1. Theology Team – The goal of this group is to help ground the work of the DSC Way Forward in a strong Wesleyan Theology which ties together growth in Christian personal piety with the actions leading to social holiness. We will work to develop a theological foundation that is grace-filled, inclusive and aids us in the work of transformational justice.
2. Communications Team- The primary goal of this team is to craft a compelling narrative that 1) explains what is happening in transparent and accessible terms. 2) Invites people to join in work that is happening, share what they are doing in local churches and ministry settings, informs people about the various ways they can participate in ongoing Way Forward work. 3) Captures how this unique DSC story is part of God’s of ongoing work of transformation as we make disciples of Jesus Christ.
3. Connections Team – This task group gathers and shares information with churches, church leaders and members about the discussions and actions of groups after Annual Conference. This information is crucial to share so that churches, church leaders and members can understand their place in the context of the movement and become equipped in decision making for their next steps in affiliating with the church in whatever form emerges.
4. Conversations Team – It is easy for churches to feel isolated, and to struggle with expanding their conversations. This team will look for ways to encourage churches to join in conversations with other United Methodist churches and with other organizations and other faith communities. One goal may be the sharing of resources for churches doing Holy Huddle type conversations. The goal is to increase understanding and to build relationships.
5. Amicable separation Team- This team will focus on the future possibility of an amicable separation of the factions in The United Methodist Church. If this becomes an option for our churches or our conference, this team will guide us.
6. Disaffiliation Team – The Judicial Council decisions in late April permit a church to disaffiliate from the UMC for reasons of conscience related to issues of human sexuality or the actions or inactions of its annual conference related to these issues. The terms of disaffiliation are to be established by the conference board of trustees with the advice of the cabinet and others. But we also need the input of other passionate constituents. A standard form disaffiliation agreement has been developed, but we have the responsibility to determine if we want to add anything to it and to develop a process checklist. This is a significant responsibility that includes not only procedural matters but also matters of compassion to ensure that all church members (not just those wanting to disaffiliate) are cared for. If you have a passion for this work, please join us at annual conference as we begin to envision a way forward for those churches that may want to consider disaffiliation.
7. Finance Team– The Finance Team will identify possible financial challenges and resources to meet the needs facing the Desert Southwest Conference and our churches in light of the ruling of General Conference 2019. Some possible funding needs might be for meeting expenses within the Conference, Jurisdiction and Nationally where dreaming and planning might take place. Other needs might be resources for a new structure, attorney fees and assisting churches who feel they must disaffiliate.
8. Legal Team– The goal of this team is to identify legal matters related to the DSC Way Forward, considering such items as:
a. Which legal matters and Disciplinary sections are of greatest concern?
b. What is the legal status of the AC and the local church? Are they distinct or separate organizations, or corporations?
c. Is the trust clause still relevant and enforceable?
d. Which Book of Discipline sections, or paragraphs should be changed?
9. Spirituality Team – The Spirituality task group creates and shares resources that inform and enhance our spiritual life as we move through this season of change. As we make decisions and go through processes and procedures, they remind us to continually connect to God and move through this time deeply grounded in Christ.
10. Dreaming a New Methodism Team – For decades The United Methodist Church in the United States has been in decline. We know that our current way of doing ministry isn’t working. The recent action of General Conference, and the harm that it causes, has presented an opportunity to dream a new Methodism. How will we describe this new church? What of the United Methodist Church will we bring with us? What do we need to leave behind? However we dream our future, we know it will be grounded in our Wesleyan theology of grace, deeply rooted in our baptismal promise to resist evil, injustice and oppression, consistent with the law of love and affirming of the sacred worth and ministry of all people, regardless of age, gender, gender identity, race, nationality, sexual orientation, socio-economic level, or physical or mental ability/disability. As we move forward, we are determined to do no harm to any of God’s children and we are committed to a vibrant church that is uncompromising on Jesus’ commandment to love God and neighbor. How will such a church be shaped? It’s time to dream.