Letter from the Council of Bishops

Letter from the Council of Bishops


November, 2012

We, the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church, send greetings to you in the name of the Risen Jesus the Christ.

We have been gathered from around the world at Epworth by-the-Sea at St. Simons Island, Georgia for a time of retreat and a time of building community. Since this was our first meeting since the adjournment of General Conference in Tampa on May 4, and since the election of new bishops over the summer, we welcomed new colleagues elected by the church to share in this holy ministry of oversight.

Like others, we recognize the unique and historic moment in time in which we are called upon to lead and serve. Meeting in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and during the week of a presidential election in the United States, and painfully aware of the suffering that many of our people experience in many countries around the globe, we invested ourselves in prayer for a future with hope for all God’s people. Setting the stage for the Council meeting, we began with worship and reflections on Joshua 3:3-4: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before.”

We journey into an unknown future and we face multiple challenges and complex questions regarding our life together and mission in this changing world. We, your bishops, are seeking God’s guidance in all these matters. We know we still have much to learn together. And, we are a diverse community with many different and rich perspectives. However, we are called to continue the journey with you, since “we have not passed this way before.”

As the servant leaders for our church, we continually prepare ourselves to provide the temporal and spiritual leadership defined for us in The Book of Discipline. To that end, in our recent meeting we devoted intentional blocks of time to Bible study, worship, prayer and discernment as we sought to be shaped and empowered by the Holy Spirit. In that context and in several holy conversations, we continued the work of reforming the life and work of the Council, a process that has been emerging over the last several years and confirmed by action of the Council in the Spring of this year. This process reformation is characterized by watching over one another in love so that by God’s grace we grow in fruitfulness.

Above all, we remain deeply and passionately committed to leading the church in the adaptive challenge to increase the number of vital congregations throughout the world, and to holding ourselves accountable for signs of vitality. In renewing our commitment to the four areas of focus, we made covenant with each other to lead the church in starting new places for new people, stamping out the killer diseases by improving health globally, engaging in ministry with the poor, and developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world. As the people of The United Methodist Church we are called to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We, your bishops, are committed to leading in this mission. We urge our people and our churches to join us in responding to the movement of God’s Spirit among us so that this mission becomes reality, and that God’s “kingdom may come on earth as it is in heaven.”

Grace and peace,

Bishop Rosemarie Wenner
The Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church