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.             In past years Bishops’ week had been essentially a continuing education event hooked on to various Jurisdictional gatherings involving Bishops and District Superintendents.  While the presentations were often excellent, attendance has been spotty at best.  This year, in sharp contrast, Bishops’ Week will focus on the work of the Extended Cabinet.  Dr. Gil Rendle, Senior Consultant for the Texas Methodist Foundation, will be guiding us on leading the church through the wilderness.  Bishop Sally Dyck, Resident Bishop of the Minnesota Conference, will be leading the group on spiritual formation and deepening our walk of faith.  We have read two books in preparation for the time of learning and spiritual growth – The Starfish and the Spider by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom and Finding Our Way Again by Brian McClaren.             The Starfish and the Spider wrestles with the difference between movements and hierarchical organizations.  Implications for us as a church are obvious.  Once, the United Methodist Church was a movement for Christ.  Today we are best characterized as a hierarchical organization.  Where once we were fluid and nimble, today we are rule-bound and argue about boundaries.  Consider this quote:  “If you cut off a spider’s head, it dies; but if you cut off a starfish’s leg, it grows a new one, and that leg can grow into an entirely new starfish.”             Finding Our Way Again chronicles the rediscovery of vital spiritual disciplines.  Consider:  “Spiritual practices … are a way of locating ourselves in a present moment no less lighted by the presence of the unseen God from whom we come, to whom we go, and with whom we travel.”  Pilgrimage, fasting, sacred meal, common (disciplined) prayer, giving, Sabbath rest, and liturgical year –  “these ancient practices have formed people of Abraham faith through many centuries.”             There is much to share, learn and discuss here.  I look forward to this time of learning together.