January 21, 2020

From Around The UMC...

Input, articles, and material from our United Methodist leaders and Congregations
http://bishop.michiganumc.org/blog/ Monthly Words from Bishop Bard

What's Going on With The United Methodist Church?    Note from Pastor: Each month, I choose from a huge variety of articles to find one that will help us all become more aware of the larger activity of our worldwide denomination. If you see an article that you think would be helpful to the Trinity people, please let me know, and we’ll see about fitting it in.

Filipino Bishops Back Church Unity  By Gladys P. Mangiduyos, September 11, 2019 | UM News
   The Philippines Central Conference College of Bishops has signed a resolution “intensely” opposing dissolution of The United Methodist Church. The bishops’ resolution recommended restructuring that would allow for regional autonomy to deal with divisive issues like homosexuality.

   “From the beginning of the church in the New Testament, division and schism in the church are to be avoided, and unity must be achieved and maintained,” the resolution reads. Meeting August 31 at United Methodist headquarters in Manila, the bishops agreed to submit the petition to General Conference. Bishop Rodolfo Alfonso “Rudy” Juan, president of the Filipino College of Bishops, said the Philippines Central Conference is totally against dissolution of The United Methodist Church. “We servant-bishops encourage our Filipino constituency to continually promote unity in our denomination,” he said…

   The resolution’s recommendation for restructuring The United Methodist Church into regional conferences is similar to a plan laid out by The Connectional Table in regards to a new U.S. structure. “With our proposal for restructuring into regional conferences, we can exercise some form of autonomy to meet contextual realities in our specific regions. We then will have a regional Book of Discipline,” Juan said.

   The resolution states that The United Methodist Church “will remain as one global church in which regional, central, annual, and local conferences are organic parts, but have the authority to decide their witness, mission, and ministry, thus, preserving locality and connectionality.” Regional autonomy will allow United Methodists from central conferences — the seven church regions in Africa, Europe, and the Philippines — to deal with the divisive issue of homosexuality, Juan said. “It is our prayer that with some form of regional autonomy, we can find a workable solution and remain a united global denomination,” he said.

         The resolution also called for the Council of Bishops to be retained for general and local oversight of The United Methodist Church. Bishops in Africa also recently resolved not to support any proposed legislation or plans that may result in a split or dissolution of the church.

   Retired Bishop Soriano, who had a prior commitment and could not attend the Filipino Council of Bishops meeting, talked to UM News by phone about the resolution. He said that being disciples of Christ is having one mission. “Whether one is for or against homosexuality, the mission remains the same: that is making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I believe the church would be more effective if it is united in doing the mission. However, if it becomes unavoidable, I will accept it. History tells us that while schism is inevitable, the splinters continue to do the mission.”

Annual Conference Rev. Benton Heisler, Director of Connectional Ministries, Michigan Conference, recently wrote about Michigan Annual Conference:
   There is a parable of the pilgrim who asked the wiser one, whose wisdom seemed to be unmatched, “Is the small bird in my hand alive or dead?”
The wiser one answered, “The answer is in your hand.” The wiser one knew it was a trick. The pilgrim could release the bird or crush out its life. Indeed, the “answer was held in the hand.”
   There are any number of decisions that face us as an Annual Conference where we will be able to offer life or crush the spirit of those among us. What makes it even harder is that what may feel like “life” to one person, is experienced as a “crushing squeeze” by another. We will need a movement of The Holy Spirit among us all, as we spend these few days together.
   There is a lot of work to be done, ample time to do it, and we have an excellent worship, learning, and fellowship context in which to share in this work together… There are petitions and resolutions to be reviewed, biographies of lay and clergy candidates for General and Jurisdictional Conference to read, and pages of explanations and details that will assist us with doing our best work in the Grand Traverse Region.
   Please be praying for Bruce and Beth Clark and Pastor Geri as they travel and participate in this important gathering of Michigan United Methodists. Travel starts May 29, and the Conference is over on June 2. May all that is done and said and thought and voted on be for the glory and goodness of God. 
Camp Michigamme Day, Saturday, June 15, 9:30-3:30 Eastern time. Help Camp Michigamme kick off the summer season with worship at Hampton Chapel, followed by brunch.  There will be an auction, and all proceeds will go toward serving the campers of 2019. There will also be many camp activities going on for all.
is a great way for new campers and families to see what Camp Michigamme is all about!
RSVP to let them know you’re coming: (906)323-6521 or director@campmichigamme.org.


Pastor’s Ponderings  May, 2019

Back in 2017, at the Annual Conference meeting in Traverse City, I learned a new word: liminal. It’s a word used to describe ‘the time and space in between.’ In between the end of one era and the beginning of the next. The in-between time of winter, waiting for spring to emerge. Liminal actually describes the time, those three days, between the death of Jesus and his Resurrection. Something ended, and the future was not yet fully defined. But we know that something really great came out of a very brutal and difficult situation there.

The 2017 Conference offered us learning sessions on liminality with Rev. Susan Beaumont, who described it in terms of organizations. Specifically, we were looking at the end of the Detroit and West Michigan Annual Conferences, but we had not yet fully defined what the new Michigan Annual Conference would look like. There was some anxiety and fear and even resistance to the necessary changes and adjustments that were anticipated at that time. Those are standard features of the liminal season—for individuals and for human systems.

In Beaumont’s words at http://www.susanbeaumont.com/embracing-liminal-space/, we read: ‘Feelings of anxiety, skepticism or low morale are likely to surface. Attendance wanes and giving lags. The neutral/liminal zone is generally a time of confusion, quietness, vulnerability, and feeling exposed.’ Rev. Beaumont coached us back in 2017 on leaning into the reality of those uncomfortable feelings. She basically told us: Don’t try to deny the discomfort, but do provide a safe place in which to breathe through the awkward times. Use prayer and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our congregations to assure people that God continues to be present with us. Proclaim the power of Jesus, who says, ‘Be not afraid,’ to his disciples even when the boat is being swallowed up in the dark wind of a storm.

Beaumont writes on her website: During liminal seasons it is important to revisit and shape the important vocational questions of the congregation: Who are we? Who are we here to serve? What is God calling us to do or become? What are our most important priorities and how might our priorities be shifting in this season?

How interesting. Look at the workshop information on page 3 of this Tower…Church Unique…explore what God sees in us…spirt-filled discussions and demographic information. Trinity already has a plan to revisit and remember and re-define who and how we are as God’s people here on the corner of Carpenter Ave. and E St. in Iron Mountain. How wonderful that Naomi Garcίa was already scheduled to come and be with us at Trinity…prior to any of those decisions that were made at the worldwide level in February 2019.

I don’t imagine that the Conference necessarily had a crystal ball in 2017 to know that two years later, 2019 would thrust our worldwide denomination into a liminal season, as we all try to grasp the events of General Conference in February. (See the April Tower, pages 1-2, for more details.) We are actually dealing with ‘liminality within liminality’ as we wait this week for a ruling from the Judicial Council. They meet April 23 – 26 in Evanston, Illinois to debate and decide on certain aspects of the Plan that was approved at the February General Conference in St. Louis. We are in an in-between zone as we wait to see what they say and then…seek to discern next steps for the Denomination, the Bishops, the Conferences, and the local churches. It could be big. It could be nominal. We just don’t know.

But what we do know is that God is with us. There are many, many ways for us to be faithful to God’s work—with each other and in the world—while we wait to hear how the people on the Judicial Council address the people’s work through The United Methodist Church. We, at Trinity, will be doing that liminal season work together at the workshops on April 27, May 11, and June 16. You can come too…and be part of moving through the end of one season in our life as a church and moving forward into the future.

No one can say exactly what that’s all going to look like, but that’s OK. We have each other for support. We have the power of God for strength. We have the love of Jesus Christ to guide us and guard us…that’s what Jesus does. And surely, the presence of the Holy Spirit is here among us. Always. Praise be to God.

--Pastor Geri