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Rev. Ron Carlson
Dean of the Appointive Cabinet & Superintendent Camp Clear Lake District
As Dean of the 2021-2022 Appointive Cabinet, I have been asked several times about who really makes up our team. Folks are wanting to know who we are, not by name and location per se, but who we are in our theological understandings, how we are providing ministry and support in what is now five Districts, and where we stand on possible separation as a denomination. As a result of the wonderings that are asked of superintendents, directors and the episcopal office, Bishop Laurie and her Cabinet are each offering a short “Leadership Statement” so people will better understand who we are and from where we are coming. Each week, for the next nine weeks, there will be a new statement shared as you get to know each member.
Hopefully, this will help us to establish a greater transparency and understanding of who we are as a diverse body and how we do our shared work as a cabinet.
My life’s journey has taken me from a stubborn traditionalist to a middle of the road centrist. As we approach General Conference 2022, I see myself being part of The United Methodist Church and not leaving to join another denomination. I see the Global Methodist Church and the Liberation Methodist Connexion going in ways where they can best carry out their understanding of church. I see the ongoing United Methodist Church as a place where there is space for Methodists of progressive, traditional and centrist understandings; where we are one church with a diversity of opinion; and where pastors can follow their convictions and churches will have a good bit of self-determination.
Having served in both urban and rural areas and as an associate and lead pastor and now appointed as a conference superintendent, I have had the chance to love people in the midst of many different problems and joyous occasions. These experiences have shown me that there are often more than one right way to approach anything. While we are not a creedal church, I find that the Apostles’ Creed summarizes my understanding of the Triune God very well.
My ministry has always been guided by the Great Commandment found in Matthew 22, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets;” and the Great Commission found in Matthew 28, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
As we approach a probable separation in the United Methodist Church, I see my role as supporter of pastors and churches. I will help every church and every pastor in my district become aligned with the post-separation Methodist denomination that best fits them and their beliefs. Even today, pre-Protocol, I will do whatever I can to help a church or pastor live out their beliefs and faith in Jesus. We may or may not agree on many things, but we will agree that we want what is best for your community or your pastor. I have and will again make mistakes in my ministry, but I can ensure you that I will always err on the side of loving people, where they are, as they are.
Read all of the Leading Now personal reflections here.