By Bishop Jonathan Holston
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:18-19
There is nothing more spectacular than something new. It signals to all something fresh, original or different than before: new clothes, new school year, new teachers, new outlook, a new start.
As a child, I remember preparing to start a new school year at one of the local junior high schools in my hometown. I was leaving the safe confines of my beloved elementary school and venturing into the turbulent seas of the unknown. I was really scared!
My father took me on a shopping expedition to calm my anxiety. The trip ended at a local sporting goods store. It was there that I purchased a new pair of green Converse “Chuck Taylor” basketball shoes with yellow shoestrings to match the school’s colors. For some reason, I felt energized for a time of new beginnings. Indeed, it represented to me a “fresh start.”
In a recent newspaper article, a former high school athlete embarking upon a “fresh start” on a local college team shared an inspirational message received from his parents. They said, “Appreciate and embrace every chance that is given and take control of each day before it takes control of you.”
What a wonderful way to describe a fresh start.
Well, the signs are evident that in the Columbia Area/South Carolina Annual Conference, we are experiencing the feeling of a “fresh start,” as well. It was in July at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference that Felecia and I received the exciting news of our assignment to South Carolina. Now, we are here and delighted about our new journey and fresh start.
In the days and months to come, I am going to concentrate on listening, visiting and observing as much as possible. With the assistance of conference leadership, it is my hope that we will discover the future God has for all of us. Felecia and I look forward to sharing with you in worship, as well as in other opportunities of mission and ministry.
In the very near future, our district superintendents will be planning district gathering events for us to greet you personally. Also, I hope you will join us at Union United Methodist Church in Irmo on Sunday, Oct. 7, as we celebrate a day of installation as your episcopal family.
Over time, I have learned that new shoes are not necessary for fresh starts, but renewed and rejuvenated hearts, minds and souls are essential for the journey. Please know that I am excited about the opportunities we will have to create vital congregations that should challenge us to make a difference in our communities and discover our context for ministry.
This will be a fresh start for all of us, and I hope to see you on the journey.