To the Iowa Annual Conference,
For everything there is a season, a time for every matter under heaven…
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to speak, and a time to keep silence.
For 22 years it has been my privilege to serve the Iowa Annual Conference as Conference Artist. It has been my aim with this unprecedented opportunity to contribute to our on-going conversation by offering theopoetic stylings based on our annual theme. It was my hope that I might be able to use visual art to deepen the important conversations we were having – and/or spark those we were avoiding.
After deep reflection on the current state of our discourse, both within our denomination and across the wider culture, I believe that it is time for me to vacate the position of Conference Artist and enter a season of silence at the end of this quadrennium. I have reached this conclusion after consultation with the Sessions Committee, Bishop Trimble, and out of a deep concern for the well-being of the on-going conversation we share.
Please know that I leave this position with a grateful heart for the ways I have been shaped by the Iowa Annual Conference. You have, in the words of Nelle Morton, heard me to speech. I am grateful for the careful attention you have given to my work over the span of our time together. It is more than most artists get in a lifetime, and it motivated me to be a clearer communicator and a better thinker. Together, I hope, we have learned something about seeing and, perhaps something about the nature of God in our midst.
Upon my ordination, I accepted the responsibility and the authority to preach the gospel. While I have aimed to be faithful in this task using gifts of mind, body and spirit, I am well aware that I have missed that mark more than once. For the times when my work went too far, when it lacked clarity and caused unintended pain, I ask for your forgiveness. For the times when my work did not go far enough, when it failed to challenge thought or to speak for those whose voice is seldom heard, I ask for your forgiveness. Preaching is a risky art, and there is a great deal at stake in these edgy times.
With the blessing of the Sessions Committee and Bishop Trimble, my last offering in this capacity will explore the 2016 theme, Therefore Go,
while looking back on the visual conversation we have been having for 22 years.
There was a time to tear, and a time to sew.
There was a time to speak,
and a time to keep silence.
Thank you for seeing my work and hearing my words.
Ted Lyddon Hatten