May 14, 2019

The UMC’s Northeastern Jurisdiction recently alerted members to two statements published on its website that address historic outcomes of, and poignant reactions to, the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. One is an Easter message from the NEJ Vision Table; the other is a letter from the NEJ Committee on Ordained Ministry (BOOM).

“Both of these letters address the current situation of the United Methodist Church,” wrote The Rev. Thomas Salsgiver, NEJ Secretary and Assistant to the Bishop of the Susquehanna Conference, next door to Eastern PA.

“During this Easter season when we celebrate new life, renewal, and hope…we recognize that our Church is not fully living into the promise of Easter,” begins the Vision Table message. “We lament that before, during, and after the Special Session of General Conference 2019, we have done serious harm to one another, including our sisters and brothers in the LGTBQIA+ community; and failed to live up to Jesus’ example of agape love.”

Acknowledging that all “stand in the need of God’s healing grace,” the letter calls upon all members in the “covenant community of United Methodists, to join in confession.” It offers the eucharistic prayer of confession, recited during Holy Communion. And it invokes the teaching of Methodism’s founder John Wesley by urging upcoming annual conference sessions to “do no more harm, to do good, to stay in love with God and be open to the leading of the Spirit as we seek to be in ministry with all of God’s children.”

The Ordained Ministry committee’s letter also cites “harm and pain that was caused at the Special General Conference Session of 2019, particularly within our LGBTQIA community.”

“We remember our baptismal covenant which calls us to support, nurture and care for all individuals in their call to ministry,” it continues. “We recognize that within our Jurisdiction there is significant theological and cultural diversity, and that our Boards of Ordained Ministry may act contextually in order to examine and affirm candidates to fulfill ministry within their communities.”

In their statement, the board members promise to employ:

  • prayer, honest and respectful communication;
  • accountability to one another;
  • support for UM-affiliated theological schools and seminaries in the region, and
  • efforts to “work together toward the nurture of a culture of calling across the NEJ.”

The NEJ Committee on Ordained Ministry is formed as defined by the UMC Book of Discipline, Paragraph 535.