“For it is church that we are called to be, not the church that includes some of us, but the church that includes all of us,” said Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., California-Nevada Annual Conference resident bishop, during the Episcopal address opening the Western Jurisdictional Conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Scottsdale, Arizona meeting July 12 to 16. Brown’s sermon was entitled, “Do Not Grow Weary,” based on Luke 9:23-26, and Galatians 6:7-10.
“The Western Jurisdiction has an emerging vision about our jurisdiction and our church. It is not a vision that describes where we are now…This vision is a vision that is anchored in the God that makes visions happen,” said Brown to the delegates and observers. “The Galatians had some things in common with us (Western Jurisdiction), they were a minority people in the Christian culture,” he added. “Our hope is not a hope that’s wedded in the past. Our past is not some great thing to be anxious to go back to, our hope is in what is possible in our future.”
Meeting during a time of turmoil in the nation following the sniper deaths of five police officers in Dallas, and the deaths of black men at the hands of police in Baton Rouge and Minneapolis, Brown asked, “How many times will we weep over Orlando, San Bernardino, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Cleveland, Santa Rosa, again and again and again?” He asked, “Who can stand on the line in the midst of weeping and screaming and outraged communities?” Brown says, “Justice would not be silent, Jesus wouldn’t have it, we must stand up…Jesus breaks down the barriers between us, Jesus breaks down the boxes.”
He challenged those gathered to, “Get your mind straight, you don’t have a dead hope…We have a God that’s gone before us…Do not be ashamed of what Christ has done…The God of our salvation is with us.” Brown concluded with a gospel song that he says he carries in his heart when he is about to weep, James Cleveland’s, “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired,” which says, “I don’t feel no ways tired, I’ve come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy, I don’t believe God brought me this far to leave me.”
Brown is the only bishop retiring in the Western Jurisdiction. He spent most of his 43 years of active ministry in the California-Nevada Conference serving on conference staff as a council director, district superintendent, pastoring two churches, and the last eight years as bishop.
“Do not get weary keep at it, keep going….We don’t feel no ways tired.”
By Dr. Larry R. Hygh, Jr., Director of Communications of California-Nevada Annual Conference.