I have had a few days to process our experiences of this year’s Annual Conference session. I am so thankful for each of you and for your willingness to be present and to “Come and See” all that God is doing in our midst.
My heart is full! I truly felt the presence of God stirring in our midst in a powerful way. As Dr. Elaine Heath completed her presentation on Wednesday, I felt her prophetic voice had pierced through time. It has been a while since I have been so powerfully overcome by the Spirit. The room was silent. As we pondered the question, “What is the Spirit saying to you?," you could hear a pin drop.
On Monday evening, I used a quote from Mr. Rodgers that says the “time between speaking and hearing is sacred.” Friends, I think that time on Wednesday was sacred time. Perhaps we were all experiencing what it means to hear with more than just our ears, or the “Third Eye,” as Richard Rohr says. I pray that you will continue to ask yourselves the question, “What is the Spirit saying to me?”
During the month of July and early August, I will focus on that very question. According to the United Methodist Book of Discipline, bishops are required to take three months of renewal leave during a quadrennium (BOD Paragraph 410.2). It is near the end of the third year in the quadrennium and I have not yet taken any renewal leave. I will use these six weeks to rest and renew and to ask myself, “What is the Spirit saying to me? To the Annual Conference? Who are we in what is being called the Third Great Awakening? What role will we play in the Third Great Awakening? What is our prophetic voice?”
I will also continue to pray for each of you as I give thanks for your willingness to risk, to ask hard questions and be willing to experiment and innovate. AC2015: Come and See was historic in many ways. We voted for a new way of being in ministry with a commitment to an efficient and effective structure. We expanded our service of commissioning and ordination to include licensed local pastors.We used a giant screen as an altar, utilizing dramatic and beautiful images. We included the artistic gifts of Lauren Hudson, Ann Sutton and Allison Milliron. You contributed $58,346 for the 75th Anniversary of UMCOR. The goal is $75,000 which is well within our reach. We combined the laity breakfast and laity session. We received two young guest clergy into our midst to push us to the margins. Young clergy shared a prophetic word with us on Wednesday. And more importantly, we were stirred into a renewed sense of the Spirit’s work among us by Dr. Heath. We began to think more with our hearts--and perhaps even scared ourselves into believing we could be so much more.
I am thankful that God has called us to Louisiana for such a time as this and will be forever grateful to each of you for your willingness to give so much of yourself.
I will continue to pray that “all hell will break loose” in our faith communities across the state of Louisiana.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Cynthia Harvey