“Besides that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”
It is a line so familiar to us that it’s become a shorthand way to refer to any situation in which the main challenge or opportunity confronting an individual, group, or organization is left unattended to as time and attention is given to secondary matters.
Many United Methodists – clergy, laity, and all categories in between – realize we are probably 14 months away from a vote that will separate the United Methodist Church into two or more denominations. Like adolescent children who have been informed their parents are divorcing, many of us realize that each of us – and the congregations of which we are part – will be confronted with a choice as to which side of the Methodist family will be our “home” because of this separation.
Given the impending breakup of the United Methodist denomination, we might expect that our recently concluded Northern Illinois Annual Conference Session would have included focused, fair, and respectful discussion of the situation and propose a process through which congregations and their pastors might prayerfully prepare for major change.
It seems fair to say that the primary focus of the recently concluded annual conference session (July 16-17) was “business as usual”. When it comes to Northern Illinois Conference plans regarding the impending denominational separation, what we hear is…. nothing.
Other annual conferences are taking a proactive approach.
Other Annual Conferences, California-Pacific, Dakotas, Iowa, Texas, Michigan, and North Georgia Annual Conferences, as recent examples, have taken actions to affirm the protocol for separation and/or to establish task groups to outline processes for separation of conference agencies/programs, congregations, and pastors. These actions give the “green light” to United Methodists in their areas to engage in prayerful dialogue, open conversation, and intentional discernment.
Northern Illinois Annual Conference, however, is not yet at the point of initiating the development of a widely supported process for churches and pastors to determine where they might eventually find their denominational “home.” We hope for such a day to arrive soon, but the agenda of the recent annual conference and the comments of our conference leaders aren’t promising. But don’t be discouraged.
The resources to become aware, informed, connected, and prepared are only a click, a conference, or a regional gathering away.
You don’t have to wait for a decision from the NIC to engage the coming future. Here are three ways available to you right now:
- Get in touch with us here at the Northern Illinois Wesleyan Covenant Association for a personal conversation about your situation, concerns, and hopes for the future. Click on “Have a Question?” or the button below. Or simply peruse this website for links that seem pertinent to you.
- Consider a trip to beautiful Sioux Falls, SD for the August 20-21 regional conference of the Upper Midwest Global Methodist Church. You will receive great information, encouragement, inspiration, an personal connection with others looking for a “better future.” Information on speakers, schedule, lodging, venue, and registration is available at www.uppermidwestgmc.org or by clicking below:
- Come to one of our Northern Illinois regional gatherings this fall and winter. These are informal two-hour get-togethers designed for you to become aware, informed, connected, and prepared for a vibrant and faithful future. Dates, times, and locations of regional gatherings will be posted on our website homepage or subscribe on our website and you will get the information to your email inbox.
- If you would like to host a gathering for members/leaders of your congregation or others in your area, email us at email@example.com and we’ll work out the details with you..
“Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong.”1 Corinthians 16:13,14