March 2 - Beyond

Dear Hope Friends, (I'm not sure why this copied red!)
It's been a BIG week.
Mary Harsh and I spent the first part of this week in St. Louis at the Beyond Conference, learning with other progressive and invitational churches. Many of them are also United Methodist, and yes, they had heard of us (thanks to our dear Ms. Penny!) What's fun is crowd thinks of us as role models! It was so nice to worship with people around the country who use They/Them pronouns for God in worship music, care about inclusive spaces, and want to grow further in the "absolutely everyone".
The second half of the week was spent preparing for the 2020 General Conference of the United Methodist Church -- being held in late April/early May 2024 in Charlotte NC. General Conference is basically equivalent to the U.S. Congress in the UMC world. This is an oversimplification, but whereas Catholicism is led by a singular Pope who directs all polity or independent nondenoms with a pastor and local board making all decisions, United Methodists are connected globally and make polity decisions with democratically elected delegates from all geographic areas. Both Anish Hermon and I were elected to serve as delegates. I am a reserve delegate, so I also have the time to steward one of the legislative committees.
Here's why this matters: In 1972 a progressive church in California proposed legislation that passed saying that all people, whether gay or straight, are people of sacred worth. As soon as this was added, another group began to add language harmful to LGBTQiA+ people. Over 52 years, this has been debated every 4 years, and has grown more complicated with delegates from African countries.
The 2020 GC has been delayed three times due to covid and then visa issues with our international delegates, but we are finally meeting. Here is what is important to pass this year:
  1. Regionalization - While we could stay connected globally in ministry, the U.S. could become its own region allowing us to respond contextually to ministry needs.
  2. Removal of Harmful Language - We believe this will happen in April. If it does not, it will happen at the very first U.S. Regional Conference.
  3. Revised Social Principles - Adoption of our Revised Social Principles (
I'm not sure that most local churches spend much time worrying about General Conference, but this has the potential to be a historic moment for us - allowing for the full ordination of LGBTQ+ people, celebration of all weddings, and an end to the unnecessary and sinful fighting about personhood.
It is an honor to serve as Hope's Leader at this time. In It With You, Jennie
More Information about General Conference
Here are some helpful places to learn more about all things GC 2020 in 2024:
All of the proposed legislation are in the volumes called the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) on this page
Blog response to this week's GC work
explanation of legislation from a centrist perspective

Hope Camp!!
A Camp for LGBTQ+ Youth at Lake Bloomington
This is really someting - WE have been asked to sponsor the first openly Queer-Friendly camp for high schoolers at East Bay Camp (a United Methodist Camp out at Lake Bloomington)!!
We want to get the word out in the community -- tomorrow at worship, please take some fliers to share, or download this graphic to promote it on your socials!
 Jennie Edwards Bertrand
Hope UMC - Bloomington

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