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Bishop Carter: Take a deep breath

Bishop Carter: Take a deep breath

The Bishop's Blog

Sometimes I take a deep breath and appreciate what is happening across the Florida Conference.

I want you to know more about Shoes for Hope at the Grace Church campuses in Cape Coral Southwest Florida (go to their website).

I want you to know more about the conversations on race this summer at Grace UMC in St. Augustine.

I want you to know more about the ministry with the homeless that happens at The Portico in downtown Tampa, the former site of First UMC.

I want you to know more about the mission teams that are rebuilding homes and repairing roofs almost a year after Hurricane Irma in towns like Sebring.

I want you to know about adults being baptized this summer in churches like Cornerstone in Naples and Bay Hope in Lutz.

I want you to know about women of color beginning to serve as lead pastors in strong congregations like Juana Jordan at First St. Augustine and Esther Rodriguez at Spring of Life in Orlando.

I want you to know about prayers being lifted for Betsy Ouellette of Good Samaritan during her open heart surgery yesterday.

I want you to know about more than one hundred college students on staff at Warren Willis Camp this summer, about the thousands of children who will be there over these weeks, and the pastors who give their time to preach and lead worship.

I want you to know about retired pastors like Jim Harnish and Dan Johnson who have stepped in and are serving as interim pastors in two strategic churches.

I want you to know that we have crossed the threshold of 150 Fresh Expressions of Church across our conference and it is continuing to grow.

I want you to know that Cypress Lake UMC in Fort Myers is funding the Methodist Seminary in Old Havana, Cuba, for the next three years.

I am only touching the surface here. Where am I going with this?

We are not a perfect church. But in the midst of narratives that assume we must dissolve or divide, I want to say…

Take a deep breath. It is not your church or mine. The church is people, earthen vessels God has chosen to entrust the treasure of the gospel (2 Corinthians 4). The church is a place that gives women and men the opportunity to live out their callings.

And where we are not who we ought to be, before God, the church is a way of life that allows us to forgive and be forgiven, to speak the truth in love, be a part of each other's healing and sanctification, to share our bread in feeding the multitudes and each other and to proclaim the word of God with the people of God. Read Bonhoeffer's Life Together; before we complain about the church, we are called to pray for the church and build it up.

The good news: this is actually happening. I want you to know about it. As I begin my seventh year as bishop of the Florida Conference, my gratitude for the people of our conference deepens. Six years ago, I was assigned to Florida. It was an extraordinary blessing then. And it continues to be so.