The General Conference has spoken.
A majority of our 874 voting delegates have decided that Our Way Forward will begin with plans for a more conservative pathway. The decision, while clearly disappointing to many, reflects the global nature of our worldwide denomination.
The General Conference has selected a path and now we all must figure out if we will continue to journey together in pursuit of mission and ministry.
I encourage each of us to take the time needed before making a final decision regarding the route you will choose.
I remind us that this course was selected by our delegates, after nearly three years of prayerful discernment across the whole church, intentional dialogue and directed study by our Commission on a way forward, and the consideration of three possible plans for moving us forward. For many it will take time before we can clearly see whether or not the correct path has been selected.
We started this process believing that God would lead us. Now is not the time to stop trusting the process. We need to continue to pray together for clarity and boldness to take the next step forward. Faith does not see and then go, faith steps out trusting that God will be with us and will indeed direct our path.
I want to confess to you that I am hurting and grieving for our denomination. We are broken and fractured. We are divided and disjointed. A majority of our delegates have selected a route forward for our future together in mission and ministry in hopes of transforming the world for Jesus Christ. I am trusting their discernment.
This route may not seem best at the moment. I would remind each of us that after Peter’s great confession, of Jesus being the Messiah of God, Jesus pointed them towards Jerusalem where he would be unjustly convicted and crucified. No one but Jesus could see the end result of their difficult journey.
Again, I urge each of you, let us be determined to walk together, trusting and believing that God indeed will make a way somehow.
We have ten months before the changes that were selected by this 2019 Special Called Session will become effective. Prior to January 1, 2020 the Judicial Council will review the decisions and the directions selected by our delegates to ensure that they are in harmony with our Book of Discipline.
Our Boards, Agencies, Seminaries, and affiliate ministries will help us to understand the ramifications of embarking on the selected path, in terms of our overall mission and ministry goals.
I will be travelling across the Illinois Great Rivers Conference sharing the details of the work and the results of this General Conference. My hope is to offer information as well as to provide a pastoral presence for our members and constituents. All are welcome to these gatherings.
Many of our pastors and lay leaders are disappointed and are hurting because they had hoped for a different outcome from this General Conference. I encourage each of you to know that you are highly valued and much needed for the journey ahead. We need your leadership now, more than ever, as we seek to impact our world with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are not a one-size fits all denomination and we need you to help reach people for Jesus Christ.
Finally, a special word of thanks to the Illinois Great Rivers Conference Staff and volunteers. Your radical hospitality raised the bar and set a new standard for sharing the unconditional love of Jesus towards all. Thank you for a job well done.
Thank you and God Bless