For the wonder of creation, And your holy hist'ry, too,
Great procession glorious, Men and women sent from you.
— Holy Spirit Come Among Us, Words by Don E. Saliers
A service celebrating the ministry of Bishop Mike Watson and Margaret Watson on June 8 was filled with song, stories, and thanksgiving. Bishop Watson will retire in September 1 and will assume the role of Ecumenical Officer of the Council of Bishops.
Representatives from our episcopacy committee, our General Conference delegation, our laity, and our clergy addressed the Watsons at the service in the Grand Hall.
"Under your leadership our dept has been reduced, membership has increased, bridges have been built, and our faith has deepened," said Skip Matson, chair of the Committee on Episcopacy. "We give thanks for the fact that God has allowed our paths to cross."
Rev. Sharma Lewis brought words to the Watson on behalf of the 1,500 North Georgia clergy.
"Bishop, you challenged us to be spiritual leaders," she said. "You engaged the Annual Conference to read the Bible every year. ... You equipped the cabinet by providing tools of learning. ... You traveled to the Holy Land with clergy and laity to walk and reflect on the steps of Jesus."
She went on to thank Margaret Watson and the Watsons' children and grandchildren.
"One of the greatest things you did was on June 16, 1973, when you married Margaret Lee," she said to Bishop Watson, adding to Margaret. "On behalf of clergy spouses you have our love, support and prayers as you move to the next assignment. May your witness together be a continuous blessing."
Mathew Pinson expressed appreciation for the ministry and friendship of the Watsons on behalf of 360,000 North Georgia laity.
"Tonight we gather to honor the ministry of a bishop of the Church - our bishop - not a Prince of the church, but a prince of a human being, a pastor, a cherished friend," he said. "I give thanks to God for Margaret and Mike Watson."
He went on to share how he and his family have benefited from the example of the Watsons. "Thank you for what you've meant to us," he closed
Dr. Don Saliers of Candler school of Theology brought the gift of a commissioned hymn. "In order to honor you, because you love to sing, I have composed a hymn and we're going to sing it in your honor," said Saliers.
Ralph Freeman also offered gifts of song, leading the congregation in hymns and singing one of Bishop Watson's favorite songs, "His Eye Is On The Sparrow."
Mathew Pinson presented gifts to the Watsons on behalf of our Annual Conference, including a beautiful crystal vase for Margaret.
"Lastly, we have paid close attention to your generosity to various mission and ministry, not only here in North Georgia, but in South Georgia also. In tribute to this we have collected an offering we would like to present to you with our gratitude," Pinson said.
The Watsons spoke briefly sharing memories and words of thanks.
"The United Methodist Church has taken us places we have never imagined and allowed us to have relationships with God's very finest, and to be able to close that chapter of our lives with North Georgia and with you, it's just been pure joy," said Bishop Watson to the members of the Annual Conference.
"You have blessed us and we will miss you and we thank you," Margaret said.
Bishop Alfred Norris offered the benediction.