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Team explores annual conference future

Posted: August 25 2019 at 12:00 AM

In June the Northern Illinois Annual Conference authorized Bishop Sally Dyck to form a task force to explore our future as an Annual Conference in light of the passing of the Traditional Plan in February at the General Conference Special Session in St. Louis. The Task Force, labeled the “Exploration Team,” met in late June and early August, both meetings were held at Barrington UMC. At the first meeting, the group divided into three subgroups: Education and Engagement; Theology and Vision; and Networks and Alliances. Those groups met between sessions of the larger Exploration Team and presented their initial work in August. 

The Education and Engagement Team is exploring ways to communicate and provide resources to individuals and local congregations about what the Traditional Plan is and how it will affect our Conference and our churches. They are also considering how to engage the whole Conference in conversations that will help us discern our direction as we navigate a rapidly changing United Methodist landscape. The group anticipates working with the Bishop and Cabinet to conduct a straw poll at each Charge Conference that will aid us in our work as we go forward. 

The Theology and Vision Team is engaged in authoring a statement that will define who we are as a Conference, the values we share, and that affirms our Methodist and Wesleyan heritage. Our goal is to have an initial draft to present at the Special Session of Annual Conference in November. There will be time for feedback and comments over the months following. We anticipate presenting a final version for ratification at the regular June session. It is our hope that, in its final form, this document will guide us and inform potential ministry partners about what we hold to be of ultimate importance as we move into the future that God has in store for us. 

The Network and Alliances Team is active in discussions with potential partners and paying careful attention to the discussions, proposals, and plans that are emerging quickly around the church. 

The Exploration Team began its August meeting by recognizing that numerous discussions—both formal and informal—are taking place and that it seems likely that multiple plans for moving the United Methodist Church forward are likely to be introduced at General Conference in 2020. We affirmed together that the most productive work we could do in light of these many discussions and plans was to gather a firm understanding of who we are what our “negotiables” and non-negotiables are.  

The Exploration Team asks for your prayers and support as we engage in this important and timely work. 

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