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Residential Bishops Forum to Conclude Today

United Methodist Communications
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 9, 2013

San Diego, Calif. — Wednesday's meeting of the Residential Bishops Forum in San Diego began with worship as Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Raleigh Episcopal Area preached about the Scripture, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"

She shared the story of an amazing gift that she had received of a hand-carved crosier. "We do not give gifts, we evoke gifts. My prayer is that we are evoking the gifts of God's people," she said.

Bishop Ward noted the importance of engagement with others and how engagement creates learning. She referenced the bishops' witness at the border the previous day and how they had engaged with those on the other side, touching fingers through the fence.

The bishops subsequently spent some time in discussion about their border visit, with personal reflections about what the experience had meant to them.

"I met my grandfather again yesterday, a gentle man who came to the U.S. about 100 years ago to provide a better life for his family. I met him and countless cousins, uncles, aunts in the faces of those I encountered on the Mexican-U.S. border," said Bishop Cynthia Harvey of the Louisiana Episcopal Area.

Bishop Gary Mueller of the Arkansas Episcopal Area told of meeting a couple through the border wall yesterday who had attended a United Methodist church in Little Rock before being deported to Mexico. "We were trying to share information back and forth through the border wall," said Mueller. "That experience gave me a human face and a connection."

The day's keynote speaker was Dr. Maria Dixon, Associate Professor of Organizational Communication in the Division of Communication Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas

Dixon said that an organization's strength is measured by how well the bottom of the organization knows it mission, message values and world view.

"Don't ask the top, ask the bottom. If they can recite the mission and values, that's a strong organization," she said, indicating that 80 percent of current and former United Methodists aged 18-29 who responded to a survey said that they did not know what The United Methodist Church stood for or what its mission is.

Dr. Dixon also reflected on the importance of clarity and consistency in messaging. She talked about the need for equipping clergy to deal with a 21st century world, going beyond "preaching a nice faith," to cultivating clergy that are prepared to be active evangelists, equipped with the administrative skills to effectively manage the church's resources and engage members of the community.

Dixon also shared five lessons from Southwest Airlines:

  • Equip people with the top three things that are important to the success of your organization
  • Remind people every day they are your most important resource
  • Spend time with people at the beginning of their careers, in the middle, and at the end
  • Don't hide behind memos, position or titles; show them you understand their work by being in their world
  • If you talk to people like they are your enemy, they will be

The afternoon time was spent in small learning groups and accountability groups. Thursday's meeting will include a forum evaluation and end with a closing Communion worship.

The next Residential Bishops Forum will be May 4-9, 2014 at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island, Ga. The full Council of Bishops will meet at Lake Junaluska, N.C. November 10-15, 2013.

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Media contact:
Diane Degnan
ddegnan@umcom.org
615-742-5406 (office)
615-483-1765 (cell)