Many clergy and churches are looking for ways to respond to the actions of General Conference 2019. While some are seeking to participate in movements to create something new, others are re-doubling efforts to live out their vision for their congregation or the denomination.
Bishop Ough has asked all Minnesota United Methodists to be discerning and wise in responding to their urgent desire to “do something.” Here are seven suggestions for action and advocacy for those who want to get involved.
1. Be the church God is calling you to be: Remember that it is in individual congregations, through the love of people, that church is most vital, most real, and most impactful. Continue to live out your congregation’s mission and vision the best way you know how. Lead members of your congregation in discussing, naming, and claiming your values and your identity as a family of faith. Strengthen your efforts to welcome your neighbors and to extend God’s love in your community. Show your community that you truly embody and stand behind the commitments and values you espouse.
2. Apply for a micro grant to repair and rebuild your reputation: At a time when The United Methodist Church is getting negative media attention, your vital work of reaching new people and making disciples is more important than ever before and perhaps more difficult than ever before. This is a critical time to communicate your congregation’s values and commitments, and extend a genuine welcome to those in your community—and we want to partner with you on a media push to do just that. Your congregation can apply for a “Love Boldly Micro Grant” of up to $1,000 that can be used for messages of welcome in your community. These messages could take the form of a local newspaper print ad, a social media ad, a banner to place outside of your church, yard signs, door hangers for your neighborhood, postcards to send to your community, an online ad, a billboard, or another avenue that you feel is most appropriate for your setting. The Minnesota Conference communications team will even provide design assistance. More than 40 congregations have already applied and received grants. Learn more and apply
3. Nominate yourself or someone else to be a GC2020 delegate: General Conference 2020 is coming to Minneapolis (May 5-15), and that gathering presents an opportunity to re-visit the actions of the 2019 General Conference or to re-order the denomination in some way. Delegates play the most significant role in making decisions for the future of The United Methodist Church, and Minnesota will elect two (one clergy and one lay, plus alternates) at our 2019 Annual Conference Session in St. Cloud (June 18-20). Who shares Minnesota United Methodists’ hopes and dreams, would represent our conference well, and would work both relationally and politically to bring about change? Spend some time discerning who those individuals might be, and strategize with others to get them elected. Nomination forms are due April 30. Learn more and fill out a nomination form
4. Be aware of local initiatives to create something new: There are several efforts rising up across our global United Methodist Church to create a new Methodist movement. The primary such initiative in Minnesota is called “Minnesota Methodists,” and it is organizing around five strategic areas: legislation, statement, and covenant; communications; elections; mobilization; and care for self and others. You can learn more on the website, which also has statements of inclusion for clergy, laity, and congregations to sign. This movement has a town hall meeting from 10 a.m. to noon on Thursday (March 28) at Hennepin Avenue UMC in Minneapolis. It will be live-streamed here. Additionally but separately, there is an “Our Movement Forward” conference coming to Minneapolis May 17-18; this gathering is designed to discuss the future of The United Methodist Church and center person of color, queer, and transgender voices.
5. Stay informed about coordinated efforts outside of Minnesota: Several advocacy groups with a larger presence are responding to the actions of General Conference and discerning next steps. Consider reading the latest reflections from Uniting Methodists, Mainstream UMC, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, and Good News Magazine to keep yourself informed about the big picture.
6. Keep in conversation with those who disagree: The Minnesota Conference has always created space for United Methodist churches and leaders across the theological spectrum—which has presented an opportunity to be in ministry with, listen to, and learn from those with different perspectives than our own. As you live and lead in the days to come, grounded in your own convictions and pursuing your own vision for the church—whatever it may be—stay in conversation with the whole body of Christ.
7. Pray: Pray for God’s guidance as new movements emerge. Pray for your siblings in Christ—those who share your perspective and those who do not. Pray for your congregation as you seek to be the church God is calling you to be. Pray for other United Methodist congregations that are seeking to live into the vision that God has placed on their hearts. Pray for God to help you retain your focus, today and always, on the mission of Jesus.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church