United Methodists urged to join in Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is urging all United Methodists to join in the global Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which starts on January 18 and runs until January 25.

Organized by the World Council of Churches, this year’s Week of Prayer is under the theme “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue …” and is inspired by Deuteronomy 16:18-20.

During the week, congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services.

Traditionally, the week of prayer is celebrated between January 18-25, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul. In the southern hemisphere, where January may be vacation time, churches often find other days to celebrate it, for example around Pentecost, which is also a symbolic date for unity.

The resources for the week have been prepared by members of different churches in Indonesia. Read more about the resources here.

Download 2019 materials in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese here.

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Seventy-eight legislative petitions headed for St. Louis

DALLAS, Texas — The General Conference Committee on Reference has determined that 78 petitions submitted for consideration by the 2019 General Conference are in harmony with the purpose of the special session to be held February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri.

All those petitions must receive a vote in legislative committee, according to a 2016 provision in the Book of Discipline, and all those approved by legislative committee must receive a plenary vote. The Commission on the General Conference previously has decided there will be a single legislative committee.

The Committee on Reference’s report, which lists the petitions determined to be in harmony and which were not, is available online and will be published in the Daily Christian Advocate.

Last May, the Judicial Council ruled in Decision 1360 that petitions could be filed by any organization, clergy or lay member of The United Methodist Church if the business proposed to be transacted is in harmony with the purpose stated in the call for the special session, which is “limited to receiving and acting upon a report from the Commission on a Way Forward based upon recommendations of the Council of Bishops.”

The Commission on the General Conference tasked the Committee on Reference with the responsibility for deciding whether petitions meet that standard. The reference committee met January 11-12 in Irving, Texas to review all of the legislation in advance of the special session.

“To my understanding, it’s the first time the committee has met outside of General Conference,” said the Rev. Chuck Savage, committee chairperson. Savage said they thought about how the committee’s work might create a template or a precedent should a similar situation happen in the future.

In total, 133 legislative petitions were submitted, 48 of which came from the Commission on a Way Forward (COWF). Of the 85 pieces of legislation brought forward by other petitioners, 34 were preliminarily determined to be invalid by the Secretary of the General Conference and the petitions secretary due to formatting or other issues. The Committee on Reference subsequently reviewed those determinations and declared those petitions were indeed invalid.

The committee ruled that all petitions included with the COWF report are in harmony. There was a unanimous vote to review the remaining 51 petitions to determine whether they should be included.

The committee established criteria to guide their determinations about whether a petition is “in harmony” or not.

To be considered in harmony, at least one of the following criteria must be met: the petition was submitted by the COWF; the content of the petition directly addresses inclusion or exclusion of LGBTQ persons; or the content of the petition seeks to correct or perfect COWF plans for the continuing existence of The United Methodist Church.

The process the committee utilized was to divide petitions into two groups:  those that address disciplinary paragraphs included in the petitions submitted by the COWF and those that address other paragraphs or create new paragraphs.

Committee members independently reviewed petitions that addressed paragraphs that were already opened and brought forth for discussion any they believed did not meet the criteria. Petitions in the second category were considered individually to see if they met criteria that would deem them eligible for inclusion. One additional petition was found to be invalid during this review.

Of the 50 remaining valid petitions submitted by petitioners other than the COWF, 30 were determined to be in harmony and 20 were not.

The Committee on Reference is an administrative committee of the General Conference whose members are elected delegates (one clergy and one layperson from each central conference and jurisdiction). Of the committee’s 24 members, 19 were present.

Rev. Savage expressed appreciation for the way the committee worked together. “Among a group of people with many differing opinions, everyone was able to set aside their personal viewpoints and objectively evaluate each petition.”

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Media contact:
Diane Degnan ddegnan@umcom.org
615.742.5406 (o) 615.483.1765 (c)

Kennedy’s 1968 telegram to The United Methodist Church rings true today

To the People of The United Methodist Church,

In 1968, the merger of the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist Churches formed The United Methodist Church in a Uniting Conference. Robert F. Kennedy sent this congratulatory telegram to Bishop Reuben Mueller, to be shared with the assembly in Dallas. The telegram was discovered recently by General Commission on Archives and History staff under the guidance of General Secretary Alfred Day.

The telegram is dated April 22, 1968. Robert Kennedy would be assassinated six weeks later.  Martin Luther King, Jr. had been assassinated earlier that month.

The brief telegram is historic and inspiring, a reminder of who we are and who we aspire to be. Kennedy speaks of the importance of ecumenism in a fragmented world, the need for cooperation, and our historic practice of social witness and community service. He also recalls the wisdom of Dag Hammarskjöld, who had served as the secretary-general of the United Nations— “the road to holiness leads to the world of action”—and extends best wishes as this new church “goes to where the action is”!

In this moment, this telegram reminds us of where we have been and at the same time comes as an urgent and prophetic gift.

The Peace of the Lord,

Kenneth H. Carter, Jr.
President, Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church

Media Contact:
Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga
Director of Communications – Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
mmulenga@umc-cob.org
202-748-5172

J.J. Galloway named new district superintendent of Southwest District
Southwest DS Rodney Steele to retire this year

J.J. Galloway, new district superintendent of the Southwest District

The Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church announced today that current Northeast District Superintendent Johnna J. Galloway will be the new DS of the Southwest District, beginning July 1, 2019.

Galloway, who has served as the Northeast district superintendent since 2016, is excited about the opportunity to serve in an area she called home for many years.

“I am very grateful and at the same time, humbled to be appointed by Bishop Mueller to the Southwest District as District Superintendent/Chief Mission Strategist,” Galloway said. “In accepting this new appointment, I return to the district of my birth and one where I have been greatly blessed to serve congregations. I return to this mission field full of hope for the future and zeal for walking beside the people of the Southwest District as together we work hard to make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities, and the world.”

Galloway will take over for the Rev. Rodney Steele, who is retiring this year after serving as the Southwest district superintendent since 2015. Before serving as the Southwest District DS, Steele was DS for the former North Central District from 2005 – 2011.

Steele has confidence that Galloway will be able to effectively lead the District thanks to her Spirit, energy and focus.

In the meantime, Steele is looking forward to his retirement but has no plans to stop ministering to others anytime soon.

“In 45 years of ministry, I’ve been blessed to see the power of Christ all over the world and in multiple areas of church life,” Steele said. “Now, I’m looking forward to new mission fields as I feel led by God to use photography to help show everyone the presence of God in Creation and in their lives; especially with folks who haven’t been a part of the life of the church.”

Bishop Gary Mueller selected Galloway for the position due to her ability to closely connect with others in the Conference.

“I have come to deeply value J.J.’s leadership on the appointive cabinet these past years. She has connected with laity and clergy, helped churches to engage the communities around them, and has a heart for small membership churches. Her prior experience in the southwest district makes her a natural choice to serve as the chief mission strategists and district superintendent,” Mueller said.

Pastors from local churches in the Southwest District are eager to see what Galloway will bring to the office, and are certain she has the skills needed to lead the district.

“Rev. Steele did a fantastic job and we look forward to working with Rev. Galloway as we continue to make new disciples of Jesus Christ in Arkansas.” said the Rev. William Cato, senior pastor at Arkadelphia First United Methodist Church.

“Moreover, from what I know of Rev. Galloway, she most certainly has the gifts and graces that are needed for this leadership position. We will pray for her and do our best to support her, and I know she will do the same for all of the churches in our District.”

Galloway will take over the position shortly after Annual Conference 2019.

The Southwest District stretches from Texarkana in the Southwest corner of Arkansas to Hot Springs in the North, El Dorado in the East and De Queen in the West. There are more than 150 United Methodist Churches in the Southwest District of the Arkansas Conference.

From the Bishop
Reflection on Connectional Conference Plan

Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

This past October, I presented an overview of the Connectional Conference Plan to South Central Jurisdiction delegates at a gathering that was held to help them prepare for the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. Although many attending that meeting arrived assuming the Connectional Conference Plan would not get any traction at General Conference, I was surprised and intrigued by how many were more open to the plan’s potential as they began to better understand it. That experience has stayed with me, as has the reality of our increasing polarization around the One Church and Traditional Plans.

Recently, the Commission on a Way Forward moderators issued a letter inviting the church into a deeper discussion about the Connectional Conference Plan. In response to that invitation, and because I am concerned about our deepening polarization and the fact that the Connectional Conference Plan has yet to be fully explored, I have prepared a reflection that I have attached: An Opportunity to Take a Fresh Look at the Connectional Conference Plan.

Of course, I would love to receive your feedback. Even more importantly, however, I hope this offering will spur the church as a whole, and General Conference delegates in particular, to take a fresh look at the Connectional Conference Plan and include it in their continuing discernment about God’s Way Forward for the entire United Methodist Church.

Grace and peace,

General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Launches New Brand Campaign: “Nurturing Leaders. Changing Lives.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn., January 4, 2019 – A new branding campaign of The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of The United Methodist Church (UMC) expresses the agency’s commitment to sharpen its focus on the ways that it resources, coaches, trains and consults with lay and clergy leaders throughout their lifetimes, as they discover, claim and flourish in their callings.

“Nurturing Leaders. Changing Lives” articulates the agency’s mission to expand and re-envision the ways that the UMC identifies, trains and provides continuing enrichment for its leaders.

“Well prepared and supported leaders strengthen the church’s effectiveness in growing disciples and spreading the gospel to the world,” said Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, GBHEM’s general secretary. “To assist the church in meeting its central mission, we are providing exceptional tools and opportunities to help gifted leaders make a difference.”

Drawing on extensive research with United Methodists from across the church, GBHEM is proactively developing new resources and services and reshaping existing ones to enhance lay and clergy leaders’ ministries in their contexts and cultures.

GBHEM is reframing itself as a “leadership center” that will disseminate best practices, training, coaching, consultation and thought-provoking publications from leadership experts. It is also working toward offering demographic data, trend analysis, an online “virtual toolbox” of leadership resources and forums for examining and discussing leadership issues and challenges.

Among the new resources and events that GBHEM will introduce this year:

  • The United Methodist Leaders’ Summit, September 23-25, Orlando, Florida. Key denominational leaders will gather to discuss leadership concerns facing the church and strategize goals for growing and sustaining leaders for the church and world.
  • The Awakened Life. An eight-week curriculum to help collegiate ministers address issues of emotional, mental and spiritual well-being among students.
  • Effective Ministry 360. EM360 helps pastors and staff/pastor-parish relations committees identify areas of ministry effectiveness and guides congregations in establishing a formation plan to ensure that ministry and mission goals are met.
  • “Truth-Telling in a Post-Truth World.” This book by D. Stephen Long, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics at Perkins School of Theology, explores questions such as, how can we recognize the truth when everyone follows their own perception of it? When we accept and expect lies, is civil society possible? If everyone has their own moral compass, is there any compass at all? It identifies ways for private citizens and people of faith to practice truth-telling, for the common good.

Learn more about the agency’s new direction in this video.

About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.

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