The Western Jurisdiction’s Fresh United Methodism Summit happened in November in Los Angeles, bringing people from each Western Conference together to dream about the future and help prepare for the denomination’s 2020 General Conference, Jurisdictional Conference. Are you wondering what that means for the local church?

Summary of what happened.

During the event, table groups brainstormed and mapped out ideas for making the most significant impact through a tangible process. The event attendees read and affirmed a theological statement allowing the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons and allowing clergy to perform same-sex weddings. The Western Jurisdiction Bishops received a standing ovation for their Safe Harbor Declaration, creating safe spaces in our Conferences for LGBTQ+ clergy and clergy performing same-sex marriages. (click here to read the declaration) Later, Bishop Bob clarified that for us in the Desert Southwest Conference, we don’t know what January 1 will bring. But he intends to make sure it does not include the exclusion of any persons. That means people that identify as LGBTQ+, allies, and those that consider themselves to be more traditional Christians are welcome in the Desert Southwest Conference.

Find out more, reprint, summarize, link to, and share any of the news or resources available on this website and DSCUMC social media as well as the content available on the Western Jurisdiction website and social media to help keep others informed. Let them know that here in the Desert Southwest Conference, everyone is welcome. Newsletter and website editors should glean from the following locations every week or at least monthly and include links to find out more.

  1. Use the resources and news about events leading up to the Summit available at dscumc.org/way-forward.
  2. Share the newsletter subscribe link with your congregation so they get the latest news on their own: dscumc.org/subscribe.
  3. Publish the news releases about the Summit at westernjurisdictionumc.org/fresh in your communication channels.
  4. Be responsive when you share information on social media or via e-news and invite them to pray with you.

How does this impact the local church?

How will the church leaders in the Desert Southwest Conference move forward, knowing that the statements and actions promoted out of the Summit do not mirror every one of our churches? The District Superintendents are already encouraging churches to engage in visioning work and focus on how each church will continue to impact the lives of the people in the community.

WJ Summit participants from Desert Southwest Conference

WJ Summit participants from Desert Southwest Conference

A small group was invited to participate in the Summit, but there are many innovative voices in the Desert Southwest Conference that still need to be heard. When the DSC participants group met to discuss the next steps following the event, there was talk about modeling a process to continue and develop the ideas that surfaced during the WJ Summit. Some were energized or just curious about the proposals from other tables. “While we shall remain faithful to do our best to prepare, we were led as a body to think differently, innovatively about how we might respond to any outcome.”

“We learned yet again that what we as a jurisdiction full of ideas want to continue accomplishing is serving as a witness of the transformative power of Jesus Christ in the lives of people who are marginalized and oppressed by systems of evil and injustice.”

Discussions about collaborating with the DSC Way Forward Teams are on the table. “What I believe needs to come next is long-range planning.” Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank shared that this is a time of advent. Although it may seem like all these events and meetings keep leading to more time of waiting, there are things we can do now. Is your church involved in long-range planning work? The team discussed training leaders to go out and lead churches through the identity process. Is that something your church needs? Melissa Rynders wondered about the impact if every church in the Desert Southwest Conference shared similar worship liturgy and experiences leading up to the next Annual Conference.

If your church has already completed an identity process and would like to share your story, email to share how it’s impacted your community.

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