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Wisconsin Annual Conference 2023 Day 1 Update
After opening worship on the first day of the Wisconsin Annual Conference, the business of the Conference began.  After some ‘housekeeping’ business and voting of several items on the consent agenda, we heard a presentation from our Conference Disaffiliation Task Force that has been working all year with churches seeking to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church over issues of human sexuality.
Bishop Jung called this, “a time of prayer and generous care of one another.”  He reminded us that even following churches disaffiliating, we will still have differences of opinion and various perspectives of theology and interpretation of Scripture and that there is room for those differences in The UMC.  
The vote to allow 43 churches to disaffiliate from the Wisconsin Annual Conference and The UMC was 461 voting in favor of the disaffiliations and 32 voting against.  The Wisconsin Conference is made up of 5 districts and more than 400 local churches.
When I entered ordained ministry 24 years ago, I never envisioned voting on churches disaffiliating from our denomination.  But, despite the Annual Conference approving 43 disaffiliations, there was a positive energy and hopefulness among those remaining United Methodist.  We are hopeful and grateful to be churches where all are welcome.  We are also ready to welcome those persons from disaffiliating churches that wish to remain United Methodist.  We look forward to continuing to reach out beyond ourselves with God’s love and be living examples of Christ in our communities so that others will be drawn to Christ and grow in faith.
Those of us from Sun Prairie UMC attending Annual Conference this week are proud to be United Methodist and proud to serve our SPUMC Reconciling congregation with its wide welcome.  Pastor Jenny and Pastor Claire are at Annual Conference, along with our lay members, Mike Vavrus and Marcia Flaherty.  Deb Mulhern and Connie Meyer are on the Program and Arrangements team and Lisa Wink is the Conference Director of Communications and was on the Disaffiliation Task Force.  We also have several retired clergy and clergy on extension ministry that proudly connect to SPUMC and are at Annual Conference.
Thank you, SPUMC, for being a United Methodist congregation with a wide welcome.  It is a blessing to serve as your Lead Pastor!