Bishop Gonçalves said that as their ward membership rises and falls, the numbers are important to track but are irrelevant to the real goals. “Whether we have 500 or 1,000 in the ward family, I want to know each one and what their needs are. It means nothing if we had a full building on Sunday and I know none of them.”
Call by call, text by text and living room by living room, Bishop Gonçalves wants members of the ward to know that their reason for leaving doesn’t matter. “No matter what, they are welcome back. We have so much work to do, and we want them to do it with us.”
Before we ended our second interview, Bishop Gonçalves shared his joy at recently watching a 64-year-old man come back after more than three decades away. “He’d been praying for hope,” Bishop Gonçalves said. “Then one day the missionaries stopped by on assignment to invite him back to church.”
It’s just one of many stories of those rescued and welcomed back into the fold.
As Bishop Gonçalves nears the one-year mark of his ministry as bishop of the Chesapeake Ward, he admits he might receive more credit than he deserves for his role in this divine production. He’s the first to acknowledge that, along with his fellow ward members, he’s just another player on stage — the Lord is the real director.
While every element of Bishop Gonçalves’ and his ward’s efforts to rescue might not work everywhere around the world, he is convinced every ward and branch can become a model for "hastening the work."
Given his track record, who would doubt him?
Jason Wright is a New York Times bestselling author of 10 books, including "Christmas Jars" and "The Wednesday Letters." Learn more at jasonfwright.com, or connect on Facebook at facebook.com/jfwbooks, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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