Changes are coming once again to the Capital District. We are in a time of transition as our District Superintendent is now a Bishop who will soon be on his way to serve the Louisville area in the Kentucky and Red Bird Missionary Conferences. What a whirlwind this year has been leading up to this!
In May of 2015, I awoke from a dream on a Tuesday morning with a strong feeling that God wanted me to work to help my pastor, Leonard Fairley get elected as Bishop. I drove to Leonard’s office, as I did every Tuesday morning for our weekly covenant group meeting at 6:30 am and I told him about my dream. It is amazing as I reflect on all that has happened since then.
In June of that year, Leonard was elected to serve as a delegate to General and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conferences and I was elected as a delegate to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. I barely made it! I was the last layperson elected (before reserves). In August our delegation selected Leonard as our episcopal nominee. That day was one of the holiest that I have ever experienced. The Spirit filled the space where we met. Since then, our delegation (with the help of others) worked to produce a video, brochure, website and note cards to try to communicate to the rest of the delegates in our jurisdiction why we felt that Leonard should be elected. This process was not always easy, but I must admit that I think we presented our brother, Leonard pretty well. If you haven’t done so already check out the website: https://leonardfairley.com/.
Throughout this process there have been some challenging times, and there was some political jockeying that took place that was a little disheartening to me. I approached all of this with some naiveté and have certainly learned an incredible amount through the experience, but I never lost sight of what God had placed on my heart. There was a confidence that it would come to be.
On Wednesday of last week it came to fruition! Again, there had been some political jockeying that had taken place, which was once again disheartening, but it did not affect the outcome! We made history when The Rev. Sharma Lewis was elected on the first ballot and she is the first African-American female bishop elected by the Southeastern Jurisdiction. Some were concerned that we would only elect one African American bishop. Thankfully, race was clearly not an issue among the delegation because Leonard was the third of five bishops that we elected. My heart was full! The room erupted into hugs and tears flowed.
Throughout the conference we enjoyed powerful worship and attended to a little more business and strengthened relationships among our NC delegation and made new friends from across the southeast. The finale was the Consecration of Bishops service on Friday morning and it was once again a holy time. When it was over I cried tears of joy almost all the way home.
A little over a year ago, my home church had to say goodbye to Leonard as our pastor and that was hard. It will soon be time for all of us to say goodbye to Leonard as our District Superintendent. And that will also be hard. But God has prepared him and he is ready for this next step in ministry and we must let him go.
Bishop Hope will be announcing our new District Superintendent in the coming days and she has once again selected a very gifted person and the Capital District will remain excellent with strong leadership. And it is well with my soul.
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