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A Word from Pastor Jenny

“Be still and know that I am God!”  –Psalm 46:10

As we near the end of the first week of General Conference in Charlotte, NC, exciting things are happening as delegates from around the world have come together…Finally…for the postponed 2020 General Conference.  Remember, the General Conference is the legislative body of The UMC and the only decision-making body of our denomination.

It feels like we are finding our way and charting the course for the future of our denomination, following a global pandemic and the loss of 30% of our churches who disaffiliated over issues of human sexuality.  It has been a hard, but hopeful first week of Holy Conferencing as we trust God to lead us as The United Methodist Church.

The priorities of many of us as delegates at General Conference are what we have called the 3 Rs:  Approve Regionalization that would keep us connected as a worldwide church, but allow each region to adapt the Book of Discipline based on needs of culture and ministry; Revised the Social Principles that address social issues in the world; and Remove the harmful language in our Book of Discipline that excludes LGBTQ people from the full life of the church when it comes to being ordained as pastors or getting married in the church.

On the third day of General Conference, we did adopt Regionalization by more than the needed two-thirds vote.  Now, it needs to be approved by a two-thirds vote of all the Annual Conferences around the world over the next year.

Over the last couple of days, legislative committees have approved the Revised Social Principles and the removal of harmful language toward LGBTQ people.  This will now go before the full General Conference for debate and vote next week.

Thank you for your continued prayers for the delegates and all those helping make decisions at the General Conference over the next week!

Blessings,

Jenny

 

REPORT FROM GENERAL CONFERENCE

As I’ve shared with you, the United Methodist Church’s key legislative body is called the General Conference. It is the only body that speaks for the denomination and sets the mission, budget and strategic direction of the denomination as well as its policies. It meets once every four years. As you read this, we’re in day four of the eleven-day gathering as delegates from around the world, along with denominational staff and all of our bishops, meet.

The United Methodist Church has been caught in an ongoing conflict between its most conservative wing and the rest of the denomination over the last 50 years, a struggle that became increasingly untenable in the last eight years. That wing of the church formed its own denomination four years ago and over the last three years, 7,500 of our 30,000 US churches left, about 4,000 joined the new conservative Global Methodist Church and the other half became independent churches. Most of these were small churches, but some were mid-sized and larger. Of our 100+ churches in the greater KC area, only two left. We continue to have 22,000 churches in the US and, I think, 10,000 additional churches internationally.

Coming to General Conference, many of us hoped to do three things: 1. Remove the hurtful language and policies aimed at excluding gay and lesbian people inserted into our Book of Discipline since 1972; 2. Adopt revised Social Principles that address current social concerns in a balanced way, and which removed the insertion of anti-gay sections inserted since 1972; and 3. Restructure our denomination so that each region around the world could adapt parts of our Discipline to their context. This has been referred to as Regionalization and allows for greater autonomy of each region of the church (Africa, Asia, Europe and the US).

After our first four days, we have adopted Regionalization (it will now need to be approved by two-thirds of the annual conferences over the next year), approved in committee the new Social Principles, and approved in committee the removal of excluding language and policies about gay and lesbian people. The new Social Principles and revised statements removing anti-gay language will now go before the entire General Conference this coming week.

This is my eighth General Conference. This General Conference has a completely different feel than any of the others. It is more joyful, less focused on conflict and more focused on mission and ministry. I’ve never felt such a positive spirit here.

Last night I had dinner with, and spoke briefly to, a group of 150 United Methodists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and I had the chance to listen to them share what God is doing in their churches and to share with them a bit of what’s happening at Resurrection as well as my hopes for this General Conference. Tonight, I’ll do the same with delegates from the Philippines. You, and a number of other large churches, helped make these dinners happen.

I am feeling very hopeful, as we sit in legislative sessions today. I am confident that we will remove the hurtful and excluding language and policies, and that we will adopt the revised social principles. We’ve already approved the regionalization plan pending approval of annual conferences. These changes move us away from a conflict driven church and to being a mission and ministry driven church. We will continue to be a church made up of conservatives, progressives and a majority who were centrists. But we will be a church that is clear that all are welcome and that no longer has policies that harm or exclude.

Beginning on Monday, you can watch the second week of General Conference online – here’s the link. Please continue to pray for God’s presence and the discernment of the delegates as we make decisions that will impact our denomination’s future.

Our Summer Worship Begins May 26th. We will have ONE WORSHIP SERVICE ONLY at 9am. You can join us at church or online. We will worship outdoors three Sundays this summer. Click the summer worship tab to learn more.