Words of Thanks from Bishop Delores J. Williamston

Bishop Delores J. Williamston
June 22, 2023

God is good all the time, and all the time, God IS good!

Greetings to the laity and clergy member, guest, and friends of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church!

We held our first Annual Conference together one week ago in Baton Rouge, La. It was HoPE filled and inspirational! And it was a blessing to see you all and feel the Spirit of God moving among us in times of swift transition. It truly feels like a season of HōPE in the UMC and how we live out our discipleship. We are now poised to focus and set our sights on our vision of Jesus Christ as we all pick up our mats and walk forward together in God's Kingdom.

As we walk, we must thank many in the Louisiana Conference who made the AC23 happen. Thank you to Rev. Drew Sutton and the fantastic annual conference planning team who created a HōPE-inspired conference. Thank you to the Broadmoor United Methodist Church Praise Band and Rev. Emily Carrol for your gifts of musical worship. Thank you to Rev. Brittney Winn Lee for the powerful liturgies that awakened our souls. Thank you to the numerous worship leaders for participating in the services. Thank you to the Louisiana Conference Communications Team and GNTV for their abilities to make everything look and sound amazing. I also want to thank the District administrative assistants, Louisiana Conference staff, cabinet, and extended cabinet members for your behind-the-scenes work. Thank you to Jennifer Swan, Conference Lay Leader, and Mr. Buzzy Anding, our conference parliamentarian. And I must thank Rev. Kennon Pickett for sharing his gift of painting! I will treasure that painting all my days. Thank you to First United Methodist Church of Baton Rouge and University United Methodist Church for hosting the clergy session, Celebration of Ministry, and memorial service. Your hospitality was felt and appreciated, and your witness continues to impact our community positively. 

And thank you to the delegates for your grace and patience during the various business sessions. You listened with attentive ears, asked thoughtful questions, and boldly passed some important legislation. Your support of our LGBTQIA+ siblings will leave a lasting impact on our Conference. Your continued support for the work of the Anti-Racism Task Force, now known as the Beloved Community, is inspiring and needed. 

It goes without saying; this year has been challenging. Numerous churches have left the Conference and the denomination. Yet, through it all, so many of you refuse to disaffiliate, and you remain faithful to what it means to be connectional. In fact, that connectional spirit has led so many of you to create space for those in great need of being included as whole beings in the life of the United Methodist Church. You inspire us to renew our witness for God's children and pull another chair to God's bountiful welcome table. 

Finally, a great big thank you to YOU! Your spirit was infectious, and the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ prevailed in ways I cannot even begin to count!

We are well aware there is hard work to do, yet the beauty is that we are now off our mats and marching forward with Jesus Christ as our focus. And we, as disciples of Christ, know that when our focus remains on Jesus, all things are possible! 

Now, as we prepare to continue clarifying the vision and strategies of the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church, let us all remember the infectious and gratifying time we had together this year. 

As we approach 2024, let us march forward in the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church with the Hope-filled expectation that we will be the church God has called us to be this day.

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