October 9, 2019
Rev. William Bills
Last Sunday, 130 people gathered in Asbury Hall for brunch and a town hall meeting. Peter Berg, governance board chair, presided. Information was shared and questions were answered. At the end of the day, though, in spite of all the work our governance board has done, it seemed like little progress has been made regarding the 2019 General Conference and the Traditional Plan. In that light, I would like to share with you three points for information and clarification.
First, it may seem like our board is simply saying to us, “wait for the 2020 General Conference in May”. That decision was really imposed on us by the Michigan Conference board of trustees and our bishop, David Bard. Bishop Bard is willing to negotiate with congregations. The conference trustees created a timeline requiring approval of negotiated plans at the Michigan Annual Conference in June of 2020. Therefore, even if we were to vote to take some kind of action, nothing can happen until after the 2020 General Conference in May. Waiting for that conference was never an “option”. We have no choice but to wait because of how the conference trustees set up the timeline.
Second, at the town hall, someone asked whom we might petition to express our concerns. We can make available contact information for our bishop and district superintendent. I am sure that both are clear about where we stand and share the feelings of many in our congregation. I also said that we have a delegation representing Michigan at the 2020 General Conference. I suggested that they can vote their conscience privately. I forgot that at the 2019 Annual Conference we elected a delegation of progressive candidates. Our delegation consists of four clergy and four laity (and four alternates). We can be certain that they will vote for something better than the Traditional Plan in 2020. That said, we have eight votes from Michigan out of eight hundred and fifty-two total delegates. (Thank you to Margie Schleicher for reminding me of the makeup of our delegation.)
Third, a statewide conference will be held at our church on Saturday, November 23rd for those who oppose the Traditional Plan. Approximately 70% of Michigan United Methodists have expressed opposition to the Traditional Plan. This conference, called Just, Compassionate, Inclusive: The Future of Michigan Methodism will be facilitated by the Michigan chapter of The Methodist Federation for Social Action. You can register for the event here:
Before I sign off, let’s all thank Ginny Dymond and the missions team for hosting us for brunch. That was Ginny’s final brunch as our kitchen coordinator. Thank you for your faithful service, Ginny!
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.