There was a knock at the door. It was Thursday night, July 19, 2012. Two members of the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee entered my room. It was sometime between 9:30 and 10 PM. A phone call had put me on notice. One of them, a female superintendent with paper in hand announced, “We’re sending you to Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference.” She said more. But my mind had already “scaped,” back to assignments in both Michigan and the Ohio East Areas, back to appointments in Northern Illinois Conference, back to my grandmother telling me that I was going to be a preacher, back to Saul’s call on the road to Damascus and back to the inauguration of Jesus’ his public ministry. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,” he said, “ because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor, release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." As I see it, Jesus was SENT BY THE SPIRIT.
(Luke 4: 17-19, Isaiah 61: 1-2)
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.
I believe I’m going to have an amazing trip. I believe I’m going to be transformed in ways I cannot even anticipate. I believe I will hear stories of hope and redemption that will fill my heart with joy. I believe I am going to build relationship with people that will last a lifetime. I believe that when I get back to Chenoa we will pack up all our stuff on time. I believe that the church in Chenoa will go on strong without me. I believe that the leadership will not lose sight of their mission. I believe that there are tremendous people, opportunities and resources in Moline that will align well with my talents and passion. I believe that together we will do great work for Kingdom of God. I believe these things, and yet I’m scared.
Change for the sake of change is foolhardy at best. But change is real and often necessary. So I invite you to experience change (whether you sought it or it sought you) – in your life, ministry, relationships – as an opportunity to claim the future that God holds before you. Harry Emerson Fosdick said ‘Christians are supposed not merely to endure change, nor even to profit by it, but to cause it”. Let’s embrace the changes before us as blessed opportunity and every now and again even summon up the courage to initiate change.