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Thoughts on my journey so far (June 15, 2004)

Thoughts on my journey so far (June 15, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Thoughts on my journey so far

June 15, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0093}

NOTE:  A headshot of Whitaker is available at

An e-Review Commentary
By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

By Sept. 1, 2004, I will have completed my assignment by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee as the resident bishop of the Florida Area. I am eligible to serve the Florida Area during the next quadrennium, and I have informed the committee that I would like to remain in Florida if the Committee chooses to assign me to the Florida Area for 2004-2008. I say this fully aware of the wise teaching of the apostle James that we should make our plans in life saying, "If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that" (James 4:13-15).

Melba and I are very grateful to you for the hospitality you have shown us since we arrived at the end of March 2001, following the special session of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference where I was elected and consecrated on Ash Wednesday. Especially, I am thankful for the freedom you have given Melba to develop her own ministry of taking clergy spouses to missions overseas and participating in the creation of a new ministry to clergy families called Shade and Fresh Water.

I can say without qualification that the Florida Conference is a great conference with dedicated laity and talented clergy. The characteristic of the conference I admire the most is your willingness to address fundamental issues with creativity. I believe this conference can show the way forward to other conferences.

The state of Florida is a bellwether for the rest of American society. Being a populous state of dynamic change with large cities and growing rural areas and much ethnic diversity makes this a challenging place to be in ministry in obedience to Jesus Christ our living Lord with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As the church in Florida we are facing the kinds of opportunities and struggles the rest of the church will face in the future. I personally enjoy this kind of setting for ministry.

I am hopeful about the future of the church in Florida, although I realize it will take time for us to become more effective in our mission. Applying ourselves to the tasks of new church development, with a focus on congregational reproduction, congregational transformation and rebuilding our horizontal connection, will be urgently important. I also think we need to strengthen stewardship education in our churches, including improving greatly our record of connectional giving.

I am also getting used to palm trees, alligators and Mickey Mouse.

Thank you for the opportunity to be in ministry with all of you. May the Spirit of God illumine our minds, empower our ministry and guide our mission in the future.


This commentary relates to the Bishop/Episcopacy.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Annual Conference.