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Michigan gets ready

Prayer circle at the 2016 General Conference.

Michigan Conference disciples and members of their delegation  are now preparing and praying for the Special Session of General Conference to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019.

KAY DEMOSS
Senior Content Editor, Michigan Conference

Much is being published regarding the plans and petitions coming before the 2019 General Conference. There is also much prognostication going on regarding those plans. To keep readers of MIconnect informed, we include both plans and prognostications in our weekly news. (This week see Praying for Nothing and Anything by retired Bishop Michael Coyner, and Weighing in on A Way Forward by Sam Hodges of United Methodist News Service. Much more, of course, is available at umc.org and a host of other sites.

Perhaps this is a good time to turn from plans, petitions, and prognostications to the people involved in the Way Forward. Those include Bishop David Bard, pastors, and laity around the state, and Michigan Conference delegates to General Conference.

First, a reminder that Bishop Bard will be logging many miles this fall in his effort to listen and interact with persons around the 2019 General Conference. His most recent blog, A Joyful Journey, encouraged all to rise above fear to move ahead with joy. Citing Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, chapter 4, he notes: “Amid all the discouraging events in our world, amid uncertainty in the church, we hear Paul’s words, ‘We do not lose heart.’ We can, and should, look honestly at our lives and the world and see the struggles and pains and disappointments, yet we do not lose heart. What might that mean? In pondering that question, I identify three dimensions to not losing heart.” Read more here.

The Bishop then shared dates and destinations for the second round of Connectional Conversations that will take place over the next three months starting September 25 and concluding December 6. Click here for the schedule of listening sessions and much more. These 11 sessions offer opportunities for every United Methodist in Michigan to express himself or herself and engage with issues, values, and possibilities that lie ahead.

Another important way for all to become involved is with prayer. Become part of the worldwide prayer community at umcprays.org.

Finally, there are the people who make up the Michigan delegation, who are preparing their minds and spirits for the legislative work that will shape the future of the denomination.

In 2014 the West Michigan Annual Conference elected their delegates to the 2016 General Conference in Portland. A year later, in 2015, the Detroit Annual Conference delegation was elected. Little did anyone know at the time that those persons would be attending two sessions of The General Conference.

Annual Conferences were given the option of sending their delegates to the 2016 General Conference to the called session in 2019 or electing another set of delegates. When the 2017 Michigan Conference met in Acme, members to both the West Michigan and Detroit Annual conferences voted to send their 2016 delegates to St. Louis.

Michigan Delegation to the 2016 North Central Jurisdictional Conference
The Michigan delegation was present in Peoria, IL to elect three new bishops for the North Central Jurisdiction, including Bishop David Bard. See photo identification key at the bottom of the page. ~ mic photo/Mark Doya

These delegates are:

Detroit Conference Clergy: Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue, Rev. Joy Barrett, Rev. Melanie Carey
Detroit Conference Laity: Jackie Euper, Wayne Bank, Diane Brown
Detroit Jurisdictional Conference Clergy: Rev. Megan Walther, Rev. Dr. Matthew Hook, Rev. Laura Speiran, Rev. Dr. Sherry Parker (alternate), Rev. Dr. Tara Sutton (alternate)
Detroit Jurisdictional Conference Laity: Alex Plum, Claudia Bowers, Ruby Anderson, Ruth Sutton (alternate), Isaac Garrigues-Cortelyou (alternate)

West Michigan Conference Clergy: Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai (for Bishop Laurie Haller)
West Michigan Conference Laity: Nichea VerVeer Guy
West Michigan Jurisdictional Conference Clergy: Rev. Benton Heisler, Rev. John Boley (alternate)
West Michigan Jurisdictional Conference Laity: Laurie Dahlman, Laura Witkowski (alternate), Anne Soles (alternate)

The Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue and Nichea Guy serve as co-chairs of the combined delegation. Nichea Guy explains that these delegates are currently designated “as elected by West Michigan Conference” and “as elected by Detroit Conference” but will be seated as a Michigan Delegation once in St. Louis. As they did in preparation for the 2016 General Conference, the delegations are preparing for the 2019 Session together.

Historically neither the Detroit nor West Michigan delegations have voted “in a block.” “We each vote our conscience,” Guy said. Bishop Bard has announced that members of the Michigan delegation will be joining him in the settings for Connectional Conversation.

Plans. Prognostications. People. Prayer. “God is not yet done with God’s church, even if that church might come to look very different,” says Bishop Bard. “God’s light shines in each of us, even in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. We do not lose heart. There remains beauty, goodness, kindness, the work of justice, peace and reconciliation, and nothing is stronger than love.” 

~Key to Delegation photo: (L-r)
Front row: Diane Brown, Rev. Laura Speiran, Bishop Laurie Haller, Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey, Alex Plum, Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, and Jackie Euper
Middle row: Claudia Bowers, Ruth Sutton, Rev. Meghan Walther, Rev. Dr. Tara Sutton, Laura Witkowski, Ruby Anderson, Nichea VerVeer Guy, Isaac Isaac Garrigues-Cortelyou
Back row: Rev. Joy Barrett, Rev. Benton Heisler, Anne Soles, Rev. Dr. Charles Boayue, Laurie Dahlman, Rev. John Boley, Rev. Melanie Carey, Rev. Matt Hook, Wayne Banks