February Newsletter

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul And sings the tune without the words and never stops - at all.           

       --Emily Dickinson

In the second week of January, I attended the Bishop's Convocation in Callicoon, New York.  This is a yearly event that gives clergy a chance to interact with each other, members of the Conference Office, and the Bishop.

This was the first convocation for Bishop Jane Middleton, who served in the New York Annual Conference before she was elected to the episcopacy, where she served in Pennsylvania.  She began her remarks by acknowledging that she is the fourth bishop for New York in about seven months, with the death of Bishop Martin McLee and the ill health of Bishop Neil Irons, who served for three months, and Bishop Lyght, who served for three months.  She plans to remain with the conference until the election of a new bishop in 2016.

While this constant transition was chaotic for Conference staff, she acknowledged that this constant change in leadership did not affect many local churches.  In my experience, United Methodist churches are very independent-minded and carry on the work and ministries of Jesus Christ in spite of the chaos around them.  I have known many churches that, when faced with disasters, rise up and perform wonderful ministries that help and comfort those around them.

Bishop Middleton expressed great hope for our conference, that we might continue not only as individual churches, but also as a conference, to continue sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those around us.  She told us of her great joy with this assignment, in spite of enjoying her time in retirement. 

She also told us that she believes we are "standing in the need of hope" during this time.  Many of our churches are facing challenging times.  Many clergy and those who attend worship are facing challenging times.  Our nation and our world face challenging times.  The Gospel word, I believe, in these times is that we have great hope.  My job, I believe, is to live in that hope in such a way that others are encouraged to live in that hope.

At this moment, my hope is summed up in a quote--"It is better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness."

May you also find hope!