Though my primary denominational identity is Baptist, my approach to ministry was broadened and deepened by attending Candler School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary. While I was a student there, I met four United Methodist clergywomen who are still my best friends. That was also the season when I started dating my now-husband, a United Methodist pastor. I have served congregations in multiple contexts, including the UMC. I now coach ministers in more than ten denominations, with a significant number in the UMC.
Because of all of these connections, I am familiar with the rising anxiety around the called General Conference – and the potential consequences of the decisions made there – that will take place from February 23-26 in St. Louis. At that gathering delegates will act on a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, a group proposed by the Council of Bishops and authorized by the 2016 General Conference to discuss and make recommendations about language in the Book of Discipline regarding human sexuality. These conversations are high-stakes, and it’s no surprise that churches, clergy, and all people who either identify as LGTBQIA+ or love someone who does – all of us, in other words – are deeply invested.
Pastors will be bombarded with questions no matter what happens at General Conference, and I want to help them (to the extent that I can) show up as the thoughtful, faithful leaders I know them to be. And so, I will be drawing upon my outsider-insider perspective and coach approach to facilitate conversations with United Methodist clergy about what the General Conference outcomes mean for them and for their ministry settings. I hope that these discussions will be spaces for finding mutual encouragement and developing strategies so that participating pastors feel better-equipped to guide their churches in the coming days.
On February 27 and 28 I thus invite United Methodist ministers to join in one of a few 50-minute, small group (6 participants or fewer) discussions, each of which will be tentatively structured as follows:
- How am I feeling? What self-care do I need to engage in?
- What are the possible impacts of the decision(s) on my ministry setting and individuals within it?
- What are the possible impacts of the decision(s) on me personally and my ministry?
- How do I want to show up in and for my ministry setting right now?
- What do I need to know that I don’t yet? How might I find out?
- What are my immediate next steps?
- What support do I need, and where might I find it?
We will bookend our time together with prayer for clergy and congregations.
There is no charge for these processing sessions. If you are interested in taking part, please fill out the form (which includes the available time slots) here. I will contact you with a day, time, and Zoom link by the week prior.
Peace and hope be with all who worry in these uncertain days.