Jon Copeland

Church Name: Lafayette Park (St. Louis)
Gateway Central

Share any relevant background information including leadership experience both within the church and in other areas of your life.

I have been a United Methodist since 2007 at Lafayette Park UMC, where the Spirit called me to be a member in Christ’s body. Since then, I have served on various committees and currently serve as LPUMC’s lay leader. Also, I served for six years on the Gateway Board of Mission and Growth, which provides grants to UMC ministries around St. Louis. I served for three years as the president of the Gateway Board. I have also served as LPUMC’s annual conference lay delegate for the past seven years. I believe God has called me to serve the church as a lay person. To this end, I have taken classes in biblical studies at Eden Theological Seminary for the past three years. The scriptures are deeply important to my faith journey and inform my life and practice. I have led bible studies, including explorations of the gospels, the prophetic tradition, and issues of justice and society. My desire is to continue learning the scriptures and to assist others in their encounters with the Bible. 

Describe your personal practices of intentional faith development that strengthen your spiritual engagement with God and your capacity for fruitful leadership in the church.

Regular worship and Bible reading are cornerstones of my personal faith practice. Whether I want to or not, it is important to worship, pray, and study scripture as a matter of faithful practice. During Lent, I began a practice of reciting morning and evening liturgical prayers. This has been a fruitful blessing. I am reminded twice each day that my prayers join a chorus of prayer throughout the ages. My interest in the Bible informs my faithful decision-making. As such, decisions I make as a delegate to General Conference will be grounded in biblical principle and faithful, scriptural interpretation. No decision will be made lightly or casually. However, I will prayerfully approach each decision, turn to the scripture to hear God’s word, and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. I will consider each decision with the full gravity and weight of consideration it deserves.

Why do you seek election as a lay delegate representing the Missouri Conference?

I am 37 years old, relatively young for a United Methodist. I seek election as a lay delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences because I believe my generation needs representation at these levels of our polity. I believe that I bring a unique perspective as someone who was not born into the UMC, but rather, converted into it. I have a very deeply felt understanding that the salvation offered by Jesus Christ was revealed to me in a United Methodist church. This becomes more apparent to me the longer I remain in my United Methodist faith community and study the Bible to receive God’s word. It pains me to see the global church, of which I am but a young member, on the brink of collapse. In these dire times, I hold hope for the future.

How will your involvement in General Conference 2020 support the church to fulfill the mission “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world”?

I believe the United Methodist Church should remain united. I oppose schism in all forms. Schism lacks biblical grounding. In fact, much of the Bible, especially Paul’s letters, explicitly opposes schism. Our current generation of delegates may be unable to resolve internal conflict over human sexuality and the Book of Discipline. However, I believe that the next generation, the generation to follow mine, can close the divide. I have hope that they can find resolution where we could not. Therefore, I am inclined to pursue unity and the hope of the next generation.

Since the primary focus for Jurisdictional Conference is to elect new bishops, what qualifications do you think the church needs in its future episcopal leaders?

My experience as a congregational leader, lay leader, and as president of the Gateway Board has provided me with a deep understanding of the relationship between conference, district, and congregation. I believe my generation needs representation at the Jurisdictional level, so as to identify and support bishops who are best suited to lead disciples from my generation and the generations to follow.