Offering almost fatherly advice to his new episcopal colleague, retiring Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey urged new bishop Paul Leeland to act as a shepherd for his flock.
In his sermon in the final event of the 2008 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, McCleskey pointed out the many references to the shepherd, calling the image “one of the [richest] in the Bible.”… [Thinker note: audio posted below.]
McCleskey said these illustrations apply to [Leeland’s] new role as episcopal shepherd to his new flock.
“As you care for the flock you will travel down interstate highways, city streets and country lanes that you’ve never seen before, to seek a wayward sheep, encourage a disgruntled flock, listen to a few angry goats.
“You must lead them into the mission of spreading scriptural holiness, which means you will make difficult decisions, take solitary stands, walk through some lonely days, and lay awake on some long sleepless nights,” McCleskey added.
But [he noted that] Leeland can take comfort in the fact that the Holy Spirit will enable him to handle whatever comes his way as bishop, and that he can call on his sister and brother bishops and those who elected him for support.
“All who are here have prayed for you,” McCleskey said, “and will continue to do so. We will give much of ourselves to help you be faithful to your commitment to this new call.”
Bishop McCleskey’s sermon is streamed below (19 min.) — or you can download the mp3.
It’s also worth listening carefully to the weighty and consequential consecration vows, administered by Bishop Lindsey Davis (4 min.).
Bishop Leeland has been assigned to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. His tenure begins on Sept. 1.