The Council of Bishops is “grasped by grace” as its newly elected officers dare to serve God and assist their peers in serving a broken and hurting world.
Bishop Peter D. Weaver, bishop of the Philadelphia Area of the United Methodist Church, made this statement as he was installed April 29 as the president of the denomination’s Council of Bishops for the next two years.
The United Methodist bishops voted to lengthen the term of their president from one to two years last November, a move they believe will provide better continuity of leadership. The Council includes 50 active bishops in the United States and 18 in Europe, Asia and Africa as well as about 75 retired bishops worldwide. They lead a denomination of about 10 million members.
Bishop Weaver succeeds Bishop Ruediger Minor of the Eurasia Area as the Council’s president.
“I have been tremendously grateful personally that you elected me to this office,” Minor said. He said his election honored him, the church in Russia and colleagues of the central conferences (regional units of the church in Asia, Africa and Europe). “We indeed have made use of this unique gift to be involved in our church.”
Minor said that with the exception of the Roman Catholic Church, no other denomination shares the needs, the pain, the joy and the experience of being the body of Christ in the world.
Prior to passing the gavel of leadership to Weaver, Minor said that the bishops strive to adhere to John Wesley’s mantra of the world being their parish. He added, “To know about it is one thing, but to use this knowledge in bringing to a hurting world a healing word is what we are called (to do).”
Minor challenged Weaver to be a servant leader among his peers and with them, as they collectively use their gifts in outreach and witness to the world.
Weaver told the bishops that they are “grasped by the grace that has given extraordinary gifts throughout this council.” He urged them to continue to give of their gifts until they heal.
“We have been grasped by grace and given a vision of a new creation through Jesus Christ,” he said. Through grace Christ has entrusted the bishops with the ministry of reconciliation.
“I am grateful that we have been grasped by grace that alone is the reason for our wholeness, our salvation, our transformation.”
Elected in July 1996, Bishop Weaver is assigned to the Philadelphia Area of the United Methodist Church, which includes 240,000 members and 1,000 churches in the Eastern Pennsylvania and Peninsula-Delaware conferences (regions) .
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer.
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