FROM THE BISHOP
R. LAWSON BRYAN
I recently had the opportunity to deliver the invocation for an event known as the “Gathering of Eagles,” an annual recognition of distinguished aviators from the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army, and NASA. Those recognized are invited to share their personal experiences so future generations can listen to them and learn from them. The group includes jet and helicopter pilots, NASA astronauts, and members of The Tuskegee Airmen.
I was particularly intrigued by the story of Air Force Major Heather Penney. She was stationed in Washington, D.C. during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The Pentagon had already been hit, as had the World Trade Center’s twin towers. It was also known that United Airline Flight 93 had been hijacked and was probably headed toward the U. S. Capitol or the White House. Major Penney took off in her jet to find Flight 93 and defend the capital region. It was so urgent to get into the air that there was no time to arm her aircraft. With no weapons, the only way she could bring down that plane would be to ram her plane into Flight 93. In other words, she took off knowing that this would likely lead to her giving her own life to thwart the terrorists.
As it turns out, the passengers overwhelmed the terrorists and crashed the plane in a field in Pennsylvania. Major Penney points out that those passengers are the true heroes of that day. But when she took off that morning she did so with the willingness to give her own life if necessary. In The Washington Post, Major Penney said this about her actions that day: “There are things in this world that are more important than ourselves. [...] We belong to something greater than ourselves. As complex and diverse and discordant as it is, this thing, this idea called America, binds us together in citizenship and community…”
For me this is not only an inspiring story, it also reminds me that the call of Christ upon our lives is so strong that it unites us in a cause much greater than ourselves. John and Charles Wesley came to Georgia in 1736 in response to that call and in service to that cause. Today, 285 years later, the South Georgia Conference is Alive Together in the call and the cause of Christ our Lord.
I encourage us to remember this as we prepare for the Annual Conference business session on Monday, June 7. Even though we are meeting by electronic means, we will be focusing attention on the mission and ministry to which God has called us. I also look forward to the Clergy Session and the Retiree Recognition session on June 1; the Memorial Service on June 3, and the Ordination/Commissioning Service on June 6. Each of these events testifies to the way we really do belong to something greater than ourselves: the call and the cause of Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters in the South Georgia Conference, let us participate fully in each of these events. And as we do so, let us thank God that we get to be part of the call and cause of Christ.
Alive Together at the Table,
R. Lawson Bryan