Dear Friends In Christ,
I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD! -Psalm 27:14
The writing of a new Book of Discipline, The Connection: the Life and Order of The United Methodist Church, began last August when there was a concern for the renewal of the life, mission and polity of The United Methodist Church. The catalyst for the project was a recognition by leaders, both clergy and lay, from across the church that our form of government for the church was not working and enhances conflict rather than helps the church move forward by honoring different cultures, contexts and understandings. There was also the belief that the church needed renewal, that we were losing what is core to United Methodism, our Wesleyan Path.
The General and Jurisdictional delegates from GNJ, after prayerful and thoughtful conversation indicated, they could not support a called special session to move the project forward at this time for the following reasons.
- Members of the delegation disagreed with aspects of The Connection.
- The delegation did not believe there was enough input from others.
- The Connection potentially would create confusion in light of the release of the protocol proposal during the first week of January.
Waiting can be hard, particularly when you feel a sense of urgency. In light of the delegation’s concerns, the cabinet decided that Psalm 27:14 was the appropriate path forward and rescinded its call for a special session of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference to review and vote on a proposed new Book of Discipline for the denomination.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the delegation for their discernment and to especially thank the writing team for their hard work and sacrifice toward the hope for a renewed and better future for the UMC. I also want to thank you and the many United Methodists throughout Greater New Jersey who have provided feedback. Your participation, feedback and affirmation is a witness to your hopes for the future of The United Methodist Church.
The Connection began as gift to the denomination and as we look forward to what is next for us, I pray that this gift will be a resource in the years ahead. The Connection is approximately 150 pages, significantly pared down from the Book of Discipline’s 800 pages to simplify, clarify and focus the church on helping people stay on the Wesleyan Path and fulfill the church’s mission. You can find the work done to date at www.theumcconnection.org.
The cabinet reaffirmed its commitment to help our congregations thrive in their context recognizing we have different convictions. We know and accept that regardless of the outcome of the next General Conference there will be some people who will affirm the decisions and others who will reject the decisions. Our commitment remains the same–honor Christ and help every congregation thrive.
I remain committed to leading GNJ forward to fulfill the mission before us, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. We will continue to resource and support our congregations. I ask for your continued prayers for The United Methodist Church. I believe God will see us through this time.
Keep the faith!
Bishop John Schol
United Methodists of Greater New Jersey