As you may have heard, I’ve been reassigned to serve as the Bishop of the Missouri Conference for the next four years by the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee that met at the Jurisdictional Conference last week in Dallas. This fulfills the hope and request that I made to the Committee as well as the recommendation that came from the Missouri Conference through its Episcopacy Committee. To me, this is a great outcome for our mission together in Missouri, for my family, and for me. My special thanks to Jerry Ruth Williams and Cody Collier who served on the Jurisdictional Episcopacy Committee to represent the mission and ministry of Missouri United Methodists. They have done an excellent job over the last few months at communicating the ministry needs and missional opportunities of our conference at every level and in every conversation with Jurisdictional members. Thank you.
While my reassignment to Missouri comes as no great surprise and meets with the conference’s request and my own, I’m subject to the itineracy just as all elders are in the United Methodist church. Anything can happen in the assignment/appointment process, and sometimes there are unexpected surprises. My family and I heard the news of our return to Missouri at about 1:30 a.m. on Saturday morning! One of my boys exclaimed, “Good. We’re going back home!” I view that as a wonderful testament to the sense of welcome, engagement, family, and belonging that the Missouri Conference has provided for me and my family. I give God thanks for every one of you, and for the ministry God gives to us during the months and years to come! It is a privilege to serve as your Bishop.
Three new Bishops were elected at Jurisdictional Conference: Earl Bledsoe will serve as Bishop of the North Texas Conference; Mike Lowry has been assigned to Central Texas; and Jim Dorff moves to the Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences. I’ve known all of these persons for years, and I trust God will use them to great purpose to lead, unify, teach, and strengthen the United Methodist Church to help us fulfill our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. There were also several excellent leaders and long-time colleagues of mine who were not elected, and I give God thanks for their offering of themselves to this role and work. Our church and our selection process is richer for their participation, and I pray God’s blessing upon their work in the future. Keep all these people in your prayers during these months to come.
Finally, I want to thank the lay and clergy delegation from the Missouri Conference for their good and faithful work during the Jurisdictional Conference. Through spirited debate, active disagreement at times, hard-won consensus, gracious good humor, and strong mutual respect, they faithfully represented the United Methodists of Missouri. They were a delight to work with, and I’m proud of every one of them.
Again, thank you, Missouri Conference, for the joy and privilege of shared ministry in Christ’s name. May God bless our work during these years to come, making us fruitful in every good work in the name of Christ.
Yours in Christ,