“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
I love the rhythm and variety of the four seasons. Fall brings the beauty of turning leaves. Winter’s crisp air and occasional snow cleanses the earth and atmosphere. Spring bursts on the scene with budding branches, blooming flowers and fresh rains. Long, warm days and a change of pace come with summer.
Ecclesiastes 3 speaks of seasons, referencing not only weather seasons but also rhythms of life.
Today begins a new season for me as I start my tenure as bishop for the Holston Annual Conference. It is also a new chapter for you after nine years under the leadership of one of your own, Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor. I join you in offering prayers of gratitude for Bishop Taylor and her ministry, first as a clergy person in the Holston Conference and more recently as your episcopal leader.
I am excited about what God has ahead for us in the Holston Conference as we get to know each other and move into the future together. During the initial months of this season, I anticipate District Days. . . listening sessions with various groups. . . and significant time with District Superintendents and other Conference leadership. (The status of COVID-19 at the time of scheduled meetings will determine whether the venues are in-person or virtual).
My primary ministry goal between now and the end of the year is to learn about the ministry, strengths and challenges of the Holston Conference. Even though we are in a pandemic, I intend to find many opportunities to listen during these first months of my tenure as your bishop. Why? As your episcopal leader it is essential for me to have a deep understanding of who you are in order to provide leadership that builds on the best of your past as we transition to a new season together.
I approach new ministry seasons and contexts with openness and curiosity. What is bubbling up in your heart as you think and pray about next steps for the Holston Conference? What God-sized possibilities do you sense are in our future? I look forward to discerning together where God is leading us in this new chapter of ministry that we will write together.
Yes, today starts a new season for you, me and us. That is good and right. After all, “For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven.”
It is a joy to serve as your bishop.
The Reverend Dr. Debra Wallace-Padgett was elected a Bishop of the United Methodist Church at the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. At the time of her election, she was the lead pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, ...