Grace and peace to you from the Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to tell you how happy I am that I have been reappointed to serve as the bishop of the Eastern PA Conference and the Peninsula-Delaware Conference for another four years. This was decided last week (July 16-20) at the Northeastern Jurisdiction Conference of the United Methodist Church that was held in Charleston, WV. My thanks to the area delegates who faithfully attended this conference and represented us well. Dr. Mary White, Rev. Jim Todd, Rev. Dr. Sandra Steiner Ball, Mr. Demetrio Beach were the heads of the delegations for our 2012 conference season. Rev. Michele Wright Bartlow, Ms. Judy Ehninger, Rev. Derrick Porter and Mr. Kevin Goodwin represented us at the NEJ Episcopacy Committee, where the bishop assignments were made. I have been blessed to serve this area with so many great servants of God!
We are thrilled and joyful over the election of Rev. Dr. Sandra Steiner Ball to the Episcopacy and pray for her and her family as she moves to the West Virginia Annual Conference on September 1, 2012. Her many gifts for ministry and her leadership skills will be a wonderful asset to the United Methodist Church there.
I am looking forward to serving this area for another 4 years and will strive to build on the relationships and the programs that have already been developed. I have enjoyed getting to know you and visiting your wonderful ministries. I have deep respect for the many faithful pastors and lay people who give sacrificially of their time and talent and treasure to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in their communities. I am encouraged by the growth in our diversity and spirituality.
I am happy to receive any suggestions for improvements and any other ideas you have for me as I begin a new quadrennium with you. I see our work together as a partnership and I value your input and support. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and the office number is 610-666-1442 or 800-828-0933 .
So what is my personal goal for this area for the next 4 years? Body work! I shared with the delegates and friends of the area who gathered in Charleston on Friday morning that I hope we will become more and more like magpies and less like robins in the years to come. In the book: The Power of Positive Deviance by Pascale, Sternin and Sternin they describe the characteristics of these two birds. Robins are territorial, live in isolation and vocalize in order to maintain their territory. Magpies, on the other hand work together, nesting in large groups on cold nights, teaming up to drive out predators, assisting young parent birds with the nestlings and using their collective strength to lift garbage can lids. As a result these birds are able to make considerable progress in their ability to thrive and grow as a species. Let’s be more like magpies in our conference life as we work together in unity with one another!
We as the Body of Christ can achieve great things this way. The connectional system of our denomination has shown us again and again the power of collaboration. New people are reached for Christ, the needs of the poor are met, killer diseases are alleviated, new churches and faith communities are developed. It only works when we work as a unified body. This is what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he said: “Speak the truth in love and grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part if working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Finally I ask for your prayers and I covenant to continue to pray for you. May God bless you richly in the years to come and thank you for the awesome privilege that my husband Michael and I have to be here among you.
The assignment of bishops in the Northeastern Jurisdiction is as follows, and begins September 1, 2012:
Baltimore-Washington: Marcus Matthews
Eastern PA: Peggy Johnson
Greater New Jersey: John Schol
New England: Devedar
New York: Martin McLee
Pen-Delaware: Peggy Johnson
Upper New York: Webb
Western PA: Bickerton
West Virginia: Steiner Ball
Read about it online: http://nej12stories.tumblr.com/