|March 18, 2019
The following is a special edition of UM Connector with a statement and story following last week’s meeting of the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team:
As We Make Our Way Back Home
A Progress Report from the Western Jurisdiction
“A home for all God’s people, gathered around a table of reconciliation and transformation.”
In 2000, delegates to the Western Jurisdictional Conference adopted a statement entitled “2020: Our Emerging Vision”, the product of several years of listening and testing. If you take the time to read it, you may find yourself both inspired by the beautiful, aspirational language, and challenged that we have yet to fully realize most of its ambitious goals.
The language of our Western Jurisdiction vision, particularly its promise of offering “a home for all God’s people,” found new resonance as the Rev. Donna Pritchard quoted it in her statement on behalf of our leadership at the close of General Conference 2019. When it echoed again in our bishops’ message to the Church, United Methodists from across the connection were asking how they too might find both a symbolic and a literal home in the West.
Over the past week, Western Jurisdiction leaders gathered for a series of meetings at First United Methodist Church in Portland, Oregon. As we spent time listening to one another, new energy and ideas emerged. The deep sadness that many have carried since St. Louis was lightened some by the knowledge that we were once again at home, surrounded by siblings in Christ committed to holding each other accountable in love to the holy work of opening hearts, minds, and doors.
Throughout our meetings last week we sought to identify strategic priorities—emerging responses to this moment in the life of the Church. As work continues on these priorities, we trust those efforts will provide us the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances, while holding fast to our shared vision.
Toward the end of a day-long meeting of the Western Jurisdiction Leadership Team on March 14th, 2019, members of that team and other gathered leaders, unanimously affirmed the following statement …
WJ leaders take next steps in being
‘A home for all’ post GC2019
In a manner emblematic of the Western Jurisdiction, the 2019 leadership team meeting March 14 was dedicated to conversation and dialog about General Conference. Members and guests listened and joined together in the conversation. Worship centered around passages from Job and Matthew with themes of lament, hope, and responding. Considering Matthew 9:16-17 attendees reflected on the possibility of being able to move the church forward with its existing structure. Can new wine be put in old wineskins?
Those gathered shared hopes for building “new wineskins” that could support both existing commitments to global mission, strong ethnic ministries, and truly inclusive church. Participants also received a sobering whitepaper presented by the Rev. Jeremy Smith detailing some of the opportunities and challenges that need to be considered as leaders consider their next steps in responding to the current state of the Church. …