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Bishop Ough tells UMC bishops the church is watching, waiting


May 01, 2018
Bishop Bruce R. Ough gives the opening message at the Council of Bishops meeting on April 29 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Anne Marie Gerhardt, Northern Illinois Conference

United Methodist bishops were reminded Sunday that the church is watching, waiting, and wondering if and how they will lead the denomination into the future.

At the opening of the 2018 April/May meeting of the Council of Bishops at the Hilton Rosemont Hotel in Chicago, Illinois, President Bruce R. Ough told his fellow bishops that he believes that the church, for the most part, will follow the bishops.

“They will take their cues from this Council and from this meeting of our Council,” Bishop Ough said in his presidential address, which was also the sermon for the opening worship. “If we fight and retreat to our various corners and turfs, the church will follow our example and fight...If we flee and pretend we are not in a truly different place as a global church, the church will follow our example and flee,” he said. “If we freeze and say it is not our responsibility to guide our people into uncharted territory, the church will follow suit, freeze, and miss this transformative moment.”

The bishops of The United Methodist Church have been meeting in Chicago from April 29-May 4 to celebrate leadership through the passing of the gavel (from Bishop Ough, who has been president of the Council of Bishops since the 2016 General Conference, to Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Area), certify constitutional amendments, and finalize their recommendations to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. (The Commission on a Way Forward has been working on proposed ways forward for the denomination regarding the impasse around human sexuality, and after hearing the commission's final report this week, the bishops will make their recommendation.) 

The April/May meeting of the Council of Bishops will also hear leadership reports regarding immigration, ecumenical relations, racism, disaster relief, and other mission and ministry work around the global denomination.

Using the sermon title “What do you want me to do for you?” Bishop Ough preached from the Mark 10:35-52 story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar sitting by the roadside, who asked Jesus to have mercy on him.

Bishop Ough told the bishops to grab this chance to be a leadership group for the church because “when Jesus asks, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ I pray our response will reflect Bartimaeus’ spirit: heal us, transform us, empower us to move beyond one issue to follow you, O Christ, on the one Way.”

Read the full text of Bishop’s Ough message here.


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