The Spirit of the Lord is on me and anointed me to bring good news to the poor, proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Jesus was sent to deliver people from death to life and resurrection, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Today, as the body of Christ, we are called to continue to fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ.
As GNJ approaches its Annual Conference this month, we see many glimpses of deliverance and the faithfulness of God. In later article from this Relay issue, you’ll read about the celebration of Turning Point UMC and its 250 Anniversary. Since last year’s Annual Conference session, the Journey of Hope recalculated shared ministry and billables payments more equitably, which has led to congregations moving impactful ministries throughout communities. Despite the challenges and pain points we face, God is faithful and delivers us still today!
You have most likely also felt challenges in other ways. The pandemic continues to change church attendance patterns, both in person and virtual, and stretches us to adapt new ways to fulfill our mission. The Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case cited over 4,000 claims against United Methodist Churches in the United States, and we await the approval of their reorganization plan and financial settlement. The United Methodist Church has postponed the General Conference due to various challenges as well.
In each challenge, there have been glimpses of God’s deliverance. We know that God isn’t finished with us yet! While the world will continue to evolve quickly, congregations and leaders in GNJ have moved with God. GNJ leaders will continue through prayer, discernment, and action to further the mission to equip transformational leaders. It is those who serve, who make new disciples and grow vital congregations, and work to end the sin of racism for the transformation of the world. We pray, God, deliver us. We pray, God help us to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our community. And we pray, God, continue to reveal to us what is next.
One resolution before the Annual Conference Session is the Call to Discernment and Renewal, a collaboration between the Cabinet, Connectional Table, and Board of Trustees. This recommits to GNJ’s mission and strategic plan, highlights the many resources for congregations to thrive in 2022 and beyond, and lays out the steps that the Annual Conference will take if a congregation is discerning to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. Leaders from all three groups have expressed the importance that GNJ’s mission stay central to their work and the importance of supporting local churches to discern what is next to thrive in their local ministry.
GNJ’s Annual Conference Session also includes legislation about local church contributions to the Boy Scouts of America Survivor Trust Fund, a budget to move forward the mission and ministry in 2023, increasing support to transfer land back to Native Americans as a part of their Journey of Hope plan, and more.
Director of Connectional Ministries, Eric Drew, stated that, “while this isn’t an easy time to be the church, I’m so proud of the meaningful work that GNJ is doing to address challenges and seek God’s will and power to move forward. God is faithful and already moving in powerful ways through the leadership of disciples in GNJ and I know this important, meaningful work will help all of us discern God’s future which is still full of hope, purpose, and missional impact.”
The Greater New Jersey Annual Conference Session will be held May 23-24 virtually. For information about the Call to Discernment and Renewal, which includes Bishop Schol’s letters, materials about disaffiliation and more, please visit: https://www.gnjumc.org/disaffiliation-discernment/