Directions have become very important to me over the last month. Having lived in the same city for 28 years and in the same state all of my life, I knew my way around – most of the time.
Louisiana is a new place for me to explore therefore I have become highly dependent on directions, Mapquest and my GPS app on my iPhone. I have even gone old-school and resorted to a map. Maurepas, Livingston Parish, LaPlace – these were all new places to me as we traveled through the areas impacted by Hurricane Isaac. My trusty hard-to-fold map became my best friend. I did not simply need to know how to get from one place to another, I needed to know where I was.
This is an important life-lesson as I begin serving as the bishop in Louisiana – I need to know where we are before we determine where we are going. I have begun to hear great things about the amazing work you have accomplished. I have watched you from a distance and I know how resilient you are. I know that you are working to bring vitality to our congregations. You have raised money for the fight against malaria through the Skeeter Run. You made ground-breaking decisions at Annual Conference. You are pace-setting for the United Methodist Church.
Over the next few months, I will travel to each of the districts learning and listening. Where are we as an annual conference? Who do they say we are? What is next for us as the United Methodist Church in Louisiana? I want to hear from you and where you think we are so that together we can decide where we might go next. I have some thoughts and ideas but you are the “boots-on-the-ground.” Our congregations are where the action is. Your input is critical as we determine where we are so that we might map out our path to greater fruitfulness and excellence.
I hope that you plan to attend one of the district gatherings because I am not only anxious to hear from you, I am anxious to meet you.
By the way, about Hurricane Isaac – to those of you who have responded to the Bishop’s Appeal I owe a debt of gratitude. If you have not had the opportunity to make a special offering, I urge you to do so that we might be able to respond in the way we have grown accustomed. If your church has a team of volunteers that would like to respond, please contact Jodie Harper, volunteer coordinator for disaster response, at firstname.lastname@example.org and sign-up today. Or visit the conference website at www.la-umc.org
In the meantime, let’s join in prayer together for our annual conference that we might journey to incredible places to serve God and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. If we are faithful to our call we will accomplish amazing things.
In the words of Dr. Seuss – “Oh the places you’ll go.”