We have walked together these last sixteen years on a path of discovery – of who we are and who we are called to become and what is God calling us to do. It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve you as bishop of Eastern Michigan for the past eleven years.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Over the past sixteen years, I have been privileged to serve at least three “seasons” with you — five years as Missioner and two seasons across almost eleven years as your bishop. Now is the time for me to enter a new season of ministry and for you to enter your own new season as well.
I greet you as one whose heart is filled with the joy that comes from being “. . . convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). I also greet you as one whose heart is heavy in the midst of national division, increasing rhetoric of hate, profound misunderstandings of one another, and our inability to sustain levels of civil discourse that are fundamental to both Christian community and the continuing experiment of American democracy.
As we prepare for our celebration of Christmas 2015, the world is filled with fear. Fear of the other. Fear of the possibility that terror will strike close to us. But we’re told by God, through God’s holy angels – the messengers of God’s love, that we need not be afraid but rather we are invited to join God in embracing in love those who are different from us and those who are like us.