Bishop's Weekly Message (1/21/23)

January 23, 2023
I am praying for the laity and clergy of the Mountain Sky Conference as we prepare to come together for worship.

Thank you for your comments on last week’s reflection on reformation in The United Methodist Church. The many posts and emails I received in response to the reflection revealed a love of our church and a deep hunger for it to be all it can be amid a fracturing time. Where there is brokenness, there is a need for healing—there must be a time for rest and recovery as that which is broken is reformed. With the help of the Holy Spirit, the people called United Methodist will be a church of reformation as the broken pieces are stitched together in new and beautiful ways.

Can we sit in the rest and healing part for a moment?

My hunch is that you—like me—are sick and tired of the half-truths, mistruths, and just plain lies that have been said about our beloved church. I regularly get emails from folks across the connection saying that their church is considering disaffiliation because they were told I don’t believe in the divinity of Christ and that I use Tarot cards to make decisions in my annual conference. Both are false! And I give thanks for those folks who took it upon themselves to do a little research and seek out the facts.
I do have critiques about our church. There are things I wish were different. Some decisions pain me deeply. But disagreement is a part of living in community. I have yet to belong to a community that was free from dissenting voices. What matters is how we enter into the disagreements as we embrace a mutual desire to make our shared life better.

One thing I recognized early on as a pastor was that our appointment system makes it much too easy to leave a church (or for a church to request a new pastor) when the going gets rough. What I learned was that this doesn’t bring resolution, it simply delays an honest engagement of the disagreements. When all parties stay close, leaning in together, keeping aware of their commonalities instead of their differences, it helps move through the disagreement. We learn so much together! When we truly seek to move through our differences and stay united, we are all brought through the conflict to a whole (and holy) place of mutuality and trust. And it is from that place that great things can happen as we seek to serve as disciples of Christ!

I believe that God works even in the discord, for “in all things God works for good.” May we stay open-hearted to those with whom we disagree, for the Body of Christ is a diverse one and we need each other in order to know God as fully as we can. May love be the guide in all we do, in every ministry we undertake, in every decision we ponder; a love that enlarges our world, our views, our understandings, because this love requires us to take into account not only ourselves and those close to us, but even those we see as “other” and “strange” yet still possess the image of God.

May love undergird our life in Christ’s church as we seek to be faithful stewards of it.
With love,
Bishop Karen