Well, friends, it has been awhile. Almost six years. When I became the Assistant to Bishop Hee-Soo Jung, he asked me to cease blogging so that “our voices will not be mixed.” I felt this was a reasonable request; I am an opinionated so-and-so who speaks his mind and sometimes generates controversy. The basic job of a Bishop’s Assistant is to calm controversy and make the Episcopal leader look as good as possible. I agreed not to blog, but man did I not know what I was giving up! What a weird and raucous six years we have had? I am not going backwards, but believe me, I had plenty to say that went unsaid (probably just as well; we were never lacking for opinions…) and now I am once more finding my voice.
June 30 I leave my position as Assistant to the Bishop and I renter the REAL WORLD on July 1 as lead pastor of People’s United Methodist Church in Oregon, Wisconsin. Yay, me! I cannot begin to explain how happy I am to enter this new (old) phase of ministry. I am fully aware that the church I enter is a very different entity than what I left 27 years ago (I have been in extension ministry since 1994) and even pre-pandemic. In a strange way, this makes it even more exciting.
I am also going to be working with The Lakelands Institute, doing some training, consulting, and coaching. This is something I love doing and Lakelands is generously inviting me to join them in transformative digital learning.
Perhaps the most important aspect of recovering my own voice is the tectonic shift that occurred in my own faith journey through 2020. Yes, there was this pandemic thing, and egregious incidents of racial injustice, violence, oppression, and harm, but I also had both my hips replaced in 2020 after suffering over a year of mind-numbing, excruciating pain. I entered 2020 feeling defeated and despairing – with personal pain, watching my beloved United Methodist communion decaying, and maintaining a 70+ hour work week. Little did I know what was on the horizon.
But now I am entering a phase of true healing. My body is mending, my energy is replenishing, my spirit is lifted, and my desire to serve has never been higher. So, I being by finding my voice. But I need to continue to find my muscle and sinew and backbone. It is one thing to talk a good game; it is time to play a good game. It is not enough just to speak up; the time has come to stand up. We have seen how fragile a thing our health and well-being can be. We have been shocked at acts of disrespect, incivility, cruelty, violence, and recrimination. We are generally tired of the circus we call the U.S. Congress and fed up with politics as gladiator sport. We have witnessed the world we do not want to live in; it is time to work together to create the world we DO want. We need to call out bad behavior and stand united against it, and as we embody the call to “do no harm,” we need to rally our forces to “do all the good we can.” If we don’t like where we are heading, it is up to us to change direction.
Okay, so I am back. Mondays and Thursdays I plan to post, and I hope I can reconnect with lost contacts and beloved adversaries. The church needs us all to do what we can.