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Bishop Ousley’s Final Message to the Diocese

posted June 5, 2017

Written by Katie Forsyth

The transcript of the video follows:

Thirty-five years ago, I stood on these very banks of the Saginaw River, the result of an invitation from Bob and Joyce Schumann and their daughter, Ann. I fell in love with Michigan that August and with the woman who would become my wife and partner in life and in ministry.

Nineteen years later, Ann and our sons, Ian, Dae, and Josh came north to Michigan after I accepted a call to join the diocesan ministry team. It was a diocese that was experiencing with new ways of being church, that understands possibilities, the power of imagination, of taking a risk for the sake of Jesus, of being a place where all people matter and ministry happens at the local level. I was excited about the opportunity to be a part of this and about the hopeful future that this diocese was embracing.

We have walked together these last sixteen years on a path of discovery Рof 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.

It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve you as  bishop of Eastern Michigan for the past eleven years.

We’ve taken risks. We’ve plumbed the depths of our imaginations. And we’ve worked to be a church that gives itself the freedom to color outside the boundaries of the institutional church. We’ve found abundance in the midst of scarcity. Determination in the face of overwhelming odds. And found time to be playful along the way.

We’ve found abundance in the midst of scarcity. Determination in the face of overwhelming odds. And found time to be playful along the way.

We created our own diocesan school for ministry, the Coppage-Gordon School, that has enabled us to explore new models of pastoral leadership for congregations that are challenged by demographics, congregation size, and economic adversity.

We’ve found a voice in the public square, being an advocate to overturn injustice against our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. We’ve spoken out in defense of God’s creation, advocated for reasonable measures against gun violence, and responded faithfully and prophetically to the systemic racism present in the Flint Water Crisis. Well done, good and faithful servants!

As I give thanks for my time as your bishop, I look back on these years with great love and admiration for you as a people and I give thanks to God for God’s goodness and mercy.

I also give thanks for your willingness to take a risk on this adopted son of the great state of Michigan. I will always hold you in my prayers and in my heart.

I also give thanks for your willingness to take a risk on this adopted son of the great state of Michigan.

The future lies before you with limitless possibilities and challenges unseen.

As I go forth to join the Presiding Bishop’s staff as the Bishop for Pastoral Development, I have a few things that I’d like to leave you with.

Remember that God’s mission takes place at the local level in collaborative partnerships across denominational, congregational, and secular/spiritual lines. Don’t be afraid to risk an unexpected partnership by giving a bit of yourselves and letting go of a bit of yourselves.

Remember that generations of young people and families have found their spiritual home and rediscovered their faith along the shores of Lake Esau in Presque Isle County. In the face of financial challenges, do not lose sight of the importance of investing in our present and in our future through the gift that truly is Camp Chickagami.

Continue to explore possibilities of collaboration with the diocese of Northern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Michigan. Be proud of who you are, but don’t let pride get in the way of responding faithfully to God’s call in this place and at this time.

You are resilient. The economic and demographic challenges you face would be overwhelming to many. But you have the grit and determination to meet those challenges and continue to show this church a different kind of diocese.

You have the grit and determination to meet those challenges and continue to show this church a different kind of diocese.

I will pray for you and I trust that you will pray for me.

May God bless you and keep you, this day and forevermore.