Dear Members of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,
Greetings in the precious name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Nancy and I are so excited to join you in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. The week of July 12-15 was one of the hardest and best moments of my life. Going through the process as an Episcopal nominee is very difficult in that your life is put out there for everyone to analyze. To be elected is most humbling and an emotional experience that is hard to put into words. Nancy and I were overcome with joy when we were told that our assignment was to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. It confirmed that this whole journey was a God thing, and one that has been anointed by God. We are blessed beyond words to join you in ministry in just in a couple of weeks. We move into the episcopal residence either on August 26 or 27, depending how things go on the loading end.
I am indebted to Paul and Janet Leeland who have given extraordinary leadership to you these past eight years. Paul has become a good friend and has been so thoughtful to us as we have followed him. You have been blessed, the Graves have been blessed, the people we have met from the AWF Conference have been so gracious and kind, and it is our prayer that together we would do a mighty work to build God's Kingdom in this corner of the world.
As I reflect on being a bishop in the United Methodist Church, I turn to the words of one of the great bishops of the Church, St. Augustine, who said, "For you, I am a bishop, but with you, I am a Christian. The first is an office accepted; the second, a grace received. One a danger, the other a safety. We are tossed, it is true, as though in a high sea by the storms of our toil. But recollecting whose blood redeemed us, we come, through the calm of that thought, safely into harbor. And as we labor at this task of ours, our response is in the benefit we all share."
May we keep one another in our prayers, so God will be glorified in all we do, may Christ's compassionate love hold us together, and the Holy Spirit surround us in our journey.
Bishop David Graves