Introducing Myself and Retirement: Thoughts on Life With Even More Adventures to Come

Introducing Myself and Retirement: Thoughts on Life With Even More Adventures to Come

3/16/2021

By Rev. Robert M. Walker, Assistant to the Bishop
 
(Some of you may not know is that I am a  writer. I love the written word and how words paint pictures in our imaginations. I wrote the following self-introduction right before the coronavirus pandemic started over a year ago. Since then, I’ve announced that I will be retiring on June 30 this year. I’m really looking forward to retirement and plan to continue teaching at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility and may have one or two more books yet to write. I also plan to travel to New Mexico in August, Croatia in September and, eventually, Australia/New Zealand. Can’t wait!) 


When I introduce myself, I always wonder if I should mention the most important things about my life first. My relationships with those I love best captures my identity. I am a husband to Donna (married 44 years on May 20), a father to Brandon and Matthew (they turn 38 on March 20), a son to Bob and Eileen (who are now 88 years young), and a brother to Patricia (she’s 64) and Margaret (she’s 61). These are the most significant people in my life. But they don’t exhaust the list of significant relationships that I have with other family members, friends, colleagues, co-workers and acquaintances. 

And, of course, my relationship with God is central and woven in and through these important relationships.

Confucius believed that the Self (what we would call the soul) is the intersection of all of our relationships. He was very wise and is probably right. However, I also have a relationship with myself and, even if
that Self includes my relationships, it is something unique and distinct from other relationships.

I believe we each have an inner life—a relationship with the Self—that is part of our relationship with God.

My vocation or calling is also important. I felt a gravitational pull into ordained ministry when I was in college at Southern Methodist University. I went to Perkins School of Theology/SMU to earn a Master of Theology degree. I also earned a MBA from SMU and a Master of Sacred Theology from Yale Divinity School. Maybe my love of education is what eventually led me into teaching.

For the past eleven years, I have taught “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” and “Introduction to World Religions” (that’s how I know about Confucius!) at Green Haven and Sing Sing Correctional Facilities. I am actually appointed by the Bishop to this teaching ministry which has brought me a tremendous amount of satisfaction and sense of doing something for the greater good.

I should probably mention that I’ve been Assistant to the Bishop in the New York Annual Conference for the past eight years. I’ve served with five bishops, but I’ve been with Bishop Bickerton the longest (almost five years). This is a job that really defies a clear job description. Basically, I do whatever helps free up the bishop to do his work. I write letters on the bishop’s behalf. I process clergy status changes, shepherd transfers in and out of the conference, do research on The Book of Discipline and Judicial Council decisions (not the most exciting part of my job, but intellectually stimulating), work on special projects (like the Pastoral Transitional program and, a few years ago, Pastoral Excellence Groups program).

I am also a member of the Cabinet and am involved in appointment-making (if you’re unhappy with your appointment, please don’t blame me—I’m only one of eleven on the Cabinet). 

My Assistant to the Bishop job has a great deal of variety and I like that. It’s never boring. I always seem to be busy because Bishop Bickerton is always very busy. It’s like I’m swept up in the wake of his busy-ness. I should add that it’s a genuine pleasure to work with our Bishop. We have developed a close relationship that I could easily add to my first paragraph of significant relationships. 

Two of my passions are hiking and rowing, and in retirement, I plan to do more of both. I will miss the great people I work with. When you work together, you share life together and become part of a beloved community. If the Self is the intersection of relationships, those with whom you share life become a part of who you are. For that, and for them, I am deeply grateful.