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by Rev. Dan Morley, North District Superintendent

Seems we all have a safe-mode we switch into when the going gets tough, we have run out of juice, or the old parts just don’t work like they used to. From time to time my laptop does just that — switches to safe-mode until I reboot and give it a fresh start. If it happens too often, it may mean I need an operating system upgrade or even a whole new operating system.

Recently, the Hubble Space Telescope entered into safe-mode. It is amazing how long it has been sending back pictures of deep space — over 30 years. Then, after many tries at a re-start, this past week, NASA awakened Hubble. Once again the eye in the sky is sending back amazing images.

On Saturday, the United Methodist Church Western Jurisdiction (WJ) held a Special Session. During the Session, a vote was cast to accept the retirement of Bishop Hoshibata. The Session then beautifully celebrated Bob and Greta’s ministry. Many lives blessed and years of joyful ministry celebrated.

And . . . Bishop Bob has served Christ in ministry through our church far more than 30 years!

In his Saturday Special Session worship message, Bishop Bob referred to the vision the Jurisdiction crafted many years ago. It has carried us for a long-while and now, with this Session, a newly proposed statement was presented for a near-future adoption. Such re-visioning is one way we, the church, reboot to give an upgrade to our operating system. It helps us to get a re-look and a re-fresh in our ministry. The WJ Session also acknowledged that our church needs more. After many years of ministry, our church needs an upgrade, a new operating system, or even a system overhaul.

During the Session, five groups presented their work on imagining a new church. Each group acknowledged that these were beginning steps to a long journey of recasting our church. Though we can identify the need for something new right now, it will take considerable time to reimagine our church. Other agencies or organizations, such as the Wesleyan Covenant Association, have proposed something new — however, when looking more closely, it can be seen that it is simply a modest upgrade to something old.

Bold, innovative, and lasting initiatives take time to develop.

I am fascinated by the journey of the Space Hubble Telescope and even more amazed when I learn that it was initially conceptualized in 1946 by astrophysicist Lyman Spitzer, Jr. It was not until 1969 that the National Academy of Sciences put it onto their agenda for consideration; then in 1977 that Congress approved funding, and work on the telescope lenses began. There were many challenges along the way, including the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986, and then finally the launch with Hubble on board in 1990 followed by impressive images of space within a few months.

Through the years, many missions have connected with Hubble to give upgrades and replacement parts. NASA has indicated that Hubble has functioned and provided pictures of distant galaxies far longer than they ever anticipated. Though Hubble has now been awakened from its safe-mode, it will not last long. It is operating with outdated technology and old parts. Something new is needed for a new day.

The James Webb Space Telescope will be sent into space to take Hubble’s work onto new and even more extraordinary journeys. The development of this new telescope began in 1996 for a launch that was initially planned for 2007. After many redevelopments and redraws, a launch was rescheduled for March 2020, but because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, it was delayed. The launch is now on schedule toward the end of 2021.

Such mission happens because one generation passes the vision and the work on to the next generation. In a beautiful and significant way, Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata has handed the mantle on. May sharp minds, loving hearts, and courageous spirits pick it up to create the next iteration of the Methodist Movement of grace in Jesus Christ. In the inspiration of Hebrews 12, let us not give up, but persevere onward toward a far greater vision than we have ever had before.

Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. . . start running—and never quit! . . . Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in (MSG).

Your Servant in Christ,
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Rev. Dan Morley, Superintendent, Desert Southwest Conference
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Proposed Draft
WJ Mission Statement
With a heart for all God’s people, the WJ faithfully leads at the intersection where love and justice conspire.

WJ Vision Statement
The WJ is where love lives.
We strive to be on the leading edge of ministries that fully embrace people, meet them where they are, and create a just and equitable world through God’s grace-filled love. In this way, we connect and empower United Methodists to impact communities and the world as followers of Jesus Christ

Information on the Western Jurisdictional Special Session of July 17, 2021

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