Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
I want to give you a huge shout out for the generous and thoughtful outpouring of love, kudos, affection and so much more that has been directed toward me and Cynthia. We have had a blast here and leave quite naturally with feelings of incompleteness. But if the truth be told, I leave every setting with that sense. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to move the ball down the field so to speak. During a short watch I believe that all of us pulling together got a lot done. Perhaps more than any of us realized....I have been privileged to work with a strong capable staff in the Episcopal Office and the Conference and I have partnered with diligent, knowledgeable and passionate superintendents. All of you -- the lay and clergy of this conference -- have been warm, generous and responsive to me and my ministry initiatives. You are a grace-filled, leader-full people. What more could I have asked for? You have everything you need to keep on keeping on for God.
We indeed are "better together." Isolation and individualism undermine our better aspirations and potential. They are self-defeating. It is true in both church and society.
To date, the Illinois Great Rivers Conference has raised $1,885,000 in cash and pledges for Imagine No Malaria, surpassing the 80 percent mark on the $2.3 million goal announced by Bishop Gregory Palmer at the 2010 Annual Conference.
It goes without saying that we are in the season of conferencing as United Methodists. The General Conference is just finished and the Annual, Jurisdictional and Central conferences are just ahead. I look forward to greeting many of you at Annual Conference in Peoria.
Tornados cut across the southern Illinois region leaving a path of destruction to the community of Harrisburg. As we watch developments on television, our hearts ache, knowing that we are called to respond.
It is in these times that the people called United Methodists are at their best, providing a ministry of presence and offering care and compassion for those in need. Let's do our part!
(Prison ministry) is long overdue in the sense that there is far too much material available to us church folk about how to be more appealing so we can get people who are just like us inside our doors. But it is right on time because as a church, both obsessive and compulsive about our decline and anxious about our institutional future,
Many people find it useful to bring some focus to the end of one calendar year and the start of a new one. This happens in a variety of ways. Some approaches are shaped by our families of origin, some by faith traditions, some by cultural particularity. The list could go on and on. For many persons several streams come together to create the currents of how we approach the new year. There isn’t just one way to “do it”. What action or practice we choose matters far less than how we approach the new year.
The church for all of the good we are doing and the transforming difference we are making could do a lot better particularly among youth and young adults. Diminishing numbers of young people in the life of the church starves the church of much needed vitality, energy, creativity and angle of view. The church at its best has so much to offer to all and this includes youth and young adults. The church is in need and the church is needed.
Whether it is organizing a non-perishable food drive or providing a financial contribution that can leverage large amounts of food for pennies on the pound, each of us, working together, can make a real difference this season. In the midst of your preparation for Christmas, take time to thank God for your blessings and pass that blessing along to others -- through one of Conference Advance Special food pantries listed below or through your local food pantry.
Be the healing presence and miracle for someone who needs it this season.
On this World AIDS Day, we are reminded that every step forward will involve truthfulness, acknowledgement, compassion, courage, technical and financial resources. So please join me in wide-eyed prayer and action.
You may have seen the summary I sent a couple of days ago about the recent Council of Bishops meeting. If you haven't seen it fear not you can do so now if you wish by clicking this link. You will note a promised "pastoral response to the concerns raised by many people across the church in the United States related to same-sex unions, definitions of marriage and covenant leadership". Below please find the statement of your Council of Bishops. Thank you for continuing to be in prayer, conversation, discipling and mission as we fulfill the mission of God through the United Methodist Church and seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit in all matters.
Your servant in Christ,
Gregory Vaughn Palmer
Late Friday night I returned from a week at the semi-annual meeting of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church. It was an invigorating time of Christian Conferencing. In the paragraphs below you will find a quick summary of our time together in behalf of the whole church. I trust you will find it informative. Most of all please know of my continuing appreciation for you and all you do to fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
But ministry with the poor puts the emphasis on the with. It goes beyond good deeds and moves toward relationships….Life giving relationships are about giving and receiving.
So this 9/11 Anniversary gives us one more chance to be the church. We are called to be a church whose worship is so well crafted and engaged that all who participate begin to see, smell, inhale and taste another sovereignty, a new creation. We are called to be a church that leads people to the heart of God in prayer so that when we say “Our Father” we see how large and diverse our family really is. We are called to be a church that helps us to pray for ourselves and what we need and to pray so as “to bless them that curse us and despitefully use us.” We are called to be church in such a way that we model for the world the tearing down of barriers between persons, families and tribes. Seriously, what if Christians, for example, could carry on their most sensitive conversations in ways that gave life rather than in ways that suck the air out of the room and cannot sustain life?
In the aftermath of the tragedy of 9/11, when the United States and the world were grieving, mainline denominations called for prayer, inclusion and reconciliation. In an ad near Ground Zero, The United Methodist Church proclaimed, "Fear is not the only force at work in the world" with a set of praying hands.
When the South Asian tsunami brought massive death and destruction to the people of the Asian Rim, The United Methodist Church said that it was not the work of a vengeful God. Instead, they said, God was in the suffering, standing with those experiencing great loss. The Church called on the world to assist, and people around the world did exactly that.
The Apostle Paul was right when he wrote young Timothy, "God didn't give us a spirit that is timid but one that is powerful, loving and self-controlled." Once again, we are called to proclaim God's spirit provides hope in these tragic times. Please join me as we stand with the people of Norway.