Bishop Goodpaster Celebrated at SEJ 2016
July 15, 2016
On Thursday evening at SEJ 2016, all of the bishops who retired at this session were recognized. Each bishop was given a tribute by a person from their annual conference. Rev. Amy Coles, assistant to the bishop, gave the tribute for the Western North Carolina Conference. "This evening, we give thanks for passionate and visionary leadership of Bishop Larry Goodpaster, who for the past 16 years has served as bishop in the Alabama-West Florida and Western North Carolina Conferences, and for his wife, Deborah, who has modeled before us grace, strength, and deep faith in Jesus Christ. We are grateful for the ways, that through the power of the Holy Spirit, he has lived before us a patient, steady trust and hope in the future of Christ’s holy Church. In both conferences, he’s been known for travelling the connection; encouraging us to risk, to be creative, and always reminding us that it's all about the mission. We also quickly realized that whether he was preaching at annual conference or in a local church, when his gestures became something like this (hand gesture), we better buckle our seatbelt, because what was coming might just turn our world upside down. Bishop G has challenged us not to perpetuate the church of the segregated south - rather that we dare to reflect the Kingdom and (referring to another gesture) when his hand began to rub his furrowed brow, it was a clear sign that he wasn’t pleased with our settling for the status quo – among other things. He has particularly encouraged, supported, and mentored young clergy and laity, many of whom would say that their preaching and teaching were transformed as he led them on a pilgrimage in the Holy Land. Widely read, Bishop G always has 2 or 3 or, if he's honest, probably 10 more books for his cabinet and conference staff to read. Interpreting what he's read and learned through the lens of the Gospel, he helped both conferences set the trajectory of being real and relevant for future generations. His world-wide service in places such as the DR Congo and Southeast Asia has been a tangible witness that there is power in the connection. As he and Deborah move into the next season of their lives, we pray for more time for family and especially their five grandchildren, as well as for his ministry as the Bishop-in-Residence at Candler, where he will continue to form and transform the lives of future leaders of our church. With humble strength, Bishop Goodpaster, you have answered this call of the Church and we pray that this evening you will receive God’s affirmation, “Well done."