A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bishop Palmer's Initial Thoughts of the West Ohio Conference


November 27, 2012

Dear Friends in Jesus Christ:

Today marks my 88th day among you. On yesterday I completed the last of my first visits to the eight districts of our conference. In every case you have welcomed Cynthia and me with open arms and lavished us with hospitality. We couldn’t be more grateful and appreciative. Thank you.

I have spent these first several months listening and learning from you and about you. Travelling the conference via the districts has been an important lens through which to see who we are. Other indispensible means of learning for me early on have been the cabinet and staff of the conference, lay and clergy leaders who serve through the structures of the conference, visits to local congregations, cluster leaders, staff and boards of United Methodist institutions. I have also met dozens of people one on one and in small groups in my office who have helped me deepen my learning. While the proverbial First 100 Days will soon be over I do not expect to stop learning and growing in this new relationship.

I want to share with you a few early learnings and observations from where I sit:
  • We are a leader-full Annual Conference. At every turn there are skilled, passionate, faith filled servant leaders lay and clergy, compensated and volunteer;
  • There is a growing sense of alignment between the mission of the church, making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, the structures and initiatives of this conference and the core ministry of local congregations;
  • I see signs everywhere of United Methodist Christians and congregations that are faced out to their neighbors, communities and the world. What you are doing to engage in mutual ministry with the poor and vulnerable is inspiring;
  • The aspiration to create a culture of call and generosity is becoming a reality;
  • Our commitment to be true partners in mission and in the mission globally is giving life and bearing fruit.
It is a privilege to partner with you in God’s mission which is nothing less than new creation. As we move forward together please know that I will be guided and driven by at least two unwavering convictions:
  1. We already have everything we need to take the next faithful step in ministry;
  2. “It does not yet appear what we shall be.” (1 John 3:2).
Be encouraged in Christ Jesus,

Gregory V. Palmer

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