Bishop Delores Williamston Engages in Visioning for the Future of the Louisiana Conference

October 09, 2023
On Saturday, October 7th, the morning temperature in Baton Rouge hung at a cool, dry 65 degrees, a welcomed respite from a scorching summer. Yet, as leaders in the Louisiana Conference gathered for a meeting with Bishop Delores Williamston, it was evident that more than just the weather was undergoing a transformation.

"I sense that change is indeed in the air, and whenever there is a sense of change, we have to listen," Bishop Williamston said. "While the change in temperature was incredibly refreshing, so was meeting with leaders in the Louisiana Conference. It is my hope that our shared dreams and visions will guide us towards a future filled with hope and purpose."

The meeting was characterized by insightful discussions and engaging questions posed by Bishop Williamston and the leadership present. Bishop Williamston commenced the meeting by reflecting on the past ten months, emphasizing the profound insights and productivity gleaned from her extensive 'Boots on the Ground' tour, earlier this year.

She expressed her genuine pleasure at having had the opportunity to connect with diverse pastors and laity throughout Louisiana. Following the conclusion of the tour, she found herself contemplating three pivotal words: building, equipping, and connecting. Within the meeting, she invited the group to delve into the significance of these words within the context of their respective roles and share their perspectives.

Near the end of the meeting, Bishop Williamston asked a profound question for the group. "Five years from now, if there was a headline about the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church in a newspaper, what would it say?" This thought-provoking question set the stage for meaningful conversations about the Conference's future direction.
When we listen to the diverse voices of our people from all corners, we discover the wisdom that binds us together.
Bishop Delores J. Williamston

The attendees engaged in multiple tabletop conversations, each contributing their perspectives and insights to help shape the vision for the Conference. This inclusive approach reflects Bishop Williamston's commitment to ensuring that every voice is heard and valued in the decision-making process.

"We didn't walk out of the meeting with a defined vision, but we also didn't intend to walk out of the meeting with a defined vision," Bishop Williamston said, "Every voice, every story, every perspective weaves a thread of understanding and unity. When we listen to the diverse voices of our people from all corners, we discover the wisdom that binds us together, the grace that strengthens our bonds, and the love that unites our hearts. Let us continue to embark on this journey of HōPE!"

Bishop Williamston will also be holding two pivotal listening sessions to be held at the Wesley Center in Woodworth, LA, in late October. These sessions are designed to engage with both clergy and laity, gather invaluable insights, and inspire a hopeful journey forward. On Friday, October 27th, Bishop Williamston extends a special invitation to clergy members for a dedicated session. The following day, Saturday, October 28th, the session will be open to both laity and clergy. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in 60-minute listening sessions, ensuring a focused and intimate environment for constructive discussions. Each session will accommodate no more than 15 individuals to facilitate meaningful exchanges. 

Bishop Williamston's commitment to actively listening to the voices of United Methodists remains unwavering. Her dedication extends beyond scheduled listening sessions, as evidenced by her recent spontaneous encounter with an 83-year-old man while awaiting car service. During their impromptu conversation, she discovered he was a longstanding member of St. Mark United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, a connection that left both of them pleasantly surprised and inspired. Such encounters reaffirm her dedication to engaging with the people of the Louisiana Conference and fostering connections that transcend boundaries.

"I wholeheartedly invite every member of our Louisiana Conference to step forward and share their thoughts, dreams, and concerns. Your voice is invaluable, and I am committed to hearing from as many of you as possible," Bishop Williamston said. "Let us embark on this journey of unity and understanding together, for it is through your voices that our shared vision for a brighter future will be realized." 
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