Many have written to offer their prayers, support and encouragement in my recent decision to step down as host of The United Methodist Hour. I appreciate your concerns, and, especially, the way you have shared your heart with me and my family.
But, several of you have asked for the "real story". "Why are you really leaving the Hour?" and "I heard this..." and "I heard that..."
Well... the whole story, though not nearly as tantalizing as the rumors, is a bit long and complicated.
When I was appointed as Senior Pastor of Gulf Breeze UMC this past March, I offered and The Hour accepted that I remain as the host of The United Methodist Hour for free for as long as necessary or until the Board decided to go in another direction.
Over the past weeks since taking on the position with GBUMC full time, I have kept my taping schedule active, though never taking away from what GBUMC needed. And, I believe The Hour was served well, too, mainly because Anthony Thaxton and Mike Boucher made sure the new taping schedule would work. And, it did work.
But, there were and are other issues at play. Three years ago, I took the Hour in a new direction in both terms of programming and also the long range vision for the ministry-- a vision that has led us into podcasting and on to FamilyNet. Some on the Board of Directors and within the Mississippi Annual Conference liked the new direction; others did not. We have moved forward, but not without our share of disagreements over what would work and what needed to be the core of our ministry.
NEITHER SIDE of this discussion is WRONG; we simply disagree as to where the ministry goes from here.
The Hour deserves an opportunity to move forward continuing the vision it has lived out for the past 40 years. And, I must remain faithful to what God has placed on my heart for my teaching ministry.
I truly respect and cherish the past three years. It has taught me a great deal about media ministry, introduced me to great people (some who have become my dearest friends) and provided a new frame for ministry through technology that most people never have the chance to experience.
Yes, God has other things in store for both of us--- The Hour and me.
Over the next weeks, you will be hearing more about "Making Life Matter" and "Gulf Breeze Global", two approaches to sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I look forward to.
And, I know The Hour will also have new chapters and places that God will lead it as well.
I recently finished Timothy Keller's "The Prodigal God". It is an amazing book about a story that many of us "think" we know, but ultimately have only a passing knowledge-- The Parable of the Lost Son.
In essence, it is a story about two sons from two very different places. What both miss is the gracious abandon by which the Father loves them and encourages both of them to live within the light and "freedom" of His grace. The reckless nature of the younger son and the rules of the older son keep both from living the real wealth and treasure of their inheritance-- within the Father's hope that they may both reach their potential. Neither are right... both miss the mark. One just misses it with more flare. I have been and continue to be both "sons" in my life. How about you?
We have much to share and live out over the next years. God has given me the privilege to share and love and follow Him. I don't want to miss one single moment. I don't want you to either.
Whatever our struggles and disagreements have been about style, direction and future for the ministry; what has not changed is the love for sharing the Good News, resourcing the local church and providing hope as the "hands and feet of Jesus" in the world. The Hour has a long history of faithful service in this, and it has been a joy to be a part of it.
I want to take a moment to thank folks like Jim Golden, Carolyn Hood, Ann Pace, Mike Boucher and Anthony Thaxton for carrying so many of the details of the ministry. It has been a privilege to work with you.
And, my sincere hope is that The Hour will be ALL that God needs her to be in the future.
So, now we turn back to the horizon and what God has in store for us over the next hill. There is much to do..
Be Salt and Light... You Matter!