Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
The Commission on the General Conference announced that the 2020 General Conference is now further postponed until 2024. My first word of counsel to self, and to you my beloved, is breathe. The second is remember the mission and do not neglect it.
There will be more to learn in the next days, weeks and months ahead. The Council of Bishops has a called meeting on March 8. We, among others, will take a wide-angle look at the implications of the postponement. My cabinet (already scheduled to meet on March 9 and 10) will place this on the agenda along with the work we have before us. The Trustees of West Ohio are prepared to play their designated role. There will be work for the Judicial Council of the church to tend. The West Ohio Annual Conference will meet on schedule. There is, to say the least, much to sort out.
I want to assure you that I will continue to lead in the spirit of Jesus Christ "full of grace and truth.” I have numerous conversations scheduled with a variety of people where I will listen and respond in ways meant to be helpful-- for the pieces, parts and whole-- to stay on mission. I will give the appropriate amount of attention to the specific demands created by the decision to "further postpone" the General Conference. This will not be my sole focus. The new work required to assist those that feel it important to move into other structures will be undertaken with dignity and grace. Let the record show, that I desire that none leave. When persons and local churches have sought separation from the West Ohio Conference (yes, it has always been possible), we have journeyed together to bring that desire to be fulfilled with little or no fanfare but always with respect and love.
When I became your bishop in 2012, I launched my ministry with the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Now is a great time for you to open your bible and read this passage. In this season, in our conference and in our Church, this scripture still guides me and is what I aim for. Tumult in church polity and structures is not a "hall pass" on the mission. Nothing and no one ever frees us from proclaiming and embodying the Gospel of Jesus Christ in word and deed, personally and in community. Not now, not ever. That will still be our high privilege even when "...we cast our crowns before him, lost in wonder, love and praise.”
I've got a hunch we will be talking again soon. Until then "...Be strong and of a good courage; do not be afraid, neither be dismayed: for the Lord, thy God is with thee."
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
+Gregory V. Palmer