General Conference 2020
Points of Emphasis for Illinois Great Rivers United Methodists
When the General Conference of The United Methodist Church meets in Minneapolis this May 5-15, the delegates will have many significant decisions, including voting on how local churches, clergy, and annual conference might separate from The United Methodist Church denominational organization. The possibility of these decisions has caused some anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, and misinformation among Illinois Great Rivers United Methodists. We’re offering these points of emphasis as a helpful guide for our leaders as we get ready for General Conference and consider our future together.
- Surround the General Conference, our delegates, our Bishop, our leaders, your pastor, your church, and our Conference in prayer. Include Bishop Beard and our delegation in your weekly public prayers. Consider organizing or joining in a prayer vigil during General Conference. Participate in the Upper Room’s 40 Days of Prayer for General Conference (www.umcprays.org).
- Invite one of our elected delegates to discuss the proposed legislation and its possible impacts. Our delegates can be found at: www.igrc.org/delegation. A good summary chart of the possible plans of reorganization or separation can be found at: https://cdnsc.umc.org/-/media/umc-media/2020/01/09/19/07/General-Conference-UMC-Plans-Chart-V6
- Get information from trusted and capable news sources. Be aware that sometimes groups will provide information that is meant more to persuade than inform, so always be prepared to check claims and assertions. Additionally, many non-church sources do not fully understand the complex and democratic nature of our denomination’s decision making, so be aware that they may make inaccurate assumptions. A good source is United Methodist News (www.umnews.org)) or the Official Website for General Conference (www.resourceumc.org/en/churchwide/general-conference-2020). Additionally, check for updates through our Illinois Great Rivers Conference Current and website (www.igrc.org/news).
- Help your congregation get ready by equipping leaders with the tools to have difficult and courageous conversations. We don’t always discuss controversial topics in church, especially when we know that we have differing perspectives. Having these conversations will take trust and preparation. Scott Hughes has provided some helpful resources on courageous conversations at: (www.umcdiscipleship.org/articles/helping-your-congregation-get-ready-for-general-conference). Additionally, Kaleidoscope Institute has a helpful guide to creating respectful communications (www.kscopeinstitute.org/free-resources).
- Remember that only General Conference can change our denominational structure or Book of Discipline and that no changes will be in effect until the dates set for implementation by General Conference itself. Our current Book of Discipline’s polity is still active and authoritative.
- Finally, we all know this is an anxious time for many United Methodists at a deep personal level. Creating the time and means to take care of our emotional, physical and spiritual health is important. Afterall, we are to be the salt and light of the world. We must also remember, no matter what decisions are reached, the church will still be striving to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. The good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ will not change even if the denominational organization does.
IGRC Conference Extended Cabinet
Rev. Janice Griffith, Executive Assistant to the Bishop
Rev. Stanley R. Irvin, Cache River District Superintendent
Rev. Charliam W. Renner, Embarras River District Superintendent
Rev. Mary Kathryn Pearce, Illinois River District Superintendent
Rev. Angie E. Lee, Iroquois River District Superintendent
Rev. Carol Lakota Eastin, Kaskaskia River District Superintendent
Rev. Nicholas B. Showalter, LaMoine River District Superintendent
Rev. Allynn Walker, Mississippi River District Superintendent
Rev. Bradley F. Watkins II, Sangamon River District Superintendent
Rev. Steve Granadosin, Spoon River District Superintendent
Rev. James E. Barnett, Vermilion River District Superintendent
Rev. Curtis Brown, IGRC Director of Connectional Ministries
Rev. Michael L. Potts, IGRC Director of Administrative Services and Conference Treasurer
Mr. Paul E. Black, IGRC Director of Communication Ministries