Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
At this writing two themes are intersecting for me. They are the passage of time and the connection to work. Specifically as I begin my 10th year among you on September 1 and that reality intertwines with realizing that this is the start of my 22nd year as an active bishop who also realizes that he has a mere 36 months remaining in this work. Wow. Where did the time go?
As a part of my processing all this spiritually, emotionally, ecclesiastically and theologically I share with you some of my ponderings. Some I have shared before mostly with the Area Committee on Episcopacy.
Let me quickly look back. I came among you in September of 2012. At the beautiful installation service I preached from the following text from Paul’s first correspondence to the Corinthians:
When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
What you need to know is that I plan still to lead from this posture with an unapologetic emphasis on For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Jesus must remain at the center of our life and work or we ought to get out of business. I started with Jesus, I am sticking with him and I plan to go all the way with him and for him in life and work. I hope you do, too.
I want to share with you how I see my role. This has grown over time and has been distilled to some useful key framing words. Not only do I see myself in the ways named below, but I also yearn for a church that sees itself through these lenses. I want to spend my time being and doing and helping the church to be and do the following:
- Leader and Follower
- Evangelist and Prophet
- Provocateur and Healer
- Curator and Creator
I see each of these dyads as necessarily integrated. Whole people, whole leaders and a church that is whole should and must reflect this kind of synergy. To neglect any of these angles of view on our life and ministry is to short change the whole enterprise. So I invite you to think about who you are and who we can be through these dyads. Let’s flesh them out together and reflect on how we are doing. Let’s not shortchange the gospel or the mission by doing any less.
I cherish the privilege that is before us all as we serve Jesus Christ and serve the world in his great name. I remain,
Your Servant in Christ,
† Bishop Gregory V. Palmer