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Northern Illinois UMs among 600 attendees at UMCNext

Posted: May 28 2019 at 01:06 PM

Dear Northern Illinois Annual Conference siblings in Christ,
We greet you in the hope-filled energy of God’s Spirit that was present at the UMC-Next session and remains with us as we have come home to Northern Illinois.
UMC-Next is a movement that is just getting started. The convening team brought together 600 centrists and progressives representing every United Methodist Annual Conference in the United States to engage in Christian Conferencing about how to respond to the passage of the Traditional Plan at the Special General Conference this past February.  

We spent the three days in worship, prayer, discernment, dialogue and strategizing around what comes next for United Methodists who cannot abide by the Traditional Plan. Through the gift of heartfelt testimonies and relationship building in small groups, we shared the pain of those being hurt, excluded and oppressed by our church.

The UMC-Next convening team has a press release here, but we would say that our work together established four commitments which we believe to be essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world:

  1.  We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience, and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.
  2. We commit to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations, and abilities.
  3. We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.
  4. We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restrictions and penalties in the Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts and commit to being in ministry together.

We identified a three-pronged strategy towards these commitments:

  1. Disaffiliation
  2. Dissolution
  3. Stay, Resist, Build Community and Reform

These Spirit-led and gospel-centered strategies are necessary for the present and future of United Methodism and each need participation from more laity and clergy across our Annual Conference to be effective in reforming our church.
The selection and invitation process is not clear to us. The closed nature of the event was also concerning. The convening team told attendees that this was to protect attendees and to not necessarily expose strategy as it developed. We return from the event humbled because we know there are many in our conference who are qualified, skilled, and enthusiastic for the work ahead. We seek to be transparent and faithful to organize more people for the work of reformation going forward.
To that end, we will be hosting two meetings to report on the UMC-Next event and to invite more people into the work of reform. These meetings are not an official part of the Annual Conference Session but will take place during the event. The first will be on Sunday, June 2 from 2:30-3: 30 pm and Monday, June 3rd from 9:15pm-10: 15 pm at the Schaumburg Convention Center and these meetings are open to all who would like to attend.  
We hope that you can join us and continue prayers of thought, word, and action for a more just and inclusive church.
The attendees of the UMC-Next event:
Kelli Beard
Robert Biekman
Lonnie Chafin
Rob Hamilton
Grace Imathiu
Myron McCoy
Elaine Moy
Luis F. Reyes
Lisa Kruse-Safford
Chris Winkler
Mary Zajac

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