May 3, 2019
Dear Members and Friends of the Desert Southwest Conference,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our God, who makes all things new!
I want to share information that may be of interest to you, especially in the wake of the recent Judicial Council ruling on actions adopted at General Conference 2019. Last month, I was invited to participate in dialogue in Atlanta, GA with other leaders from our United Methodist Church. Among a number of conversations taking place, this group, now known as “UM Next,” under the leadership of a team headed by Rev. Adam Hamilton, engaged in dialogue about the future of our United Methodist Church following the conclusion of General Conference 2019. At that meeting, it was announced that a follow-up conversation would take place on May 20-22, which would involve a larger number of persons.
The meeting in May will bring together a group of leaders from United Methodist Churches in the United States and will be convened in Leawood, KS, on the campus of the Church of the Resurrection. Each annual conference was invited to name a team of 10 persons, to be in conversation about how we might work together for a church that is inclusive and true to our Wesleyan heritage and ethos. What is envisioned is something new and perhaps very different from The United Methodist Church as it exists today.
I have not shared the names of those whom I invited until this moment, as I preferred to wait until all 10 had confirmed that they were able to attend. I have now received confirmation of the attendance of all 10 and am pleased to be able to share the names of the persons who have been invited and have accepted. They are:
N. Susan Brims, Central East District Superintendent
Paul Cho, pastor, First UMC of Tucson
David Devereaux, pastor, Desert Spring UMC, Las Vegas
Dan Hurlbert, pastor, Prescott UMC
David McPherson, Director of New Faith and Vital Faith
Julie O’Neal, Dayspring UMC, Tempe
Sharon Ragland, pastor, St. Mark’s UMC, Tucson
Beth Rambikur, Director of Connectional Ministries
Kimberly Scott, pastor, Crossroads UMC, Phoenix
Khalif Smith, pastor, Trinity UMC, Las Vegas
Although there were many other persons who have passion and energy and wisdom for the task, these are the persons I selected to be in the dialogue in May as we determine what our future might be. In addition, there are plans for a second gathering in the fall of 2019 which will gather an even larger group of faithful United Methodists. I ask that you please hold these persons in prayer as we prepare to dialogue with others from across our connection and dream of the future of The United Methodist Church.
Bishop Robert T. Hoshibata
Resident Bishop, Phoenix Area