Message from Bishop Sue

Announcement Sunday Reflection

I am in constant prayer this morning of "Announcement Sunday" as congregations throughout our annual conference receive word of pastoral changes. I know how difficult change is, and I am all too aware of the beautiful yet wrenching reality that the more attached we are to our clergy families the harder it is to say goodbye.

The Cabinet and I have taken our appointive work very seriously. We have prayed, studied, agonized, and prayed some more. Every final decision was made in my prayer closet with a deep sense that it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to me.

Some will be frustrated that I relied so much on the Cabinet's collective wisdom and prayer. That means letters, emails, phone calls, etc. had limited bearing. Neither did any sense of entitlement by clergy or congregations. I have seen sexism, racism, ageism, careerism, and selfishness try to thwart this process and it grieves me. We have much work to do as a Church.

That said, the Cabinet and I are confident that the Annual Conference will be stronger, and the churches more vibrant, after these moves. God is mightily at work in so many parts of this Annual Conference, and many gifted pastors and committed laity are pouring out their lives in service to Jesus Christ. We have much to celebrate as a Church.

My prayers continue for clergy families whose lives will be uprooted. My family has survived our moves by focusing on these three truths:

1) home is not a particular place but where we are sharing life and love together;

2) each place will have something unique and wonderful about it; and

3) God will be with us and God's people will be waiting to welcome us. Then we name all the wonderful folks in each place we have lived that we would never have met but for the itineracy.

I pray also that the Holy Spirit will be at work in the churches comforting the grieving, reassuring the disconcerted, and giving a new sense of excitement as the church moves into a new chapter of its ongoing mission to do Christ's work in the world. I close with one of my favorite quotes, from Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom: "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God." Grace and peace to you all.

— Bishop Sue