Bishop Mike Watson, episcopal leader of the United Methodism’s largest U.S. Conference, is interviewed in the premiere issue (PDF) of the North Georgia Advocate, now the official newspaper of the North Georgia Conference. (The North Georgia Advocate is the successor to the recently discontinued Wesleyan Christian Advocate.)
Bishop Watson was assigned to North Georgia last summer after serving eight years as the leader of the South Georgia Conference.
Advocate: What is the biggest challenge facing [the North Georgia] Conference?
Bishop Watson: There are several major challenges. Among them is the constant need to reach new people with the Good News of Jesus Christ across all racial, ethnic, cultural, economic, and generational lines….
While we rejoice that the United Methodist Church is growing in North Georgia [quadrennial report, May 2008—PDF], we are not keeping up with the population growth.
We especially need to reach the younger and more diverse culture around us.
Another challenge is one of financial stewardship. Even during difficult economic times, can we even imagine what resources for ministry would be available if United Methodist people tithed?
Fundamentally, we do not have a financial problem, we have a financial stewardship problem. Until we faithfully commit our pocketbooks, we will not be able to do all that God has for us to do in North Georgia….
Advocate: Excluding your time as Bishop, what do you consider your most blessed time in ministry?
Bishop Watson: God has blessed my life in too many ways to count throughout my 37 years in ministry; however, serving as the founding pastor of a new congregation for 11 years certainly was a rich blessing.
We began with no conference money, no building, no land, and no members. [My wife] Margaret was the first one to join!
Being part of an experience in new church development that has resulted in Covenant United Methodist Church (Dothan, Ala.) becoming one of the strongest congregations in the Alabama-West Florida Conference was pure joy.
Advocate: Other than the Bible, what book has most affected your thinking?
Bishop Watson: The Bible definitely is the book that has affected my thinking the most. I have a daily Bible reading plan that enables me to read the Bible through each year.
I have also been greatly influenced by John Wesley’s sermons and Journal, by Henri Nouwen’s The Living Reminder and The Wounded Healer, and by Eugene H. Peterson’s Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity.
I love to read and I read so much that it is difficult to say what one book other than the Bible has affected me the most.
Advocate: How do you make time in your schedule for prayer and Bible study?
Bishop Watson: I have made a personal commitment to an hour of quiet time each day, usually in the morning, for prayer, Bible and devotional reading. I also try to do an hour of physical exercise each day. The North Georgia Committee on Episcopacy holds me accountable for these two commitments to spiritual and physical care.
The North Georgia Advocate will feature more conversations with Bishop Mike Watson in future issues, using questions submitted by readers.
Next week, Bishop Watson will preside for the first time at a session of the North Georgia Annual Conference.
During a “Bishop’s Forum” at the Georgia Pastors’ School in 2004, Bishop Watson briefly discussed his approach to presiding at annual conference sessions, especially during times when delegates are called on to vote on various issues. (Next week, North Georgia delegates will vote on 32 proposed amendments to the United Methodist Constitution).
Use the audio player below to listen to his remarks (1 min.).
|•||Bishop Mike Watson’s 2008 Installation sermon|
|•||MethodistThinker Podcast: Bishop Mike Watson — ‘We Wish to See Jesus’|
|•||Bishop Mike Watson: Spiritual disciplines for the New Year|
|•||An Advent sermon from Bishop Mike Watson|
|•||Bishop Mike Watson on ‘prevenient grace’|
|•||Bishop Mike Watson on ‘justifying grace’|
|•||Bishop Mike Watson: ‘The Methodist Christian Way’|
|•||Biography of Bishop Mike Watson|
|•||Bishop Michael Watson ready for next step after eight years leading South Georgia | Allison Kennedy, The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-Enquirer (June 14, 2008)|