Highlights from Thursday afternoon’s plenary session included an episcopal address from multi-talented Bishop Kiesey of the Michigan Area, discussion of several motions, and approving a new Michigan Conference.

A Musical Voice

The 2016 Episcopal Address moved from pulpit to piano as Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey addressed the chaos and fears experienced by individuals and the church in this day. During the times of disquiet permeating life, “I seek something deeper,” she said. While a lover of words, Kiesey admitted that “I need something more visceral in these uncertain times.”

Because she “hears Jesus’ words in a new way” through music, the bishop offered her audience some guidance on listening to what was to come. “Listen in light of what our church is going through,” she began then described a miracle revealed through music: “You can have two separate notes that occupy the same space, very different but you don’t lose their uniqueness,” she said. “And together they make us richer as one enhances the other.”

Saying, “Maybe music can touch those invisible parts of our hearts and souls and teach us what God hopes for the world to be,” Bishop Kiesey prepared those in the hall to appreciate the piece she would soon play, the second movement of Beethoven’s Sonata #7 in D major. “The piece begins with struggle, frustration and fear, something we all know too well,” she said. Then in benediction she concluded the words-portion  of her message with: “Then part way through you begin to hear a quiet beat with the left hand … As you listen may you hear your story in this music. May you believe that the God who brought you this far will continue to hold you. May you find hope and peace.” Find the text of the message here.

Other Action of the Day 

Time was spent in debate and action on a resolution brought by the Northern Illinois Conference. The focus of the proposal was the Bishops’ Way Forward. Final action on the resolution and reporting will be done Friday, July 15.

Bishop John Hopkins announced that Bishop Gregory Palmer will be the President of the NCJ College of Bishops for the coming four years.

The Marsha Woolley, Detroit Conference Delegate and Co-Chair of the Michigan Area Design Team, presented motions to enable the state’s transition from the Detroit and West Michigan conferences to the Michigan Conference.

“A year ago over 90% of conference members decided to get engaged,” she said. “And we have had a good first year together.” The NCJ delegates affirmed the creation of a new Annual Conference with boundaries defined as the entire state of Michigan. They also approved that the Michigan Conference will be effective no later than January 1, 2019. Woolley continued, “Many of us have been calling ourselves one ever since getting together and we wear this button to signify that.” She noted that “someone from this body will become our bishop in September,” she gave Bishop Gregory Palmer, presiding over the afternoon’s business, a pin to pass along to the bishop so designated.

With elections done leaving the evening free, the Secretary of the NCJ, Paul White, told delegates they need not return to the Civic Center for an evening session. A Peoria Under the Stars dinner brought July 14 to a festive close.