FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN
I don’t know about you, but one of the ongoing challenges for me is to pay attention to where the Spirit is at work and then move in that direction. Jesus certainly got it right when he said in John 3:8: The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.
I may not know where it comes from or where it goes, but every now and then I do get a glimpse of the Holy Spirit at work. Take, for example, the painful but important conversation going on around the issue of racial justice. Don’t you find it remarkable that three years ago our annual conference voted to establish task forces on multiculturalism and on ministry with our undocumented neighbors? Both groups worked so effectively that we now have on our conference website a menu of resources
available to those who are ready to see dividing walls of hostility come down through the cross of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). Three years ago, the Holy Spirit worked through an annual conference business session to equip us for the work that is before us today. Three years ago, the Holy Spirit populated these task forces with South Georgia brothers and sisters who are Hispanic, Korean, African American, Native American, and Caucasian. Looking back now I see the work of the Holy Spirit all over this.
Another glimpse of the Holy Spirit occurred during our recent summer Cabinet planning retreat. For more than three months we had met via Zoom. But in June we met in person at Epworth By The Sea. We observed social distancing, used hand sanitizer, and followed other best practices for safety. Each of us sat at our own table, six feet away from one another. Through the presence of the Holy Spirit we were alive together in Christ. We saw this clearly in the outcome of one particular exercise.
Before I stepped out of the room to let them discuss and answer, I asked the cabinet members to answer three questions: What might God be asking us to become/do in the gift of this additional 16 months together? What will be happening if we have succeeded? How do (my/your/our) strengths align with this? When I returned, I read their answers. Then I told them that I had answered the same questions and that my answers were, remarkably, the same as theirs. Working independently but guided by the same Holy Spirit, we felt God nudging us to lean into these areas:
Connecting and Understanding Race and Equality
(building on the work of our two task forces)
Promoting Continuing Adaptive Behavior
(building on the adaptive capacity demonstrated by our churches during the pandemic)
Moving the ministry of the laity to central focus
(building on the success of our Certified Lay Servant and Certified Lay Minister programs)
Recognizing the work of the Holy Spirit, we are already taking intentional steps to follow through in each of these areas.
Amazing things happen when we are open to the Holy Spirit and willing to move when and where the Spirit says move.
Alive Together in Witness,
R. Lawson Bryan