Connectional Team - 12/02/16
KY East District Christmas - 12/03/16
Bishop Fairley Speaking Engagement - 12/04/16
Communications Team - 12/05/16
Bishop Fairley Speaking Engagement - 12/06/16
Camp & Retreat Team - 12/13/16
The following is a commentary by Bishop Coyner of the Indiana Annual Conference. Bishop Coyner will lead the 2012 Kentucky Conference Clergy School, being held September 17-18 at the Annual Conference Office in Crestwood. Reprinted with permission from www.inumc.org.
Sometimes I am a slow learner, and sometimes I miss the obvious signs. But when the same thing happens to me three times, I begin to catch on and to notice a trend.
Three times in the past two weeks I have heard pastors whom I deeply respect say something like this: “For the first time in my ministry, I am discouraged about our United Methodist Church.” For one it was about the dysfunction of General Conference this past spring. For another it was all about hearing too much cynicism from fellow clergy. And for another the “tipping point” as he called it was the declaration of the Western Jurisdiction that they will no longer obey or enforce the stance of our Book of Discipline related to homosexuality.
All three are persons of high integrity, fruitful and faithful ministry, and persons whose opinions I respect. All three told me, as one of them put it, “I have always been a company man, a supporter of our denomination, but I feel like I am going over to the dark side and joining those who have lost hope in our United Methodist structures.”
How do I respond to those three and to the many others they probably represent? My first response, almost a gut response, was to say, “I know what you mean, because I get discouraged by our structures and divisions, too.” My second response was to affirm that we have problems, and to ask for their suggestions about how to move forward (interestingly, none of them had any ideas about how to solve our issues – which probably reflected their own discouragement). My final response has been to pray: to pray for our United Methodist Church as a whole, for our United Methodist clergy in particular, and for God’s guidance to come upon all of us.
These are tough times, in many ways:
Given those difficult realities, it is easy to get discouraged, but I urge you: don’t go over to the dark side, don’t give up on our UMC, don’t give up on each other. This is a time for us to be honest with one another about our problems and issues. This is a time for us to work to find new solutions. Above all, this is a time to pray for God’s guidance and light. Don’t let the darkness overcome.