General Conference

Since my arrival as the pastor at LeValley and Berlin Center, I have subtly mentioned several times, the major issue fracturing the church most of us have known as the United Methodist Church (UMC). The UMC has existed for over 50 years since the merger of the Methodist Church with the Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1968. I feel I have also hedged the issue of my stance on these issues. God is telling me now that being subtle and hedging are no longer possible.

So, what is the major issue dividing Countries, Conferences, Districts, and local churches? There is an underlying issue of human sexuality, but I believe the primary issue is the differences regarding their understanding and interpretation of Scripture, theology and practice. This is Principle A of the Protocol Of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation (The Protocol), a document drawn up by the following group following extensive reflection, discussion, and prayer:

Bishop Christian Alsted (Nordic-Baltic Episcopal Area) Rev. Thomas Berlin (representing UMC Next, Mainstream UMC, Uniting Methodists) Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton (New York Episcopal Area) Rev. Keith Boyette (representing the Confessing Movement, Good News, Institute on Religion & Democracy, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association) Bishop Kenneth Carter (Florida Episcopal Area) Rev. Junius Dotson (representing UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, Uniting Methodists) Bishop LaTrelle Easterling (Washington Episcopal Area) Rev. Egmedio “Jun” Equila, Jr. (Philippines Central Conference) Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey (Louisiana Episcopal Area) Bishop Rodolfo “Rudy” Juan (Davao Episcopal Area, Philippines) Janet Lawrence (representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network) Rev. David Meredith (representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network, member of UM Queer Clergy Caucus) Patricia Miller (representing the Confessing Movement, Good News, Institute on Religion & Democracy, and the Wesleyan Covenant Association) Randall Miller (representing Affirmation, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Reconciling Ministries Network) Bishop Gregory Vaughn Palmer (Ohio West Episcopal Area) Bishop John K. Yambasu (Sierra Leone Episcopal Area)

The following also served as consultants during the process of formulating the Protocol:

Rev. Dr. Maxie DunhamRev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli Rev. Adam Hamilton Rev. Dr. Mark Holland Bishop Mande Muyambo, North Katanga Episcopal Area Karen Prudente Rev. Rob Renfroe Rev. Kimberly Scott Rev. Jasmine R. Smothers Mark Tooley

I would like to include the entire document in the newsletter, but because it would require several pages, I am including a link to the document and will include several copies at each church for those interested in having a hard copy to peruse. If you search for Protocol 0f Reconciliation & Grace, the first document found should be the Protocol.

Even though the General Conference to vote on The Protocol, which was scheduled for August 29th through September 7th, 2021, has been rescheduled for August 29th through September 6, 2022, the local churches need to be cementing their missions and values to ascertain how they will vote when the decision on the future of each local church comes to a church conference.

In the meantime, I have joined a Michigan Intercessory prayer team organized by the Wesleyan Covenant Association. We are one of many teams from 37 conferences and 6 countries. Our facilitator opened our first meeting today with the following Scripture from Ezekiel 37:1-14-The hand of the Lord was on me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.” Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath[a] enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army. Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. It will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’”

I will be sharing more details on the future of the church in newsletters over the next few months, but if you would like to discuss the issue with me personally, I am willing. I also have colleagues who are willing to come and provide a power-point and answer questions for our churches, so we can be fully informed as we prepare for the future of our churches.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Nancy

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