This is such an odd season in my life. One minute I’m (literally) on the front row of history-making events. A short time later, tears of sadness are flowing. I was asked recently where I am in the midst of the multitude of things that are happening in my life. My response was “lost.
Yesterday, five new bishops were elected for the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church.
- Two women, one of those African American. The election of the first African American woman should have happened back in 1984. But no, it’s taken us 32 years. To have a second woman elected in the same year was something many were thinking would not happen, no matter the level of competence, education and experience.
- Of the five new bishops, two are African American. To have a second African American elected in the same year was something many were thinking would not happen, no matter the level of competence, education and experience.
- I would say the five new bishops fall across basically all the spectrum of differences on church issues related to human sexuality.
- These five new bishops change the makeup of our SEJ College of Bishops pretty drastically. Yet some will say not enough. For those of you who might be reading this who feel that way, go back to what I said earlier: it has taken us 32 years to elect an African American woman in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.
- So a historical day in the life of The UMC in the southeast. Celebration, excitement, laughter, tears of joy.
At the dinner break, I called my mother. She had a hard time finding words to describe her day. She quickly turned the phone over to my brother who was there visiting. He shared with me that she was struggling in many ways yesterday: memory, mobility, anxiety. Mom expresses the questions more and more often of why is God keeping her here and what purpose does life have at this stage.
At the same time, Steve is facing back surgery. He has a final medical appointment today to see if the surgery will go on as planned on Monday morning. This is an anxious time in many ways: a 7th back surgery at an older age with a longer expected recovery than with previous operations.
So a time filled with anxiety in the life of the Stokes household. Fear, stress, uneasiness, tears of sadness.
And life goes on….Five clergy elders in our jurisdiction will become new bishops at a time in the denomination when no one knows exactly what the future will look like, when only questions abound, when the work will be more difficulty than ever. Ninety years of life on this earth may be coming to an end for my mother, a transition that no one ever really wants to face. New rods and screws in a back which many of you have heard me say just really needs a zipper, an operation which hopefully will bring a much better quality of life. And I live with the questions and uncertainties, just as so many of my friends and colleagues are also doing, trusting that Love will see us through.