Unleashing new life

September 14, 2012

by Bruce R. Ough

Our journey together has begun! My wife, Char, and I are delighted to begin our service with and among the people called United Methodist in Minnesota and the Dakotas. Your hospitality has been radical. Your passion for Christ’s mission is palpable. Your commitment to the scriptural imperatives of cultivating spiritual vitality and reaching new people is bearing fruit. You are transforming the world through Imagine No Malaria. It is exciting to join you in unleashing new life in our churches, communities and the world.

I am grateful to Bishop Sally Dyck for her excellent leadership and the foundations she laid to equip the conference to fulfill its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I also thank God for the thoughtful preparations that Bishop Dyck, Bishop Deborah Kiesey, and the two conferences’ Episcopal Area Transition Team made for the formation of the new Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area.

At my installation service at Woodbury/Peaceful Grove United Methodist Church on Sept. 9, I invited those present—and all Minnesota United Methodists—to become part of what I am calling a bold Unleashing New Life Prayer Movement. I am seeking thousands of United Methodists to join me in praying every day for the Holy Spirit to break through, renew, and revive our churches and to use us boldly, without limits, delays, or excuses to reach and make new disciples and change the world. (You can find the prayer at www.minnesotaumc.org/bishop.)

Every time the Cabinet (district superintendents) meets, we will share and celebrate miraculous breakthroughs, places where new, resurrected life is being unleashed in and through our Minnesota congregations: breakthroughs in empowered, courageous leaders; breakthroughs in extravagant generosity, breakthroughs in new people being saved and baptized into Christ’s holy church, breakthroughs in congregations’ multiplying themselves, breakthroughs in justice prevailing over injustice and prejudice, and breakthroughs in churches reclaiming their missional DNA.

Among the dynamics that fueled the growth of the first-century church were the breakthroughs, or what the Book of Acts calls “signs and wonders,” that the Holy Spirit performed through the apostles and early believers in Jesus’ resurrection. Thousands became followers of Jesus when they witnessed and experienced the signs and wonders—the breakthroughs—of Pentecost. The church became truly universal, truly global, when Paul and Barnabas described to the Jerusalem Council “all the signs and wonders God did among the Gentiles” (Acts 15:12). It was these breakthroughs—these signs and wonders—that altered people’s experience of reality and caused them to repent and embrace the new reality of a loving, saving, transforming, healing God.

Whenever the Holy Spirit breaks through, new life is unleashed and we marvel at the signs and wonders God is performing.

Please pray daily for:

  • the Holy Spirit's breaking through to renew and revive our churches, unleashing new life
  • our clergy and lay leadership to be empowered to proclaim the Good News of Jesus' resurrection power and promise
  • the Spirit to transform and boldy use us, without limits, delays, or excuses, to reach and make new disciples of Jesus Christ and to transform the world
  • God's Spirit to work through each of us to raise the dead to new life

I am already seeing and hearing of the signs and wonders God is performing in churches all across the Minnesota Conference. There are signs of vitality everywhere. I have begun to pray every day for the Holy Spirit to unleash new life in those we are called to serve. Join me! Pray with me! Become a part of the prayer movement to raise the “dead” to new life in Christ!

Our journey together has begun! Let it begin on our knees!

Bishop Bruce R. Ough became resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area on Sept. 1, 2012.

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