August 1, 2018
Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
Peace to you in the name and spirit of Jesus who calls us to live in faith, hope, and love!
The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward has been officially released to the public. The report is 93 pages long and contains the important background information (how we got to where we are) as well as the text of the plan (One Church Plan) that was supported by a large majority of the members of the Council of Bishops and the other two plans (Connectional Conference Plan and Traditional Plan) that were considered by the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops. The English version of the report can be found here.
Reading through these plans is a time-consuming process, but by doing so, you will have a better sense of the nuances of the plans. I encourage you to read through them so that you will be informed about what the breadth of theological differences are in our United Methodist Church. However, let’s also remember that numerous other proposals have been officially submitted for consideration by the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019. These, along with the plans included in the report of the Commission on a Way Forward, will be subject to debate and amending at General Conference 2019. Ultimately, what is adopted at General Conference may be dramatically different from any of these plans.
In order to better understand and prayerfully share our thoughts for our Church, I am inviting you to participate in a Holy Huddle on the Future of The United Methodist Church. The Holy Huddles will be helpful to us as we watch what happens in advance of and on the floor of General Conference. The Huddles being planned will consist of two parts. The first part, designed for clergy only, will focus on sharing ideas with the clergy of the Conference about how to lead our congregations with hope amid uncertainty with Christ-like respectful conversations and prayer.
The second part of the Holy Huddle will be for both laity and clergy together. The Holy Huddles are open to all persons who want to come and participate in Christian conversations about the future of our church. We will be hearing some background material to set the stage for our Huddles, but much of our time will be spent in conversation around tables, sharing our thoughts with one another. There will also be time for questions from individuals. All of this will be bathed in a prayerful, worshipful spirit and will include holy communion as the sacramental act which unifies us.
Some may ask why so much time is being devoted to these Holy Huddles. I believe we are in a very crucial moment in the history of our United Methodist Church and its predecessor bodies. Although we are not all able to vote on what plan is ultimately adopted by General Conference, we do have the responsibility to be aware of the implications of the plans. It is a privilege to pray and share around tables in Christ-like conversation. We join in expectation that our United Methodist Church will face the future united in hope for our future. I anticipate that we will be better prepared to continue our excellent ministries because we have these moments of Holy Huddle to inform and inspire us, centering us in the hope of Jesus Christ even as we undergo change. Our participation gives hope to our mission and ministry to all God’s children in the name of Jesus.
A complete schedule of Holy Huddles can be found a the end of this message.
I am looking forward to opportunities beginning this Fall to gather together as United Methodists in our Desert Southwest Conference as we discern God’s wisdom for us. Our conversations at the Holy Huddles will be part of our step forward into the future for our United Methodist Church. You are an essential participant in that future so I hope you will be present with us!
Prayerfully in Christ’s love,
Part One for Clergy:
(Please note: while clergy are encouraged to attend the Holy Huddle within your district, you are welcome to attend any of the gatherings.)
1. Friday, October 5, for South District Clergy, 10:00 am to 12:00 noon at Christ Church UM, 655 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson.
2. Wednesday, October 10, for East and West District Clergy, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon at Crossroads UMC, 7901 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.
3. Wednesday, October 17, for East District Clergy, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon at Grace UMC, 2024 E. University Dr., Mesa.
4. Thursday, October 18, for Flagstaff, Verde Valley, Prescott Clergy, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, Location to be determined.
5. Friday, November 30, for Las Vegas area Clergy, Time and Location to be determined.
6. Friday, January 11, for Yuma area Clergy, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon, Trinity UMC, 3030 S 8th Ave., Yuma.
Part Two for Lay and Clergy:
(Please note: while lay and clergy are encouraged to attend the Holy Huddle within your district, you are welcome to attend any of the gatherings.)
1. Saturday, October 6, for South District Lay and Clergy, 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm at Christ Church UM, 655 N. Craycroft Road, Tucson.
2. Saturday, October 13, for East and West District Lay and Clergy, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm at Trinity UMC, 3104 W. Glendale Ave., Phoenix.
3. Saturday, October 27, for Flagstaff, Verde Valley, Prescott Lay and Clergy, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm, Location to be determined.
4. Saturday, November 17, for East District Lay and Clergy, 1:00 pm – 4:30 pm at North Scottsdale UMC, 11735 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale.
5. Saturday, December 1, for Las Vegas area Lay and Clergy, Time and Location to be determined.
6. Saturday, January 12, for Yuma area Lay and Clergy, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, Gila Mountain UMC, 12716 N. Frontage Rd., Yuma.