A Word from DS Teresa Welborn – 4/4/19

I’ve just returned from Clergy Convocation in San Antonio. It’s always a joy to see so many colleagues across the conference. Catching up and worshiping together was meaningful. It was also emotionally exhausting at times. This was the first time we were together as clergy in this way following General Conference. Panels of clergy shared at a few different points during our time together. They shared reflections about how they are processing General Conference 2019, how ministry is going in their context and what if anything changed. Hearing different voices can be uncomfortable. At times our words can be hurtful.

As our Lenten journey continues, God continually reminds me to examine my own heart before judging others. I have spoken and written words that have caused harm. And I confess there are times when my silence has caused harm. 

Continuing to step into the unknown future feels heavy and burdensome. In response, I invite us to be intentional about nurturing those relationships that are life giving. Each time colleagues gather, I hear them lament not finding more time to meet for conversation over lunch or coffee. As your district superintendent, I know you work hard and are busy. But I encourage you to practice the discipline of tending to relationship building with one another.  Put yourself in the presence of people who will remind you that you are a beloved child of God. This is not the same thing as surrounding yourself with people who agree with you on everything. This is about being kind to yourself. I am reminded of a song Marcus Briggs-Cloud led us in at a meeting I attended earlier this Spring in Atlanta. Briggs-Cloud is a Native American United Methodist worship leader. We sang over and over, “I’m gonna’ lift my people up, they’re not heavy.” With General Conference 2019 just a couple of weeks behind us, we looked to the future with the powerful reminder that we are not called to go at this work alone. We have one another. During Clergy Convocation I stayed with my parents in Seguin and drove back and forth with my father to our meetings. It was the first time I had seen my parents since Christmas. It was a gift. It lifted me up. How will you continue to nurture relationships with those who lift you up? Who will you lift up?

As I look to the future, there are several things on my mind. I will serve to the best of my ability and I will strive to faithfully serve as District Superintendent to the entire Capital District as long as I am asked to serve in this appointment. I am also led to balance that priestly role with the important prophetic work of walking alongside those seeking a more inclusive church. I renew my commitment to work with our District Strategy Team and other district and conference leaders in multiplying the Wesleyan witness in the district. This includes supporting new faith communities, innovative initiatives and fresh expressions. This work is coupled with the ongoing discernment about how God is calling us to use resources such as property throughout the district. This is incredibly rewarding work. It’s also challenging work, and I want to be at my best for all that’s ahead. This is why I am not seeking election as a delegate to General Conference 2020. It has been an honor and privilege to serve in 2016 and 2019, but I have clarity that I am being called to give my energies more fully here. And perhaps make more trips to places like Seguin! I am hopeful that our clergy and laity will elect a younger delegation as we look to the future. 

At Clergy Convocation, one pastor shared that he finds himself frequently praying The Wesleyan Covenant Prayer these days. I leave you with those words:

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

Be encouraged!

Teresa