Autumn in Wisconsin is a beautiful and wonderful season. The air is crisp and clear, the trees burst forth in color, the days begin to shorten towards earlier darkness, and we begin thinking toward the upcoming fall and winter holidays. We won’t go into the snow at this point; for now, we just enjoy the lovely autumn.
Seasons are a good and powerful reminder to us that change is a normal, natural, and positive part of life. Through change, the creation renews itself and generates life and vitality. We know that for each ending there is a new beginning, and that things will not stay stuck for long. Night gives way to day, cold gives way to warmth, drought gives way to rain, and each returns again. Change, by itself, is neither good nor bad. But, change IS.
In Revelation, John reminds us that God makes all things new (21:5). Paul reminds the church at Corinth – and our Church today – that we know only in part and that we see only a portion. There is more to the story and more to come. We must learn to be patient, and we should learn to make the most of what we are given, no matter what it may be.
The Wisconsin Conference is in a season of great change. For some, this is a time of worry and anxiety. “How can we afford this? This is frightening or painful or disruptive or not worth the time,” some say. Human beings tend to like what they are familiar and comfortable with, instead of things that are strange or different. But this is a mindset that we choose. The time challenges us to be bold and adventurous. The changes that are happening to us are not good or bad in themselves. They will be what we make of them.
I am inviting every United Methodist in the Wisconsin Conference to make a promise in faith to work together with us to make the very best of all the current changes. Declare “this is good!” and “we will do everything that we can to honor God and strengthen God’s Church” in the changes that are happening. This applies to our new districts, our new appointments, our new ministries, our new initiatives, and our new directions as a Conference. Change is only as positive as the attitude that we adopt. It is indeed a declaration of faith to approach change as opportunity instead of threat, possibility instead of problem, and potential instead of sacrifice.
I am so excited by our future and I am honored to lead this Conference. God has great things in store for us, and we must be ready – God will not let us rest on our laurels, but will continually challenge us to be better and better, the very best we can possibly be!