Grace to you and Peace from the God we know through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Much of life’s struggles and lack of congregational vitality center around this basic principle—stewardship verses ownership. Until General Conference approves new ways for Bishops, pastors, and congregations to continue as stewards, then “raiding trees,” grasping, clinging, and seeking to own are wrong because they are beyond what God has made permissible for stewards.
We received the news from our follow up appointment at Mayo Clinic that neither of the initial surgeries were successful. The pressure in both eyes remains at unacceptable levels. My sight is continuing to decrease. I will be having eye surgery on July 28 for my left eye. The recovery time is 8-10 weeks. There will be an additional surgery on my right eye when the left eye has had an opportunity to recover.
Max came to church about once a quarter. Even that was too much for some of the more “dignified” church members.
I believe that God is asking the people called United Methodist if we are serious about following Jesus? God is challenging us to see a much bigger picture than our local church, our district, our Annual Conference, our Episcopal area, and our jurisdiction. God is trying to get us to see that the spiritual stakes are far too high and significant for us to put the emphasis on getting our individual preferences satisfied while the fields are full of folks that have never heard the “good news” of a Savior that loves them and died for their sins. I am convinced that the modern United Methodist church has settled for praying the “prayer of Jabez” while God has been trying to teach us the prayer of John Baptist, “He [Jesus] must increase and I must decrease.” The prayer of Jabez is a self-focused prayer.
I believe the most important question that needs to be answered is how do we get to first base – General Conference. While some have decried that the denomination is stuck and that our Discipline cannot address these unprecedented circumstances, I believe the answer is in our connectional system. What if we used our connectional system to ensure the vaccination of every General Conference delegate and personnel that needed to attend General Conference 2022 and begin that work now? The pandemic has created a mission opportunity for the Church if it can resist the temptation of bypassing first base and trying to circle the remaining bases. And when we get focused on mission, there isn’t a big enough train that can distract us.
There is a big difference between vision and sight. A recent trip to Mayo Clinic revealed that I am losing my battle with glaucoma. While I still have physical sight, it is rapidly deteriorating, and a more drastic medical approach is needed. I am not sure what the future will hold but I am sure that even blindness will not hamper my Kingdom vision. My personal medical challenges will not hinder the vision of the IGRC from moving forward. It will be necessary for me to take a brief ministry break to address my eyesight issues. I apologize for any disruption this may cause you or our Conference. I am working with the Conference leaders to determine our next steps. I do so with confidence that this Annual Conference can and will continue to move forward in achieving God’s vision for us. I will be requesting a brief Medical Leave to deal with my eyesight problems. This Medical Leave will become effective July 1, 2021. An interim Bishop will be assigned by the Council of Bishops. Please keep this interim Bishop and me in your prayers.
“There are no winners in the George Floyd murder case. We are all hurt and weakened by all forms of injustice and pain. While our court system has rendered its verdict the pain has simply spread in yet another direction. I continue to pray for my brothers and sisters in Minnesota and for unity across our nation and world."