See all the People. It’s not about fixing churches. That was a theme during annual conference in Billings, Montana. That was on the back of all the T-Shirts given out and worn during the conference. Following the General Conference in February many felt that the Church they belong to was ignored. The Churches in the Mountain Sky Conference are Open, Accepting, and filled with Grace for All God’s people.
Several of the speakers and presenters reminded us that like-minded people within the United Methodist Church as a whole and others in the world are looking to us for guidance as we move forward on our journey. We have to stay open to what God is leading us to do and to remain open to God’s Holy Spirit.
A good part of conference involved electing delegates to the 2020 General Conference and the Western Jurisdictional Conference. In legislative sessions petitions were approved setting minimum compensation for clergy, superintendents and conference treasurer. One significant change will be will dropping from 13% to 10% the amount used to calculate the apportionments for 2020.
In another petition approved, the Mountain Sky Annual Conference directs its Roundtable to form a team to develop options for moving forward, including, but not limited to 1) partnering with other like-minded bodies, 2) developing legislation for General Conference 2020, and 3) separation from The United Methodist Church, which embraces the Traditional Plan. The plan development shall include listening sessions and no less than quarterly reports to members of the Annual Conference.
One other petition approved resolved that members of the Mountain Sky Conference (MSC) cannot and will not comply with the strict requirements of the Traditional Plan adopted at the 2019 General Conference. The Conference will not enforce the punitive and exclusionary policies in The Book of Discipline focused against gay and lesbian persons, their partners, allies, or their friends as a faithful, biblical witness to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Also, the MSC will welcome all persons into the full life of our congregations and annual conference, regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, or where they are on their faith journey. Clergy of the MSC who, as a matter of Christian conscience and pastoral faithfulness, may choose to conduct same-sex unions, the conference will take no disciplinary action against them on this matter. MSC will affirm calls to ministry based solely on the discernment of the gifts and graces necessary to fulfill that call. That MSC will work to build God’s Beloved Community, a connection that has room for all and condemnation for none, among persons of good will that the Reign of God may come upon the earth Finally, that MSC will commit to robust and thorough dialogues of life and faith, and to building bridges of understanding and trust between persons who have been divided on this issue, that our common love of God in Christ may be affirmed, lived out and witnessed to the world. There was an amendment added that MSC will embrace and support the desires of churches who choose not to perform same sex marriages or desire not have LGBTQIA+ persons as clergy when requested by the local church. That church will have no repercussions or decreased level of support from the annual conference.
Another petition brought to the floor was to Convene a Special Western Jurisdiction Conference to discuss these ongoing issues.
Heart of Longmont was well represented at Annual Conference. Besides Pastor David and me, Misty Bone, Dave Perry, Keith and Mary Ann Watson were also there.
Next year’s Annual Conference will be held June 18 – 21 in Gillette, Wyoming.
Jamie Bowland – Lay Delegate to Annual Conference