KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor was welcomed as resident bishop of the Holston Conference during a celebration service attended by about 450 at Concord United Methodist Church on Sunday, Sept. 9.
Taylor spoke of her own history as she expressed hope for Holston’s future and a passion for reaching young persons.
“When I was ordained a deacon at Central United Methodist Church in Knoxville in 1974, my friends, there was no way I could ever have imagined that 38 years later I would be standing here in Concord Church as the bishop of the Holston Conference,” she said.
"Whatever I have accomplished or will do for the sake of the kingdom of God is because of the nurturing, love, encouragement and support of persons like who you all, with whom I have had the privilege to make this journey.”
Taylor referred to John 21, when Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” The question was more about action than words, she said.
“Talk is cheap and talk is easy, so please don’t misunderstand that our words are very important,” Taylor said. "But real faith, real faith has got to be more than just words. There was something that Jesus wanted Peter to do.”
The church’s ministry with young people is “critical” and should include placing young people in church leadership, she said. But that doesn’t mean older people can “get a pass.”
“He never quits calling us to be his disciples. He never says, ‘OK, it’s time for you to retire now.’ It’s for all of us. It’s for all of us, but we have to encourage the younger leaders to come on as well.”
Taylor also spoke of hospitality and inclusion as key interests in her leadership.
"I pledge before this congregation -- which represents the churches across this Annual Conference -- I pledge that it is my priority for every one of our churches to be places where people meet, know, serve, and share Jesus Christ.”