Statement from Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe regarding Judicial Council Decision

May 8th, 2017

Dear Friends,
By now, most if not all of you have heard about the recent decision of the Judicial Council regarding the nomination, election, assignment and consecration of an openly gay bishop in the Western Jurisdiction. This decision was in response to a request for a declaratory decision by the South Central Jurisdiction, of which we are members. It is the expressed authority of each jurisdiction to elect bishops of the church. There are five jurisdictions within the United States.
            The Judicial Council ruled that the consecration was against church law; however because of jurisdictional authority, stopped short of ruling on the other matters of nomination, election and assignment, pending the completion of an administrative or supervisory complaint process. In the United Methodist Church all clergy are entitled to due process under church law. It is my understanding that there are several complaints in process regarding the actions in the Western Jurisdiction and until that process is complete, no decision can be made.
            I want to ask that all of us remain calm and continue to focus on the mission of the church. Some things are out of our control and hands. We have processes and methods in place to address this issue. We also have a recently appointed Commission that is meeting to present a report in February 2019 to a called session of General Conference to determine a way forward for the church. I hope we will continue to have renewed patience in the midst of our differences and difficulties. The 2016 Book of Discipline has not and did not change regarding the issue of human sexuality. As your assigned bishop, I took a vow at my ordination as clergy and also at my consecration as a bishop to uphold the order and discipline of the church. I intend to do that and keep my commitment with grace and humility. The District Superintendents join me in this commitment to uphold The Discipline. I’m asking each of our clergy, as well, to remember your ordination vows and to continue to lead in a Christ-like manner as we seek a way forward in the church.
            I want to thank all the churches and individuals who committed to pray for the church and ask that you continue to pray for the church. It is through prayer and fasting that we are able to be sustained and nurtured in the midst of adversity.

Grace & Peace,
Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe

Letter from Bishop Bledsoe to the NWTX Conference, Summer 2015

July 15th, 2015

Did you know that professions of faith increased from 2013 to 2014 in Northwest Texas? Did you know that our worship attendance increased as well? That is great news and I believe we are beginning to turn a corner! I appreciate all of the work that the churches in NWTX are doing to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” You are faithful people and dedicated to fulfilling the mission of the church. It is a blessing for me to be your bishop.

I would like to say a special word of appreciation for those churches that have given 100% of their shared ministries and to those that have increased their giving. I expect all churches to pay 100% because that is the best way to accomplish the work we are called to do together.

Our local churches and conference leaders have done their part in terms of following through on a 3-part plan. More local churches are giving 100% and many churches are stepping up their giving by 10% each year. From 2012 to 2014, the conference budget was reduced by more than $1 million in order to help all sizes of churches increase their participation in shared ministries. Also, in 2015, the adopted budget is $150,000 less than the prior year.

As Dave Andersen, our Conference Treasurer, likes to remind us, “this is not really about money; it is about ministry.” I agree. It is about our mission. Remember that our support of Shared Ministries allows us to be about our mission. Every United Methodist Church across the globe is working on our common mission.

Kingdom effectiveness requires that we move from our preference to God’s purpose. As Spirit-empowered disciples making disciples, we must persistently concentrate on the fruitfulness of outcomes of our ministries. We continue to focus on four areas that produce good fruit:

               creating new places for new people,

               establishing clear expectations and metrics for leaders,

               cultivating a new generation of young and ethnic clergy, and

               aligning resources with our mission.

These are four broad, effective, ways to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Accordingly, we will move forward with this Kingdom work and we will give 100% in all we do.

Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe

Letter from Bishop Bledsoe to NWTX and NM Conferences Nov 12, 2014

November 12th, 2014

A Letter From Bishop Bledsoe
Greetings!
I have learned a lot as a bishop of the church. I have visited many of your churches and I have heard some of the concerns of the people called Methodists. My hope and prayer is that we in the New Mexico and Northwest Texas Conferences will not let one issue divide us or distract us from the mission of the church. Our congregations are striving to fulfill the mission of the church and are working to enable their outreach to be relevant, passionate, and life-changing in their communities. I hope that we would stay focused on the mission.
However, the one issue that seems to be on the minds of many people at the moment is human sexuality. This letter comes in response to the statement many of you may have received this week from the Council of Bishops, which states:
As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church. We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church.” We recognize that we are one church in a variety of contexts around the world and that bishops and the church are not of one mind about human sexuality. Despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to be in ministry for and with all people. We are also united in our resolve to lead the church together to fulfill its mandate—to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we do so, we call on all United Methodists to pray for us and for one another.
Please know that this is a true statement concerning where the Council stands as a whole on the matter of human sexuality and not a position statement with regard to the issue. The Council of Bishops is made up of active and retired bishops from around the world. Each Episcopal Area is very different. In other words, one statement will not satisfy the needs and concerns of all the diverse areas where The United Methodist Church exists in the world. Thus, I wanted to speak directly to the churches in our conferences concerning the matter.
Please be aware of external groups working to try and influence the decision-making process of The United Methodist Church on this issue. These groups are autonomous and receive their support from those willing to donate directly to their specific causes; they are not official decision-making groups of the church and they are not supported by shared ministries. The only group that can speak for The United Methodist Church or change the position of the church on this matter is the General Conference, which meets once every four years. General Conference will be the decision making body that will officially determine the UMC’s position on many issues in 2016 and beyond.
In the meantime, I would hope we would not be deterred by any external group wanting to influence the outcome prior to the church actually making a decision – let’s keep focus on disciple-making. Those who choose to violate the Book of Disciple and those who choose to withhold financial support from the church, because of positions outside the bounds of the Book of Discipline, do harm to the church. My prayer is that we do no harm.
Finally, I would encourage us to not judge or condemn one another because of differences on this issue of human sexuality. I am of the opinion that nothing can separate us from the love of God made known through Jesus Christ. I look forward to addressing these issues as we work to accomplish our mission. Please continue to pray for the church and for its leadership!
In Christ’s Name,
    Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe

Praying for Boston

April 16th, 2013
From Bishop Bledsoe
Northwest Texas/New Mexico Area of The UMC

April 16, 2013

“Our prayers go out to the many families and individuals affected by the bombings during this year’s Boston Marathon. Massive violence against innocent people goes contrary to the will of God and the civility of human existence. I do believe in prayer and support for families affected and call upon all the churches in the New Mexico and Northwest Texas Conferences of The United Methodist Church to pray for the families affected, police and fire department workers, businesses and last but not least please pray for peace in our land. Leslie and I are on the road visiting churches and people; however we join with all of you in prayer and solidarity. May the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of the body of Christ we have been called to peace.”

 

90 Days of Prayerful Determination & Galvanized Intentionality!

October 30th, 2012

October 1, 2012

MY DEAR SISTERS AND BROTHERS, 

How humbling and fulfilling it is to be with you in the ministry of our Lord. The Northwest Texas Conference brought me to Jesus as my savior, formed me in faith, provided the youth ministry environment in which I heard God’s call to pastoral ministry, supported me in my education, and gave me the incredible blessing of being the organizing pastor of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Amarillo. “Oh, to grace, how great a debtor, daily I am constrained to be.” 

Imagine my delight, after being assigned your bishop, to discover the five areas of focus you had already embraced. They are totally consistent with my conviction and passion! 

We have only three months to make bold strides on each one of these emphases. The blessing is that these three months are the most fruitful months to make major advances in all of these areas. 

  • Professions of faith. We must, we can, invite persons to Christ, not someday, but now! Pastors, partner with your laity to make major gains in this area. If we don’t exist to bring persons to Christ, why do we exist? 

 

  • Worship Attendance. Worshipping the living God in the congregation is an awesome environment for the work of the Holy Spirit. Concerted efforts must be undertaken to reach the inactives and the infrequent attendees. Urging persons to be in worship to encounter God’s call, be enriched in faith, grow in discipleship, and develop “holy habits” is a proper and sacred endeavor.

 

  • Shared Ministries. These ministries enable congregations to connect with mission fields and settings of need, both nearby and around the world. In 2011 the Northwest Texas Conference congregations paid 67% of their Shared Ministries. We have major work to do in this area. I have asked the District Superintendents to meet with pastors and lay leaders (and I am ready to do the same) to address the “blockages” that prevent us from moving this year (2012) to at least 80% payout. The expectation is that EVERY congregation will move as quickly as possible to 100% payment of Shared Ministries. For the nearly 50% of our churches who yearly pay 100% of their Shared Ministries, “thank you” for carrying the load for the rest of us. We are grateful!

 

  • Engage the Mission Field. In every community in Northwest Texas there are children in poverty, teen pregnancy, urgent needs for workplace training, and health concerns for all ages. Our congregations are in the midst of the mission field! In fact, God is waiting to meet us there. We deprive our people of “grace upon grace” when we fail to urge them, yea, lead them like a shepherd into the fields of human need.

 

  • Culture of Giving. The “culture of scarcity” has no legitimacy in the Northwest Texas Conference. When the Biblical guideline of the tithe is held before persons, this guideline relates only to what we have, (even the widow’s mite), not what we wish we had. There is a great joy in giving! There is a great joy in tithing! When persons pay the tithe first, they experience blessing and financial clarity as they live on the remaining 90%. Such a blessing is left undiscovered when the effort is made to pay the tithe from the leftovers. It seldom succeeds. 

My sisters and brothers, 90 days is an incredible amount of time to move forward into some remarkable, even long delayed miracles in our congregations. Let us unite our hearts in prayerful determination! Let us unite our wills in galvanized intentionality! Let us partner with God and our people for holy accomplishments! 

I believe we are about to live the miracle as persons are brought to Christ, people gather in worship, shared ministries really do become shared giving, the poor are fed and the ill-clad have clothes, and people begin to experience the blessing of tithing. May God bless us and help us to fulfill this ministry.

Grace and peace,

Dan E. Solomon

Bishop

Words of greeting from Bishop Dan E. Solomon

September 20th, 2012

Words of greeting, challenge and blessing from Bishop Dan E. Solomon, Interim Bishop, along with Bishop William W. Hutchinson, of the  Northwest Texas  and New Mexico Episcopal Area.  Please click here for the link and when the page is opened, then click on the video window for Bishop Solomon located in the upper left corner of the page.