Previewing the 2023 Annual Conference: A Letter from Bishop Delores J. Williamston


God is Good
All the Time,
and All the Time,
God is Good!

Greetings to the Louisiana Annual Conference in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

I am thrilled and looking forward to gathering with you for my first Annual Conference!

It's going to be absolutely amazing to be in each other's presence to sing our hearts out to the Lord with songs of our faith, to celebrate what God is doing among us as we boldly move forward with God's Hope to make disciples of Jesus Christ in today's world!

We know our current days are filled with many challenges in life, community, ministry, and the church we love, The United Methodist Church, yet there is still Hope.

This Hope for us is identified in 1 Peter 1:3, which says, Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy, he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

I believe everyone is looking for that living Hope found in Jesus, which brings me to the Gospel of Mark chapter two.

Chapter two of the gospel of Mark tells a story of a living hope when four friends carried a paralyzed man to a place where Jesus was preaching in hopes that Jesus could heal him.

When they arrived at the place where Jesus was preaching, it was so crowded they could not get the man to Jesus.

The four friends did not lose Hope but lifted the man onto the roof, dug a hole into the roof, and lowered him down on his mat to place him in front of Jesus.

And in their actions, Jesus saw their faith, passion, and perseverance to get their friend to him even when the way seemed blocked.

This story is a story of HOPE!

And it is HOPE that will guide us through this annual conference season in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.

Every day we know we encounter valleys of ups and downs, valleys of pitfalls and landslides, valleys of rivers, streams, and floods, and yet there is still hope that we will march forward to get to where we are going.

And as we march, we are not alone, for we have a God that is our Great Shepherd, who sent his Son Jesus, the Good Shepherd who continues to call and deploy us as Shepherds of Hope who will march into the mission field to make disciples of Jesus Christ to transform lives and the world.

We, the United Methodist Church in the Louisiana Conference, are called to see HOPE on the horizon of where we are today.

This year our theme of HOPE will guide us forward. As Howard Thurman so eloquently writes, we will look to raise the ceiling of our hopes.

And we will seek to be inspired by HOPE, expecting that HOPE in God does not disappoint. And finally, we will move in such a way to build our HOPE on Jesus Christ as the words of the old hymn say in part:

    Our Hope is built on nothing less, 

    Than Jesus' blood and righteousness

    We dare not trust the sweetest frame

    But wholly lean on Jesus' name

    On Christ the solid rock WE stand

    All other ground is sinking sand

    All other ground is sinking sand

Or, as one professor stated years ago:  Hope resides in the dark. We keep watching, waiting, and working, but we do not ever give up! 

So, as we move closer to our annual conference session, let us prepare ourselves by looking to HOPE and asking ourselves a series of questions:

  • Where do I/We see HOPE in our churches, communities, and the world beyond?
  • How can We/I inspire HOPE?
  • How can we, together as a conference, raise the ceiling of our HOPE in today's world?

I'm filled with hope and optimism as we approach the upcoming Annual Conference, and I invite everyone to join me in prayer for the days ahead. Together, let's approach this gathering with a deep sense of hope, eagerly anticipating the incredible things that God will do among us.

As we move forward, let's hold onto the belief that hope is on the horizon and that we will work tirelessly to make disciples in the Louisiana Conference, fueled by our unwavering faith and trust in God's plans for us.

Let us also remember that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be the church and have a living HOPE found in Christ Jesus, who gave his life for us all.   

And as we pray, let us print these on our hearts from Romans 13:13

    May the God of Hope fill you (us) with all joy and peace as you (we) trust in him so that you (we) may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

See ya'll soon!

Grace and Peace,
Bishop Delores J. Williamston

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