The Bishop: Getting our priorities straight
Grayson County United Methodists extended a big Red River welcome for Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe and wife, Leslie, as they arrived for their Oct. 27 media conference and community luncheon at First UMC, Sherman.
BY BISHOP W. EARL BLEDSOE
North Texas Conference
Have you ever experienced radical hospitality? I experienced hospitality in a radical way a few weeks ago in the Sherman-McKinney District. I traveled with Joan LaBarr to First UMC, Sherman, for a media conference. Driving into the city I looked up and saw my picture on a giant billboard with the words: “Grayson County Methodists Welcome Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe.” We were then interviewed by two local television stations, the local newspaper editor, presented a proclamation by the mayor of Sherman and two keys to the cities of Sherman and Denison. The mayor of Whitesboro shared with me that I was welcome, too, in Whitesboro but that I did not need a key to the city there because they never lock the place. They presented us with large baskets of gift items from around the area, most notably Folgers’s coffee and fishing and golf opportunities. They told me the area was also known for its wine-making, but I received no samples of their fruit, red or white.
The time together gave Leslie and me a chance to talk about our lives and what gives us passion and excitement. We also got to know some of the leaders in the area. I want to spend my first year getting to know the Conference, most notably the pastors and key laity. In the beginning of the year I will spend a week in
each district learning where the various churches are located in that district and hopefully putting the many faces and names we have met this year with the churches we visit in the spring. Please be patient with me during these first few months. If I ask you to “help me remember your name again” for the third time, it’s because I really want to know you by name. I will learn it eventually as we spend quality time together in ministry.
The amazing thing about the grace of God in our lives is the way in which our lives are intertwined together so that we see the world more clearly and understand things more fully as a result of having been in fellowship and dialogue with one another. I look forward to more opportunities in the future. Praise God for the leaders of the Sherman-McKinney District. Special thanks to Rev. Dr. Clara Reed, District Superintendent; Rev. Dr. Joan LaBarr, Conference Director of Communications; and Rev. Dr. Jim Pledger, Senior Pastor of First UMC, Sherman, as well as the pastors of the district for a job well done in showing radical hospitality.