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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church


    Perspectives: Bishop Webb’s letters of support to UNY clergy

    Bishop Webb: July 1, 2020

    July 1, 2020 / By Bishop Mark J. Webb

    The following email was sent from Bishop Webb on July 1, 2020 to clergy, certified lay ministers, and other congregational leaders in the Upper New York Conference.

    Dear Friends,

    Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!

    Today marks the beginning of a new appointment year within the United Methodist Church and I wanted you to know how grateful I am for each of you and for your continued response to God’s call upon your life.

    For those of you for whom today marks the beginning of retirement, I want to join your colleagues and the congregations you have served in saying “well done.” Thank you for the many years of leadership and ministry you have offered. I know as you begin this new chapter of life, it is also a new chapter in God’s call upon you. I deeply regret that the realities of COVID-19 did not allow us to honor and celebrate your ministry at a gathered session of the Upper New York Conference. We hope you will be able to join us at the 2021 session, so we will have the opportunity to celebrate your ministry among us.

    The remainder of us are beginning a new appointment year either by returning to a place we have served or beginning a journey in a new setting. Thank you for your faithfulness in ministry and mission. Remember that God has equipped you with everything you need to lead the congregation(s) your serve among and with. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will renew you and work through you to renew the congregations and communities you serve.

    These have been interesting days to lead the Church and I continue to be awed by the ways in which you have done so. As we continue to move forward amid a global pandemic, please continue to let me or your District Superintendent know if there are any ways in which you can come alongside you in this time. I appreciate the response each of you have made to the call to provide the ministry and mission of Christ while doing so in a way that responds to best practices for the safety and health of those we are called to serve. 

    COVID-19 has indeed changed the ways in which we live out our call and it has impacted the rhythms that we have grown accustomed to. I wanted you to know that we are still attempting to find the best way to gather for clergy session and our session of Annual Conference. We are currently navigating New York state laws, working cooperatively with the New York Conference to determine how we can carry out these important gatherings and do so legally. We will find a way and it will be one that cares for the safety and health of everyone who desires to participate, while allowing us to accomplish the essential business we must accomplish.

    I appreciate your patience and understanding as we consider our options and how they are impacted by state laws. We are not ignoring the need to pay attention to the realities of COVID-19, we are simply making sure that the ways in which we move forward will not put our work in question or jeopardy. My hope is that within the next few weeks we will be able to update you and move forward on a final plan. Whatever that plan looks like, I am confident that you can hold Saturday, Oct. 3 as the day for our 2020 Annual Conference session in whatever format. The clergy session date may change, but please hold Oct. 2 for now.

    In closing, let me say again – thank you! You are appreciated! Your ministry and leadership are celebrated. You are in my prayers constantly!

    I share this adapted prayer of John Wesley and invite us to pray it for our life together.

    O God, seeing as there is in Christ Jesus an infinite fullness of all that we can want or desire, May we all receive from him, grace upon grace; grace to pardon our sins, and subdue our iniquities; to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls; and to complete that holy change, that renewal of our hearts, Which will enable us to be transformed into the blessed image in which you created us. O make us all acceptable to be partakers of the inheritance of your saints in light. Amen.

    (adapted from the original by John Wesley)

    Blessings,

    Mark J. Webb

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    With more than 144,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 91 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."