“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” -John 14:27
The following statement is issued by the Kentucky Annual Conference Cabinet, with hope that we will not add to the mountain of spilled ink that may already be causing you anxiety, but as a call to deep prayer for the United Methodist Church. We feel it necessary to share this message, acknowledging “the elephants in the room,” while calling upon clergy and local churches to remember the mission of all who are disciples of Jesus Christ. We share it as a people who know the end of the story. God’s will shall be done. Nevertheless, “not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42. God’s will has already been done in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It was, is, and always will be, as we hear Jesus cry from the cross “it is finished.” It is accomplished. As water washed baptized believers we know the end of the story. Therefore;
“We pray, O Lord, for the Church which is one in the greatness of your (sacrificial, atoning) love, but divided by the littleness of our own. May we be less occupied with the things that divide us, and more with those we hold in common, and the love that enfolds us all.” -USPG ‘Network’ Winter 1978.
Leonard E. Fairley
We are quickly moving toward the called General Conference in February 2019. The closer we get the greater the anxiety and tension. Fear of the unknown is the cause of most of our anxiousness. We know something will change, but we do not know the extent of the change. The Commission on the Way Forward has submitted three possible plans: the Traditionalist Plan, the One Church Plan, and the Connectional Conference Plan. The possibility of any of these three plans being approved as presented is very low. Other petitions have been filed and amendments will certainly be presented.
Caution and patience need to be the order of the day for us. Talk of leaving the denomination by clergy and congregations is becoming more and more frequent. We all need to wait until the end of General Conference before making decisions and declaratory statements. If the actions of General Conference result in pastors and congregations leaving The United Methodist Church, there will be a process for disaffiliation. On February 27, 2019 we will not simply shake hands and walk our separate ways. General Conference may prescribe a process for disaffiliation for both congregations and pastors, but if they do not, the Kentucky Annual Conference will have a process.
Congregations have much to consider before deciding to leave the denomination.They should be mindful that there will be legal and financial implications when leaving the denomination. Also, if their pastor decides to leave the denomination there will be pension implications and may have credentialing consequences. However, without knowing the final outcome of General Conference the details are unknown at this time.
District Superintendents are available for pastors and congregations who have questions. We would like to invite both to a time of conversation if there is a possibility of leaving the denomination. Our desire is for every pastor and congregation to move into a fruitful and effective future.
We are living in a liminal time, an in between time, as we await a not yet known future. We are expending an abundance of energy thinking about and talking about an endless number of possibilities for the future without knowing the outcome. During this liminal time our call as followers of Christ has not changed. Instead of expending energy on guess work, let us pour our time and energy into making disciples for the transformation of the world. While we are debating and staking our flag, the world still needs Christ, the hungry need to be fed, the prisoner needs to be visited, the sick cared for, the captive freed, the oppressed given a voice, the marginalized accepted, and God still desires our worship. Let us not become so distracted that we forget our calling.
During this anxious time remember Psalm 121:8, “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming from this time on and forevermore.” God will always be present with us even during the changes.
Yours in Christ,
The Kentucky Annual Conference Extended Cabinet