Hello Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
I write to you with a call to prayer.
As many of you know, the United Methodist Church has been struggling over the issue of human sexuality for quite some time. Our Book of Discipline, which is the fundamental book outlining the law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures of The United Methodist Church, states, among other things regarding sexuality, that we believe “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”. Many agree with this statement; many do not. The Book of Discipline is generated at a General Conference, held every four years.
In 2016 the United Methodist Church held its General Conference amid great disagreement over this issue. On the precipice of a schism, the Council of Bishops stepped in and requested a special commission be created to study the issue in light of scripture, and to propose “A Way Forward” for the United Methodist Church. The Commission on A Way Forward was to do a complete examination and possible revision of every paragraph of the Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and explore options that help to maintain and strengthen the unity of the church. They had two years to complete their task and submit a report to the Council of Bishops. They have completed their task, reported to the Bishops, and the Bishops have made a recommendation. So a Special General Conference is to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri. The purpose will be to receive and act on a report from the Commission on A Way Forward based on the recommendations of the Council of Bishops.
That’s where we are in a nutshell.
The Greater New Jersey Conference has asked all churches to pray daily in the forty days prior to the Special General Conference. They are providing a daily email with a prayer which will begin this Monday. You can sign up for daily emails here: https://www.gnjumc.org/the-way-forward/40-days-of-prayer/register-for-prayer/
I’ll be offering a class to go over the recommendations offered by the Council of Bishops and what they might mean for Milford UMC. Those classes will be at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday nights, January 31, February 7, & 14, as well as during the Sunday School hour on February 4, 10, & 17. If requested, I can offer this on an additional time and day.
This is not a time to be fearful or anxious, but a great time to intentionally fall on God’s grace with hope and assurance. Remember the words of Paul in his letter to the Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”.
Please sign up for the daily prayer email. And if you want to find more about the Commission on A Way Forward, check out the web articles listed below.
And anyone wanting to read a book during this time of conflict, please consider “The Anatomy of Peace” by the Arbinger Institute, which has been recommended by Bishop Schol.
May the peace of Christ be with you today and always,
And just FYI When you hear the term “annual conference,” it could be referring to any one of three things. The annual conference is a regional body, an organizational unit AND a yearly meeting. We are part of the Greater New Jersey Conference. Read more here: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/annual-conferences.
“General Conference” is an international body of delegates that generally meets every four years. Its decisions is the only official voice of the denomination. Find out more here:
To learn who the 2019 General Conference delegates from GNJUMC are go to: https://www.gnjumc.org/the-way-forward/gnj-delegates-to-general-conference/
Milford UMC’s 2019 delegate to the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference is Liz Steen.