General Conference 2020n24 April 20, 2024

Dear Hope Friends,
It is impossible to talk about Christ and Culture without talking about technology. Specificially tomorrow, we'll look at the smartphone. It has changed the way we live as individuals AND as a culture. Without ascribing values, morals, or opinions: communication and information-gathering has changed. Tomorrow, we'll send that through the filter of Scripture, our traditions, our personal experiences, and our intellectual understanding of this technology.
This is going to be a good conversation! Get ready to jump in - 9:30 & 11, online and in-person!
In It With You, Jennie

The 2020 General Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2024
Understanding our Church Government

Why in the world does our church care about institutional matters!? And what does it have to do with you?
  1. Hope Church is a United Methodist Congregation, started with United Methodist funding.
  2. We received UMC grant money and a UMC loan to purchase the building we are in.
  3. I am an ordained UMC clergyperson, appointed first to create, then serve this church.

Please know that there are people of ALL backgrounds who are part of Hope Church, from exvangelicals to former Catholics, plus retired clergy from FIVE different denominations, in addition to people did not grow up in any faith community. We really love and honor this diversity!!

So why the focus on this big institutional meeting called General Conference (GC)?
  1. The United Methodist bylaws are called the Book of Discipline. Every 4 years, people come together to consider those bylaws, the overall mission, and of course, the budget. There are elected delegates from around the world who read 100s of petitions and then vote about whether to incorporate them into our democratically run governance.
  2. In our conference (the Illinois Great Rivers Conference), there are 5 clergy and 5 lay delegates plus 5 clergy and 5 lay delegates serving as alternates to GC, elected delegates to Jurisdictional Conference. These 10 clergy and 10 laity are elected from over 650 congregations. For this General Conference, Anish Hermon was elected as a lay delegate and I was elected as a clergy reserve delegate - generally a church does not have 2 delegates.

Why did Anish and I both seek election?
  1. In 1972, the UMC GC was ahead of its time and added the phrase that both homosexuals and heterosexuals (language of the time) are people are sacred worth. This was incredible until a motion was made from the floor to add the phrase, but we believe homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.
  2. This was debated, with resistance movements and protests from the Queer community at every GC from '72 to 2016. A big part of the debate included a number of delegates from other countries, who did not understand the U.S. context. In 2016, there was a resolution that passed, asking for a special called GC to end the debate and discover a Way Forward that included everyone.
  3. This special called GC occurred in St. Louis in February of 2019. And it was bad. The traditionalists doubled down in their language, adding punitive consequences for LGBTQ laity and the clergy who support them (aka Hope and me).

Hope Church had to make a decision
We could either leave the denomination immediately - or fight. It was from conversations with people like Isaac Simmons who challenged us to think not just about ourselves and our congregation, but about Queer kids in United Methodist Churches around the country who need people fighting for them.
So, we decided to stay in it. And we believe that over the next two weeks, we'll be part of removing the language that is harmful LGBTQ+ people from the Book of Discipline.

We were elected in June of 2019 for a May 2020 meeting. And here we are in April 2024 finally having that meeting!

Over the past five years, we've convened our jurisdictional conference several times, Anish has become part of the episcopacy committee (the bosses to the bosses) and I have been part of the strategic coalition as a steward for a legislative committee that has been meeting regularly for months. (It's why I'm a reserve -- I wanted to have the freedom to build relationships and connections even as the meetings are happening!)

Five Years of Work Culminates For the Next Two Weeks

If you want to follow along, you can find everything here:

You can see from the schedule that we'll be in meetings all day. Before and after each day of meetings and worship, there will be other meetings and other worship. In other words, I'll be MIA from both the church and my family for two full weeks. If you have a need in those two weeks, contact She will connect you to the right care.

Please keep us in prayer!

On Sunday, May 5th, our Christ and Culture sermon will be where we saw God work in the midst of human-created instituations and structures.

P.S. If you want to get updates from the perspective of our coalition, a good resource is

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