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Adjourned Session: A New Conference?

Yesterday I attended an adjourned session of the North Central New York (NCNY) annual conference. The agenda? Vote on a recommendation to Jurisdictional Conference to merge four annual conferences in New York: NCNY, Western NY, Troy, and Wyoming. Through the wonders of modern technology, we were meeting at the same time as our sisters and brothers across the state also having adjourned sessions, and we were able to see them live (OK, with a 60 second or so delay) and worship together(-ish) and vote together(-ish). It was an interesting experience for sure!

We've been talking about merger for at least the last four years. A number of factors bring us to this place, but suffice it to say that most of us on the Boundaries Task Force felt that merging together was a strong choice for the future of the UMC in the New York State area. It's a risk, of course. Membership in the UMC in the Northeast is declining. Merging will give us more collective resources, but unless we really change the way we're doing things at some critical and basic levels, we'll just continue to declined together. So it is a risk, but also an opportunity for real change, real discipleship. We voted, and decided: YES! We're recommending to Jurisdictional Conference a merger, to take place in 2010. The NEJ has to vote on our recommendation, but we feel optimistic.

Here's some notes from worship:

Bishop Fisher –
Listening for God’s Call in a New Day
Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-10

God said, Go. Abraham said, Where? God said, I will tell you when you get there. Abraham believed, trusted. “and I would include Sarah” – when do we have to trust when we are not even the ones directly receiving the message? (my question)

Remove things that are obstacles from you moving toward your promised land.

“We fail at faith because we fear to risk.”

Bishop Hassinger –

A hope that we can be God’s faithful people

We have stayed in a land that has become comfortable

Not a true promised land, but it’s been “ok”

Focus on survival and maintenance.

People of God have never remained settled for very long

Hard to move from what is even when we know it isn’t what ought to be

Three Reminders from Hebrews

1) We can discern God’s call when we engage in truth-telling – face truth about current situations. Truth-telling was catalyst. To speak and hear the truth.

2) New future requires risk-taking vision. No GPS in wilderness. Every new awakening has begun in the Northeast.

3) Trust in God. Not trying to control every part of plan ourselves.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Merging seems to be the trend. We're doing it in Indiana as well.
Meredith said…
It's great that you can see merging as something to celebrate. Here in West Virginia, merging on any level--from local church to conference--is almost seen as a punishment. At a district meeting, our superintendent said that if we don't all grow our membership, we could lose our bishop and have to share with another conference. Not exactly inspiring!
John said…
Beth-

What would happen to the extra bishops if the merger proceeds?
Wesley Sanders said…
John - there are retirements coming that would just mean not electing new bishops to replace them.
Beth Quick said…
Yes, John, the idea is that the declining membership would cause a disciplinary change in the allotment of bishops - so we would simply elect one less than the number retiring.

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