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Meet our general conference delegates

January 14, 2019
In February 2019 at the special called session of General Conference, five clergy members and five laity will represent the Kentucky Annual Conference as the church addresses the issue of human sexuality in The United Methodist Church.

Because the Kentucky Conference shares Bishop Leonard Fairley with the Red Bird Missionary Conference, Red Bird’s  one clergy representative and one laity representative meet and do their work with the Kentucky Conference. There are also alternative delegation members from both the Kentucky and Red Bird conferences that meet and contribute to the discussions.

We asked all members of the delegations to answer a questionnaire so that people in both conferences can get to know our representatives better.

As we get closer to the February 23-26 General Conference please remember to encourage our delegation and lift them in prayer. If you would like to communicate with the delegation they can be reached at gcdelegate@kyumc.org.

Kentucky Conference Delegation

REV. DR. IOSMAR ALVAREZ ALFONSO (clergy delegate)

Occupation: Superintendent, Lexington District, Kentucky Annual Conference

One phrase that best describes you: missional strategist

Favorite Bible passage: Exodus 34:10: “The Lord replied (to Moses), “Listen, I am making a covenant with you in the presence of all your people. I will perform miracles that have never been performed anywhere in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people around you will see the power of the Lord – the awesome power I will display for you.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? I live my life before others out of deep kingdom values but with grace to embrace others.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? Learning to love and embrace others regardless of what they think and believe.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? Opportunity to collaborate with UMC global church needs and challenges.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? In covenant with God, with my peers and our community: Love, Learn and Lead.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? Wesleyan theology of grace, Wesleyan Revival, John Wesley testimony.



REV. DR. BILL T. ARNOLD (clergy, co-chair)
 
Church: Kentucky Annual Conference (Elder); charge conference: First UMC, Lexington
 
Occupation: Paul S. Amos Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, Asbury Theological Seminary
 
One word that best describes you: verbose
 
Favorite Bible passage:  The one I’m reading at the moment.  But if pressed, I would say Matthew 22:34-40 (same as Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18): “But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees with his reply, they met together to question him again. One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?’ Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
 
How does your faith impact your work with the delegation?  I became a Christian through The Methodist Church, and was nurtured in my early faith by its ministries. I was raised in a Methodist parsonage (son of Walter L. “Pete” Arnold), and one of my grandmothers was treasurer and pianist of Bryantsville UMC. Go there today, and you’ll see a century-old, stained-glass window dedicated to my great-grandfather, Andrew Roy Arnold, whose parents (my great-great-grandparents) joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1832. It is no exaggeration to say that my faith is shaped by Methodist DNA. My theological understanding of the Gospel drives everything I bring to the table in the work of the delegation.
 
How does your work with the delegation impact your faith?  I am impressed by my colleagues in the delegation, and have been moved to tears by their deep devotion to Jesus Christ, and by their love for our denomination. Their faith is contagious, so that my work on the delegation has been a blessing to me and challenges me to live more faithfully for Christ.
 
What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? Asbury Seminary encourages our faculty to give 10 percent of our time and energy back to the world in service and ministry. We think of it as Asbury’s tithe. After 12 years on the Kentucky Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, I decided that I would continue to devote most of that time to my Annual Conference, as long as they continue to look to me for service at the Southeastern Jurisdiction and General Conference levels.
 
How do you live out your faith in everyday life? Besides my calling to teach, and to conduct research on the Scriptures, I am regularly involved at First UMC, Lexington, where I teach an adult Sunday School class. Our motto is that we “walk through books of the Bible together,” and I enjoy teaching members of that congregation, and occasionally elsewhere, about the role of Scripture in our faith.
 
What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay?
I was born and baptized a Methodist, and have stayed here because of our theology of profound grace, which extends to all people in all places, offering hope to an otherwise hopeless world. Flowing from the heart of God, which is full of holy love, this grace is effective in all its “manifold” expressions (1 Peter 4:10) – prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying – by the power of the Holy Spirit.


JAN BROWN-THOMPSON (laity)
 
Church: Coke Memorial UMC
 
Occupation: retired educator
 
One word that best describes you: passionate
 
Favorite Bible passage: Ephesians 3: 17 – 19: “…And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. And to know his love that surpasses knowledge that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” 
 
How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? My serving in the role of delegate is solely based on my faith: faith in the things we hope for and believing in the things or the results we cannot see. As I look to God as the author and finisher of my faith, I know that God is in the midst of all that is being said and done. I am surrendering to God and allowing God to lead me through this work with the delegation, and I trust that God will be glorified in the end. I will continue to pray without ceasing for God’s guidance and direction.
 
How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? I deem it a privilege to serve as a delegate to the General Conference representing the Kentucky Annual Conference. My faith in God is increased as I’ve witnessed the move of God throughout the working of the Conference and within the people of Methodist. This work has certainly humbled me and strengthened my walk with God as I have prayed without ceasing on this journey. I have been a part of the United Methodist Church for more than 27 years, and I am committed to the work of advocacy and disciple-making. I see God in the midst of us and His spirit guiding us as voices are being heard and decisions are being formed.
 
What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? My decision to run for delegate was out of love and commitment to the United Methodist Church in general and my local church in particular. I wanted to be able to benefit from the knowledge and experiences of others as well as make an impact by sharing my knowledge and my unique experiences and perspectives in this connectional system. Reflecting on and learning to appreciate the viewpoints  and vantage points of all individuals has proved that informed decisions can be made and that our Conference and our church as a whole can be strengthened. 
 
 
How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I really believe that God “…..is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us “Ephesians 3:20). This scripture best describes me, as I am passionate about the work of the kingdom. Sharing the love of Jesus and making disciples for Jesus Christ is my life’s work.  As I live out that passion and interact with others daily, I am committed to show God’s love and be a witness of His saving grace to all who would receive Him. 
 
What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was not born into the United Methodist Church. My husband was, and when we got married, I joined the church. And since that time, I have grown to love the church and its methods of operation, I appreciate the mission work the church does around the globe, and I love being a part of the work of advocacy and social justice. The three simple rules of the Wesleyan way of living – Do No Harm, Do Good, Stay in Love with God – continue to encourage my spiritual growth and development and ground me in the faith.



JOHN REES DENHAM (laity)
 
Church: Maysville Trinity UMC

Occupation: beef cattle farmer

One word that best describes you: communicator

Favorite Bible verse: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? God has this. We must listen to our Lord and remain in prayer.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? We are a large denomination spread throughout the world with many different opinions. If we cannot be of one mind, we must be of one heart.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? Thankful for mission trips to several different countries where I experienced the many blessings of our connection. Our connections everywhere help ministries in my community and Conference.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? Prayer life, devotions, scripture, gifts, service, teaching, mentoring, loving my neighbor, disciple-making, following Jesus’s teachings.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born Methodist and joined the church April 14th, 1963. I know the United Methodist Church has given me the greatest opportunity to make disciples and grow the Kingdom of God.


REV. DR. MAXIE DUNNAM (clergy)

Church: Wilmore UMC; Christ UMC, Memphis, Tennessee

Occupation: clergy – retired minister at large, Christ UMC, Memphis

One word that best describes you: kind

Favorite Bible passage: Colossians 1:27: “The secret is simply this – Christ in you, yes Christ in you, bringing with him the hope of all the glorious things to come.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? I seek to make my faith central in relating to others and making decisions.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? The understanding and expression of the faith of others challenges and enhances my faith – and sharpens my wisdom.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? The General Conference is the only body that speaks for the church. I felt my years in the church, and the different ministries in which I have shared, equipped me to serve well.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I seek to be Christ to, and receive Christ from, every person I meet. I believe public education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. I am working hard in Memphis to make good education available to the most underserved children of our city.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? Coming out of a dominant rural expression of the Baptist Church, and an uneducated clergy, I was impacted by a young, educated Methodist preacher who preached powerfully, interestingly and sensibly, and paid attention to a young, underprivileged, searching person.


REV. TOM GRIEB (clergy)
 
Church: Saint John (Heartland)

Occupation: senior pastor

One word that best describes you: encouraging

Favorite Bible passage: 1 Corinthians 15:10a – “But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me – and not without results.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? My faith informs the work with the delegation in every way. I seek God’s presence and leadership in everything related to that work – in relationships struck, decisions made, and conversations that take place.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? My work with the delegation challenges my faith by calling into question any preconceived notions I might have. I am also challenged to stay consistently aligned to God’s will and to grow closer to Christ.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? Those things that factored into my decision to be a General Conference delegate include a sensitivity to God’s will and a desire to serve Him in a way not regularly afforded on the local level.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? In living out my faith I attempt to “make love my aim.” I do desire to remain obedient to God’s will and seek to serve Him through the ministry of the church.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I am a cradle Methodist. I accepted Christ as a part of the United Methodist Church and have grown spiritually in large part due to the effective ministry of the church. I remain a United Methodist because I continue to see Christ at work in the church. I am also very much in agreement with its doctrine and polity.


REV. DR. JEAN HAWXHURST (clergy)
 
Church: My charge conference is with Fourth Avenue UMC in the Heartland District.

Occupation:  I am an Elder, and I serve as an ecumenical staff officer for the Council of Bishops of the UMC.

One word that best describes you: blessed

Favorite Bible passage:  Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and of good courage.  Do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  (This verse was given to me by a Sunday School teacher when I was a child, and it has remained a promise I still hold close to my heart.)

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation?  My faith has everything to do with my service on the delegation.  Because of God’s grace in my life, much of my journey has been blessed and directed by the Spirit.  I believe my call to seminary, my ordination, and all my appointments have been Spirit-directed.  It was also the call of the Spirit that caused me to put my name forward as a delegate on your behalf.  My faith calls me to respond to the Spirit’s nudging, and that is how I will approach this upcoming General Conference.  I trust God will be with us and provide direction.  I believe God will hold us closely and help us find a way forward together.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith?  When visible chaos, frustration and disunity threatened to take hold of the General Conference in 2016, I witnessed God’s calming Spirit poured out on the delegates.  God moved as peace filled my heart, and I knew we would be OK.  Similarly, when our delegation meets, and it is clear there is disagreement among the delegates of our Annual Conference, I continue to be reminded that God’s good purposes will ultimately prevail.  It is going to be OK.  That heart knowledge has renewed my faith.  We are not alone.  Christ is with us.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate?  Just as with ordination, God’s call seemed to be a two-fold process for me.  First, I sensed a tugging to be a voice for this Annual Conference. I believe that tugging was God’s grace directing me.  Then, that assumed call needed to be confirmed by the community, and it was.  I was both surprised and grateful you selected me to represent you, and that two-fold call was what confirmed that decision.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life?  Here, again, I want to claim God’s grace in my life.  I do not believe I live as deeply as I could into my Christian faith and belief.  I always could do better.  Having said that, I do try to live as a witness through the fruits of the Spirit I hope people witness in me.  I hope I am a Galatians 5:22 Christian, and I hope people can see that.  I want to be authentic, and I want to be a witness to what Christ has done in my life.  I am fasting and praying for the General Conference, and I hope you will join with me in those small sacrifices.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay?  I was born into the United Methodist Church.  I was baptized and confirmed by the same beloved pastor in the church who helped raise me in the faith.  When I finally gave in to the call to attend seminary, other options were given to me that would have taken me away from my beloved United Methodist Church.  I chose to stay, however, because I am Wesleyan at my core.  I believe in God’s grace, in the free will we have been given, in the faith combination of head and heart, in the beautiful connection between a sacramental and evangelical ifocus, and in singing with all our hearts and lives what we believe.  I choose to be United Methodist, and my prayer is that I will continue to be able to remain a United Methodist.


LINDA UNDERWOOD KING (laity)

Church: Christ Church UMC

Occupation: retired educator

One word that best describes you: resourceful

Favorite Bible passage: The first part of the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? My work with the delegation has shown me God is with us as we prepare for 2019 General Conference. The United Methodist Church is of God; I see and feel it every day.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? How can it not impact my faith? This serious work is of God. I see God everywhere in our work, especially as February 2019 draws closer.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? During my years as a United Methodist in visiting and being a part of churches because my husband was an Elder, I grew to see God’s work in the small congregations to the large congregations. I saw the strength in us all being connected. I wanted all types of churched to be represented at GC. I feel I can do this as my love and respect have grown for all.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I live out my faith as all Christians do: praying, studying, reading my Bible, loving all people, and finding places and people I can share my faith by helping those in spiritual, physical and mental needs.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I joined the United Methodist Church when I was 19 years old, after much study of many Christian denominations. I wanted a church that would help me have a direct relationship with God, guide and give me a chance for leadership, not just to be a member. I saw the strength of the connectional system and the appointment system, not the “called to a church” system. I loved the open communion and the work the church does at home and all around the world. (That was at 19. Now I love being a UM for many more reasons.)


LEWIS D. NICHOLLS (laity, co-chair)
 
Church: Greenup First UMC 

Occupation: retired judge 

One word that best describes you: steady
 
Favorite Bible passage: Psalm 34: 11-14. I read this passage all the time when my daughter was diagnosed at age 6 with a malignant brain tumor that our doctor said would kill her. I held fast to these four verses for two years as the doctors continued to tell us that she would not live to grow up. Rebecca did grow up, has her own family, is a professional in the medical field, and is a devout Christian. The tumor never grew but is still in her head. She only takes medication to prevent seizures. She is expecting a normal life span.
Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
 
How has your faith impacted your work with the delegation?  I become discouraged at times because I know that whatever decision is reached, we will lose good Methodists from the ranks of the church. Nevertheless, I know that God is bigger than any division in the church. Our beloved church will divide whatever the outcome. My faith tells me that it will be OK, God’s Kingdom will carry on, and we can all serve God no matter the path we choose so long as we remain true to His Word.
 
How does your work with the delegation impact your faith?  I knew most of the delegates before we were elected, but not well. This experience has provided me the opportunity to get to know them much better. My faith tells me that however we vote, everyone on the delegation will continue to serve the Lord. Also, regardless of the outcome, we will continue to love and respect each other.  All of these delegates have become my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I will continue to value their friendship.
 
What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate?  First, I was not going to run as a general delegate initially. I was encouraged to do so by several of my Methodist friends. I finally relented and placed my name on the ballot. I thought I would only be required to attend the 2016 General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Little did I know that I would be placed in the middle of the “eye of the storm.” Maybe that is what God wanted, but it was not what I expected.
 
Second, I wanted the experience as a general delegate. Earlier, I served as a jurisdictional delegate and participated in electing bishops. The general delegate experience gave me a greater understanding of how the United Methodist Church functions.
 
Third, I thought I might be able to contribute something to the process. Now, I find the Lord leading me in my thought process as I try to make sense of this chaos surrounding sexual issues in our church. I now understand that God placed me in this situation. I just did not understand that was His plan all along. I do now!
 
How do you live out your faith in everyday life?  I try to be the best possible person I can be. I try to follow God’s ordinances in directing my daily life. I feel that my strongest suit is trying to live out my life by giving God “legs” by working in the church with the addiction ministry I lead. In addition, I try to lend a helping hand to someone in need instead of judging them.
 
What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born into the Methodist faith. My wife was of a different denomination. We discussed the issue before we married, and she said she would join the Methodist Church. What a confirmation! Our marriage has been wonderful, which I take as a confirmation that Methodism was right for both of us. Years later we had a Methodist minister, Rev. John Shroll, who inspired me to start studying Wesleyan theology. I did and became enthralled with it. I felt it was a superior doctrine that utilizes Scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. I was hooked with this doctrine that uses Scripture to make God’s Word make sense. This is the reason that I will remain a United Methodist regardless of the outcome of this special General Conference.


MICHAEL. B. WATTS (laity)

Church: Centenary UMC, Shelbyville

Occupation: church administrator & financial secretary, St. Matthews UMC

One word that best describes you: faithful

Favorite Bible passage: Philippians 2:3: “Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? My faith enables me to listen to others with compassion and understanding. It also guides me as I wrestle with the issues that come before the delegation.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? I hear a variety of concerns and celebrations from all the members of the delegation. I have found much wisdom in the members as they have shaped me as I try to discern the path of our denomination.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? I wanted to further serve the church that I love. Because of my background with the church, I felt that I could provide valued input regarding some of the financial and administrative matters the church faces.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I believe in working to make ministry possible. Where there are perceived roadblocks, I look for ways to find ways to accomplish ministry.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born into the Methodist faith. However, the ministry of the church has shaped my beliefs and brought me into many wonderful relationships that have led me in my faith journey.
 

Kentucky Conference Alternates 

JOSIAH BROCK (first lay alternate)
 
Church: Crescent Hill UMC

Occupation: AV tech

One word that describes you: fun

Favorite Bible passage: Genesis 1:27: “Then God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? My faith helps guide me in all things, especially in the decision-making for the future of the church by giving me the lens through which I am able to read and understand Scripture.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? Every day my faith is changed by what I do and see. My work with the delegation affects me in the same way. My faith is a part of a journey I am on; if it stayed the same the whole time, then I have not journeyed at all but sat still without growth or learning.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? The biggest factor that led to me being a General Conference delegate was my desire to help change and lead.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I live out my faith daily by practicing what I pray and praying what I believe.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born and raised Methodist. I stayed because I believe that my faith is Wesleyan and I hold a high regard for our church in many respects.


REV. DR. DAVID GROUT (second clergy alternate)

Church: Florence UMC

Occupation: senior pastor

One word that best describes you: friend

Favorite Bible passage: Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? I am convinced that the tenets of my faith were in place long before I arrived and will live on long after I am gone. I don’t feel I am here to change, but to live into those truths. I also believe the Church was here long before and will be here long after I am gone. Perhaps not as I know it today, but nevertheless, the Church.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? I’m not sure it really impacts my faith, but it does help me to hear more voices. I do not think our goal should be to save the UMC, but to be true to the mission of the Church, which is to tell the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? I owe so much to the UMC on so many levels. It is an honor to serve, especially alongside the wonderful collection of other delegates representing Kentucky.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? Again, I hope I am a friend to everyone I meet. I am convinced there is a reason and a blessing to every encounter. Some people you meet you walk away hoping to be like. Others you leave convinced never to be like. Both help you along.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? Born into it. Found Jesus in it. Have seen so many lives changed because of it. Have found direction in my life through it. Hope to see it continue to impact the world.


REV. JULIE HAGER LOVE (first clergy alternate)
 
Church: Buechel UMC (charge conference)

Occupation: Director of Connectional Ministries & Conference Secretary, Kentucky Annual Conference

One word that best describes you: caring

Favorite Bible passages:
Psalm 121: “I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”
 Jeremiah 29:11: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ “
 Mark 10: 13-16: “One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.’ Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.”
 2 Timothy 2:15: “Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? My faith is why I do my work with the delegation. I love my church, and my church is the place where I live out my faith – as a result, I feel called to engage in the process as I am able.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? Being a member of the delegation is challenging, hard and inspiring all at the same time, and I have found that places like this are most shaping in my faith. It keeps before me the reality that faith is not meant to be a place of constant comfort and ease. Faith gives me life, but  it also challenges and stretches me.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? Hearing faith stories from a variety of people in the KAC.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? Personal devotional practices; regular corporate worship; reading a variety of perspectives; conversations; seeking input of mentors and aiming to be a mentor; silence.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born into it, and I have found it to be a place that is both challenging and life-giving.


PAUL L. WHALEN (second laity alternate)
 
Church: Highland-Ft. Thomas

Occupation: attorney-hearing officer

One word that best describes you: curious

Favorite Bible passage: James 2: 14-17 – “What good is it, my brothers, if a man (or woman) claims to have faith but no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him. ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? It could be a real test of my faith considering this is a specially called General Conference. This will be my first General Conference. I have moved up to  second laity alternate. I was a member of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference at Lake Junaluska in North Carolina in the summer of 2016. I am hoping my faith will help me keep still and listen to the Holy Spirit.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? It could deepen and broaden my faith. There are many ways to express my faith in a group setting that I have not previously considered.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? I wanted to become more active in the life of the denomination. I have been active as a Sunday School teacher for 31 years. I am concerned about the shrinkage of church attendance/membership over the past couple of decades and want to perhaps have some input on how Methodists can change that trend.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? Daily Upper Room devotions – I am trying to learn Spanish by reading the Spanish language version. Being an example to family and friends.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born a Methodist. I have stayed in large part due to its being a connectional mainline denomination with emphasis on being a “thinking person’s” denomination (as my Grandpa Lewellin described Methodism). Wesley’s Quadrilateral –  Scripture,  Tradition,  Reason and Experience – should encourage us that as followers of Christ we are not to park our brains outside when we go to church.
 

Red Bird Missionary Conference Delegates
 

REV. ROBERT E. AMUNDSEN JR.  (Red Bird Conference, clergy)
 
Church: Thousandsticks UMC

Occupation: pastor

One word that best describes you: caring

Favorite Bible passage: Psalm 121: “I look up to the mountains – does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! …”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? It is Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him that guides me each day. In regards to my work on the delegation, I am reminded that we are all God’s children and in the end, it doesn’t matter if we agree or disagree, we are all about making disciples.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? It reminds me that the work has a greater impact on me because it has driven me to be more prayerful for the church, all involved, and for those whose perspectives differ from mine. It has renewed my hope and faith in Christ through this process.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? Being a part of the Red Bird Missionary Conference for 23 years and as the only active ordained Elder in Red Bird, I believe it’s part of my leadership and responsibility to be a voice for its people.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I try to be the same outside of the pulpit as I am behind it. I try to be the disciple of Christ to each person that I’m called to be. I am a pastor to the whole community, not just my appointed church.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? I was born into it. I have stayed for several reasons: our Wesleyan heritage and theology, our connectionalism, and the family feeling when you step into a United Methodist church around the world.


MARILYN OSBORNE (Red Bird Conference, laity)
 
Church: Thousandsticks UMC

Occupation: retired family nurse practitioner and nurse midwife

One word that best describes you: compassionate

Favorite Bible passage: Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”

How does your faith impact your work with the delegation? I believe God calls us to act with courage to keep the Word of God ever before us as a standard of behavior and foundation stone and to guard the truth that has been entrusted to us.

How does your work with the delegation impact your faith? I am sickened by the actions of some who call themselves Christian and treat others in the ministry with such disrespect. I have come to respect the other members of this delegation and believe they truly want God’s Will to be done for the upbuilding of the kingdom.

What factors influenced your decision to want to be a General Conference delegate? I fell in to it in 2016 when the delegate became sick and I had to serve as the elected alternate delegate. This was my first General Conference. I was both excited and disgusted by the behavior exhibited there.

How do you live out your faith in everyday life? I try very hard to treat others as I believe Jesus would treat them. I want to see this world as He sees it. I pray continually for His guidance.

What first drew you to the Methodist faith? If you were born into it, what has made you stay? My father was a Wesleyan pastor. The Methodist Church was the closest to that when I moved to eastern Kentucky 32 years ago. I have attended the same church here all these years. I have fallen in love with the Red Bird Missionary Conference.



























 


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