January 03, 2020
Dear Colleagues in Christ,
Grace and peace to you in the name of Christ Jesus. I write to call your attention to the results of a mediation process undertaken by 16 United Methodists, entitled “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation
This is the first true agreement I’ve seen across multiple plan leaders and special interest groups. For that reason alone, I’m taking it seriously. I am hopeful this may be a pathway forward for The United Methodist Church that helps people honor their convictions and relate to their mission fields.
This protocol is offered in service to the delegates who will gather in four months in Minneapolis for the 2020 General Conference. General Conference remains the only body that can set official policy and speak for the denomination.
Ultimately, it will be up to the delegates at the 2020 General Conference in Minneapolis in May. As the Missouri Conference, we will do our best to enact legislation passed by the General Conference. If this were to pass, there would be a post-separation General Conference in order to re-organize The United Methodist Church. The process and timeline for implementation would not begin until 2021 and would not be complete until 2024. Key takeaways of the proposal include:
- No annual conference or local church is required to vote on departure from the UMC.
- No one is being asked to leave or separate from the Church.
- Annual conferences and local churches are being given a pathway to leave for a new expressions of the Methodist Church. In this scenario, they may keep their assets and property.
- Wespath, our pension agency, will offer a continuity of service across any post-separation Methodists denominations.
- The UMC, under the cross and flame, will continue in ministry across the world as will the Missouri Annual Conference. It may look different than it does today but it will be here.
I expect that the mediation team is writing legislation (in petition form) for the General Conference’s consideration. As you can imagine, Missouri’s General Conference delegation and the Pathways Taskforce will explore and learn more about this new development as we move toward May and our own annual conference. I encourage you to read through the work and below resources. For more information:
A Press Release
The Signed Protocol
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The mission of Church always comes first. No decision of the General Conference will change our commission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. While we may diverge on many issues, this mission provides the basis for our unity and shared lives.
In Missouri, we will continue to pursue our Conference priorities of developing new missional leaders, starting new places for new people and creating a pathway out of poverty. We will relentlessly lead our churches to be outwardly focused and spiritually centered Christ followers. We will have congregations in every Missouri community that are missional and who are compelling and competent in visibly demonstrating God’s love. I am proud to be your bishop.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop Robert Farr
The Missouri Area of the United Methodist Church