May 2, 2019
Dear Friends in East Winds District,
The shop is still open. No one is hanging the “Closed” sign on the door.
In-light of the sometimes-vitriolic debate on the floor of General Conference and social media; the decisions made in February; and the rulings of Judicial Council last week, some may wonder about my level of awareness or even my soundness of judgment. These events, culminating our 50-year debate, actions, and reactions have brought some to consider whether the days of United Methodist life and mission are over.
Not yet. The doors are not closed.
You have continued to be my primary evidence that this is the case. As volatile as these months have been, I have been blessed each day to hear of your continued work to bring the Gospel to people. You have been present to them, continued to worship, offered courageous witness, and engaged the poor and hurting. You have taught the lessons of faith, cared for the dying and grieving and ill, baptized and served the Lord’s Supper. Thank you. I continue to be in awe of you. You have not closed-up shop.
God has not withdrawn God’s grace nor our mandate to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
So yes; if you were wondering, we will still proceed with our plans. There will be group supervisory sessions this month (and one-to-one interviews through the summer). There will be DS-S/PPRC meetings in August. There will be Church Conferences in September and October. There will be District Conference and Training Day on November 9. Mission Zones will continue developing for the strengthening of our churches and shared ministry to bless the people of communities in each zone. Maintaining our ministry shares (apportionments) giving will still be important for keeping the Methodist Movement strong towards whatever we will become in the future. This is how we will be faithful to God and, as Bishop Bard has suggested.
Still, there is a fractured-ness and wounding about us that cannot be ignored. Anxiety, frustration, anger, concern for the hurt of self and others are all a part of our present experience. These experiences are real and important. We may-well move toward an expression of the connectional church that is quite different than we’ve known in the past. But even-still, we do not need to be defined by them.
So, in the midst of it all, I ask that you to function with three guiding principles: faithfulness, mindfulness, and compassion.
Be faithful to the best of your will and understanding. Continue to hold-fast to the high calling in Jesus Christ and the vision God gives you. Do not let the times we experience defeat or distract us.
Be mindful of your leadership and your proposed decisions. Be mindful of your true motivations behind your plans. Be aware and wise about the possible consequences of your acts. Will they accomplish what you hoped or something quite different?
Be compassionate with each other. Your convictions are sacred and others may or may not agree with you. Their theology, understanding of scripture, and sense of calling may or may not line up with yours. Assume they are being as faithful and integrous as you set out to be for yourself and respect them. Love them.
This is all I ask.
Carpe diem (Seize the day)!
Rev. John H. Hice
East Winds District Superintendent