Pastor Ponderings March 2020
What is next for our United Methodist Church? Back in January, I preached a message concerning the state of the United Methodist Church and possibly where we were going. At that time a nine page document called “Protocol for Reconciliation And Grace Through Separation” had just been announced and was agreed upon by a coalition of global connected and advocacy groups within the United Methodist Church. This protocol was brought forward as a way to end or at least greatly reduce the denominations decades’ long struggle over how accepting we are to be of homosexuality. In March 2019 at the special called General Conference in St. Louis it became clear that a line in the sand had turned into a canyon and the impasse was such that we have come to realize that we just cannot stay this way any longer so the protocol was brought forward.
Since the protocol was released, it has been written up in a form that the United Methodist Judicial Council has approved and it now clarifies many of the questions brought forward since its release. In order for it to be brought to the 2020 General Conference to be held in May of this year in Minneapolis-St. Paul this proposal must be brought by an Annual Conference as approved legislation to be placed in front of the voting members of General Conference. Because the date to submit ratified legislation from Annual Conferences for General Conference was passed by last fall and no Annual Conference is meeting until after the General Conference the Michigan Annual Conference and the Sierra Leon Annual Conference have been selected to bring this protocol in front of the General Conference in May. These two conferences were selected with respect to the leadership that each conference Bishop has taken not only within their conference but in the greater United Methodist Church. A special session of the Michigan Annual Conference has been called to meet on Saturday, March 7th in the Goodrich Chapel on the campus of Adrian College with the sole purpose of this session to consider whether the Michigan Conference will approve and send the legislation based on the “Protocol for Reconciliation And Grace Through Separation” to the General Conference 2020 so that it might be considered by the delegates at the General Conference. To receive this approved legislation, the General Conference has said they will take it up as the first piece of legislative business. Only an approved piece of legislation from an Annual Conference can be brought forth to General Conference so one or both of the Annual Conferences must approve the proposed legislation.
Representing Claybanks United Methodist Church at the March 7th Special Session Annul Conference will be Edie Bogart who has been our Claybanks representative to Annual Conference for a number of years. Reba Peterson who is currently an equalization representative will also be attending. Myself, as clergy, will be attending and all three of us have been given by our positions voice and vote to the proposal. I would ask that you keep Edie, Reba and myself in prayers as we continue to research and try to understand all the complexities of this proposal. We understand what is about to take place is the most significant possible change in the life of our church since 1968 when the United Brethren Church and the Methodist Episcopal Church became the United Methodist Church that we have come to love and received love through in so many different ways.
Please keep our Methodist Church and its leaders in your prayers.