2006 Episcopal Address

Things are BIG in Texas. I’ve heard many times that the Texas Annual Conference is the largest in the denomination (it’s not – either in terms of membership or area covered). We have the largest churches (we surely have some large ones). We like to think we’re something special. Unlike those western and Yankee outposts of United Methodism, we’re still growing. Or so we think. But not any more.

In her Episcopal Address Monday, Bishop Huie told us that our worship attendance was down by a thousand last year. Corrections in three large churches combined to produce a hit of 7700 in membership. Worst of all, 45% of our churches had no one join by profession of faith. If you’re not familiar with UM terminology, “profession of faith” means that someone is making a first time commitment to Jesus. And we can’t even brag that “at least we’re not as bad as everyone else,” since the national rate is only 42%. Ouch.

Bishop Huie said this poor performance – she called it a “dismal failure of Christian discipleship” – was completely unacceptable. She called on everyone to repent – not just in the comfort of our hotel room, but then and there.

Additional points from her address:

  • 2005 was a good year for giving. The TAC paid its full obligation to the general church. We hadn’t done that since 1972.
  • As bishop, she has observed that most churches ask for young pastors. The problem is, only 1 pastor in 20 is under 35. We have some serious recruiting to do. [We might also want to consider the long complicated road to being a pastor.]
  • The biggest thing we need to do if we’re going to turn the church around and get to the business of reaching people for Jesus is prayer.
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