It’s A New Season!
Planting the Global Methodist Church in Northern Illinois
Bishop Bickerton is right…it’s time to pivot.
Bishop Tom Bickerton, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, has repeatedly bemoaned this extended “season of congregational disaffiliation” and urged the UMC to focus on a new future.
I don’t think the pivot Bishop Bickerton insists upon is a realistic expectation. At the same time, a lengthy and convoluted denominational reorganization is inevitable. If you want much more on this inevitable, ongoing season of disaffiliations, click here: Beyond the Sunset: Why the UMC Can’t Disaffiliate from Disaffiliations by Dr. Chris Ritter.
The ongoing impact of disaffiliations – whether formal or informal, congregational or individual clergy and UM laity voting with their feet — is not my focus here. The UM annual conference session in northern Illinois has just come to an end. But it’s only the beginning of planting season for the Global Methodist Church here.
During the past several weeks as Annual Conference sessions have been held in the US among United Methodists, the number of disaffiliating congregations has grown dramatically. This wave of churches leaving the denomination has grabbed the spotlight of news among Methodists in recent weeks. The Northern Illinois Annual Conference has its own tragic drama going on in the arena of congregational disaffiliations. But what is not well known is the growing momentum for developing new Global Methodist congregations in our area.
Where are these congregations and new initiatives coming from?
There are three primary ways these new congregations are launching.
As you might expect, some of the congregations that are formally severing ties with the Northern Illinois Conference are becoming Global Methodist congregations in their existing communities and most often in the same building / facilities that have housed their ministries for decades. They will be, after all the disaffiliation paperwork and financial requirements have been met, part of the mission and ministry of the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference of the Global Methodist Church.
Some of the congregations that have attempted to disaffiliate have fragmented into at least three groups. One group has left the local UM congregation to launch a new Global Methodist Church. Another group remains in the UMC. A third group is comprised of those who are simply walking away. At least two of the congregations who have not met NIC requirements for disaffiliation have launched as re-missions already and another 2-3 are expected to do so in the next several months.
Planning New Starts
The culture of the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference embraces planting churches that plant churches that plant churches; we seek to help develop disciples of Christ who develop disciples of Christ who develop disciples of Christ. Can you catch the drift of the move-mental nature of the GMC mission? Already five pastors from northern Illinois have completed the church development training required by the GMC in order to launch new congregations. This is the exciting new work for an energetic season of Christian witness, ministry, and congregational development in our area.
Are you a “Meandering Methodist”?
Perhaps you are part of the growing tribe of “Meandering Methodists” in northern Illinois who are wondering where and how to connect to a new congregation that seeks to worship passionately, love extravagantly, and witness boldly. Maybe you sense a new season of the Holy Spirit’s calling within you. Perhaps you want to be part of something more than “church as usual.” You recognize that matters of eternal importance hang in the balance, and you don’t want to be left sitting on the sidelines.
If that seems like it might describe you, here are a few ways to fan those spiritual embers into flame:
- Subscribe to the Global Methodist Church e-newsletter for emerging developments locally, nationally, and internationally. Here’s the link: Global Methodist Free E-Newsletter Subscription
- Bookmark the website for the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference of the GMC (which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin). Here’s the link: Great Lakes Annual Conference of the GMC. You will be up to date on where new GMC congregations are launching and have the latest information on our convening annual conference being planned for late October.
- If you have an itch about getting together with some other “meandering Methodists”, some of which you may know well and some of which you may have yet to meet, you might be interested in this intriguing and accessible resource:
By the way, I am glad to discuss whatever else seems pertinent to you as you consider where you might be heading next in your journey with Jesus Christ. It is an exciting time for new dreams, visions, and action!
As of this week, I have withdrawn as a member of the Northern Illinois Annual Conference. I am now, gratefully and joyfully, an Ordained Elder in the Global Methodist Church. Currently I serve on a volunteer basis as an Assistant Presiding Elder (similar to a DS) in Illinois District 1 of the Great Lakes Provisional Annual Conference of the Global Methodist Church.
As you might expect, the Northern Illinois Wesleyan Covenant Association will soon finish its course and hand over this new season to the Great Lakes Annual Conference of the GMC. Our goal for the Northern Illinois Wesleyan Covenant Association has been to help individual United Methodists and UM congregations into their best future. And now the Great Lakes PAC is rapidly developing to welcome many of these Methodists and their congregations into a new denominational network for a healthy, vibrant future. Even more, we seek to reach new populations in new areas for a new era of Methodism in northern Illinois.
Planting season is always an exciting time of hard work and hopeful anticipation. Perhaps you are ready to be part of the team, too!