An Encouraging Word from the Northern Illinois Wesleyan Covenant Association…
The United Methodist “Disaffiliation Drama” is heading toward its finale. In Northern Illinois the curtain has already come down. In other Annual Conferences there are “special sessions” yet on the calendar in 2023 and a few are suggesting a pathway to disaffiliation in 2024. Of course, the UMC General Conference next spring will deal with the fallout from all of this and, perhaps, provide a renewed or alternative pathway to disaffiliation that allows for those churches that have not been allowed to leave, particularly in Africa, the Philippines, and other portions of the world, an opportunity to choose their preferred denominational home for the future. Considering the punitive experiences of disaffiliating local churches and their pastors in Northern Illinois Conference, especially the unjust and vindictive treatment of the Korean pastors and congregations that sought to disaffiliate, it seems a denomination-wide process for disaffiliation might avoid the patchwork quilt of each annual conference’s arbitrary requirements. Fair-minded United Methodists, I expect, would agree. The actions of some annual conference administrators and bishops has rendered their invocation of “grace” a dark parody.
But here in the northern part of the Land of Lincoln, for those few congregations that disaffiliated, those that were forced to simply leave their building behind and start new, and those that are comprised of former United Methodists who are starting from scratch, it might feel as if your “new church home” is like opening one of those boxes from IKEA: a lot of pieces, no written instructions, and some cartoon-like pages that are supposed to be adequate for putting the whole thing together.
If that is how you are feeling, I have an invitation for you!
(And an update…and, maybe, a second invitation, too).
You are invited to the Convening Conference
If you are wanting to become part of the growing Global Methodist Church or your congregation has aligned already with the “new thing” of Global Methodism and wondering how it becomes operational in your community, let me invite you to the Convening Conference of the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference of the Global Methodist Church. The Great Lakes Conference, comprised of Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, already consists of about 250 congregations. We expect quite a few more churches by the end of this calendar year since the Illinois Great Rivers Conference and the Michigan Conference have additional special sessions this fall to deal with the queue of disaffiliating congregations.
The Great Lakes Convening Conference will be October 27-28 (Friday and Saturday) at Crossroads GMC in Washington, IL (next to Peoria).
I know, I know…if you’ve been to an “Annual Conference Session” before you may have promised to never attend such a mind-numbing and spirit-squashing experience ever again. But remember, the Global Methodist Church is not UMC 2.0. The “business” session of the Convening Conference, where clergy and lay members vote on several items to establish the legal, organizational, and financial structure of the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference, is scheduled to take only one hour out of the two days. I myself think we might conclude the “official business” in 45 minutes.
The Convening Conference, as well as future annual conference sessions, will focus more on building relationships, equipping laity and clergy for effective and fruitful local church ministry in their communities, and providing resources for congregations to flourish in the mission of “passionate worship, extravagant love, and bold witness.” The local church does not exist to serve the annual conference. Au contraire, mon ami, the annual conference in the GMC exists to support and serve the local church.
So, put the Convening Conference on your calendar. All are welcome: laity, clergy, any members of GMC congregations as well as United Methodists who want to check out the GMC in person. You’ll experience uplifting worship, nuts-and-bolts information and resources, be introduced to the culture and commitments of the Great Lakes Conference, meet sisters and brothers from a four-state area, and witness the ordination of over 90 sisters and brothers who have been called and are being credentialed for ministry. It will be a seriously soul-filling experience.
Here’s the registration link for more information: https://greatlakesgmc.org/convening-conference.
How is the Tri-Cities Church Planter?
Many of you are aware that our meeting with the Global Methodist church developer appointed to begin a new ministry in the tri-cities area (Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles) was badly injured in a fall she took while going for a run on the morning of our planned information meeting (August 9). I am glad to report that, after being transferred to University of Chicago Hospital for further evaluation, Rev. Susann Liubinskas was released and then returned, with her husband Tauras, to their home in Lexington, Ky for recoup and recovery. Sue updated me this week that she is recovering very well and they are continuing their plans to sell their home in order to relocate to the tri-cities area this fall. We’ll provide additional information as the calendar develops. Please continue to pray for Sue and Tauras.
Always wanted to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land?
Now, for something completely different:
Next April Lynda and I will be leading a small group (no more than 20 people) on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This will be our fourth trip. In the past we have generally had larger groups of 30-35 people. This time we have adapted the “standard itinerary” somewhat, are slowing things down a bit to what I call a “pilgrimage pace”, and taking time to live into the locations and settings of the Gospel accounts we find in the New Testament. There is room for a few more to join our group. If you’d like an overview, itinerary, dates, and costs, click here: Holy Land Pilgrimage with Rev Scott and Lynda Field April 2024. Some call a trip to Israel The Fifth Gospel because it puts the four gospels in their geographical and historical context up close and personal for you to experience. It is a completely unique, spiritually rich experience. If you’d like a personal conversation about it, use the link below to contact me by email.
Expect news about Global Methodist Church congregations in northern Illinois in your email box each week for the next month or so…and a special announcement next week, too.
Yours in Christ,