Most of us wish that there were definitive answers that could be given to announce where we are with all of the changes on the horizon for our denomination. But there are still many unknowns as to what the denomination will look like for those who choose to stay and continue to be United Methodist, and those who choose to leave. What we have been told is that a new denomination is sent to launch this month—known as the Global Methodist Church. This is a conservative expression of theology. The overwhelming differences between those who wish to leave and those who are committed to remain United Methodist center around interpretation and understanding of scripture, and primarily issues regarding human sexuality. We do not know how all of this will ultimately affect the Dakotas Conference. The Annual Conference is scheduled for June 9-11, where there is an expectation of resolutions being presented that will likely address issues related to churches leaving the denomination, as it is well known that there are churches ready to become GMC. In all discussions here at NHUMC including at Church Council, there is no intention of leaving the UMC. We will continue to be UMC, and learn along with many others what all of this means. Church historians tell us that about every 500 years there are major upheavals in the religious landscape. Apparently, we are blessed to be living through one of those cycles.
Here at North Highland, we will continue to live out our stated and officially adopted values of inclusiveness and full welcome of all. We will pray and listen over the coming months to see how things unfold and what it means for our congregation. You can read more on UM websites and Pastor Lou can find information as needed as we navigate this together. Reports of what happens at the Annual Conference will be made as soon as possible in June, though this will undoubtedly be an ongoing process.
In other news for the Dakotas UMC, because of COVID, there has not been an election of Bishops. We have an interim Bishop, Laurie Haller. Unfortunately, Bishop Haller suffered a concussion in February and is on medical leave. So we have an Interim to the Interim, Bishop Deborah Kiesey who served the Dakotas in the past. Bishop Bruce Ough will also be assisting with some of the work during Annual Conference, as an interim to the interim-interim. We likely have the most Bishops of any Conference at the moment!