Mediation, Protocol, Grace, and Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church

So, it’s not often that the United Methodist Church makes national and local news. However, you or your friends may have read or seen something over the weekend that raised some questions for you. I want to make sure that you are informed and can respond well to people who bring up the topic.

On Friday, the Council of Bishops shared a press release – United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives & Bishops sign agreement aimed at separation – which included a document that sought to resolve some of our denomination’s differences and would result in a split of the global United Methodist Church

I encourage you to take a look at the original document – Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation (PDF) as well as the Frequently Asked Questions. I find this document noteworthy because it was unanimously agreed upon by persons from across the theological spectrum. While some news reports may lead you to believe that this is already approved, it is not. The United Methodist Church makes decisions as a global denomination every four years at a meeting called General Conference. This document will lead to one of many proposals that will come before the General Conference, which meets this May in Minnesota.

For me, it is clear to me that we must welcome all people into the entire life of the church. I want to serve in a church that does not have any restrictions or limitations for LGBTQ persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I also want to live in a church in which there is space for people who disagree. While I am not excited about an amicable separation, I believe that what is proposed by the protocol may be the best option for our denomination at this time. I trust that God’s Holy Spirit continues to help individuals and organizations make progress toward the perfect love of God and neighbor.

I have had conversations with people connected with Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church, who are both more progressive and more traditional regarding these questions. There are people with theological differences present each Sunday in worship. Being able to worship and seek God together is part of what I love about this church. We are trying to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to the scriptures and devoted to our tradition as Methodists. We desire to be a diverse community of faith, where God’s love is in action.

One of our all-church goals this year is to implement a series of educational and engagement activities to inform the congregation regarding LGBTQ issues and proposals coming before the UMC at the 2020 General Conference so that we can clarify the congregation’s position and values regarding inclusion. With that in mind, I want to make three invitations to you.

First, starting Sunday morning, February 16, we are offering a study called Faithful and Inclusive – the Bible, Sexuality, and The United Methodist Church. This course provides a perspective on understanding how United Methodists can be both obedient to God’s Word and fully welcoming to LGBTQ persons in the church. This six-session resource has been designed for participants to develop their perspectives on the Bible’s passages related to homosexuality. We will be going through this study as a large group with small group discussions. If your Sunday School class would like to pause during these weeks to be part of the study, I invite you to do so. If you are not part of a Sunday school class and would like to be part of the study, I invite you to do so.

Second, I encourage you to read the mediation protocol [link]. This document is the actual product of the mediation process. You can download a copy here or pick up a printed copy at the church.

Finally, I encourage you to be generous and kind with each other – both those with whom you agree and those with whom you disagree.

Would you like to be part of the conversation at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church to clarify our congregation’s position and values regarding inclusion? Do you have more questions or concerns? I would be glad to share a conversation with you. You can call the church or email me directly at andrew@swumc.org to share your interest in helping our congregation make progress.

Local Church Conversation about #gc2019

Yesterday afternoon, we had an all-church conversation at Berryton United Methodist Church to process the 2019 special session of the General Conference. I put it on the calendar about a month ago. While it was, of course, impossible to predict how things would go, I did figure that we would need some time and space to process whatever it was that was passed. This was true.

The weather was bitterly cold and it was snowing for the first part of the morning with about 3 inches accumulated before the first worship service ended. It was the second lowest in-person worship attendance in the last two years. In spite of the conditions, we had a great turnout on Sunday afternoon to talk about General Conference.

I shared these documents with those that were gathered:

The first document was a statement that I shared in worship and the second was shared at the meeting in the afternoon. Both were adapted from resources provided by the Great Plains Annual Conference.

I am glad that people gathered and were willing to share their pain, questions, confusion, and hope. It felt inadequate. There needs to be and will continue to be more conversations in local congregations just like ours across the United States and around the world. People are moved to take action.

Excellence in Ministry #umbom14 – Reflections and Next Steps

This week I was part of the BOM Mid Quad Training Event in Denver. After some reflection, I want to share some possible next steps for me and for our Board of Ordained Ministry. Here goes…

Next Steps for the Board of Ordained Ministry

  • Have God’s eyes for big possibilities
  • Consider process changes to encourage and identify highly motivated, self-starting, creative and entrepreneurial leaders.
  • Be steady in purpose, but flexible in strategy. -Gil Rendle
  • Continue commitment to change and diversify
  • Be intentional in language used around the candidacy process – What do we do? Why do we do it?
  • Focus on telling the story of the Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry – not the stories of the Board from our former conferences.
  • Explore ways to recruit before self-selection as a candidate
  • Identify the small changes which would make the biggest difference in changing the dynamics of the Board.

Next Steps for Me

  • Have God’s eyes for big possibilities
  • Actively engage as a lifelong learner, i.e. D. Min, conferences, reading, etc.
  • Be part of addressing the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities of being a global denomination with a democratic polity.
  • Consider additional opportunities to serve at the annual, jurisdictional and general conferences
  • Look for ways to further develop my:
    • emotional intelligence
    • understanding of systems theory
  • Continuously look for the gifts in others, name and cultivate those gifts, and unleash these gifts and people into the ministry and community.
  • Seek out those who would mentor me and those who could be mentored by me.
  • Recognize that deep change means surrendering control.
  • Identify the small changes which would make the biggest difference in my leadership in the local church
  • Seek both mastery and originality

Will you please share your thoughts, feelings and opinions about these lists? What changes could be most helpful for the Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry? How might I best improve my work as an Elder in the United Methodist Church?

Global Leadership Summit – Day 2

Today is the final day of the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. I am attending at Resurrection Leawood. Yesterday, I enjoyed Jim Collins and was proud of Adam Hamilton‘s talk about When Leaders Fall. Today I am particularly looking forward to Terri Kelly speaking about W.L. Gore & Associates, Blake Mycoskie about TOMS Shoes.

I am working on compiling my next steps. What are your next steps?

#6qumc – Where is it leading? (4 of 5)

Another question that has been asked of 6 Questions for The United Methodist Church,

“Where is it leading?”

Ultimately, I pray that this project is leading where God wills.

The stated purposes of the project are:

  • Raise important questions for next steps in the life of the denomination.
  • Provide guidance for future face to face gatherings.
  • Shape the discourse across the denomination.

In addition, I hope that 6qumc will raise conversations that lead to the fruit of God’s kingdom being produced in the lives of people across the denomination – both inside and outside the church.

After September 30, 2009 the top six questions in each topic will be compiled and made available, possibly through print publication, but certainly via the web.

I believe that next steps will become clear over the course of the project. In the meantime, I believe that the conversation may be more fruitful than the results. It is hard for me to say for certain.

What do you suggest?

To participate visit: http://bit.ly/6qumc

To read more, visit: http://www.umcyoungclergy.com/6qumc

Tangible Next Steps for the UMC in Kansas

I am confident and hopeful for the future of the United Methodist Church in Kansas. I have a lot of dreams and visions for what might be possible in the future. I have work to do on bringing them into reality. Here are some tangible next steps that I believe  could be a part of spiritual revival in the state of Kansas and renewal within the United Methodist Church.

What are other tangible steps that you would suggest?

  1. Participate in 40 days of Prayer for the Denomination – Continue to check www.umcyoungclergy.com for a relaunched site soon and details on the prayer campaign.
  2. Meet at least two leaders at Annual Conference who are younger than you:
    1. Ask, “How have you seen God at work in your ministry?”
    2. Share and listen to a dream for the future of the United Methodist Church in Kansas
    3. Ask, “In what way might I be helpful for you?”
    4. Follow through on their response
    5. Throughout the year ahead, pray for them and let them know that you are praying for them.
  3. Meet at least two leaders at Annual Conference who are older than you:
    1. Ask, “How have you seen God at work in your ministry?”
    2. Share and listen to a dream for the future of the United Methodist Church in Kansas
    3. Ask, “In what way might I be helpful for you?”
    4. Follow through on their response
    5. Throughout the year ahead, pray for them and let them know that you are praying for them.
  4. Spend time at the Young Clergy booth at Annual Conference (especially if you are a clergy person, seminary student or considering becoming clergy and are age 35 or under) to:
    1. Meet young leaders in the conference.
    2. Find information about Exploration 2009
    3. Collaborate to organize monthly young clergy meals for 2009
    4. Provide input for young clergy retreats in the 2009-2010 appointive year
    5. Pick up information about connecting via social media
  5. Identify one young person whom you believe God may be calling into ministry and invite her or him to attend Exploration 2009.