Greater NJ Annual Conference for the UMC {2017}

©2017 Shari DeAngelo

As you hold services, meet in small groups next week, host youth activities and carry out your ministry, you will be navigating discussions, questions and concerns about the outcome of General Conference 2019. Even more, you will be faced with questions and concerns from your community outside the church who have read the headlines of the national news and are concerned about the deep divisions within the church.

The Connectional Ministries Team at GNJ has put together resources to help clergy and congregational leaders navigate these challenging times after General Conference 2019. Some of the resources are geared to help you immediately as you consider your worship this week. Other resources are more in depth and may be more appropriate in the coming weeks.

We will continue to update these pages, so you are encouraged to return as you need information and material. We welcome your feedback if you are looking for assistance or have material that is appropriate to include on these pages.

Please know that we are in prayer for you and with you.


Local Press Information:
The GNJ Communication Team has been in touch with all major news outlets in New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia. In addition to media releases, we are arranging interviews with the Bishop, Superintendents and local church clergy and lay. Working with the media can be challenging in that reporters can misinterpret a statement or use information to create sides to an argument.

Many times, the goal is create interest (or sensationalism) rather than to create clarity. If you are contacted by the media, we strongly urge you to email Carolyn Conover, Director of Communications for GNJ or call 732-359-1016. She will help navigate the interview and make sure the report is balanced on your behalf. If you choose to submit an editorial or article to the media, Carolyn is available to edit and advise before submission. Please copy her on all submissions so that she can monitor local news.

Relay and GNJ Digest:
The Relay and GNJ Digest will continue to post timely UMNews service articles about the outcome of General Conference and resources for our congregations to use when talking about the issues. We do not intend to post positions or opinion pieces from our clergy and laity.

Social Media:
Social media can be an outlet to convey your personal statement or emotion about General Conference. Please be careful about the words that you use realizing that those within your congregation and community, many with differing opinions, will be reading these posts and interpreting the church through them. The following is a good resource to consider before posting about controversial topics.

Graphics, Logos and Signs:

UMC News:


Lan Wilson, GNJ’s Director of Worship has prepared suggested components for worship services. He recommends to keep your sermon a little more brief than usual and consider holding Holy Communion.

  • Worship Resources including Call to worship, scriptures, prayers and song selections: Click here to access

Juel Nelson, GNJ’s Director of Leadership Development has prepared preaching resources.

In addition the UMC has put out preaching resources:  Click here to access


Gina Yeske, GNJ’s Director of Small Groups has prepared small group resource geared for our congregations. Click here to access.

Other Small Group Resources:

  • Book and Leaders Guide: Our Purpose is Love: The Wesleyan Way to be the Church by David Field. This eight-week, small-group study, which focuses on the importance of unity for the Church’s witness, examines John Wesley’s understanding of God’s love and challenges us to exemplify that love in our churches and in our world.
  • Book and Study Guide: Unity of the Church and Human Sexuality by General Board of Higher Education and Ministry: Suitable for a four-week study, this resource addresses how the church be a witness and provide for a diversified human community. It gives United Methodists an opportunity to think about what has become a cultural and ecclesial flashpoint—human sexuality—and comes out of the conviction that the church is thirsty for theological conversation.
  • Book: “Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and The United Methodist Church” by Abingdon Press: This four-week study will help you understand the shape of the debate about human sexuality. Each chapter includes background on the Bible, Christian theology, history, stories from diverse viewpoints, and United Methodist structure and practice to guide reflection and conversation.


Youth ministries may be most affected by the news from General Conference. The Executive Director of Next Generation Ministries, Eric Drew has prepared resources for you to use when talking with young people in your congregation and in your community.  Click here.

Other Youth Resources:


Some congregations and groups may be ready to go deeper into discussions surrounding the way forward.

Becoming More Welcoming:

  • The GNJ Connectional Ministries Team has compiled information for congregations who want to become more welcoming to the LGBTQI community.  Click here to download your copy.


  • For an updated analysis of the Judicial Council rulings on the Traditional Plan.  Click here.
  • Joe Monahan from Medford UMC prepared an analysis of the legislation and amendments that were passed original BEFORE the Judicial Council’s April ruling. This heavily detailed document dives into the details of GNJ governance and The Discipline. Click here to access.

From the Methodist Connection:

  • Video: A Parable for Today, Gil Rendle, a consultant to the Commission on a Way Forward, uses a parable to explore the difference between positions that are taken and the convictions that lead us to those positions. He maintains that when we look beyond our positions and talk about what’s important to us, the Spirit moves
  • Webinar: Implicit Bias 101: What We Don’t Think We Think
  • Video Series: Vital Conversations 4: Race, Culture, the Church, and Human Sexuality is a series of 11 videos for small groups in congregations, campus ministries and local and regional church leadership teams.
  • Book: Embracing the Wideness: The Shared Convictions of The United Methodist Church by Bishop Kenneth H. Carter Jr. This book explores two distinct conceptions of church and challenges readers to accept a “generous orthodoxy” to avoid becoming immersed in the emotional processes that pit people against one another and to acknowledge the miraculous source of our capacity to be healed of our schisms.
  • Book: God Unbound: Wisdom from Galatians for the Anxious Church by Elaine Heath. Just as Paul led the Galatians through a radical cultural change to expand their view of God, themselves and the church’s mission, today’s Christians are challenged to boldly follow the Holy Spirit’s leadership beyond buildings and programs to join what Jesus is doing in the world.

A historical video on the history of the UMC and the Way Forward