Like most people at the close of one year and the beginning of another, I find myself sifting through memories from the past and sorting out hopes for the future.
Friends know that I keep a journal, and that in addition to recording thoughts and experiences, I keep an eccentric accounting of a whole range of activities. In 2016, I spent 142 days in hotel rooms, boarded 97 flights, identified 298 different species of North American birds (adding 17 to my life list of new sightings!), went fishing 10 times, rented 18 cars, and either preached, taught, or spoke at 203 different speaking engagements. I presided over eight days of annual conferences, and attended fourteen days of General and Jurisdictional Conference. I lost 14 pounds during the first eight months of the year and then gained 13 back near the end of the year.
I read or re-read about 35 books (reading some part of each of them and all of some of them pictured below). I walked/hiked/ran at least an hour a day for 296 of the 366 days of 2016. I’ve lost count of how many lunches, dinners, or meetings I’ve had with leaders of organizations affiliated with the Rio Texas Conference. I’ve unpacked at least 42 million boxes since our move to Texas, or so it seems. I found $2.57 in coins during 2016, and I spent fewer hours writing than in any year for the past decade.
Since starting in September as Bishop of the Rio Texas Conference, I’ve spoken, preached or taught 77 times to various groups, teams, committees, churches, or gatherings of pastors.
I’ve been in 31 churches, and I’ve walked the property of at least another 25. I’ve appreciated hearing a number of our pastors preach and I’ve been pleased by the many outreach ministries in our communities. Since September, I’ve also been elected to serve as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Wespath, formerly called the General Board of Pensions, which manages $22 billion in pension assets for nearly 100,000 pastors and lay workers. The Council of Bishop also has asked me to serve as one of the 32 persons from across the global church on the Commission on a Way Forward.
Of course, the most significant event in my life and ministry of this past year was my assignment to the Rio Texas Conference. Esther and I are so pleased to be here and to work with the pastors and laity and churches of the Rio Texas Conference. The welcome has been warm, and I’m excited about the possibilities of our ministry together.
Threading all of this together, 2016 has been a year of change, of hope, of loss, of stress, of anticipation, of exhaustion, of transition, of anxiety, of newness, of joy, and of possibilities. We have felt blessed, and I hope that you have, too. I give God thanks for every one of you, and for all that you do for the purposes of Christ.
Grace and Peace,
Bishop Robert Schnase