As a result of inquires for more information on our 15th Annual Conference, we are sharing more information and details about the legislation, elections, and other important updates.

At the opening of conference, we reported that 2015 was the largest Annual Conference in the history of Greater New Jersey with more than 1,500 in attendance. When we tallied the final numbers more than 1,700 people joined us during the event!
Mission Fund Offering

The overwhelming support of those in attendance on Saturday was another example of the Holy Spirit moving among us during conference.  Individuals and congregations joined together to make additional commitments to the work we are doing together to support Imagine No Malaria and A Future With Hope through our Mission Fund. Our Mission Fund offering totaled $115,065.
Holy Conferencing

Before the final votes on legislation regarding human sexuality, Bishop Schol called the body to Holy Conferencing and asked all present to gather in groups of two or three people to share with each by answering the following questions:

  1. How has your life been touched by God, in the last year or while at Annual Conference?
  2. What is your hope for the future of the church and what concerns do you have?
  3. How have you personally experienced the church’s struggle with homosexuality?
  4. The sharing partner asks one question for clarification, for example: “Share with me more about … and why you believe this.” Or, “How did you come to this understanding?” Or, “How would you see GNJ living this out?” Or, “What experience did you have that shaped your thinking?”
  5. What do you believe about the church’s policies concerning homosexuality and what do you want others to understand?
  6. The sharing partner asks one question for clarification, for example: “Share with me more about … and why you believe this.” Or, “How did you come to this understanding?” Or, “How would you see GNJ living this out?” Or, “What experience did you have that shaped your thinking?”
  7. What is one thing that would help me know you better if I understood it about you?

Results on Legislation regarding Human Sexuality

As reported earlier, the legislation on human sexuality passed. The first four pieces of legislation will be sent to General Conference in 2016 for consideration. The following details the vote count for each piece of legislation:

  1. Strike from the Book of Discipline the phrase: We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider the practice incompatible with Christian teaching.
    410 – Yes  339 – No
  2. Strike from the Book of Discipline the phrase:  Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.
    396 – Yes  353 – No
  3. Strike from the Book of Discipline that homosexuality and performing homosexual unions or weddings is a chargeable offense.
    414 – Yes  336 – No
  4. Strike from the Book of Discipline that United Methodist funds cannot support the acceptance of homosexuality or supporting homosexual ministries.
    405 – Yes  344 – No
  5. The Greater New Jersey Conference work for the full inclusion of all people including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons and that we oppose the continued restrictions of church law that restricts the full inclusion of LGBT people.
    389 – Yes  352 – No
  6. The Greater New Jersey Conference make a public statement supporting and upholding marriage equality in civil law and that we spiritually, emotionally and prayerfully support clergy who are brought up on charges for performing homosexual unions or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.
    381 – Yes  358 – No

Resolution Regarding Racial Justice

The body passed the resolution brought forth by the Greater New Jersey Caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal.  After amendment, the final adopted legislation read as follows:

BMCR, Resolution Regarding Racial Justice
Whereas, The Greater New Jersey Caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal  upholds the ideals of equal justice under the law, racial justice, and human dignity for all of God’s people; and

Whereas, the recent deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray and other unnamed African American persons by police or policing organizations, compels us to address the inequities within our system; and

Whereas, these deaths are indicative of a growing social-economic division that threatens the current and future well-being of our society; and

Whereas, we experience here within the Greater New Jersey Area the toxic impact of the intersection of racism and poverty in too many of the lives of citizens of  urban rural and suburban settings ; and

Whereas, while we recognize that there have been some progress within police departments here in New Jersey and  across the nation to engage in constructive dialogue and good faith efforts to improve relations among officers and communities of color and young people, problems still exist and improvements are needed in order to protect lives; and

Whereas, we express solidarity with the thousands of protesters across the nation who are peacefully expressing their outrage and frustration at the deaths of unarmed African-Americans; and

Whereas, the Strategic Plan of the Greater New Jersey Conference calls for the resourcing of congregations to engage in justice and mercy ministries in the community and around the world, and while we profoundly believe and insist that all lives matter with great emphasis on young black men and women, and that the growing divide between “haves and have not’s” in American society undermines the realization of that belief in the fairness and the stated “color blindness” of the U.S. Constitution, the criminal justice system, our schools, and the economy,

Therefore, be it resolved that The Greater New Jersey Conference leadership and congregations explore the concepts of equal justice under the law, racial justice, institutional racism, and white privilege at both the conference and local church levels; and

Be it further resolved that the Greater New Jersey Conference creates a task force to identify resources to help congregations engage in initiatives that address that needs of the community, the perpetrators, and the victims that bring God’s restoration and helps congregations promote positive relationships between the community and the police. We also ask that the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference designates BMCR and the Conference’s Board of Church and Society and the Commission of Religion and a Race to work in consultation with the bishop to set the membership of this task force. This task force will report their findings and recommendations at the next annual conference.

Be it further resolved that the bishop, extended cabinet and the connection table read and have a discussion on the book, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.

Be it further resolved that the Greater New Jersey Conference continues to promote dialogue between members of the various communities and law enforcement officers and agencies; and

Be it finally resolved, that Greater New Jersey Conference join with other labor and community groups to call for the creation of a national model for community policing, and an end to institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system.
Updated Delegate List Reflecting the Order of Election

General Conference Clergy Delegates
Thomas Lank
Eunice Vega-Perez
Jisun Kwak
Varlyna Wright

Northeast Jurisdiction Clergy Delegates
Drew Dyson
Grace Pak
Tanya Linn Bennett
Gina Hendrickson

Clergy Alternates
Chris Heckert
Steve Bechtold
John DiGiamberardino

General Conference Laity Delegates
Evelyn Caterson
Bethany Amey
Judy Colorado
Rosa Williams

Northeast Jurisdiction Laity Delegates
Stephen Quigg
June McCullough
Jae Hei Park
Creed Pogue

Laity Alternates
Carolyn Pendleton
Cynthia Kent
Sherri Shumate


Videos of key segments of the conference are being processed now and should be on the website later this week.

Bishop Schol’s Mother

Bishop Schol’s mother successfully received an operation for her hip and is preparing to be transported back to the Philadelphia area for rehabilitation. The Schol family thanks everyone for their prayers and concerns.

Illness Update

A large number of people became ill with a stomach virus during conference. We are working in cooperation with the Wildwoods Convention Center and the New Jersey Department of Health. They are inspecting the facility today and will keep us updated on their findings.