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A newly formed task force to explore a way forward for the Northern Illinois Conference – including the possibility of a new Methodist expression – has been named and will hold their first meeting June 29, 2019, to discuss next steps.
The Northern Illinois Annual Conference passed legislation in June that expressed disappointment that the Traditional Plan (TP) was adopted by the 2019 Special Session of General Conference.
"The Traditional Plan creates an untenable situation for many in the Northern Illinois Conference and beyond who aspire to be a church with 'open hearts, open minds, and open doors'," the authors of the legislation wrote adding that the TP is punitive and hurtful while "substantially hindering the ability of the NIC to carry out the mission of The United Methodist Church and deploying some of our best ordained leadership."
The legislation called for the Bishop to form a task force to explore a way forward for the NIC as follows:
Legislation 700.01: We authorize the Bishop to form a task force to explore a way forward for the Northern Illinois Conference including the possibility of new Methodist expression. The task force is directed to receive input from churches within our Conference and to work with other jurisdictions, conferences, and churches who are also exploring new options and opportunities. The task force shall include at least three people of color, three LGBTQ laity or clergy, three persons from the 2020 General Conference delegation from Northern Illinois, and others as determined necessary by the Bishop. The task force shall report on its initial conversations at the special session of the Northern Illinois Conference in November 2019. (Approved June 3, 2019)
Bishop Dyck asked a diverse group of clergy and laity to join the task force, which she is calling the "Exploration Team" since its purpose is to “explore a way forward for the Northern Illinois Conference.”
"This will be a working team that will imagine, create, strategize and connect with other groups and annual conferences to find a workable plan going forward for those of us who cannot remain in The United Methodist Church under the Traditional Plan," said Bishop Dyck. "Workgroups within the Exploration Team may include doing research on the Book of Discipline and Judicial Council decisions, connecting with others across the church doing the same thing, consulting with lawyers, participating in listening sessions, and attending denominational gatherings, which can give input to this process."
The team will be in dialogue with laity and clergy across the conference in various ways and will share information from their work together.
The Exploration Team members will be meeting and working intensely over the next five months with the expectation of reporting their findings and progress in an update to the Special Session of the NIC on November 16, 2019. The team's work may also result in presenting a recommendation for the future of NIC at annual conference 2020 or at another appropriate time.
Chris Winkler (Chair)
Ashley Bednash (Secretary)
* General Conference delegate
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