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Michigan delegates keep Bible in view

View of 2020 Michigan delegates

The view of a General or Jurisdictional delegate focuses largely on politics of voting. But God’s Word informs these decisions.

KAY DEMOSS
Senior Content Editor 

A 20-member Michigan Delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conference was elected at the 2019 Annual Conference in Traverse City. General Conference meets in Minneapolis in May 2020. Delegates gather in Ft. Wayne for the North Central Jurisdictional Conference next July.

General Conference is the top legislative body of The United Methodist Church. The primary purpose of the Jurisdictional Conference is the election of bishops. Both 2020 sessions promise to be historic in nature and careful, prayerful preparation is important.

So, the Michigan Delegation is already hard at work getting ready to act in faithful and spirit-led ways. Five meetings are scheduled to take place between now and GC2020 in addition to the gatherings the delegation has already had. Click here for those date. The delegation welcomes input and can be reached at Delegation@michiganumc.org.

Traditionally, the Michigan Delegation is led by the first person elected by the Annual Conference. In 2020 that’s Laura Witkowski, a lay person from Grand Rapids, who serves on the Conference Staff as Associate Director of Lay Leadership Development. She will share leadership of the delegation with the Rev. Kennetha Bigham-Tsai, the first clergy person elected. Kennetha, who lives in East Lansing, serves as the top Connectional Table officer of The United Methodist Church. Learn more about them and about all delegates here. 

When delegates met on September 7, the focus of their opening devotions was theological foundations. Delegates were asked the question, “What biblical or theological image is most descriptive of this moment and the future of The United Methodist Church?

Here are some of the delegates’ biblical perspectives on this moment in time …

  • Psalm 46:10 — A call to live into the invitation, “Be still and know that I am God.”
  • Acts 15 — The Jerusalem Council with the conflict over circumcision; who was in or who was out.
  • Luke 18:18ff — Jesus speaking to the rich young ruler and telling him to scrap his whole life and follow him; sell it all.
  • Jeremiah 32 — the prophet buying the field at Anathoth in the midst of destruction.
  • Ezekiel 37 — the valley of the dry bones; Can these bones live?
  • Exodus 32 — Moses going to get the 10 commandments and taking them back to the people.
  • Genesis 25 — Jacob and Esau competing for a blessing.
  • Genesis 39 — Joseph in a prison cell having big dreams and no idea how they would come to fruition given that he was in jail.
  • Exodus 2 — The five women in Moses’ birth story and their acts of resistance.
  • Jonah 1:17 — Being in the belly of the whale—gastric juices and debris floating around—Ick!
  • Genesis 1– The Creation story; the chaos over the waters; the African American Spiritual, Wade in the Water, God’s gonna trouble the waters.

Delegates’ biblical images for the future (or both) included …

  • Revelation 21— a new heaven and a new earth.
  • Acts 10 — Peter baptizing Cornelius. Peter had to repent of a system in which he lived and then had to own this new way of being.
  • Image of the wilderness; the gift of the wilderness is to sit in the emptiness and get clarity about what you can hold on to and what you have to let go of.
  • Jesus’ crucifixion and struggle and the need to test the struggle. His struggle had a purpose and an intended ending. The struggle produced life.
  • Genesis 6 – Noah building the ark before really understanding why it would be needed. What are the signs that point to the need for an ark?
  • Jeremiah 29:7the call to pray for the shalom of the city, where they would be sent in chains
  • Genesis 33 — the eventual reunion between Jacob and Esau.
  • Isaiah 43 — God is doing a new thing, can we not perceive it? The idea that our perception is limited. Our challenge is to perceive what God is doing, beyond our normal imaginings.
  • An image of lots of hands — small, large, wrinkled, newborn, some with four fingers and a thumb and some without, some prosthetic, some scarred — all intertwining.

Insights and perspectives that range from Genesis to Revelation.

The prayers of The Michigan Conference go with these 20 delegates as they continue their journeys toward Minneapolis and Fort Wayne, where they will help determine the future course of The United Methodist Church. 

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