The ending of the Mississippi Annual Conference was a love feast to say the least. This being Bishop Wards last time to preside over the Mississippi Annual conference was somewhat bitter-sweet. Some, in the Annual Conference will never forgive here for allowing 2 lesbians to get up and give their testimony as to how they had found acceptance in a United Methodist congregation in Jackson. I thought it was great that these two women had found a place of worship The way I look at things is that if there is any changing that needs to occur God is the only one that does the changing, not we as mere mortals. It takes the Holy Spirit working. If we close our doors to people who are different or have different values than we do, then we limit ourselves to who and what can be done in the life of the individual. Bishop Ward was maligned, criticized and treated just plain ugly by many in the Annual Conference. Bishop Ward and I have not always seen eye to eye on certain issues. I always felt on her part a willingness to listen, but she never changed her mind. Even though we disagreed I still had respect for her as my bishop, and so did many of the congregations in the Annual Conference. However, there were some churches and people in Annual Conferences that simply wrote her off and lost all respect for her, It did not matter that she led our Annual Conference through one of the greatest natural disasters to hit the Mississippi and she along with others made difficult decisions to keep the Annual Conference solvent during this terrible recession. Many saw her as progressive shining light in the midst of Methodism that has grown stale and rigid, While others see her as a part of the problem of United Methodism. I saw her as one that tried to do what she was right in a world filed with the marginalized people.
Another, observation about Annual Conference 2012. There are churches all over our annual Conference that are growing and flourishing. However, these churches are out of the four walls of the church doing something real and lasting for their communities, We find it easy to give finances to worthy mission trips overseas, but what are we doing to reach out into the community. I thought of all the educators that we have in our church. I thought would it not be great to provide after school tutoring three days a week for children that are at risk? Why can’t we do this? Is it because we are too lazy, or we have just felt over whelmed. There is much to be done right in the Water Valley. We can place blame the game if we want to, but the reality is that it up to us to spread the good news. Are you willing to get on boarD