Dear members and friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus Christ!
As I write this, I am fresh from the New Bishops’ Orientation in Dallas, TX, where I spent a week of intensive learning, deep relationship-building, and meaningful worship with 16 other new colleagues in the class of 2022 who began serving their episcopal areas across The UMC on January 1st. We reflected theologically on our roles as bishops of the church, learned about the many technical facets of our work of oversight and administration, developed deep connections and relationships, and committed to working collaboratively, innovatively, and boldly. Like each of them, I came away with a spirit of hope, humility, and eagerness to serve as your new bishop. My spouse Radie also traveled with me and she joined other new bishops’ spouses in their own orientation and community-building sessions which she thoroughly enjoyed.
As I begin my ministry with you over the coming months, I hope to be able to meet with you and start building relationships. I envision these encounters that I call touchpoints, will offer opportunities for us to get to know one another, to learn more about each other’s stories and the ways that God has called and continues to call us into ministry with each other and with the communities where we are located.
While I am still getting settled into this role and its rhythms, and in living in Arizona, I anticipate that these touchpoints will happen in a myriad of ways:
- District Leadership Conferences – This past Saturday, I joined our laity and clergy in the North District who were present in person and online. During these Leadership Conferences, I will be giving a brief talk about how I am entering the threshold of ministry in the Desert Southwest Conference. This weekend, I will be with our folks in the South District (January 28) and the weekend after that, with the combined East and West District event (February 4).
- Church Drive-By Visits – Over the next few months, I will be attending various events hosted by local churches in our Conference. While I am in those areas, I will be doing quick, drive-by visits with some churches to familiarize myself with the geography and the people. These are brief times to meet with the pastor and see the church facilities. However, I will be doing more in-depth conversations and meetings with churches in our Conference in a church tour.
- Tour of Churches – I hope to complete a tour of the conference within my first year of ministry with you. We are looking at the possibility of fitting it all this Spring. The goal is to visit and meet with the pastoral and key leaders of your churches. I hope to see the places where ministry happens and learn more about your communities. These will be more in-depth conversations to get to know you.
- The Gathering of the Orders – I will be joining our clergy at The Gathering of the Orders at the end of February with the same intention of getting to know the pastoral leaders I am called to lead and serve alongside.
- Installation Service – Finally, I invite you to save the date for my official Installation Service as your episcopal leader. This will take place on March 11 and my family will join me at this special occasion. Details about the location, time, and other important information will be forthcoming.
Know that this is only the beginning and that there will be many more opportunities for us to get to know each other as we serve together.
I am so excited to meet you!
Addaan namnama ken rag-o (With hope and joy),
Bishop/Obispo Carlo A. Rapanut