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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 with the retired clergy to discuss realignment.  Their perspective was and is invaluable.  As I listened to their questions and comments, what struck me most deeply was their forward thinking.  Many, if not all of them, understand that this is a different day and we desperately need greater flexibility to respond to outreach opportunities.  Imbedded in their comments and questions were passionate convictions about changing a clergy culture.  A number of speakers spoke of the need to engage the non-Christian culture with a stance of open listening and interpersonal involvement.  There were strong comments about recovering a sense of how to share the faith (evangelistic witness) and move beyond the church walls.  Listening and dialoguing with them, I felt that sense of “being surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1).  Their openness, their commitment, their engagement was and is impressive.  We as a Conference have been and continue to be blessed by them.