AC 2020 Letter from Bishop Fairley
Kentucky Annual Conference
December 6-8, 2020
KNOW THE HOPE, SHOW THE HOPE!!!!
In this unprecedented season of both challenge and possibility, this season of COVID-19, the church has had to discover new ways to safely gather and carry on the hope of the gospel. The 2020 session of the Kentucky Annual Conference has also had to explore new ways of Holy Conferencing, new ways to Know the Hope and Show the Hope. This year, our session of Annual Conference will be virtual.
It is often in the crucible of upheaval where great transformation takes place. In the midst of COVID-19 and the present cry of God’s people for peace, love, and justice, we can find hope in God’s coming through Jesus Christ. Even though we are not able to gather in person, nothing can ever separate us from the advent (coming) of the love, peace, justice, and unshakeable hope born in Christ Jesus.
I know many of you have prayed and waited for word of how we, as an Annual Conference, will celebrate the joy of ministry and mission in the midst of a pandemic that has changed how we live. My prayer is that you have followed our online Mid-Week Ministry Moments and witnessed the incredible ways we indeed “Know the Hope, Show the Hope.” I am grateful for the amazing leadership being provided by passionate spiritual leaders who have labored countless hours to ensure that the work of the Annual Conference session can and will go on. I remind you to not only “Know the Hope, Show the Hope,” but also to trust in that hope, even if it means hoping against hope itself.
In the spirit of this unshakeable hope, I welcome you to the 2020 session of the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. We will gather virtually as a people who are not without hope, because our hope is rooted in the Advent of He who has come and is yet to come.
In the Advent of Jesus Christ, all history has been wrapped up in the garments of redemption, salvation, and reconciliation. Therefore, even though we gather virtually, we do so not because of bitterness, fear, or anxiety about tomorrow, but because we believe the Christ, who holds all our tomorrows, has and will come. In the coming Advent of Christ Jesus, we have been gifted with a HOPE that will never disappoint. As long as hope is alive, life cannot get us down. We will neither snap nor wilt under the pressure of change but thrive in the possibility of birthing something new. Where hope exists, no midnight can last forever. Neither COVID-19 nor injustice can defeat God’s redemptive plan for creation.
We celebrate acknowledging that hope fills the heart with joy even when our hearts are breaking. This is the hope that gives us an invincible spirit. “Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” – Proverbs 23:18 ESV. As we prepare to share in Holy Conferencing like no other Kentucky Annual Conference session has been called to do before, we do so in the spirit of our scriptural theme passage for I Peter 1:13 NRSV:
“Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.”
During this season of deep change – where the cry for racial justice echoes in our streets, and the pandemic has caused us all to change, not only our way of living, but take seriously our Christian moral obligation – I pray that we, as a people of God, will be prepared to truly “KNOW THE HOPE, SHOW THE HOPE.”
Even in what appears to be the darkest of nights, we celebrate what God has done and will do. May we cling tenaciously, boldly, and audaciously to the HOPE, which God has promised in the return of our once-again-coming King. Advent is indeed a time to Know the Hope and Show the Hope in how we live, always practicing the “already but not yet.”
Leonard E. Fairley