Update from GNJ The Way Forward Team | June 20 – 21 Meeting

June 25, 2019 | GNJ News, The Way Forward

Like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots.  
Jeremiah 17:8

We, your GNJ Way Forward Team and Connectional Table, completed two days of work together this past week and report to you that God has a great future for us, a future with hope. We live this hope together knowing our work will help congregations thrive in different expressions of an emerging era of Methodism. We are thirty-five laity and clergy representing GNJ’s congregational, ethnic and theological diversity who are finding common ground to advance the mission in GNJ.

We honor the trust you have placed in us when you organized The Way Forward Team at the March Special Session of Greater New Jersey’s Annual Conference. We are working together to find a path that recognizes in GNJ there are disciples who embrace the passage of the traditional plan at General Conference and others who feel hurt that it further fractured congregations and annual conferences concerning ministry with the LGBTQIA+ community. In GNJ we believe that we do not all think and act alike, but that we love and serve God together.

Hopes and Desires
We believe our congregations, leaders, mission partners and the people in our communities have similar hopes: to grow spiritually, to belong and be in community and connection with one another, to be mission-minded and purposeful, to contribute their experience and talents, to be free of judgement of and from others, to do well in our congregations and ministry, to live without fear and to have a voice.  

Mission
We affirm and will continue to plan a way forward that supports our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ and grow vital congregations to transform the world.

Principles
Committed to being outward, the GNJ Way Forward Team is rooted in two principles:
  1. Bless and love one another in the things that unite us.
  2. Grow spiritually as we connect with one another and with the people in our communities.
Goals
Our goals to help organize congregations into new expressions are:
  1. To work with our congregations to identify objectives, opportunities, challenges and structures that support their efforts to thrive.
  2. To create new and renew current connections with one another through ministries, mission and administration in the next era of Methodism.
How We Measure Success
  1. Churches grow in attendance, vitality and impact.
  2. Churches increase their stewardship.
  3. Conflict and anxiety diminish.
  4. Clergy fulfill their calling and serve without fear.
Action Steps
To achieve these goals we will:
  1. Create a statement and framework for pilots/models of new expressions of Methodism.
  2. Outline a communication plan and timeline so that we have feedback from the pilot programs before General Conference 2020.
  3. Schedule and carry out listening sessions and create an assessment tool.
  4. Identify ministries and programs that we currently share to help guide discussions on new and renewed connections.
  5. Launch 75 congregations into one of three pilot programs.

a. Congregations that hold a scriptural view that same gender weddings should not be performed in our churches and that LGBTQIA+ persons should not be ordained.

b. Congregations that hold different scriptural views and can be together recognizing there will be different practices and understanding of the LGBTQIA+ community’s participation in the church.

c. Congregations that hold a scriptural view that Jesus invites everyone to participate fully in the life of the church and that all churches should allow same gender weddings and that all churches should be open to the appointment of an LGBTQIA+ clergy person.

We will work on these plans throughout the summer and keep you informed of our work. We will meet again in September and we will report on the proposed launch of the pilots at the Special Session of the Annual Conference scheduled for October 26.

The GNJ Way Forward Team
Rev. Sang Won Doh
Rev. Jeff Bills
Rachel Callender
Robert Dietz
Rev. Kay Dubuisson
Rev. Drew Dyson
Rev. Amanda Hemenetz
Zach Holder
Rev. Tom Korkuch
Diana Pearce

Rev. Isabel Quezada
Kathy Schulz
Bethany Amey Sutton
Rev. Cliff Still
Rev. David Wehrle
Lew Weil
Rosa Williams
Rev. Jessica Winderweedle
Michael Yang

The GNJ Connectional Table
Rev. Tanya Bennett
Rev. Debbie Barnett
Rev. Sarah Borgstrom Lee
Rev. John Callanan
Rev. Christine Day
Rev. Debra De Vos
Robert Dietz
Rev. Evan Dodge
Rev. Sang Won Doh
Rev. Karline Dubuisson
Rev. Blair Goold
Eleanor Hartley
Rev. Chris Heckert

Rev. Tom Korkuch
Rev. Vijaya Kumar
Rev. Isabel Quezada
Rev Iraida Ruiz de Porras
Rev. Michelle Ryoo
Kathy Schulz
Rev. Clifford Still
Lewis Weil
Rev. David Wiley
Rosa Williams
Rev. Vanessa Wilson
Rev. William Wilson Sr