I am thoroughly Wesleyan and I am convinced that only by the power of the Holy Spirit are we transformed to be like Christ. The spiritual disciplines, the means of grace, the “method” of my life, are the ways in which God performs this transforming work. I have experienced the renewing and transforming spirt of Christ and have gladly given my life to help others experience it.
It is through a disciplined life of prayer, studying scripture, meditation, and private worship that I have discerned God’s call on my life over and over again. I have sensed many times that God has possibly been leading and calling me to this sacred office. I have had a prayer focus one day a week since 2004 for the General Church, its leaders, and how God might use my gifts in service. Since 2012, I have set aside Thursdays for this prayer focus, and I often fast on these Thursdays. Over the last four years, I have sensed through my Thursday prayers that God is confirming this call on my life.
I have also sensed affirmation of this call from others. I have been honored by my clergy colleagues as they have affirmed my leadership by electing me high in the clergy delegation the last three quadrennia. Many clergy and lay folks from Florida and other annual conferences have acknowledged an episcopal call upon my life. They continue to encourage and pray for me. And perhaps most humbling to me, in December 2014 when I met with the North Central superintendency committee for my annual evaluation they surprised me by telling me that they had sensed God’s call to the episcopacy on my life, and offered their support and encouragement to pursue that calling.
Having said this about my call, let me share with you more about who I am at my core, and about my life and ministry experiences that have prepared me well for this possibility:
I spent my formative years in rigorous and disciplined study in college and law school, and at age 23 went to work for one of the largest law firms in the state. There I gained a strict work ethic, a commitment to excellence, and an ability to work under intense pressure with immense responsibility. I learned how to work with those with power and influence, and how to make things happen. I also learned a lot about justice and the gross imbalances of power in our society.
I have served on the staff of a very large church, as the sole pastor of a church in transition, and as the lead pastor of two large turnaround churches. My husband Allen and I were crazy enough to ask for churches that were vital to the annual conference but were in dire straits. We came to see ourselves as trauma unit doctors for coding churches! By the power of God, new life and growth happened. I think that this type of transformative leadership, with its many trials and frustrations, often among people who disagree with you and are slow to buy into a new vision, is well-suited to the demands of the episcopacy. It also requires the leader to take risks, and I think our episcopal leaders must be risk-takers.
I live and breathe missions and outreach. As a District Superintendent, I have emphasized the power of our connection and have facilitated churches working together in mission in amazing ways in Wildwood, Ocala, and Gainesville. Allen and I have personally served in Methodist missions to the Dominican Republic and Zambia. We have worked with Methodist missions in, and sent parishioners to, Haiti, Cuba, Russia, Costa Rica, and Peru. I have learned much through them about the global Methodist communion.
I have loved serving the General Church in many capacities: six years as chair of the order of elders, serving members of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry by working to enact legislation, and serving on the rules committee of the Southeastern Jurisdiction. I have been part of the global church at work in committee and plenary at the 2008 and 2012 General Conferences, including chairing the Judicial Administration Legislative Committee in 2012.
My legal background has given me a deep appreciation for the rule of law. I will take seriously the episcopal vow to uphold the Discipline. I am generally viewed as a centrist, a bridge-builder, and one who works to listen and be consistently fair. I have good judgment and the ability to make well-informed, critical decisions. And, most of all, I love the Church universal and The United Methodist Church. I am completely convinced that it is the hope of the world.