In a meeting on March 13, the Michigan Delegation contemplated the impacts of postponement of the General Conference and offered support for the contextual ministry of the church.
Michigan’s elected delegation to The United Methodist Church General Conference met Saturday, March 13, to respond to the announcement of a special one-day virtual conference on May 8, 2021, and the delay of the full global meeting until fall 2022.
Michigan’s delegation, among other items, affirmed the decision of those organizing the denomination’s top law-making assembly to postpone the international meeting from 2019 to 2022 due to the global pandemic. The statement offered continued support for church regionalization and calls to temporarily suspend any charges related to sexual orientation or gender identity. You can download and read the complete statement here.
“As we go forward, we must find ways to do ministry that are creative and adaptive–more just and inclusive,” says Delegation Co-Chair Rev. Kennetha Bigham Tsai. “Through this statement, the delegation is trying to get us there by addressing how we choose innovative leaders and make more equitable decisions, and what we do about legislation that will shape the future of our church.”
Conference Delegation Co-Chair Laura Witkowski agrees, “The delegation came prepared to contemplate the impact of these delays.” Witkowski added,“ We focused less on what was available to us via the Book of Discipline and more about what we hope for and what the Gospel calls us to.”
The delegation also reacted to the announcement that the North Central Jurisdiction will meet virtually later this summer. Witkowski says there is less concern about this event going virtual. “The North Central Jurisdictional Conference has more options available with fewer people involved in a smaller geographic region where internet capacity is greater. Overall, on a jurisdictional level, we want to do all that we can virtually.”
According to the statement, there is support by the delegation for the election of only one bishop in the North Central Jurisdiction in 2021. Two bishops retired at the end of last year. Bishop Bruce Ough in Minnesota/Dakotas and Sally Dyck in Northern Illinois stepped down on December 31, 2020. Currently, Michigan Bishop David Bard provides leadership for Minnesota, and former Michigan Elder and current bishop for Iowa, Laurie Haller, is shepherding the Dakotas. Bishop John Hopkins came out of retirement to lead the Northern Illinois Conference.