Bishop Gregory Palmer delivers the Episcopal Address. Photo by Mike DeBose, UMNS
Palmer: We are prisoners of hope
In the May 11 Episcopal Address, West Ohio Bishop Gregory V. Palmer told delegates, “We are not here for some proverbial pity party or to lick our institutional wounds. We are here because we are prisoners of hope. We have seen God at work in our lives.”
The bishop invited delates to celebrate the places where God is at work:
· “Imagine No Malaria” raised $65.5 million to eradicate malaria in Africa.
· The UM Committee on Relief has responded to disasters around the world.
· The church is bringing safe drinking water to such places as Sierra Leone and Flint, Mich.
· Disciple Bible Study is taught in local congregations and in jails.
Acrimony is destructive
Noting the divisions among church members, Palmer said, “Our capacity to turn one each other is destroying the soul of this church. We must do better the mission deserves better; God deserves better from every one of us.”
“I refuse to live into discouragement and despair because the work of becoming the beloved community is hard.”
He reminded the 864 delegates that the true measure of the gospel is “how we treat one another.” He said, “The right decision can be undermined by the means we use to get there. Our credibility is at stake if we get all the words right, but our behavior does no resemble the words.”
Both and . . .
“We are the church sits at the intersection of creed and deed – social and personal holiness,” said Palmer. “We don’t get to cherry pick what we like: evangelism or social action.”
“We want to go on mission trips as long as there is a little tourism involved,” he said. However, when we return, we don’t engage in public policy that created the conditions that required mission work. “We are slow to challenge the structures of evil both in the church and the world.”
He urged delegates, staff and visitors to follow the “Therefore go” theme of the conference. “Jesus said, 'I will be with you if you go.'”