Greetings FMC family!
As your new Board of Bishops, we want to update you on some things that have been on our hearts and also share the decisions we’ve made regarding our U.S. and world area assignments.
We don’t officially take office until Oct. 1 but since our election on July 17 we’ve been in almost daily contact with one another. We’ve just returned from an orientation time with the outgoing Board of Bishops. We simply cannot overstate our sincere respect for Bishops Thomas, Kendall and Roller for their years of service to the church.
We also engaged in a retreat time for just the three of us. On our retreat we worshipped, prayed, studied the Scriptures and sought the mind of Christ on a number of issues. We can report that the Lord met with us, and we have a great sense of anticipation and excitement about the future.
We also want you to know that we are really enjoying working together. We believe the prayers of the church for the election of new bishops laid the groundwork for us to go forward now in mutual respect and complete unity. Thank you for all those prayers — and please keep them up!
Our U.S. and world area assignments for this quadrennium will be:
Bishop Linda Adams: East Michigan, Genesis, Great Plains, The Harvest, Keystone, North, Central, North Michigan, Ohio, Southern Michigan, and Latin America World Area.
Bishop Keith Cowart: Acts 12:24, Alabama-Georgia, Gateway, Gulf Coast, Mid-America, New South, South Atlantic, Wabash, Asia, Europe and Another World Area.
Bishop Matt Whitehead: Oasis, Oregon, Pacific Coast Japanese, Pacific Northwest, The Reach, The River, Sierra Pacific, Southern California, and Africa World Area.
As you can see, the U.S. regions for Bishop Linda and Bishop Keith are different from the previous Board of Bishops’ alignments. For missional and cultural reasons, it seems good to us to deploy Bishop Keith, who is our first bishop ever to hail from the South, to lead the team in that region of the country. He will also bring gifts and experience related to church planting. Bishop Linda’s pastoral appointments have all been in the North; the new alignment gives her oversight of this wide-ranging region within which she has ministered for years. Because Bishop Matt’s ministry experience has been in the West, it makes sense to us that he would provide oversight for that region. We want to clearly communicate that, although we have regional assignments, our desire is to share all our cumulative gifts with the church as a whole.
As bishops, we work both at home and abroad in very different ways. Following a long history of missional seed planting, part of our role is to help our Area Directors effectively raise up leaders who plant churches within each nation and continent we serve. Over the years, new FM General Conferences have emerged in places like Haiti and the Philippines where their own bishops have become our colleagues in the FMC World Conference. At home, we seek the Lord’s vision for the specifics of ministry in the U.S. Abroad, through our gifted leaders, we invest in church planting and leadership development, asking the Lord to impart His vision into leaders from within each nation, then spur them on to expand the kingdom of God through the Free Methodist Church globally.
All three of us are eager to begin forming teams with our superintendents and then meeting the pastors, local church leaders, attendees and people who haven’t yet met Jesus but will soon be in the family! In the same way, we expect to enjoy fruitful shared ministry as we begin to invest in each world area to which we are committed.
One of the last things we did on our retreat was to lay our hands on a map and pray for the ministry of the FMC both in the U.S. and around the world. As we prayed, we sensed the depth of Christ’s love for God’s church.
We are honored and humbled that God has chosen us to serve. God’s love compels us to steward the mission God has given us. With our whole hearts, we want to love God, love people and make disciples together with you, our brothers and sisters in this global family called Free Methodist.
This statement from the Free Methodist Church – USA Board of Bishops was emailed Aug. 7 to FMCUSA pastors and leaders.1