My dear Holston friends,
I write to say thank you for welcoming this stranger from North Georgia. You have loved, embraced, and nurtured me as I came among you at the age of 23. You became my new family, and I am indebted to each of you. You have given me opportunities to see the amazing ministry of our wonderful United Methodist Church in many different parts of the world. In 1975, I never could have imagined the incredible journey that would unfold.
I met Rusty Taylor at Candler School of Theology in January of 1973. We fell in love, got engaged in February, and married each other at Decatur First United Methodist Church on June 9, 1973. I left behind the wonderful church which had loved and nurtured me since kindergarten. I transferred my membership to the Rising Fawn United Methodist Church where my new husband was the appointed pastor. Each weekend we commuted from Atlanta to the Rising Fawn Circuit. My heart is full and my eyes are teary as I think about the incredible people over these 48 years who have blessed our lives in the Holston Conference, people I would never have met if not for Rusty.
My cup has overflowed as I have been humbled and honored to serve for 17 years as a member of the Council of Bishops and to get to know such committed servants of the church. Since my election in 2004, God has blessed me to serve two great annual conferences. We have so many dear friends in the South Carolina Annual Conference from our eight years there. I am thankful that for the last nine years you have welcomed me back home to Holston. It has been a true blessing to have had the privilege of serving with such wonderful conference staffs. No matter where they are, God’s people are good people.
As I ponder the past and look back, I find that it is often easier to see God’s hand at work. As many of you already know, I have decided to retire as of September 1, 2021. I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life to see where God is leading. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett will serve both the North Alabama and the Holston Conferences. I am confident that you will love and embrace her as you have loved and embraced me.
Remembering that God’s love, mercy, and grace is always more than sufficient for all our needs,
5/14/2021 | Annual Conference Bishop General Conference