Fall Clergy Day Apart

August 21, 2015
This letter is being shared with all Alabama-West Florida Conference Clergy: local pastors, associate members, provisional members, all clergy in full connection (elders and deacons), and all retired clergy. We will be meeting this October 8, 2015, at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church to engage in a much-needed conversation regarding how we shape and order our relationships with each other. The timing of this gathering has been set in October following the election of delegates at our last Annual Conference and prior to our General Conference this coming spring. The unique challenges of scheduling conference events in the spring of 2016 with General Conference allows us to meet this fall.
Bishop Mike Coyner, Bishop of the Indiana Annual Conference, will be guiding our time together as we reflect on how we relate to one another, speak of our colleagues, and encourage each other in our various settings of ministry. Clergy throughout our denomination can often feel competitive with other clergy; feel disappointment when they are not personally selected for their desired appointments; and sense a lack of encouragement and affirmation from clergy within their annual conference. How do we step forward to model exceptional ethical behavior toward one another? How do we affirm our clergy colleagues and resist negative impressions when such expressions emerge in our daily conversations? How do we support and uphold other clergy when congregations and laity ask us our opinions of other clergy?
The way in which we live in community with others is a spiritual issue and reflects our spiritual maturity.
With an ever-increasing number of retirements taking place in our conference, and with uncertainty over the way in which our United Methodist Church will shape polity and life together, it becomes more critical to hear clergy who will openly commit themselves to the highest Christian ideals of our calling.
It is my expectation as your Bishop, that all clergy will be present for this critical conversation. I would not want to explain what one’s absence communicated to their peers when we are deliberately shaping our commitment to affirm each other.
Please join me in expressing gratitude, once again, for the generous hospitality of Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church for hosting this important time together. We will be meeting October 8, 2015, at 9:30am for fellowship, and will begin our conversation on ministerial ethics with Bishop Coyner at 10:00am. Please register your attendance early so that we can anticipate the number of lunches to make available
For the sake of his body, the church, I became a minister according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory…For this I toil and struggle with all the energy that he powerfully inspires within me.” Col 1:24-29 (NRSV).
The sanctification of Christ means that I join each of you as I grow in this way also.
The Peace of Christ be with You,
Paul L. Leeland
Resident Bishop
Alabama-West Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church
4719 Woodmere Blvd
Montgomery, AL 36106