Help the Western Jurisdiction respond to the needs of United Methodists outside its boundaries. Fill out the survey here.
Holy Saturday Came Early
Lent is the liturgical season of 40 days leading up to when we remember Jesus’s death and resurrection. The last day of Lent is called Holy Saturday. It is the day after Good Friday where Jesus dies by brutal crucifixion and is laid in a tomb. Holy Saturday is the day before Easter, and many churches use a dark and lonely liturgy, reflecting the felt absence of our Savior.
This year for The United Methodist Church, reeling after an awful General Conference, Holy Saturday sure feels like it came really early. It feels like our hope is dead. Right now many people feel like the disciples sequestered away, their hope dead, their dreams dashed, and very identities marred.
We are waiting for the women to come and tell us that Christ is alive. We are sinking in the muck, the rain, the swamp of isolation and abandonment, waiting to be shown a glimmer of light that will remind us our hope is still alive for freedom.
A Light from the West?
At the last few minutes of General Conference, Rev. Donna Pritchard of the Oregon-Idaho delegation (full disclosure: I was a reserve delegate for the same delegation) shared this statement by the Western Jurisdiction:
We have long appreciated the richness of the global diversity of our United Methodist Church and have embraced opportunities to join with you all in the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world.
We also understand the purpose of the Church to be in mission and ministry. Consequently, we in the West have been functioning for years as One Church committed to full inclusion, seeking to be a home for all God’s people.
Today we acknowledge the fracture of this body, yet we worship a God who tells us that the body of Christ has many parts, all equally valued. Rooted in Wesleyan tradition, grounded in Scripture and committed to mission and ministry, the Western Jurisdiction intends to continue to be one church, fully inclusive and open to all God’s children, across the theological and social spectrum.
We know from experience we are stronger when we live together as progressives, traditionalists, and centrists in our Church. Many times during this Conference we have sung or prayed or blessed each other with the reminder that we need each other.
We also know there are others who feel the same way today, so we invite you to be in dialogue with us as we move forward together into a future with hope.
May God continue to bless us for the sake of the world. Thank you.
The Bishops of the Western Jurisdiction followed up with a video where they repeated the affirmations above and pledged to be in connection and support beyond our borders.
You can see more resources on the Western Jurisdiction website.
But what does it mean? What does it mean that the West will “continue to be…committed to full inclusion” and that it will “be in dialogue” with non-WJ laity and clergy and bishops “as we move forward together.” What does that mean?
Be In The Room Where It Happens
In March, conversations will be had with the Western Jurisdiction leadership as to what role the West will take in this Denomination that has ceased to be a Church for all people.
I’ve heard it expressed many times that we need to extend the fair treatment and open ministry that we practice in the West beyond our borders. So the question is what do United Methodists beyond the West need or want from the Western Jurisdiction?
This is where you come in.
As a blog that has a large readership in the South and Bible Belt among moderates and progressives (and masochistic Traditionalists), I’ve volunteered to ask you questions and get your direct and honest feedback as to what you want or need from the Western Jurisdiction at this time. To get you in the room where it happens so whatever is crafted is shaped by the needs of those in places of risky ministry and harm.
So…what do you need?
- What does your congregation NEED to continue its vital ministry?
- What does your pastor NEED to be safe and empowered in their leadership?
- What do you HOPE would come from the Western Jurisdiction?
- Do you HOPE the West will create a new thing that you can be a part of?
- Do you not need any of that, but just want liturgical or devotional resources to better serve the LGBTQ and progressive community you are in?
- WHO do you need to be connected with? People outside your context, or people closer in that need community and collaboration?
And share this blog post (NOT THE SURVEY) so folks know what they are contributing to!
(Full disclosure: I’m not on the Western Jurisdiction leadership. I am gathering information to share with those elected leaders as they discern a way forward.)
Responses Are Private
Here’s the short survey Form. My pledge is that I will compile and pass on legitimate responses to the Western Jurisdiction leadership. I will not pass on names and identifying information, but I will retain them in case a follow up or response is desired, in which case I’ll send those privately.
I hope you contribute to this conversation. And hurry: the form closes the evening of March 13th.
Click here for the Google Form survey. It will be active until March 13th.
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