Connect YOUR local church with General Conference

Check out this post with four ways to help connect your congregation with the work of our wider church

Four Easy Ways…

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Report from October 23-24 NCJ Gathering

There were sixteen from the Iowa GC and NCJC delegation who attended the Jurisdictional Gathering of delegates at the Barrington UMC in Barrington, Illinois last month. There were about 100 plus delegates from the nine Episcopal areas of the North Central Jurisdiction. We heard from various speakers the proposals and/or resolutions coming from the following General Church Boards and Agencies: Commission on the Status and Role of Women, Board of Pensions, Discipleship Ministries, Board of Higher Education and Ministry, Commission on Religion and Race, the Publishing House, General Church and Society and The Connectional Table. Waiting for the printed form of all resolutions and or proposals would be of value since we only heard summaries.

There was a time when we heard a proposal from our very own NCJ Mission Council and the conversation around the number of Bishops to be elected. We were given the paper prepared by our NCJ Committee on Episcopacy listing qualities of an Episcopal Leader and the covenant to which candidates are expected honor. There were two or three Conferences who have already made their endorsements of candidates.

We spent about three hours of a guided-small-group conferencing on the connection table’s proposals.

While it takes time to get to know each other and develop trust, the group that I was a part of was very hospitable and I did not hesitate at all to articulate my own thoughts. There is definitely, passionate leaders in the jurisdiction, and a landscape of diverse viewpoints.

  • Lilian Gallo Seagren

Potential Reduction in Bishops – North Central Jurisdiction

GCFA released a message today that the number of bishops representing the North Central Jurisdiction could be reduced in the next quadrennium based on reported membership numbers.

According to the article, “professing membership dropped .36% under the threshold,” in the NCJ.

It has been expected that there might be up to three elections to the episcopacy at the NCJ Conference in Peoria in July of 2016, but this report might impact both those elections and how bishops would be assigned.

Currently, the NCJ has nine bishops assigned:

  • Dakotas-Minnesota (currently sharing a bishop)
  • Iowa
  • Wisconsin
  • Indiana
  • Northern Illinois
  • Illinois Great Rivers
  • East Ohio
  • West Ohio
  • Detroit-West Michigan (currently sharing a bishop & in process of merging)

One outcome might be two additional conferences that will share a bishop going forward.

Delegate Perspectives: Darcy Rubenking

First, I want to thank Katie for her work at starting this blog so we can have dialogue.

At our first meeting we read a statement called “United Methodists Believe.” The heading of the second paragraph says, “We believe every person is a beloved child of God”. I have also heard this said at the Iowa Annual Conference. I have questions with this theology.

Is this talking about “Prevenient Grace”, that “God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16? I agree we all are precious creation of God but the term “child of God” connotes to me a relationship between the person and the Father (God). Am I understanding what is meant by the term “child of God” in this reference? If not, why the term “child of God” and not “beloved creation of God?” Paul speaks of adoption into the family. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves so that you live in fear again, rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Romans 8:14-15. Also John 1:12-13 says, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

If everyone is already a “child of God”, where is free will? What about an atheist who adamantly proclaims that there is no God? Would that person not be offended that we call them a “child of God”? What about those who deny that Jesus Christ is God incarnate? Those who deny the resurrection? Those who do not believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Jesus?

If everyone is already a “child of God” then we no longer need to evangelize or engage in missions. The Church no longer has a purpose. This does not sound like Wesley’s theology, it is closer to Calvin’s predestination but all go to heaven. Wesley spoke of Prevenient Grace – God loved the world so much He gave His son that whosoever believes will have eternal life. But then comes Justifying grace, the response of each of us to accept the gift and the relationship that Jesus offers. Then comes the Sanctifying grace – that grace that help us live a holy, pleasing life in Christ.

I believe everyone is sacred in God’s sight and he weeps at the way we disregard life from the womb to the grave. He loves everyone so much that he sent His Son to provide a way for salvation, for those who accept the gift and follow His commands. Sadly, not all will accept that gift. But as the Church, it is our obligation to offer His grace, forgiveness and salvation in Christ to all.

Delegation Holds First Gathering

The Iowa delegation met on August 29, 2015 this year for orientation and to begin a conversation about our process for nominating episcopal candidates.

The orientation involved logistical concerns for the Portland gathering, delegate responsibilities, and also included a time to get to know one another better.

The afternoon session focused on how the delegation will nominate a candidate for the episcopacy.  The proposed process is to first discern the qualities we desire in potential nominees.  After this time of discernment, each member of the delegation may nominate one or two persons they believe represent those qualities.  At a later delegation gathering, those nominations will be received and we will prayerfully discern among those candidates. Around five candidates will be invited for dialogue with the delegation in the first part of next year, with voting to follow.  At the 2016 Iowa Annual Conference, the delegation may present their nominee for consideration.

While the conversation continues, qualities of a bishop that began to be discerned include spiritual depth, outside the box thinking, a vision for the church, demonstrated fruitfulness in ministry, the ability to navigate conflict, and leadership that goes beyond management.

The delegation is also committed to keeping lines of communication open between ourselves and the conference and this blog will serve as one of many platforms for so doing.