#WeAreMore: A word from the Bishop

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Bishop Gary E. Mueller

General Conference is over. What happened—or didn’t—during those 11 days in Portland during which 864 delegates came together to make missional, legislative and financial decisions makes a difference. Here are some of my take-aways.

We chose to stand united for the sake of staying in mission. Our gathering reflected our global nature more than ever before. We committed to continuing our work in the Four Areas of Focus, and adopted bold new goals for the next four years: to make a million new disciples of Jesus Christ; to engage three million leaders to make a difference in the world; to transform 400 communities for vital abundant living; to reach a million children with life-saving health interventions; and to double the number of vital congregations. We added five new bishops and doubled our investment in theological education in Africa.

For the first time, a General Conference appealed to the Council of Bishops to lead legislatively as well as spiritually. We bishops have humbly accepted this challenge as we appoint a special commission to engage in finding a way of moving forward, including the possible crafting of legislation related to human sexuality that may be presented at a called session of General Conference prior to 2020.

While this work is carried out, the prohibitions outlined in church law still exist, as does the process for addressing violations. There is, however, a desire to explore alternatives as we seek a deeper and healthier unity as members of the Body of Christ. It is my prayer that the Holy Spirit will enable the commission and the Council of Bishops to offer a powerful witness to the world about what it means to live in unity in a world that finds it increasingly easy to divide, blame and hate.

When all is said and done, however, we are more than demonstrations, parliamentary maneuvering, budgets, legislation and whatever the media reports about us. I personally witnessed this in our Arkansas delegation. While there are striking differences of opinion on key issues, they modeled what it means to be joined together in the Body of Christ as they laughed, supported each other and prayed together. I was proud of them, and I know you are as well.

What is true about our delegation is also true about our Conference. We are more when we continue to focus on spiritual revival. We are more when we seek to “Grow by One.” We are more when we get involved in “200,000 Reasons” in order to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry in our state. We are more when we engage the mission field right outside our churches.

In closing, I return home from General Conference reminded of three very important things. First, I love you. Second, I am grateful to serve in ministry with you. And third, I am ready to roll up my sleeves as we continue to create vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller