Video from Bishop Bryan - January 15, 2019: Watch Video
Task force prepares for possible outcomes of General Conference
The special session of General Conference will be held in less than six weeks, and while things are still undecided and uncertain, South Georgia is making plans for the future of the Conference.
For nearly two months, 16 lay and clergy members of the South Georgia Conference have been meeting to discern ways the conference might respond to the decisions that may be made at General Conference.
“While we will take seriously the work of the General Conference, we also know that we have a say in our own future,” said South Georgia Bishop R. Lawson Bryan. “The purpose of this task force is to bring together key areas of our conference for the purpose of considering possible outcomes of General Conference and various ways we might respond to each of those outcomes.”
The 16 members of the Foundations for the Future Task Force represent the Conference delegation, the Trustees, the Board of Laity, the Council on Finance and Administration, the Personnel Committee, the Cabinet, the Compass Group, Connectional Ministries, laity and clergy under 40, and the Conference Chancellor.
Task force members include: Bill Hatcher, Don Adams, Lee Bush, Julia Magda, Jeff Barker, Derek McAleer, Kelly Roberson, Allison Lindsey, Nita Crump, Jay Hanson, Henry Bass, Doreen Smalls, Bobbi Googe, Anne Bosarge (facilitator), Ben Gosden, and Warren Plowden.
“Each of these groups has a very important role to play in assessing the plans that will be considered at General Conference, and whatever the specific outcome of General Conference, this task force will be able to do a comprehensive evaluation of the implications for our conference,” Bishop Bryan said. “This will enable us to chart our course for the future - a future in which we are going to continue to be the South Georgia Conference, alive together in Christ.”
South Georgia United Methodist congregations can take comfort in knowing that the task force is already planning for General Conference and planning for the post-General Conference phase, he said. Pastors and church leaders are encouraged to attend an information session on Saturday, March 9 in Tifton where attendees will receive clarity about the outcome of General Conference and next steps for the Conference. This information session is open to everyone. Read more about the session here.
“I invite us to focus on the constants we can count on. Our mission will not change. Our vision will not change. Our Methodist focus on Biblical Christianity will not change. We will move full-speed ahead in the work to which God has called us,” Bishop Bryan said. “Let me encourage us to stay calm and stay connected as we chart this course together. And we will be Alive Together in Christ.”
Video from Bishop Bryan - December 2018: Watch Video
Post-General Conference Information Session planned for March 9
South Georgia United Methodists are invited and encouraged to attend a post-General Conference information session Saturday, March 9 from 1-4 p.m. at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton.
An informational meeting – not a special session of the annual conference – the gathering is open to everyone in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.
“I encourage everyone to come, and I especially encourage every local church to send a delegation of persons to represent that church at the information session in Tifton,” said Bishop Lawson Bryan.
The information session is to share with laity and clergy the decisions made during the denomination’s special called General Conference, which will be held in St. Louis Feb. 23-26, 2019. South Georgia’s delegation will be on hand during the information session and will share information about decisions made during the General Conference session. Bishop Bryan and other conference leaders will also be in attendance to discuss and explore implications for the South Georgia Annual Conference and outline next steps.
“Our goal is to provide clarity for laity and clergy and all of our churches so that we know what came out of General Conference and what the next steps are in our journey as we move together into God’s future for our annual conference,” Bishop Bryan said.
This is an information session only, and no votes will be taken.
Click here to watch a video from Bishop Bryan.
A Word from Bishop Bryan - October 26, 2018
Judicial Council rules on constitutionality of Way Forward plans
During each of our Way Forward district meetings we noted that the Judicial Council had been asked to rule on the constitutionality of each of the three plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward. The Judicial Council met this week, and they have just released their declaratory decision. In their findings, the Judicial Council pointed out the constitutional problems with both the One Church Plan and the Traditional Plan. Because the Connectional Conference plan already contains proposed constitutional changes required for implementation, the court declined to review the Connectional Conference plan at this time.
This weekend, I will be reading and studying in depth what the Judicial Council has ruled. I encourage you to join me in this process of reading and reflecting. It is very helpful for the Judicial Council to let us all know what parts of each plan are found to have constitutional issues. With nearly four months to go before the special session of General Council, the ruling of the Judicial Council will enable delegates to focus on specific concerns within each of the plans.
I will be sharing more after I have time to study what has been released today and speak with Warren Plowden, our conference chancellor who also serves as the first lay alternate to the Judicial Council, when he returns from Switzerland.
My prayers continue as we navigate the days ahead.
Alive Together in Christ,
A Word from Bishop Bryan - July 18, 2018
Judicial Council releases October docket; district meeting dates set
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Last Thursday the Council of Bishops asked the Judicial Council to rule on the constitutionality of the three legislative plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. (Read more here)
The Judicial Council has posted the docket for their fall meeting, set for Oct. 23-26 in Zurich, Switzerland, and the request by the Council of Bishops is among the items to be considered.
Docket No. 1018-12
IN RE: Petition for Declaratory Decision from the Council of Bishops regarding the constitutionality of three sets of legislative petitions known as the One Church Plan, Connectional Conference Plan, and Traditional Plan. Read More
As part of the Judicial Council’s process, The Book of Discipline requires that requests for a declaratory decision, including relevant documents, be posted on the Judicial Council website. Included in the 231-page request from the bishops is the full report from the Commission on a Way Forward.
It is still anticipated that the translation of the report into the other three official languages of The United Methodist Church (French, Portuguese, and Kiswahili) will be made available July 30 by the Commission on the General Conference.
As we study and reflect on the report, I will share more with you in the coming weeks. I also invite you to to join me to discuss the Way Forward report in your district.
August 16 - Northwest District
6:30 pm - 8 pm at St. Luke UMC, Columbus
August 20 - Northeast District
6:30 pm - 8 pm at Pittman Park UMC, Statesboro
August 27 - South Central District
6:30 pm - 8 pm at Valdosta FUMC
September 6 - Coastal District
6:30 pm - 8 pm at Hinesville FUMC
September 9 - North Central District
6 pm - 7:30 pm at Riverside UMC, Macon
September 18 - Southwest District
6:30 pm - 8 pm at Avalon UMC, Albany
My challenge before us remains: Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course. Know that I am praying for each of you as together we navigate the days ahead.
Alive Together in the World,
A Word from Bishop Bryan - July 9, 2018
Anticipated release of Way Forward report; revised call for special session
To the Clergy and Laity of the South Georgia Conference:
In the last couple of days two matters have arisen related to the special session of General Conference, set for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. In the interest of clarity and transparency I want to address each of them.
Anticipated Release of Way Forward Report
The Council of Bishops originally estimated that the Way Forward report would be translated and released no later than July 8, 2018 -- 230 days before the opening of the Special Session, which is the deadline for the submission of petitions. However, delays in negotiating a contract for translation made that date unworkable.
The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward to the Special Session of the General Conference in 2019 will become available once it has been translated from English into the other three official languages of The United Methodist Church (French, Portuguese, and Kiswahili). This is anticipated by July 30.
Even with this delay of the public release, it is important to note that the full Way Forward report did meet the 230-day submission requirement of paragraph 507.5 of the Book of Discipline. It will be under consideration at the special session of General Conference.
Revised Call for General Conference 2019
On Monday the Council of Bishops amended its call for the Special Session of the General Conference in response to Judicial Council Decision 1360, which was handed down on May 25, 2018.
The original call said the purpose of the special General Conference would be “limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward.”
However footnote six in Judicial Council decision 1360 says that the wording of the initial call was incorrect.
Under the new call, delegates to General Conference will receive the report and petitions from the Commission on a Way Forward itself — not the Council of Bishops.
It is important to make this clarification now so that the rationale of the special session is in alignment with ruling of Judicial Council decision 1360.
I have found that offering as much transparency as possible helps us all to Stay Calm, Stay Connected, and Stay the Course. That is why I wanted to share this latest news with you as soon as possible.
At Annual Conference, I announced that I would be holding meetings in each district to discuss the Way Forward report. I will announce the dates of these meetings in the coming weeks.
Alive Together in the World,
R. Lawson Bryan
A Word From Bishop Bryan - May 4, 2018
United Methodist Bishops release recommendation to 2019 General Conference
I have spent this past week at the Council of Bishops (COB) meeting in Chicago where we heard the final report from the Commission on a Way Forward and have prayerfully finalized our recommendation to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference.
A summary of the recommendation coming out of this meeting is now ready to be released (read press release). I remind us to receive this summary as helpful information as we study the report, reflect on it, and evaluate it using the values identified in our district dialogues.
All three models received significant support within the Council of Bishops. The Council of Bishops will forward all three models to the general conference delegates, along with supporting information that outlines how the Council has assessed each model. The feeling is that, in the interest of transparency, this material should be available to all so that it can aid laity and clergy in considering the models. Also to be released is one model being recommended as the preference of the majority of active bishops. Full details of the plans and accompanying legislative proposals will be released as soon as final editing of the entire report is completed and translated into the official languages of the General Conference (no later than July 8).
This recommendation reflects the wide diversity of perspectives within the Council of Bishops on our best way forward as a denomination. It also provides the General Church with three specific and detailed options for moving out of our current impasse. Ultimately the decision on this matter lies with the 800+ clergy and lay delegates from around the world who will convene at the General Conference in St. Louis February 23-26, 2019.
I will share more with you in the coming days and weeks. In the meantime, my challenge before us remains: Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course.
A Word From Bishop Bryan - May 1, 2018
Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I flew to Chicago Saturday to meet with the Council of Bishops as we finalize our recommendations to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. As we are meeting, I want to thank you for your prayers as well as share what is on my heart.
This season has been challenging yet full of hope, and I am thankful for the gracious and prayerful way we have walked through it. The faithful laity and clergy of the South Georgia Conference are the ones who will decide the future of our conference.
It is my understanding that a summary of recommendations will be released following the COB meeting. Whatever recommendations come from the Council of Bishops, let us receive them as helpful information as we study them, reflect on them, and evaluate them using the values identified in our district dialogues.
Between now and General Conference 2019 I want to work together with all parts of our annual conference to define what a Way Forward needs to look like for South Georgia and then prepare the way so that no one feels the need to leave our conference. We are the only ones who can make that choice. We can choose to be Alive Together in Christ. And we can define what “together” means for South Georgia.
My challenge for all of us is this: let us be Alive Together in Christ following the process outlined in Canoeing The Mountains: State your convictions. Stay calm. Stay connected. Stay the course.
Before General Conference 2019, we are the South Georgia Conference. After General Conference 2019, we will be the South Georgia Conference.
Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course.
Where we are and where we’ve been
Following the COB meeting in March, I shared with you my reflections on the overall process up to this point. I continue to ponder the question: What is Christ’s way forward for doing mission and ministry in the worldwide United Methodist Church?
A few things I want to remind us of:
Delegates to GC2019 will spend the months from the release of the recommendations until GC2019 studying and evaluating the COB recommendations. They will also confer among themselves as to what amendments or alternate proposals to bring to GC2019.
The Way Forward will be determined by the laity and clergy delegates to GC2019, which will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26.
The South Georgia Conference has been proactive in equipping ourselves for meaningful involvement in the Way Forward process.
Laity and clergy leaders of the conference have met with a member of The Commission on a Way Forward to understand the process.
District Dialogues have been held in each area of the conference to enable laity and clergy in each district to give consideration to the values that guide us, what makes us United Methodist, and to study the three sketches.
We have been asked to read Canoeing The Mountains as part of our preparation for annual conference.
Time has been set aside at Annual Conference to consider all that is before us and to hear from our General Conference delegates.
Once the recommendations of the COB has been released we will announce additional district opportunities for dialogue.
Updated information can be found on the South Georgia website at www.sgaumc.org/wayforward.
We are planning to have an information meeting for the entire annual conference within two weeks of the end of GC2019 so our delegates can provide accurate information about the outcome of GC2019.
A Word From Bishop Bryan - March 6, 2018
Reflections on the Special Meeting of the Council of Bishops
I continue to hear about the great work you - the churches of the South Georgia Conference - are doing in your communities and out in the world. While you are working faithfully in your local setting, I have been working with fellow United Methodist bishops and members of the Commission on a Way Forward to discern what the way forward looks like.
A special meeting of the Council of Bishops was held last week to receive an updated report from the Commission on a Way Forward. The meeting also included time for us to dig more deeply into our own assessment of each sketch and to identify additional work for the Commission to do before the final report is presented to Council of Bishops at our April/May meeting.
Here are my reflections on this special meeting and the overall process.
Timeline for A Way Forward
I continue to ponder the question: What is Christ’s way forward for doing mission and ministry in the worldwide United Methodist Church?
My conviction is:
No one is going to come into our conference and force upon us a particular way forward. We will be the South Georgia Conference before 2019, and we will be the South Georgia Conference after 2019. The responsibility we have is to discern the way forward that best enables us to be Alive Together in Christ. The laity and clergy delegates to General Conference 2019 will be the ones who consider all models and who make the determination as to which model best supports our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Among those decision makers will be our own laity and clergy delegates from South Georgia. We will be well represented by our elected delegates.
My question is:
What model will enable us to focus our full attention on connecting people to Jesus Christ so that they become disciples of Christ for the transformation of the world?
My dream is:
As the clergy and laity of the South Georgia Conference are actively engaged in studying all available models for a way forward (July 2018 - February 2019) I hope that we will experience a true sense of revival in our conference.
My prayer is:
Dear God, whose purpose is to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ, we pray that you will use this process to surprise us all by finding the way forward that will best help us fulfill the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In his name we pray. Amen.
As we continue the conversation around the sketches that have been put before us, I value your input as I seek ways to address our Annual Conference. I want to be faithful, as your episcopal leader, to hear your voice. Please know that I value your input. We will use your feedback to help guide future conversations.
Click here to provide input.
Alive Together in Christ,