March 4, 2022

Brothers and Sisters of the Arkansas Annual Conference,

The Commission on the General Conference announced yesterday that the 2020 General Conference of the United Methodist Church rescheduled for August 29 – September 6, 2022 will not be held. Instead, the next General Conference will take place in 2024. Here is the press release with this information. Soon after that announcement, the Global Methodist Church stated it will begin as a new denomination May 1, 2022.

Ours has been a divided Church for a while, and yesterday’s events have added to the anxiety about the future. I will do everything I can to faithfully lead us through this difficult season. No doubt you have many unanswered questions about what all of this means. Additional information will become available in the coming weeks and months, and I will share it as quickly and accurately as possible.

We have much to navigate in Arkansas over the next several months. It will be challenging, but I am confident we can do it successfully if we embrace Jesus’ way and are gracious, compassionate and kind to each other. How we act, and especially how we treat each other, will be seen by people outside the church. I hope all of us will ask ourselves a question as we engage with each other in the coming months,  “What will those who don’t know Jesus think about Jesus as they watch us?”

I have heard from many of you that you feel caught in the middle and are uncertain about how to move forward because of what’s transpiring. I understand these feelings, but want you to know that your congregation is not a prisoner of what’s happening in the denomination. You can thrive as a congregation if you turn to Jesus and invite him to lead your congregation in making disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped and sent to transform lives, communities and the world.

We will get through this. In fact, I actually have great hope for the future because God is still God, Jesus is still Lord and the Holy Spirit is still at work. But I also have hope because of what I see God doing through you in your congregation. You are proclaiming the Good News of Jesus’ love. You are bringing people to Christ. You are growing disciples. You are sharing Jesus’ love in real ways with real people who are experiencing real pain. You are living in unity in spite of the differences that exist between individuals.

Please continue to join me as I pray for you, with you and for that part of the Body of Christ known as the United Methodist Church in Arkansas in the coming days.

Grace and peace,

Gary E. Mueller

Bishop