Aller au contenu principal

Plans for GMC’s Convening General Conference Gather Pace in New Year

Par Walter Fenton

“Prayer teams and networks all around the Global Methodist Church are daily calling on the Lord for His empowerment and presence at the church’s convening General Conference,” said the Rev. Laura Ballinger, Chairwoman of the denomination’s Prayer Steering Committee. “We firmly believe Jesus spoke the truth when he said, ‘apart from me you can do nothing.”

Ballinger, a pastor in Indiana, is also co-leader of the Prayer Committee of the Transitional Commission on the Convening General Conference. She is just one of many people preparing for the Global Methodist Church’s initial gathering in San Jose, Costa Rica, September 20-26, 2024. Organizers, who have already completed a number of tasks on a long checklist, said prayer is essential and foundational to their work and they joyfully receive every intercession made on their behalf.

Even though the GM Church already has 4,407 local churches and over two dozen provisional annual conferences and districts around the world, it is still a denomination very much in transition. Church leaders believe there are thousands of local United Methodist congregations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas hoping to join it before its convening General Conference. How to integrate these local churches and the provisional annual conferences and districts they are likely to form in the coming months pose significant challenges to the convening conference’s organizers.

“It is a wonderful challenge to have, but it’s still very much a challenge,” said the Rev. Beth Ann Cook, Chairwoman of the Transitional Commission on the Convening General Conference. “We have two compelling and some what competing tasks before us. For those of us who are already members of the church we are eager to advance its mission at its first gathering, and yet we also want to make sure we leave room at the table so we can include the voices of those who are still trying to join us.”

Former United Methodist congregations account for the vast majority of GM local churches, and 80 to 90 percent of them are located in the United States. The people in these churches availed themselves of a provision in the UM Church’s Book of Discipline that allowed them to vote to disaffiliate from the church. However, congregations in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines were not afforded this opportunity. GM Church leaders are aware of local UM churches in these geographical areas that are in process of exiting the latter and joining the former. They also believe many more would like to do so but are still searching for an orderly way to make the transition.

Since March of 2020, a body known as the Transitional Leadership Council (TLC) has been responsible for the GM Church’s formation and it has led the nascent denomination since its official launch on May 1, 2022. Originally intended as a temporary, transitional body on the heels of the UM Church’s 2020 General Conference, where many people believed the UM Church would approve an amicable and orderly separation, the Covid-19 pandemic and three postponements of that General Conference kept the GM Church’s TLC functioning far longer than its members anticipated.

Early last year the council created and then tasked the commission Cook leads to plan the GM Church’s convening General Conference. She notes that the commission is composed entirely of laity and clergy who are serving as volunteers while they simultaneously holding down day jobs. The GM Church will announce soon the hiring of a full-time business manager to help execute many of the logistical plans for the conference.

“All the commission members are very excited and honored to play a role in helping organize the church’s first General Conference,” she said. “But they’re increasingly aware of the temptation to try to do too much at our initial gathering. Generally speaking, we’ve come to some consensus around critical things we want to accomplish: First, we want to engage in reverent and joyful worship giving God thanks and praise for bringing us to this point. Second, we want to attend closely to the Transitional Book of Doctrines and Discipline, amending it so it becomes the GM Church’s Book of Doctrines and Discipline. It must be a book that clearly states who we are, what our mission is, and how we intend to accomplish it, and it must receive the imprimatur of our duly elected lay and clergy delegates. And finally, we plan to adopt a constitution that guards our life-giving confessions of faith rooted in Scripture and the traditions of the church catholic and brings God honoring order to the church and protects her people.”

GM Church leaders believe the delegates will move to hold General Conferences every six years. However, given that many local churches in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe will continue to join the denomination in 2024 and 2025, and that initial organizational work will remain, it is expected that the delegates will approve the convening of a second General Conference in 2026. It will then begin its six-year cycle by meeting in 2032.

“Planning a convening General Conference that is God honoring and that is as fair and gracious as possible to those who are already GMC members and to those yet to join is an awesome responsibility,” said the Rev. Keith Boyette, the GM Church’s Transitional Connectional Officer. “I pray the Lord will pour out his Holy Spirit on us, making us a humble, patient, and grace-filled people as we take this step into the future he has for us.”

Between General Conferences, the denomination will be led by its bishops, and it is anticipated a duly elected body of clergy and lay people will serve on a Connectional Council. The latter will replace the Transitional Leadership Council.

“While it has been a great privilege to serve on the council, I think I’m speaking for all its members when I say, ‘We’re more than ready to pass the baton to a permanent body elected by the delegates to the convening General Conference,’” said Cara Nicklas, the TLC’s Chairwoman. “Our fervent prayers are with the commission planning the conference, with the annual conferences and districts who will elect delegates, and with our bishops who will preside at our conference sessions. I am confident it will be a time of great thanksgiving and praise.”

Le Révérend Walter Fenton est le responsable adjoint de la connexion sur le site Église Méthodist Globale.

Ce message a 0 commentaire

Laissez un commentaire

Votre adresse électronique ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont marqués d'un *.

Retour en haut de page