The General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation endorsed Rev. Dr. Barrie Tritle to be their episcopacy candidate. The lay and clergy who are representing the Iowa Conference voted at their meeting on Saturday, March 19 to support him for Bishop at the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference, set for July 13-16 in Peoria, Illinois.
There is a process that has brought Rev. Dr. Tritle to this distinguished place, and, as he puts it, “It begins with a lot of prayer and a lot of discernment around the gifts and graces of each of the individuals that were put forth. It also takes this time to think and pray as a group about whom we believe we would like as a bishop, and who might serve well as a bishop in our jurisdiction.”
Click here to listen to the conversation
with Dr. Tritle
As a part of this thoughtful consideration process, each person who had been put forth as a potential candidate told their call story and discussed “how God is working in their lives and how they feel they were called to the episcopacy.” They were then asked a series of questions, such as: “How do you respond to the hurt that’s going on in the world?” “How do you respond to the divisions in the denomination?” and “What is your deepest passion?”
“My central theme is living in God’s grace,” explains Rev. Dr. Tritle, “knowing that from early on in my life God was with me. God always had something in mind for me later in my life, and was always preparing me for the next thing. I look back and I see how God has blessed me with grace to be a pastor, grace to be a husband and a father of three adopted children, and how I’ve been able to relate to people in a variety of ways.”
Tritle feels blessed to have had deep involvement in the church for many years - he has been in ministry in Iowa for some 33 years - pastoring several churches as well serving as Conference Superintendent, including a time as Dean of the Cabinet. Currently he is lead pastor at First United Methodist in Iowa City. He has been part of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and on the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry. He was a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry of the Iowa Conference, including serving as its Chairperson.
“It’s been a joy to be able to be a leader and help the church move forward and develop leaders, and to be in mission and ministry around the world,” says Rev. Dr. Tritle.
'Plenty of soul-searching'
During the selection process, he has had to do plenty of soul-searching. “Part of my journey has been re-yielding to God and yielding to the process, and saying ‘Here I am, Lord, use me.’ Whether it’s in the episcopacy or whether it’s continuing as a local pastor in Iowa City. So here I am – and they have endorsed me. It’s a blessing. It’s humbling. And sometimes you say ‘Oh Lord, what have I gotten myself into?’ But that’s because God is with you that you know you will be able to do what God wants you to do.”
Going to the General Conference in Portland, Oregon, in May, and to the North Central Jurisdictional Conference in Peoria, Illinois in July won’t be a wholly new experience for Rev. Dr. Tritle. “I’ve been a delegate to General Conference,” he says. “This will be my fourth time as a delegate. I went as a reserve before that.” But obviously this time will be very different. He’ll be going to the Jurisdictional Conference as an endorsed candidate for the episcopacy. He will be among many being considered for Bishop from across the jurisdiction in its deliberation and voting.
What can the people of Iowa do to support him between now and then?
“The first thing that everybody can do is pray,” Tritle said. “We need to pray because we want the best possible leadership for the church. We need to pray for the processes. We need to pray for all of the candidates who are making themselves available to serve in this capacity.”
“I think the other thing people can do is talk with me, when they get a chance, and tell me what their dreams are for the church. I understand that the church is called to be diverse, it’s called to be inclusive, and it’s called to be a growing evangelical presence of God’s grace in a hurting and broken world. What are other people’s visions and dreams for the church?”
Finally, he asks that people think about what we can do to help others. “How do we come out of General Conference in 2016 and 2020 as a church that is a solid witness for Jesus Christ, a solid witness that is faithful to the love and the grace that we receive from Jesus Christ, and we actually make a difference in the world?”
“We are pouring forth God’s love, God’s grace, and God’s hope to a world that is in serious hurt.”