March 1 – Episcopal Fund/First Sunday in Lent

A Moment for Mission

"I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." —Psalm 32:8, NRSV

Bishop Ruben Saenz Jr. was pushing 30 and running a flourishing jewelry business in Rio Grande City, Texas, when he felt a call to United Methodist ministry.

He didn't want to hear it.

Saenz had a wife, young children and a custom-built home. But he eventually answered the ministry call, selling the home and business and crowding his family into a Dallas apartment so he could attend Perkins School of Theology.

He's been in full-time ministry since his 1997 seminary graduation, leading two South Texas churches, serving as a top conference staff member and becoming a sought-after speaker on church growth and Hispanic ministry.

"He had the ability to cast a vision for the body of Christ," recalled Mari Gomez, church treasurer during Saenz's tenure at El Buen Pastor United Methodist Church, Edinburg, Texas.

In 2016, Saenz was the first of three bishops elected by the South Central Jurisdictional Conference. He drew the vast Great Plains Conference as his assignment.

Saenz acknowledges that his election was due in part to concern that the denomination must do more to reach the growing Hispanic demographic.

But he's used to being marginalized by what he calls the "little hyphen" of Hispanic-American status. He doesn't want that as bishop.

"We're called to be episcopal leaders for all people, not just the Hispanic community," he said.

Through the Episcopal Fund, United Methodists support the work of visionary leaders like Saenz. Thank you!

Adapted from "Bishop Saenz: Ministry Is 'a Great Work,'" Sam Hodges, UM News, Sept. 9, 2016. Used by permission.

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, indeed, you instruct us and teach us the way we should go. Thank you for our bishops who answer your call and lead your church. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: First Sunday in Lent – Holy God, we bring our tithes and offerings to your altar, understanding that we have already received the greatest gift of all, the forgiveness of our sins and transgressions through the sacrifice of your Son. Bless our gifts for your unfinished kingdom work. Remind us as we worship here that this redemption of our lives did not come without price; help us so that we might live always as agents of that boundless love and mercy, making it real to others. Knowing we cannot earn this forgiveness, this wiping clean of our ledger, we can only hope to reflect such grace and compassion in our encounters with others. In his name, we pray. Amen.  (Psalm 32)

Newsletter Nugget
United Methodist bishops are called to guard the church's faith, order, liturgy, doctrine and discipline. They are elected every four years by each of the five jurisdictional conferences in the United States and the seven central conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe. Consecrated to the episcopacy for life, bishops serve in the jurisdiction in which they were elected and consecrated.

As of mid-January 2020, 13 U.S. bishops and three central conference bishops had announced they would retire this year. Nine U.S. clergy had been endorsed as episcopal candidates by their annual conferences. They bring varied and rich experience in many areasas senior pastors, district superintendents, annual conference staff, Connectional Table members, and delegates to General and jurisdictional conferences.

In the U.S., jurisdictional conferences will convene July 15–18, 2020. Consecration will take place at the conference, and all new bishops will begin their assignments on September 1, 2020.

Through the Episcopal Fund, United Methodist congregations support the important work of their bishops. Thank you!

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