Monday, July 7, 2008
Still a Bishop
While I think about Gary more than once every four years, I always remember him with a smile when the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference meets at Lake Junaluska, NC to elect new bishops to lead our church. This is the year and the month for this Conference. Gary was a member of the Talbotton Church, my third appointment. Even though a member of the corporate world, Gary was every bit a southern gentleman. He lived in an old historic home with his lovely wife and a house full of lively daughters. He knew how to stroke a young preacher. He was always telling me I was going to be a Bishop one day. If I were to see him tomorrow, he would probably still be saying the same thing. He is just that kind of guy. He remains one of those who has offered faithful encouragement to me over the years. The only time he ever expressed any doubts about his prophecy was the first time he saw me with a beard. It was few years after I had left Talbotton and he said something like, "Bill, I don't know of any Bishops with beards!"
Actually, being elected a Bishop at Jurisdictional Conference was never anything I ever really entertained. What most folks don't know is that I had already been elected a Bishop by the time I was assigned to Talbotton. Why, I was elected a Bishop before I was even ordained! It did not happen in North Carolina, but at Young Harris College in the North Georgia mountains. When I went there in 1966, there was a campus ministerial group. Unlike most campus organizations, it did not have a president. Instead, its elected leader was called Bishop. It was in my second year at YHC that I was elected Bishop. So, there is no need for the delegates at Junaluska to consider me as a candidate for Bishop this year. I was elected long years ago and as they say, "Once a Bishop, always a Bishop!"