Prepared by Beth Ann Cook
I am preparing this guide because I believe in the power of prayer and am heart broken by the pain in our beloved church. Over the next six weeks or so, United Methodists across the USA will at Annual (regional) Conferences. This is the first time many clergy and lay leaders will be together since the called General Conference in St. Louis. GC2019 exposed the depth of our divisions around how to be in ministry with LGBTQ persons. Some Annual Conferences are more theologically diverse than others. But all Annual Conferences have the potential to be difficult and painful. I hope you will join me in prayer. Please prayerfully consider adding some form of fasting. Blessings and peace, Beth Ann Cook
Scripture Focus: James 3:2-11
Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
- God’s will to be done.
- Presiders to preside with fairness and wisdom.
- All participants to treat one another with Christlike love.
- For speakers to choose their words wisely, dial back their rhetoric and avoid unnecessary pain. The last thing anyone needs is a local version of the rancorous debate in St. Louis!
- For respectful debate on petitions, resolutions, and conference business—particularly in matters related to ministry with LGBTQ persons will be especially contentious. Pray for peace and winsomeness.
- For participants who are newer to attending Annual Conference and are newer to our disagreements. This may be emotionally difficult. They are also more likely to make less nuanced or harsh comments.
- For Clergy Sessions—especially in places where discussion about Board of Ordained Ministry policies or specific candidates will be intense.
- Mutual respect among all persons who have made themselves available to serve as delegates to General Conference. For there to be no form of negative campaigning or slander.
- For those who feel marginalized, threatened, persecuted, or hated. Those in annual conferences where they are in a significant theological minority feel most vulnerable.
- The witness of the church and the work of the Kingdom of God.
|Alabama West Florida||2-Jun||5-Jun||Begin 6/3|
|South Carolina||2-Jun||5-Jun||Begins 6/3|
|Illinois Great Rivers||5-Jun||7-Jun||6-Jun|
|Upper New York||5-Jun||8-Jun|
|New York||6-Jun||8-Jun||Begins 6/6|
|Western Penn||6-Jun||8-Jun||Begins 6/6|
|Kentucky||10-Jun||12-Jun||Elections begin 6/11|
|New Mexico||13-Jun||14-Jun||Already Elected|
|WesternNorth Carolina||20-Jun||23-Jun||Begins 6/21,interspersed|