December 16, 2022
To the Arkansas Annual Conference:
I am writing you with a heavy heart to update you concerning recent events at First United Methodist Church Jonesboro.
The membership of First United Methodist Church Jonesboro was notified twice that a meeting for church members called by Rev. John Miles for December 15, 2022 was not authorized in accordance with our long-held church structure. Rev. Miles was instructed not to hold the unauthorized meeting, but proceeded to do so. The vote, which purported to adopt new ‘bylaws’, was in violation of The Book of Discipline and illegal according to Arkansas State law.
In light of the events of last evening, I want to inform you of two actions that have been taken in full consultation with Bishop Merrill, the Conference Chancellor, the Appointive Cabinet, and other appropriate Conference officers and bodies.
First, the Arkansas Conference has responded by invoking the disciplinary process in ¶2549.3 to declare exigent circumstances. Among other things, this action immediately vests title to all property of the First United Methodist Church Jonesboro in the Arkansas Conference Board of Trustees for the protection of the rights of the United Methodist Church and those United Methodists wishing to continue to worship in their church in Jonesboro.
Second, following the filing of a formal complaint against Rev. Miles by the five district superintendents, I have utilized the provisions of ¶362.1d to suspend him from all pastoral duties effective immediately.
I am deeply saddened that we find ourselves in the current situation. No one wins, and we all lose; most of all the Body of Christ and the mission to which Jesus calls us. I want to ask you to pray that hearts of peace will prevail and a positive way forward will be found. While it is a difficult and painful time for all involved, I remain resolute in the hope that is found in the birth of the Christ Child.
Grace and peace,
Gary E. Mueller