Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Arkansas Conference,
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I am writing to share with you my decision to seek retirement at the upcoming South Central Jurisdictional Conference this November, to take effect January 1, 2023 under ¶408.2.a of The 2016 Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church.
I have sought to be a bridge builder in that broad middle I have come to call the ‘Heart of United Methodism’. I am proud of this effort, but it has not been easy. The best way I can describe it is to say that I have often felt I was marching to the beat of a drummer no one else could hear. What is more, the deep divisions in our denomination have taken a personal toll as I have had to spend more and more of my time dealing with problems instead of being able to offer spiritual leadership in creating vital congregations that make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world. Quite honestly, I am weary and it is time to step aside.
There is another reason, however, why this is the right time. It is personal and far more important. Karen and I were married six years ago. I owe it both to her and me to experience this season of our lives together in all its fullness in ways we simply cannot if I am serving as an active bishop.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have served in full-time ministry since 1979, and as your bishop since 2012. I have been privileged to see the Holy Spirit at work in ways I could not have envisioned in the people and churches of the Arkansas Conference, and I know that this will continue in even greater ways in the coming years as you journey with a new episcopal leader. And as I look ahead to the next chapter in life, I want you to know that I am looking forward to doing whatever I can as a retired bishop in the United Methodist Church to bring Jesus’ prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying love to a world he died to save.
God bless you.
Grace and peace,
Gary E. Mueller