Saturday Morning with Bishop Carter
October 23, 2021
Good morning and blessings on this fall weekend.
The numbers of COVID cases are declining, even as the access to the booster (third shot for Moderna and Pfizer) is increasing. This is true for the U.S., and especially the deep south, which endured the worst of the latest wave in the summer.
I continue to wear a mask in most indoor environments, and really appreciate being about to enjoy meals outside. Many restaurants and coffee establishments have found a way to make this possible. Most people wear masks, to help reduce the virus, and most people have been vaccinated. This is a testament to the basic goodness in people, which is there if we have eyes to see it.
And yet still, there is cause for concern. Too many are dying of COVID, even now. I recommend following my friend Dr. Fred Southwick of the University of Florida on twitter. He is a medical doctor, a scientist and he actually knows a lot about disease. It turns out a mandate to live by a sane health practice during the spread of a deadly disease can be a good thing.
I had a very full week of work. The Council of Bishops met to learn in preparation for our meetings next week; I was “onboarded” for my work with the Western North Carolina Conference, and following this the cabinet had an outdoor dinner, where we shared a bit of what had happened in our lives during the pandemic. The WNCC appointive cabinet met to work on some needed mid-year appointments. I recorded a video for the upcoming Florida Conference Table, which will be a week from today. I spoke to the WNCC Board of Ordained Ministry, a group on which I served for twelve years; I participated in the Board of Trustees meeting of Lake Junaluska; I spoke to a group of digital church planters through Path One; and I met with a steering committee related to work on “Traditioned Innovation” through the Ormond Center of Duke Divinity School. In between I did some work on sermons for the coming week—I will preach Sunday through Tuesday at Memorial UMC in Thomasville with my friend Danny Leonard. The week before last week I was in Florida, and the week after this one I will be there as well.
(We hope you will join Bishop Carter for the Finch Preaching Mission at Memorial UMC, Thomasville this week, October 24-26. Learn more here.)
This week will conclude the first two of sixteen months in serving the two conferences. I work with extraordinary people. Some really good work is in progress in both conferences. And I am very blessed to be doing this work.
Beyond work, I am reading the latest novel by Wiley Cash, When Ghosts Come Home. I love his work, and if you are unfamiliar I would begin with his first novel, A Land More Kind Than Home.
I am walking every day—yesterday I met my goal—admittedly some days that has not been true lately. But these are infrequent exceptions. On a couple of days recently when I walked around Lake Junaluska I ran into Ed Plowman, a UMC minister and sociologist who is retired, who taught at Florida Southern and so has roots in Lakeland and Lake Junaluska, and so we walked together.
I had predicted the Astros moving forward, even as I had hopes for the Red Sox. The Braves are up 3-2 but need to get over the psychological barrier of having lost this lead before to the very same team, the Dodgers. What may be different this year is the toll that injuries are taking on the Dodgers, especially their pitching. As an aside this week, I did some research, in my spare time. The Dodgers payroll is $260 million, the Braves is $180 million, and the Rays payroll is $80 million. The Braves are very profitable and could do more. But you see the disparities.
College basketball begins soon. Duke plays Kentucky on November 9. This is Coach K’s final season, and the Duke team looks to be very good. I like that we are ranked in the pre-season somewhere between 9 and 12. I do think we are going to need to earn our way back to the top, and this year than means going through Gonzaga and UCLA.
I am behind on Call the Midwife, Grantchester, Midnight Mass and The Morning Show, but in a streaming world all of that is good. I have great experiences to look forward to.
I am presently drinking Panacea Coffee (see below), and of course grinding the beans. I advise you to learn this simple practice. You can do it.
I am reading Grateful by Diana Butler Bass. I continue to read Luke 10, thinking about two questions—“Who is My Neighbor” and “What is the One Thing That is Necessary”.
I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast on how and why to get into podcasting (#538), and the Baseball Tonight podcasts with Buster Olney. I have come upon the podcast Think with Krys Boyd, and I commend the episode “The anonymous tycoons shaping your community” (October 13).
On Fridays I receive the newsletter of Austin Kleon. I love his creativity, and where all of that leads me.
I am still hoping and praying that our nation 1) develops some legislation to restore access to voting for all of our citizens and 2) goes deeply into what happened on January 6, and how such a future event can be prevented. The practice of voter suppression is a hundreds year old experience, and the story is told in every civil rights museum from Memphis through Montgomery and Birmingham to Atlanta. The seeds of violent extremism are present in every kind of person, and as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) teaches us, those seeds are within every one of us.
Regarding each of these realities—voter suppression, violent extremism—there is nothing new under the sun.
Here I continue to recommend two resources—The Anatomy of Peace (book) and The Danger of a Single Story (TedTalk).
And, if you can find Heather Cox Richardson’s piece this week on how it takes more time to build something than it does to destroy something, it is well worth reading. I love her historical perspective, and her economy of language. Ten minutes with Heather Cox Richardson equals hours of cable news commentary.
Perhaps I just helped you to simplify your life!
Since I last wrote we did get to see our two granddaughters, Paige and Natalie, for a brief time last Sunday afternoon. It was wonderful. And Natalie turns one this week. Time passes.
This morning I will join the WNC Connectional Table. Then I will take a walk, and then watch some football and baseball and finish preparations for tomorrow’s services.
Have a blessed day. I wish you peace and joy and rest. Drink some good coffee, take a walk, and a deep breath. Thanks for your friendship and connection.
Resources for Vital Congregations
GBHEM Leadership Resources
A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist
RESOURCES TO CONNECT WITH THE COMMUNITY:
The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:
- Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
- Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.
We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at email@example.com.