I’m ending this day awash in snippets of ideas and images. These are among the ones I’m thankful for:
For Bishop Lloyd Knox, for calling my father-in-law (a pastor who was under appointment in the same Annual Conference Bishop Knox served). Here’s how the conversation began:
Bp Knox: Hello. Hoyt? It’s Lloyd.
Hoyt: Lloyd who?
Bp Knox: Lloyd Knox. How are you?
He was just calling to chat. There was no agenda; he wasn’t getting moved. For bishops who take the time to check-in with their pastors, I am thankful.
For a spouse who keeps one’s feet grounded.
There’s the story that Bishop Bevel Jones would readily tell. One day, soon after being elected to the office of bishop, Bishop Jones’ spouse asked him to take out the trash. Much to his objection, he declared that it was not fitting for a bishop of the church to take out the garden. His wife replied, “Put your robe on if you want but the trash still needs to go out.”
Bishop Jones told this story on himself in a class I took from him at the Candler School of Theology. Humility in the midst of such dizzying times is a gift we could all stand to receive.
For the legacy of ministries that keep women in difficult circumstances safe.
The United Methodist Church withdrew from an organization it helped found: the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. This organization advocated for women’s health choices and ministered to women in the midst of difficult circumstances.
I know we have a “nuanced” statement on abortion, which I adhere to pretty closely. I realize those are private conversations and decisions between a woman, her doctor, and family. I seem to find myself gravitating to the axiom that is oft-told, “safe, legal, and rare.” I pray we can kind another place to witness.
For a church that is wise enough to have a body that helps us hold ourself in check.
Our Judicial Council made two rulings today. They reminded some of our leaders that they cannot manipulate a situation to remain in power longer than the rules state. They also reminded us that while creativity is something to be nurtured, we all have rules that we must follow. As we say in our ordination vows, we keep our rules not for wrath but for consciousness sake.
We need to innovate. We need to encourage, invite, and woo people into a relationship with Jesus. It is helpful to remember that we do this in conversation and collaboration with others.
For women in ministry:
Today we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the ordination of women. For colleagues, mentors, pastors , and legacy-makers I am grateful for your ministry, presence, and leadership.
I cannot imagine a church without women in leadership. I am glad my daughter can imagine a world where she, as she discovers what God has called her to do, can dream and do anything.
For a church that holds forth healthcare for all as an ideal:
Today, we voted on a resolution reaffirming the vision of a single payer healthcare system for America. I was not sure we were going to affirm this. Then a man from the Northwest Katanga Annual Conference (Democratic Republic of Congo) spoke. He pointed out two items: why should he be hearing about a US centric matter, and why not remember the poor among us a vote for it. It passed.
Living into a Global Church is difficult. Many times we want to talk about financial considerations or cultural clashes. Sometimes, we are reminded that we do, truly need each other.
Lastly, I am grateful for new friends, old friends, and colleagues. I am especially thankful for folks that love me enough to keep me in conversation, even when I’m tired.
One more day of General Conference. Tomorrow is the budget. Keep your eyes and ears open.