Rev. John Fleming appointed as Northeast District Superintendent, Chief Mission Strategist

Rev. John Fleming, newly appointed Northeast District Superintendent and Chief Mission Strategist

Bishop Gary Mueller of the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church announced today the appointment of the Rev. John Fleming as the Northeast District Superintendent/Chief Mission Strategist, effective July 1, 2019.

Announced previously, the Rev. J.J. Galloway, District Superintendent/Chief Mission Strategist for the Northeast District, will be appointed as the District Superintendent/Mission Strategist for the Southwest District, upon the retirement of the Rev. Rodney Steele.

“It is with great joy that we welcome John to this appointment. He will continue to use his gifts to lead God’s people toward the mission and vision of the church. I hope you will join in celebration not only for his ministry but also the vital ministries already being done in the Northeast district,” Bishop Mueller shared.

Fleming has served as the senior pastor of Paragould First United Methodist Church since 2013. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lambuth College in Jackson, Tennessee, and his Master of Divinity degree from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Fleming is currently serving as the Vice-Chair of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and the Chairperson of the Northeast District Leadership Team. He has also served as Chair of the Residency Committee on the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and has received the Barnabas Award (given to those who encourage young pastors).

In addition, Fleming is a member of the Board of Directors at Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould, the Rotary Club of Paragould, and Chair of the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center Foundation.

Galloway stated, “I have known John for almost 20 years, and I am thrilled he will be the next District Superintendent/Chief Mission Strategist of the Northeast District. Through his work as Chair of the Northeast District Leadership Team and Vice-Chair of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, John is well acquainted with the churches and clergy of the district. The Northeast District will have a great leader and friend in Rev. John Fleming.”

Fleming is married to Susie Fleming, and they have two daughters, Annie Grace (17) and Julie Ann (12). He is an avid baseball fan, and his favorite team is the Atlanta Braves. John enjoys running, movies, spending time with his family and friends, serving in pastoral leadership, and traveling when possible.

PETITION TO THE 2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE AFFIRMING THE CURRENT DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF THE UMC

PETITION TO THE 2019 GENERAL CONFERENCE
AFFIRMING THE CURRENT DOCTRINE AND DISCIPLINE OF THE UMC

Sponsored by the Arkansas Connection of Orthodox Wesleyans
Total Number of Pages: 3

Title:
Affirm Current Doctrine and Discipline Concerning Human Sexuality
Discipline Paragraph:
Book of Discipline 2016, Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, Marriage

Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, Human Sexuality
¶ 304.3 Qualifications for Ordination
General Church Budget Implications: None
Global Implications: Yes

Rationale:
The United Methodist Church is in continuity with the “holy catholic and apostolic church” (The United Methodist Hymnal, #880 The Nicene Creed). The historic and Biblical position of United Methodism on human sexuality has been consistently reaffirmed since 1972 despite consistent attempts to alter our position at subsequent General Conferences.

That position was once again reaffirmed at the General Conference of 2016, that defines “marriage as the union of one man and one woman” (Book of Discipline 2016, Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, Marriage).

This position is grounded in the doctrine of the United Methodist Church that clearly confirms the authority of the Old and New Testaments, which “is to be received through the Holy Spirit as the true rule and guide for faith and practice” (Book of Discipline, Confession of Faith, Article IV). Furthermore, the Scriptures exhort us to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

The 2016 General Conference also reaffirmed our conviction that “Although all persons are sexual beings whether or not they are married, sexual relations are affirmed only with the covenant of monogamous, heterosexual marriage” (Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, Human Sexuality).

The 2016 General Conference also reaffirmed our confidence that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God;” and yet continues to maintain that “The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching,” while balancing that view by continuing to “implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends” (Book of Discipline 2016, Social Principles of the United Methodist Church, Human Sexuality).

And the 2016 General Conference has again made clear that “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church” (Book of Discipline 2016, ¶ 304.3 Qualifications for Ordination).

We value denominational unity, provided that it does not compromise our existing, consistently-affirmed core convictions on marriage and Scriptural holiness. Moreover, the core of the Christian doctrine and Scriptural holiness is not determined by cultural context or changing historical realities, but is grounded in that which has been “believed everywhere, always and by all” (Vincent of Lerins) and has been confirmed in the experience of the community of faith in the church universal.

Petition:
The Arkansas Annual Conference petitions the 2019 General Conference, assembled in St. Louis, February 23-26 to retain our current core convictions in regard to human sexuality, particularly as related to marriage and ordination.

Date: June 6, 2018
Tom Letchworth
Elder, Arkansas Annual Conference, retired
501-207-1294
revlworth@yahoo.com

Signatories:

Tom Letchworth
Bob Hager
Dee Harper
Bryan Fink
Christopher Bounds
Jeff Warrick
Joe Head
Deborah Head
Pat Bodenhamer
Mary Baker Meier
Troy Conrad
Steve Pulliam
Jim Lenderman
David A. Moore
David Jones
John Miles
Justin Ledbetter
Debby Bodenhamer
Paul Coy
Tommy Toombs
Todd Vick
Ann Ferris
Andrew Thompson

Press Release from Council of Bishops: Constitutional Amendments

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

The Council of Bishops has announced the results of voting by annual conferences on 5 Constitutional Amendments adopted by the 2016 General Conference. 2/3 of the lay and clergy members voting are required for ratification. Amendments I and II related to gender equality did not receive the required number of voters. Amendments III, IV and V did.

Arkansas Results

Amendment I
Yes 387 – No 169

Amendment II
Yes 372 – No 184

Amendment III
Yes 527 – No 29

Amendment IV
Yes 540 – No 14

Amendment V
Yes 487 – No 64

Please read the Press Release with Attachments from the Council of Bishops that includes vote totals, as well as statements from the Council of Bishops and women bishops.

I want to reiterate my full commitment to equality of women in all aspects of our common and church’s life. We have a long way to go in this work. It’s not just an issue for women; it’s an issue for every single one of us. I will walk with you, hold you in my prayers and would welcome conversation at any time.

Grace and peace,

Bishop Gary Mueller

Letter From Bishop Gary Mueller: Council of Bishops

May 4, 2018
 
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
 
The Council of Bishops has just concluded our spring meeting. It was bathed in prayer, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and involved caring and honest conversation. 
We agreed to release our report to General Conference no later thanJuly 8, 2018, so that it can be edited and translated into our official languages. The Council of Bishops have adopted the following:
 
Motion
Having received and considered the extensive work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops will submit a report to the special session of the General Conference in 2019 that includes:

  • All three plans (The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan, and The Connectional Conference Plan) for a way forward considered by the Commission and the Council.
  • The Council’s recommendation of The One Church Plan.
  •  An historical narrative of the Council’s discernment process regarding all three plans.

Rationale: In order to invite the church to go deeper into the journey the Council and Commission has been on, the Council makes all the information considered by the Commission and the Council of Bishops available to the delegates of the General Conference and acknowledges there is support for each of the three plans within the Council. The values of our global church are reflected in all three plans. The majority of the Council recommends The One Church Plan as the best way forward for The United Methodist Church.
 
It is critically important to understand that three official actions are included in this one formal motion and rationale.
 
First, the Council of Bishops is forwarding three complete plans as part of its report to the General Conference: The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan, and the Connectional Conference Plan. This means the General Conference will have all three plans in front of them for consideration and has the right to adopt, reject or amend any of them.
 
Second, in a series of conversations and polls, the preference of the majority of active bishops on the Council was to recommend one plan to the General Conference and for that recommendation to be The One Church Plan. Not surprisingly, there was significant support for the other two Plans as well.
 
Third, the Council is going to share the full body of the Commission and Council’s work in order for the delegates to have the resources they need as they decide the best way forward for The United Methodist Church.  
 
Ultimately it is the General Conference – and not the Council of Bishops – that will chart the way forward for our Church next February 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis.
Between now and then, I will be working closely with our delegation as they discern where they believe the Holy Spirit is leading the church. I urge you to pray for them, as well as all the delegates of the General Conference, on a daily basis.
 
We come from a variety of perspectives concerning human sexuality, which means you may be experiencing either hope or pain in light of the Council’s action. That’s why I want to invite you to get in touch with me if you would like to talk.
 
You may remember I shared a letter with you about a week ago as Karen and I prepared to leave for the Council meeting. As part of that letter, I reminded you that four things remain true regardless of how the Council decided to act: 1) God still is God; 2) People still need Jesus; 3) We still need each other; and 4) God still is not done with us yet. I still believe these things, perhaps even more powerfully than before. After all, our trajectory is to make disciples of Jesus Christ, who make disciples equipped to transform lives, communities and the world.
 
I consider it a deep privilege – and also a great joy – to serve as your bishop. Even more importantly, I love you!

Grace and Peace, 

Bishop
Gary E. Mueller

Press Release From Council of Bishops

For immediate release May 4, 2018

United Methodist Bishops Recommend a Way Forward

CHICAGO – United Methodist bishops, meeting in Chicago, engaged in a prayerful process to discern a way forward.  At the conclusion of the discernment process, the Council of Bishops strongly approved the following motion and rationale:

Having received and considered the extensive work of the Commission on a Way Forward, the Council of Bishops will submit a report to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 that includes:

 

  • All three plans (The Traditionalist Plan, The One Church Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan) for a way forward considered by the Commission and the Council.
  • The Council’s recommendation of the One Church Plan.
  • An historical narrative of the Council’s discernment process regarding all three plans.

 

Rationale:   In order to invite the church to go deeper into the journey the Council and Commission has been on, the Council will make all the information considered by the Commission and the Council of Bishops available to the delegates of the General Conference and acknowledges there is support for each of the three plans within the Council.  The values of our global church are reflected in all three plans.  The majority of the Council recommends the One Church Plan as the best way forward for The United Methodist Church.

Guided by the mission, vision and scope document, the bishops agreed to recommend the One Church Plan. This plan provides conferences, churches, and pastors the flexibility to uniquely reach their missional context while retaining the connectional nature of The United Methodist Church.

The One Church Plan allows for contextualization of language about human sexuality in support of the mission; and allows for central conferences especially those in Africa to retain their disciplinary authority to adapt the Book of Discipline and continue to include traditional language and values while fulfilling the vision of a global and multicultural church.

This plan also encourages a generous unity by giving United Methodists the ability to address different missional contexts in ways that reflect their theological convictions. The One Church Plan removes the restrictive language of the Book of Discipline and adds assurances to pastors and Conferences who due to their theological convictions cannot perform same-sex weddings or ordain self-avowed practicing homosexuals.  

The Council’s discernment process was guided by the over-arching desire to strategically help the General Conference do its work and to honor the General Conference’s request for the Council to help the church find a way forward.

“With convicted humility, bishops want to be pastors and shepherds of the whole church in order to maximize the presence of a United Methodist witness in as many places in the world as possible and with as much contextual differentiation as possible,” said newly installed Council of Bishops President Ken Carter.

The bishops expressed deep appreciation for the hard work that the 32-member Commission on a Way Forward Commission did in formulating the three plans; the Traditionalist Plan, the One Church Plan and the Connectional Conference Plan.

While the bishops recommended the One Church Plan they affirmed that the Connectional Conference Plan and the Traditionalist Plan held values that are important to the life and work of the church and will be included in the final report to the Special Session of General Conference that the bishops have called for Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

Bishop Carter, who served as a one of the moderators of the Commission, said the bishops are adopting a spirit of collaboration with the Commission, and an attitude of respect for the delegations who will take up this work on behalf of the whole church.

“The Council’s prayerful deliberation reflected the diversity of the global denomination on the matter of homosexuality and many other matters.  The Council affirms the strength of this diversity and our commitment to maintain the unity of the church,” Bishop Carter said.

Full details of the plans and accompanying legislative proposals will be released as soon as final editing of the entire report is completed and translated into the official languages of the General Conference.  It is estimated this will be no later than July 8.

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Media Contact: Rev. Dr. Maidstone Mulenga

Director of Communications – Council of Bishops

The United Methodist Church

mmulenga@umc-cob.org

202-748-5172