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Bishop's Column: Broken Connections, Healing Connections

Posted: May 26 2023 at 10:45 PM
Author: Bishop Dan Schwerin

Bishop Dan Schwerin May 2023

My favorite moments of recent days included a bedtime prayer with my grandson and conversation at lunch with the 2023 class of ordinands. What do those moments have in common?

The ordinands were recounting how these days are full of broken connections: hate crimes, mass shootings, people undermining their ministry with misinformation, and a general suspicion coming out of patterns of isolation during the pandemic. My grandson? He is eight and having bad dreams. He saw a death on a television show and now he has nightmares because he is afraid that he will be separated from the family he loves.

During a learning component from our recent Council of Bishops meeting, we reflected on trauma, and how trauma can break our connections with self and other. Some trauma is acute, some is chronic and ongoing. Some can be complex and generational, and some can be collective with trauma related to racism or genocide, for example. Clergy health and well-being is a major concern coming out of the pandemic. We are awash in broken connections with self and other—and we live in a time of people pulling apart.

These are reminders for me of the importance of being grounded in our bodies. These are days to reconnect with personal wellness, practices that sustain our faith and heal community. Our witness as United Methodists is to be a resistance and alternative to the pulling apart we see these days across society and the United Methodist Church. It is interesting to me that often Thomas Merton described sin as alienation.

We should recognize that clergy were and are frontline workers. Teachers, delivery people, nurses—many of us need to attend to our well-being and reset our connections with the faith community.

I prayed with my grandson that night, and it was healing for both of us. I was reminded of the healing of covenant community by the ordinands; what a gifted and committed group we will receive! These are days for connecting to God, our true selves, colleagues, community, and yes, the annual conference. Our theme is “Come to the Table.” I am praying for our healing, and for a conference vivified by the Spirit. I can’t wait to see you!

Know that I am praying for you.

P.S: Thank you for all who helped us host the Council of Bishops at the beginning of May. Your hospitality was a gift to these servants. I was so moved by your faithfulness. Thank you.

Ordinandretreat20231cr 2

The 2023 ordinands meet with Rev. Arlene Christopherson, Bishop Dan Schwerin, and Rev. Brian Gilbert.

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