A Time to Keep and a Time to Cast Away
Bishop's Blog
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2y ago
The often quoted verses about time, in chapter three of the Book of Ecclesiastes, come to mind as I prepare to retire and leave this beloved Philadelphia Area.  Throughout the past 13 years I have experienced many of the times that are listed in this litany of life’s passages, among them: planting and plucking up, killing and healing, breaking down and building up, weeping and laughing, mourning and dancing, speaking and remaining silent.  At this moment, as my living room runneth over with cardboard cartons full of books and personal belongings, the words “a time to keep and a time ..read more
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Freedom Isn’t Free
Bishop's Blog
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2y ago
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recently issued some long-awaited, almost unbelievable news: those who have been fully vaccinated can resume life normally without masks. Of course, those who have not been vaccinated should continue to wear them. I have been asked to give updated recommendations for safety protocols for worship services and other gatherings in the wake of this new news. But this announcement from the CDC has made things easier and harder at the same time. This new freedom is spurring mixed reactions and new things to consider. It reminds me of a song I ..read more
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Pentecost: Come, Holy Spirit!
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
When I arrived on the campus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, in the fall of 1977 to begin my Master of Divinity degree, one of the first things I was asked was, “Have you heard about the revival of 1970?” I had not. The word “revival” was not something I had been familiar with growing up in a middle-class Methodist Church (not yet “United” Methodist), in a suburb of Baltimore, Maryland. I had a vague idea that it was some weeklong event in which a church invited a preacher to come and “revive” a complacent congregation. But I had never attended one. It wasn’t long be ..read more
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Creation-care: Working toward net-zero carbon emissions
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
Five General Agencies of the UMC are joining together this year to commit to Net-Zero Carbon Emissions* in their operations and as a resource for the whole denomination.  We look forward to their initiative and the harvest of responsible stewardship of the earth’s resources that it will produce in years to come. For more information, take a look at this YouTube resource from our denominational agencies:  https://youtu.be/2sZZI8V-Zpc What a timely agenda as we approach Earth Day 2021, Tuesday, April 20. Though not a program of the UMC, “Earth Day” is an annual reminder that this plan ..read more
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Ruth Fernandez: ‘El alma de Puerto Rico’ (‘The Soul of Puerto Rico’)
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
A Women’s History Month Tribute One of the greatest gifts that I have received during my time serving as the bishop of the Philadelphia Area has been my exposure to the profound giftedness of our diversity.  My personal background never exposed me to African American, Latinx, Native American, Korean, Indian and African cultures.  It will be my life’s journey to continue to explore the cultures, languages and perspectives of my many sisters and brothers with humble appreciation. While attending the “Dismantling Racism II” training on February 27, 2021, I learned a great deal about t ..read more
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Anti-Asian Violence: A call to teaching, preaching, speaking out
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
NBC News 10 reported on March 18 that Pennsylvania and New Jersey are among the states with the highest number of Anti-Asian violent crimes. According to “Stop Asian Americans Pacific Islander Hate” (AAPI), 68% of anti-Asian attacks were directed against women.  Over the past year, despite hate crimes being down for the most part, anti-Asian attacks have become much more prevalent.  Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic physical assaults, verbal harassment, civil rights violations and online harassment against Asian Americans had increased by 200%. Terms like “The China virus ..read more
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Fasting unto the Lord
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
During the Season of Lent, the church is called to a time of holy introspection, fasting and prayer.  We are to contemplate the life and example of Jesus, hold our life up against his, and make some honest assessments. Through that process, a time of repentance and change for the better is the hope, but none of this sounds particularly enjoyable. In our society self-abasement, guilt and personal accountability are increasingly counter-cultural.  “Have it your way!” “Just Do it!” “Ain’t nothing gonna break my stride!” are slogans of the world and of America’s sense of privilege. Fa ..read more
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500,000+ COVID-19 deaths in the United States
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
‘Strive to infuse life into this season of death.’ By Bishop Peggy A. Johnson I remember sitting in a nursing home in Catonsville, Maryland, with my aged Aunt Inez years ago.  Born in 1894 she had seen a great deal in her many years of life, and I was just in my twenties at the time. She shared with me her many memories of years gone by, especially about the “Spanish Flu” of 1918.  She was about my age at the time and there were no vaccines, no cure, just a call for people to stay in isolation and in prayer. She said that that virus affected in some way every family in the litt ..read more
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Black History MonthElijah Pierce: Telling the Story in Wood
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
Recently the Barnes Foundation of Philadelphia showcased the works of artist Elijah Pierce.  Born in 1892 in Mississippi, this son of freed slaves became a wood carver, barber and preacher.  He migrated north to Columbus, Ohio, as a youth, where he set up a barber shop and had a woodworking room in the back of the store. There he designed hundreds of masterpieces using wood, cardboard, crepe paper, house paint, aluminum foil, glitter and rhinestones. The topics of his many creations included Bible stories, nature, popular culture, politics and animals of all kinds.  Threaded t ..read more
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Confluence on Inauguration Day
Bishop's Blog
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3y ago
The word “inauguration” (New Oxford Dictionary) means, “The beginning or introduction of a system, policy or period; the formal admission of someone to office; a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.”  Next week our country will hold its Presidential Inauguration.  It will be in the foreground briefly against a current backdrop of political turmoil, last week’s violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, and a worldwide health crisis. And more turmoil, more attacks are threatened. It is my prayer that on that day we can begin to heal and find ways to mend our chasms of deep division ..read more
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