A Vision of Hope for the Future of United Methodists in Western North Carolina
March 1, 2022
By: The WNC Delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences
The Western North Carolina General and Jurisdictional Conference delegation has been meeting almost monthly since our election in 2019. Since the postponement of the 2020 General Conference, conversations have focused significantly on issues related to inclusion, equity, and justice. As a part of that work, the delegation wrote a statement of hope for the future of The United Methodist Church and the Western North Carolina Conference. As the announcement has been made for further postponement of the General Conference, we remain hopeful about God’s dream for the future. The delegation is committed to fulfilling the dream of a church that goes into the world to love all our neighbors and share the Good News of the Gospel.
Dream UMC: A vision of the future for United Methodists in Western North Carolina.
Moving forward, what will The United Methodist Church look like for us in Western North Carolina? What is God’s dream for us?
We will grieve the departure of people and congregations we’ve loved and with whom we’ve treasured working; they will always be our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We will celebrate our friendships and collegiality that remain, which is the greatest virtue of our connectionalism. We will love and support our fellow laity and clergy, and join hands to work together to grow God’s Church and its impact in the world.
We will be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, with Scripture as our solid foundation, striving for holiness and compassion in the way we live and how we act together. We will worship and serve God as three-in-one, we will affirm the traditional creeds of Christendom, and we will be nourished by the Sacraments and other means of grace.
We will be global and local as a conference, as churches, and as followers of Christ, responding to God’s call in our neighborhood and with an eye to the larger work of God across the conference and world.
We will be, and we just are diverse, as a reflection of God’s beautiful tapestry in creation. Our hospitality will extend to all people. We will affirm the full participation of all people in the church, and the extension of the blessings of God’s church to all people. We will be better together. In our “big tent” church, we will celebrate differences in viewpoints and callings, united by our passion for Christ and his way of compassion, justice, and holiness in the world.
We will fulfill our baptismal vows by being a church with a bias toward the vulnerable and the marginalized, and those who have been hurt, excluded, or judged by the Church, as we fulfill our baptismal vows. Welcome isn’t just a nice idea or a word pasted outside the building. It’s an active way of being church, in church, and out in the world. It’s not about merely avoiding discrimination; it’s about love and the full welcome of all people. While we may seem to be “anti-whatever the evil of the day might be”, we will be pro-people seeking the beauty of an inclusive church, where welcome becomes belonging.
We will be a conference, which for John Wesley was a “means of grace.” We will gather, not for administrative busyness or the administration of policies, but to encourage one another, and to make a missional difference. We will have a Book of Discipline, but with the recovery of its original intent: to organize and to guide us out of the church and into the world to love all our neighbors and share the Good News of the Gospel.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will be and strive to make disciples of Jesus Christ, to the glory of God, and for the transformation of the world.
Members of the General Conference Delegation
General Conference: Jennifer Davis, Amy Johnson, Greg Huffman, Lynne Gilbert, Emma Austin, Havaleh Havelka, Helen Ryde, Lynette Whitaker, Linda Linfors, Tonya Lanier
Jurisdictional Conference: Dana Lyles, Sandy Hieronymus, Caroline Wood, Kathy FitzJefferies, Amy DeVore, Matt Sink, Erin Betlej, Tom Jordan, Tim Kinkaid, Coley Hooker
Alternate: Wade Loftin
General Conference: Kim Ingram, Amy Coles, Jeremy Troxler, James Howell, In-Yong Lee, Ashley Crowder Stanley, Shelly Webb, Carter Ellis, Darryl Dayson, Josh Sherfey
Jurisdictional Conference: David Hockett, Sally Queen, Sam Moore, Veranita Alvord, Uiyeon Kim, Lory Beth Huffman, Elizabeth Coppedge-Henley, Stephanie Hand, Julia Trantham Heckert, Sarah Belles
Alternates: John Boggs, Lynda Ferguson, Ben Carson