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From Your Bishop: By your Spirit make us one …

Posted: August 31 2023 at 10:36 AM
Author: Bishop Dan Schwerin


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This line has stayed with me for some months. It hits me with a force now that I have been consecrated as a bishop. It is worth noting that in the Great Thanksgiving the paragraph that begins, “Pour out your Holy Spirit” is followed in the next paragraph with the implications. “By your Spirit, make us one…” It is only by God’s Spirit that we find the power of a unity in Christ that can confront the world’s prejudices, racism, and fear-based division. My soul has lingered long on this for the past month. I am praying, “Make us one.”

I see in the work of the Annual Conference Shepherding Team a commitment to anti-racism that lives out a “beloved community life” together. I recently read an interview with Howard Thurman’s daughter, Olive Thurman Wong. She said the least appreciated aspect of her father’s writing and witness is the deep Oneness he saw in the world, through the eyes of faith. This Oneness, if we could live it, would be healing for ourselves and others.

I pray for the work we committed to while at annual conference session this June: to commit to equity in clergy salaries, so that Christ is made known and healing comes to this body. I pray that your commitment to full payment of your conference and general church apportionments affirms that we are in this together and vivifies our common ministry. I pray that we make a commitment to our conference Net Zero work and live into a planetary health that blesses to the seventh generation—or we will be prisoners of fires, smoke, toxic water, and more. Beloved community must include our nest, the planet, the world God “so loves.”

I have been listening to and praying about the Shepherding Team’s vision work. I’d like to offer my own synopsis of the vision we share as we keep refining it:
     By your Spirit make us one
     in a beloved community life together,
     living a theology of abundance
     for developing vital faith communities
     that make disciples of Jesus Christ  
     for the transformation of the world.
 
I believe that the new United Methodist Church that is emerging post-disaffiliation has an opportunity to claim a unity that can heal each of us and the world we serve. We are jeans and suits, Republican and Democrat, doubters and believers, east and west, gay and straight. We are Black, Brown, and every kind of child of God—and we are the people of The United Methodist Church.

I invite you to pray and consider the elements of communion.

Know that I am praying for you. 

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