About the GNJ Way Forward Team

The GNJ Way Forward Team and Connectional Table just completed two days of work on our way forward.

The team was created to identify how GNJ clergy and congregations could be in ministry with the LGBTQIA+ community, particularly in light of recent changes to The Book of Discipline that adopted key pieces of the Traditional Plan which addresses ministry with gay and lesbian persons.

Our time together was productive and you were instrumental in helping us to move forward. We thank everyone who took time to participate in the listening sessions, focus groups and online survey. We learned that most people in GNJ:

  • want to remain united
  • want people to be able to live their convictions
  • want to continue our mission, ministry and services together
  • have questions about why we would move into pilots or a different expression
  • want support and an outside facilitator to assist with conversations about human sexuality within their congregation.

Our work together was difficult, even painful at times.  As we reassessed, we dove deeper into specifics and experienced firsthand how language that personalizes does real harm.   We are thankful for our spiritual director, Rev. Shawn Callender Hogan who centered us with the story of Hannah and Eli from 1 Samuel and the change that happens when we truly listen to each other.

We honor the trust you have placed in us and so based on your input we have changed some of our original direction.

Fundamentally, our principles and mission have not changed:

GNJ Way Forward 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.

GNJ Way Forward Team Goals

  1. To work with our congregations to identify objectives, opportunities, challenges and structures that support their efforts to thrive.
  2. To create new and renewed connections with one another through ministry and mission.

Our action steps forward, however, are being refined based on your input.  We have significantly more work to do in the coming weeks before we are ready to share our next steps.

We understand that waiting for information may create mistrust, but we also understand that our work is so important that providing information that is inaccurate or not fully complete will create confusion and widen the gulf of mistrust. Our objective is to be thorough, thoughtful, responsive, inclusive and clear.

We also recognize that people in GNJ have deep concerns and questions about proposals to divide the denomination and statements made by other conferences and groups.  We have included links at the bottom of this letter for you to read about different proposals and stances being discussed denominationally.

We will be preparing a pre-conference journal which will outline our work together, the framework for moving forward and our affirmation as a team.  You will receive the pre-conference journal by October 16 for the special session of annual conference scheduled for October 26.  A separate call letter will be sent with an agenda.

Thank you for your prayers, support and participation.  We feel God’s presence in all that we do.

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.