By Martha Gadberry
A service celebrating the assignment of Bishop Scott Jones to the Great Plains Episcopal Area was ushered in with bells, choirs, lay people and pastors from across the new area at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Lincoln, Neb., Sept. 29. Jones served the Kansas Area for eight years before being named bishop of the new Great Plains Area.
The podium rocked with a praise band from Lincoln Trinity UMC, as nearly 375 Kansans and Nebraskans raised a joyful noise unto the Lord.
|Rev. Bill Ritter presents a pastoral staff to Bishop Scott Jones at the celebration of his assignment to the new Great Plains Episcopal Area. (photo by Britt Bradley)|
The special ecumenical guests included Archbishop George Lucas of the Omaha Roman Catholic Diocese; Rev. Roddy Dunkerson of the United Church of Christ; Bishop Brian Maas of the Nebraska Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Rev. Canon Judi Yeats, Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Canon to the Ordinary; and Rev. Greg Mamula, American Baptist Churches of America associate executive minister.
Lay leaders and clergy from Kansas and Nebraska read Scripture, prayed and presented the signs of the episcopal ministry, including a pastoral staff as a reminder to be a good shepherd, a towel and basin to be among us as one who serves and a gavel to preside over the three annual conferences.
Jones immediately set a positive, hopeful tone for the Great Plains Area.
His natural, comfortable presence in the center of the stage without notes or books in his hands created no barriers between him and the congregation. Jones’ deep connections to the Midwest and his love for the church were evident.
His question was, “What should a Great Plains United Methodist Conference look like in the 21st century?”
His response was, “Traditioned Innovation,” which also was the title of his sermon.
Jones said that we must break out of our comfort zone to spread the Gospel. We must create community to address isolation, polarization and poverty.
“Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living,” he said
He closed with, “God has amazing grace. We get to be part of that. Isn’t that cool?”
An offering for Imagine No Malaria was taken during the service, and a total of $1,968.57 was collected.
One youth had a great perspective on the uniting of the Kansas and Nebraska episcopal areas.
Daniel Reffner, a high school student from Wichita, said after the service, “This is a good thing — as part of a connectional church we will connect with better things, exciting things. It’s awesome.”
Jones recently has visited 117 churches in the Nebraska Conference. He said he witnessed some outstanding ministries and saw both large and small churches transforming their communities. His tour of Nebraska churches will continue into the fall, as he intentionally learns about his new territory.
View photos from the service on the Great Plains Episcopal Area's Facebook page.