whole they are outstanding and well worth reading. As a part of my own recent writing about deeper discipleship centered on ...

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...

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 ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH © PT 4

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given by Bishop Mike Lowry June 6, 2016 PART IV – “A Time for Courageous Leadership” Leadership development for both lay and clergy remains and must remain a top priority. To this end two years ago we ...

THE COURAGE TO MARCH © PT 3

Central Texas Conference Episcopal Address given by Bishop Mike Lowry June 6, 2016 PART III – “The Sinews of Methodism and the Recovery of Evangelism” A second element in focusing on local congregations coincides with the importance of small group ...

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 ...

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 ...

Responding to the Violence in Orlando

The news of another terrorist shooting and the tragic deaths of so many in the Pulse Nightclub rocks all of us with its senseless hate-filled violence. It addresses us all on so many levels – unchecked gun violence (examples are many: Sandy Hook, a ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

Training for a Job that No Longer Exists ©

I was ordained Deacon in 1974, graduated from seminary in 1976, and ordained elder in 1977. The church I entered was basking in the setting sun of cultural Christendom. As a newly minted pastor one of the primary points of my reference was my ...

Changing Central Texas Conference Leadership ©

I find myself slowly and impatiently (see my previous blog!) recovering from knee replacement surgery. I have just begun my second week at home dominated by physical therapy and much needed rest. As I do so, I hope to take some time to write a couple...

Christ the Refugee ©

The words are so simple and common. They come at the conclusion of Matthew’s great story of the Savior’s birth. We read the story at Christmas but rarely focus on closing verses and still less preach on them. “When the magi had departed, an angel ...

The Crucial Role of Music in Faith Development

I have just returned from a month off for Renewal Leave. During that time period, I have been working on a possible book focusing on the need of the United Methodist Church to reintegrate the core essence of orthodoxy theology. I also spent some time...

Report on the Core Leadership Team/Cabinet Retreat ©

Last week the Central Texas Conference (CTC) Core Leadership Team and Cabinet met to begin work on the seven recommendations adopted by the Central Texas Conference in the Exodus Project Evaluation Report. With the adoption of the Exodus Project ...

Flood Waters, Tornados and the Connection ©

Wednesday morning I arrived back in the Central Texas Conference offices from Montgomery, Alabama. Jolynn and I had been gone for the previous three and a half days while I had the honor and joy of serving as the Conference Preacher for the Alabama- ...

A New Church Being Called Forth by the Holy Spirt #6:

  A MISSIONARY CHURCH Shortly before I was elected as bishop in the United Methodist Church, I stood with others, including two bishops, at a tiny country church in Leesville, Texas. A plaque was dedicated to Alejo Hernandez who had been ordained at ...

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, ...

COUNCIL OF BISHOPS PASTORAL LETTER ON RACISM

While I have been in Europe attending the Council of Bishops meeting in Berlin, we as the world-wide Council have lived with the ongoing news of racial strife across the globe. One regular aspect of the nightly news here in Europe has been the ...

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 ...

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...

Lenten Musings – The End of Casual Christianity

Casual Christianity as we know it is dying. For a good decade now carefully observant pastors have noticed people who typically would worship a couple of times a month moving to worship patterns that are more episodic. A variety of studies (Pew, ...

Progress on Imagining No Malaria, Prayer Missionary & Captives ©

One of the great Focus Areas of the United Methodist Church during the last eight years has been combating killer diseases. In particular, the United Methodist Church has focused on combating the killer disease of malaria through Nothing But Nets and...

CTC Cabinet work in Diversity, Mission Field Ministry and Inventory Retreat

As this blog is posted (Tuesday, February 17th), the Central Texas Conference Cabinet is meeting in its yearly “Inventory Retreat.” At our retreat, we look at the needs of the Conference for clergy deployment in the upcoming year. This starts with an...

The Greater Advent Desire

Recently I caught myself in worship singing with full-throated adoration the great Advent hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” On this particular Sunday we didn’t just sing the typical first four verses but instead dug deep into verses 6 and 7, which are...

Ground Breaking for The Wesleyan Homes at Estrella

We have so many wonderful ministries in the Central Texas Conference that it is hard to keep track of them all. The list goes on and on! One of those outstanding ministries is The Wesleyan Homes. All the way back in 1953, leadership in the Central ...

BEHIND THE SCENES

After the talk of schism and arguments over same gender issues settles, there is an emerging consensus over the importance of building vital congregations. This great consensus is built on the foundation of commitment to the stated mission of The ...

An Unfolding Work of the Holy Spirit

  On returning home from the Council of Bishops week-long meeting in Oklahoma City, I find myself slowly getting back into the issues of ministry in our local setting. Among the disagreements at the Council, the great sign of encouragement was our ...

Human Sexuality Statement from the Council of Bishops

The following statement was adopted unanimously by the Council of Bishops in the afternoon executive session on November 7, 2014: As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church. We ...

Life at the Council

The Council of Bishops (COB) meeting started early for me with a gathering of the Executive Committee of the COB. Actual activity had begun the day before through my participation in a live web-cast presentation on the church's response to the ...

On the Way to the Council

As I write this blog, I am sitting in a hotel room in Nashville, Tennessee, Wednesday October 29th. We have just finished the annual fall meeting of the United Methodist Publishing House Board. (Cokesbury & Abingdon Press are two of the better known ...

A Christian Response to the Border Crisis

The image of protestors angrily greeting three busloads of mostly women and children in San Diego is both vivid and powerful. Primal emotions were stirred. The victims were often terrified younger children. The great issue – immigration reform – is a...

Reform the Continent and Spread Scriptural Holiness Across the Land

Do you recall the original vision for the United Methodist Church? “To reform the Continent, and especially the Church, and spread scriptural holiness across the land.” To my mind this is as good a vision statement for the United Methodist Church in ...

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. ...

Insights from Upper New York

Last Thursday I flew to Syracuse, New York. Friday and Saturday mornings I made two separate presentations/bible studies to the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church. It was a great time of making new friends, sharing and learning ...

Joy in the Journey

As we look together at intentional faith development, there is joy in the journey - a deep seated peace and happiness that transcends even tragedy. This was at least part of what John Wesley was pointing toward in his understanding of the doctrine of...

Critical Behavioral Change

Common wisdom is that we change our beliefs, then our actions follow. Reality is often different. Most of us act our way into a new way of thinking and believing. If we push hard on this distinction, the truth emerges that it is a both/and not an ...

Designing the Path

I can still recall the thrill of listening to Bill Hybels, the Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, describe their mission well over two decades ago. “Willow Creek exists to turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Jesus ...

Leadership and Hope as the Tsunami Engulfs Us

It has been almost 10 years since a tsunami engulfed the southern part of Indonesia and Thailand. Many of us remember scenes and stories from the event. One in particular that has stayed in my mind is the tale of young 10 year old Tilly Smith at ...

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 ...

The Prisoner’s Prayer

In May of 2008 Jolynn took a trip to Ethiopia with the group from the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) in San Antonio (where she was serving as a faculty member). The trip was led by a retired Lutheran Missionary whose place on the UIW faculty ...

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 ...

Good News on a Great Connection

Amid reports on institutional angst and anguish (including the recent letter from the Council of Bishops) what is often lost is the great good news of tremendous ministry taking place through the United Methodist Connection. Friends, there are some ...

To Know Christ and make Him Known

They lie as two half-crumpled sticky notes on my desk. One reads use John 17:3; the other simple records – Acts 20:24. Somewhere in my wanderings they came to me as messages from God. They’ve sat as notes on my desk for at least a couple of months, ...

A Flat Bottle of Soda or a Scary Thing

Recently I had the great joy of sharing in a Charge Conference Celebration for the East District. As we sang, prayed and heard incredible witnesses of service in the name of Christ from various congregations, I had this sense of the Holy Spirit ...

Stay Focused!

The Dictionary defines distraction as: “Having the attention diverted” or “Suffering conflicting emotions; distraught.” From an online Thesaurus the following notation was offered, “having the attention diverted especially because of anxiety.” I am ...

CORE STRATEGIES: Clergy and Lay Leadership

The third major core strategy that we have in the Central Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church is to engage and develop clergy and lay leadership. This is both simple and profound in its essence. A church, any church, will not exceed the ...

Representative Granger Working with Imagine No Malaria

Tuesday, September 3rd I had the privilege of visiting with Representative Kay Granger, Congresswoman for the 12th District in which I reside. On behalf of the other bishops of Texas (Bledsoe, Dorff, Huie and McKee) along with Bishop Tom Bickerton ...

Insights on Changes in Congregations, Clergy and Deployment[1] #3

(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] #2

(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 ...

Reclaiming a Robust Christology

Off and on for the last 3 months I have been working on paper that I will present at the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies. The Institute gathers every five years at Christ Church College, Oxford, England where John Wesley studied. ...

Steady in Purpose and Flexible in Strategy

June 20-21 the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction (SCJ) held a traditional event in a nontraditional location and manner. For decades (with only occasional lapses) the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction have sponsored a learning retreat...

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. ...

Faith, Hope and Clarity

Most of us know the great closing of I Corinthians 13, "And now faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love" (I Corinthians 13:13). What many of us are unaware of is the old King James Version translation of love was ...

Is That All There is to It?

The night before the recent CTC Conference on Stewardship, the Cabinet met with Clif Christopher and Joe Park (the Conference teachers). Those of you who know stewardship and know Clif are aware that the subject is really spiritual formation, mission...

Outwardly Focused & Upwardly Witnessing

Allow me to begin with a story that comes from Pastor Steve Nance at Groesbeck First UMC. “The lady that runs our local housing authority office called the church some time back asking for clothing for one of her clients. She called nine local ...

Focus on the Mission

As the Cabinet continues its joint ministry work, we wrestle deeply with how we stay focused on the mission. By way of reminder to readers, our mission as a part of the United Methodist Church is “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the ...

Inventory and Narrative

This past Monday (February 11th) the Central Texas Conference Cabinet began its annual four day Inventory Retreat at Stillwater Lodge in Glen Rose. Together we will sift through the myriad of personnel issues that are before us as a part of the ...

Church in a Time of Change

I find myself settling back in upon our return from our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It feels good to be back in the routine of episcopal life in the Central Texas Conference. Wednesday afternoon I drove down to the South District office and met with...

The Outlandish Claims of Radical Orthodoxy

It is right there in the great opening overture of the Gospel of John. “The Word became flesh and made his home among us. We have seen his glory, glory like that of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The phrase translated ...

Wrestling with Vitality and the Necessity of Narrative

I keep remembering the old story of a guy who went fishing. That night he came home with no fish to show for his efforts. His friends questioned him about his efforts. He replied, “I didn’t catch any fish but I did influence quite a few!” People ...

Mission Strategists

Recently I met with the District Superintendents (Don Scott – Central, Bob Holloway – East, Ginger Bassford – North, Carol Woods – West, and Rankin Koch - South) to review the pioneering work we did on realigning the work of District Superintendents ...

Mission, Movement, and Church

At our Cabinet retreat Professor Ted Campbell offered some fascinating insight on the relationship between being a religious movement and an established church. Dr. Campbell reminded us that the original mission of the Methodist movement from the ...

Evangelism and Social Holiness

In my travels and reading I constantly come across the deep Methodist Conviction that Social and Personal Holiness go together. In fact, Professor Ted Campbell (Perkins School of Theology) notes in his excellent summary Methodist Doctrine: The ...

The Importance of the Both/And

Recent reports on the state of the United Methodist Church in the United States shared data of continued decline. However, the news wasn’t all bad. There are signs of the Holy Spirit’s presence and work throughout the church. Significantly, the work ...

Schnase's Jurisdictional Address, Part 1

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 ...

A Request for Prayers for Jurisdictional Conference

Tomorrow the quadrennial meeting of the South Central Jurisdictional Conference will formally begin. Today, Tuesday, July 17th, we are meeting as a College of Bishops (that is the bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction, both active and retired). ...

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 ...

Breathe Deep, Focus!

Looking back at the close of General Conference, a story about a couple of old moose hunters who went on a yearly hunting trip in remote northern Maine comes to mind. As was their habit, they hired the pilot of a little float plane to fly up to a ...

Riding the Rollercoaster

When my son turned 15 we took him and a friend to Six Flags – Fiesta Texas in San Antonio in celebration. He couldn’t wait to try what was then the world’s largest wooden rollercoaster. Staring at this monster (called The Rattler), the friend decided...

Learning in Austin and Gathering in Tampa

Monday morning I had the privilege of attending a TMF (Texas Methodist Foundation) Board learning session which focused on ministry with "Generation Y" (young adults). With leadership provided by a young clergy couple from Church of the Resurrection ...

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...

The Importance of Narrative

My recent blog entitled “Struggling with Appointments” has sparked an unusually high degree of interest and response. Overwhelmingly clergy have noted the dilemma of some members wanting no change while at the same time expecting to reach a new ...

Preparing for General Conference

General Conference is the quadrennial (every 4 years) meeting the ruling legislative body of the United Methodist Church. This coming April 24th the General Conference will open in Tampa Bay, Florida. For two weeks an equal number of lay and clergy ...

Struggling with Appointments

Art only wishes it could imitate life. You cannot make up some of the things said to District Superintendents while consulting on appointments. At a recent Cabinet meeting, a District Superintendent reported on a consultation with a church whose ...

Sold Out on Purpose

In a recent conversation with Tom Locke, the President of the Texas Methodist Foundation, he made a comment to the effect that he had sold out on purpose. By that he meant that he placed great emphasis on the organization (in this case TMF) living up...

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%! ...

A Special Gift

Yesterday I received a special gift from Dr. Michael Patison, chair of the Central Texas Conference’s History Book Committee. Fresh off the press, Michael handed me a copy of The Central Texas Annual Conference 1866-2010: At the Center of Texas ...

Missional Renaissance

It is great to be back from my renewal leave and family vacation time. As I turn my attention to the fall, I am tremendously excited about having Dr. Reggie McNeal with us on September 10th at First UMC, Mansfield for the Fall Summit. Dr. McNeal ...

Route 122 Group

Recently I learned about a group of church developers who are wrestling on a deep level with the issues of congregational transformation. Interestingly, they named themselves the Route 122 Group. The group name is a reference to Paragraph 122 in The ...

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 ...

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. ...

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 ...