C. M. Kempton Hewitt

In support of Cara Stultz Costello, candidate for the Office of the Episcopacy of the United Methodist Church

From: Rev. Dr. C. M. Kempton Hewitt, Ph.D. (Dunelm)

Emeritus Professor of Biblical Interpretation,
The Methodist Theological School in Ohio

Now in the 58th year of my ordination as an elder, I am deeply troubled and concerned.

I need not fill in the blanks for anyone this note addresses.

In the days ahead we will depend to an unprecedented degree upon the quality of our leadership, both lay and ordained.

As it concerns the episcopacy, we must be able to rely upon competent, proven persons who demonstrate honed histories of service—histories that offer solid evidence of that rare combination of compassion, integrity, balanced judgments, and selfless dedication to the welfare of those under care. To these professional qualities must be added qualities of another kind, more difficult to obtain and yet more important to possess: a healthy and balanced life, a circle of supportive and trusting love relationships, and an inner core sustained by a rich, nurtured spirituality.

Cara possesses such qualities.

ln the coming storms facing the church—and the subsequent recovery we deeply desire—we must have confidence in those inner character qualities of episcopal leaders which arise from how these persons themselves have been cared for. Cara has been nurtured and prepared in her own growth and development within the family of Valerie and Bucky, her parents, within the supportive community of Delaware, Ohio, and within the warmth and acceptance of the membership of Asbury United Methodist Church community. Those of us who have watched her grow and mature from childhood, who knew and trusted her parents (and ourselves and our own children benefitted from knowing them), are not surprised to see her as a well-integrated, joyful person who demonstrates deep reserves of steadiness and poise in circumstances that rattle and shake others. Her spiritual core is cultivated by her close attention to the Voice heard in mindful study of Scripture, by artful expressions that allow the soul to breathe, and by prayerful encounters within and without the confines of her heart.

We yearn for leaders like her.

I enter the next phase of the life of the United Methodist Church with fresh hope when I allow myself to envision Cara as one of the new class of bishops. My endorsement is not prompted only by observed evidence over the course of her life, but also from deep, searching conversations with Cara. Those conversations—often on a calm, pristine lakeside—are the data that prompted me to write these heartful words.

Her sound character, values, and spiritual center make her the single candidate I am willing to endorse in this critical round of selections for the office of bishop.