Annual Conference in the United Methodist Church is the annual gathering of United Methodist Clergy and Lay Delegates who generally meet in June to learn, pray, grow and vote on matters regarding the Missouri United Methodist Conference. The very first day of Annual Conference was a historic one. After opening worship, we began our time together by voting on the disaffiliation of 75 churches in Missouri. The opportunity to disaffiliate was added to the Book of Discipline at our last General Conference (Global Conference of both Pastoral and Lay Delegates every 4 years) "over issues related to human sexuality". Our current Book of Discipline (2016) opposes gay marriage by a UM pastor or in a UM church (par. 341.6 in the Book of Discipline) as well as the ordination of a professing gay clergy person (par. 304.3). Out of concern that these provisions would change, many churches in Missouri and the United States have chosen to disaffiliate. For more information on church disaffiliations, please visit the following site: https://www.moumethodist.org/newsdetail/conference-votes-to-allow-75-churches-to-disaffiliate-17461119
On the second day of Annual Conference, we voted on two non-binding resolutions in order to make recommendations to the next General Conference. A "non-binding resolution" is a recommendation for a change in The Book of Discipline. It is the process of asking the General Conference to both consider and vote on a change that year or at the next General Conference that occurs 4 years later. The 2 resolutions were as follows:
Resolution #1: that a regional conference be created for the United States that would allow U.S.-specific matters to be handled outside of the General Conference. This resolution passed.
We recognize that human sexuality is both sensitive and personal for people on both sides of the issue. As your pastor, I desire to provide you with as much information as I can on the current position of the United Methodist Church in regards to this topic. If you would like to visit about your concerns or desire greater clarity on the current position of the United Methodist Church, Nancy Graven (our Board Chair) and I are also available to meet with you privately. Please contact me or Nancy to set up a time. Contact the church office if you need assistance in making that contact.
Though this year's Annual Conference began with the disaffiliations, overall it was a positive experience. We are moving forward in ministry and mission in exciting ways. Our Conference Leadership is showing a great deal of wisdom in providing good stewardship over our resources in regard to the number of churches who are leaving our denomination. For those of us who are staying UMC, there was a sense of even greater connectedness to one another and the mission of the United Methodist Church in Missouri. I am hopeful that our Conference will experience renewal as a result of our leadership and decisions.
Pastor Jim Voigt
Board Chair, Nancy Graven