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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 Bishops (COB) Executive Committee.  (I am on the COB Executive Committee through my work as Chair of the Vital Congregations Leadership Team of the COB.) The agenda is full.  We will examine ongoing work in a variety of areas and ministry including but not limited to leadership development, Acts of Repentance as a part of our ministry with Native Americans, Task Force reports on accountability and human sexuality, training for church trials, work on ‘holy conferencing,’ planning for upcoming COB meetings (in Oklahoma City next November and in Berlin, Germany in May of 2015).  A part of the work near and dear to me (which comes from the Congregational Vitality Leadership Team) is about building vital congregations in Africa. I often think of the summer as slow or at least a slower time.  I hope to catch up on some reading.  One of my summer activities is to usually lay out my preaching schedule for the fall and winter.  I hope to sketch outlines for various fall teaching projects (one on the book Wesley vs Calvin: Bringing Belief in Line with Practice; another on teaching a joint Wesley Foundation study for the UT Arlington and TCU Wesley Foundations).  I had hoped to spend some significant time this summer writing on a book project about the future of the church.  So far, I haven’t gotten to writing time. Monday, I was on a conference call with Path 1 (new church development).  The news is exciting.  All across the nation work in new church development and the concomitant outreach is expanding.  Monday evening (just prior to finishing this blog) I participated on a conference call with the Texas bishops about how the church is and should respond to the ongoing border and immigration crises. We are wrestling with how we (the church) respond in ways that are caring and compassionate as well as wise and discerning.  I am deeply impressed by the insightful compassionate faithfulness that our churches (and my fellow bishops) are offering.  The larger Christian community is working together in marvelously ecumenical ways to help the last, the least, and the lost. As I gaze over the host of items on my desk and get ready to fly off to Chicago, my mind drifts back to the ordination service at Conference.  One of the historic Methodist instructions for those to be ordained is to never be triflingly employed.  It is hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.  Most days, I love this ministry yet the administrative load can overwhelm the available time.  Large organizations are complex.  We are truly a world-wide church with all the benefits and challenges! Advice from 2 Timothy comes to mind:  “I’m giving you this commission in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is coming to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearance and his kingdom.  Preach the word. Be ready to do it whether it is convenient or inconvenient. Correct, confront, and encourage with patience and instruction. . . . Endure suffering, do the work of a preacher of the good news, and carry out your service fully”  (2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5).