In a service rife with joy, memories and emotion, Rev. Philip Rhodes was installed as the next Superintendent of the East District Area on Sunday, June 27. The event was beautifully hosted both in person and online by First United Methodist Church of Hurst. Rev. Rhodes will officially assume the DS duties from Dr. Randy Wild (who is making his at least his second attempt at retirement) on July 1.
|Bishop Lowry recalled his first meeting with Rev. Philip Rhodes and shared his sense of peace and goodwill about appointing him as the East Area DS during the Installation Service on Sunday, June 27|
In his introduction of Rev. Rhodes, Bishop Mike Lowry, episcopal leader of the Central Texas Conference remembered their first meeting when Philip was serving First UMC Hurst as a deacon. “What I recall most in meeting Philip is a deep, deep commitment to Christ and the local church.”
Fast forward 13 years to a few months ago when Dr. Wild was able to convince Bishop Lowry that he was actually going to give retirement another try and that a new District Superintendent for the East District Area was going to be needed. “As I earnestly prayed about this appointment, it quickly became clear to me that we had the person we needed in Philip Rhodes,” recalled Bishop Lowry. “There was a work of God that unfolded at First Hurst after his appointment [as senior pastor] here. Mainly because, I believe, he let The Holy Spirit lead him in his ministry and his passion for making disciples of Jesus Christ. I have a sense of peace and goodwill about this decision to appoint him as DS to the East District and am grateful for his faithfulness and his being willing to eagerly accept this call.”
|Rev. Rhodes urged clergy, laity and local churches to not burn their candles at both ends and place their trust in the God of all strength as their source of energy, innovation, creativity and change during his installment sermon.|
Speaking in the sanctuary where he has preached for the last 16 years as a pastor – the last nine as senior pastor – Philip cautioned clergy, laity and local churches about “burning the candle at both ends” and relying on our individual strength in order to “power through” the tough times and in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Rev. Rhodes noted many of the issues facing clergy, lay leadership and local churches at this moment in history – both internal struggles such as the ambiguities of reopening from the COVID-19 shutdowns, the divide in The UMC and the pending “Protocol” vote if and when a General Conference convenes, as well as the secular/societal challenges of our day like the ever-widening political divide and the issues of race and social justice. He suggested that for clergy, laity and local churches, tackling these issues on their own, would lead to burn out. And then he asked, “What difference does God make?”
“It takes no small amount of strength to admit that I am weak,” Rev. Rhodes remarked. “While we live in a culture that values individual strength, to the point where we hide from one another, the biblical witness places a premium on being weak in our own strength and relying on the strength of God.
|Randy officially hands off DS duties to Philip on July 1.|
“Only God has the strength to do this,” Philip continued. “God will do it through weak people and weak [faith] communities that are vulnerable enough to admit their weakness and place their trust in the God of all strength as our source of energy, innovation, creativity and change. My hope and prayer for the clergy, the laity and the local churches of the East District is to recall and consistently reorient our lives, our ministries and our churches to the strength that is our source.”
Bishop Lowry requests prayers for both Dr. Wild and Rev. Rhodes in their continued ministries as well as the new adventures that lay ahead for them both.