Tomorrow (Saturday, May 4th) opens a period of activity that comes around with all the regularity of blooming, perennial spring flowers. I will fly to Chicago to participate in the regularly scheduled spring meeting of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. This will be our first worldwide gathering together since the 2019 Called General Conference in St. Louis at the end of February. As can easily be imagined, we have much to talk about. I do not expect it to be an easy time for any of the bishops. I covet your prayers for the Council as a whole, and especially for our Executive Committee Leadership Team under the direction of Bishop Ken Carter (Florida), President of the Council of Bishops.
Upon returning from Chicago, Jolynn and I will probably take a quick Mother’s Day weekend trip down to visit my mother and brother living in Kerrville. The following week is full, with a meeting of the Theological Study Task Force (a conference center group looking at leadership development and education), a Connectional Table gathering, and our Cabinet Class Meeting all squeezed into Monday. Tuesday evening is a special treat, when Jolynn and I, in conjunction with the Board of Ordained Ministry, host a dinner at the episcopal residence for all those who are to be ordained elders or deacons at the Central Texas Annual Conference meeting in June. It is a special time of celebration and congratulations for their upcoming ordination!
Thursday evening, we will board a plane again to fly to Dayton, Ohio. I have the distinct privilege to serve on the Board of Trustees for United Theological Seminary. United (UTS) is one of the 13 seminaries of the United Methodist Church and comes out of the old Evangelical United Brethren Church, which merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church in 1968. (A quick history quiz: Why did Orville and Wilbur Wright come from Dayton, Ohio? Their father, Milton Wright, was a bishop in the United Brethren in Christ denomination which was headquartered in Dayton.) During my tenure as bishop, I have become deeply impressed with the ministry of United Theological Seminary. United Seminary is driven by three core principles forming the focused center of its mission both to and for The United Methodist Church. Those three principles are: 1) Historic Faith, 2) Scriptural Holiness, and 3) Church Renewal.
On Saturday, May18th, I have the privilege of delivering the UTS commencement address. I will be speaking to the new Master’s and Doctor of Ministry graduates about recovering one of the central emphases of Wesleyan Theology – biblical holiness, or what Mr. Wesley often called either sanctification or holiness of heart and life. As a part of the graduation ceremony, I will be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree by United Theological Seminary. I am both humbled and grateful for their kindness.
The following week picks back up again with a Conference Nominations Committee meeting on Monday, an executive staff meeting on Tuesday and a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. We are close to finishing the appointments for this conference and hopefully will be able to do so by May 22(though, in my 11 years of experience in making appointments, there are always some late changes). Thursday, May 23, I will have a time of listening and learning from the pastors of our larger churches (those averaging over 500). I always find this group insightful and am blessed by the dialog and learning we have together.
Quite famously Willie Nelson sings, “On the road again. I just can't wait to get on the road again. The life I love is makin' music with my friends. And I can't wait to get on the road again. On the road again. Goin' places that I've never been. Seein' things that I may never see again. And I can't wait to get on the road again.” In my case, I greatly prefer to be back home in the Central Texas Conference with friends and colleagues in ministry!