by: Gillian Ford
Contributor: Susan Long
I had the honor of representing Trinity United Methodist Church at this year’s Mountain Sky Annual Conference in Billings, MT. One of my greatest pleasures at these events is to get caught up with people I don’t see very often. Another proud moment is seeing people who have ministered at Trinity blossom in their work for the Church. This year I am excited to report that Jasper Peters was elected as a delegate to the 2020 General Conference (one of two).
My most important goal for this meeting was getting an up-to-date status on “A Way Forward” effort. At the 2019 General Conference, the Traditional plan was approved, and the Judicial Council upheld most of it at their April meeting. While there seemed to be more talk of splitting with the rest of the Methodist Church, there were also several efforts approved to determine a path forward for the Mountain Sky Conference.
I was a little surprised in myself in that I was strongly resistant to the idea of splitting. I come from at least four generations of Methodists and talk of splitting goes against my DNA. The Methodist Church has been the one constant in my life. However, I support a fully inclusive church where everyone has the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of membership. So, there is a tension there which I admit has not been reconciled. Maybe I will get to a point where I can support splitting. Right now, it is not there.
For now, I see the situation as being very messy for awhile until we understand what the next course of action is needed. Many decisions need to be hammered out before any split can be contemplated. In the meantime, I need to realize that all of us present believe in the Wesleyan Traditions and Ideals that everyone is welcomed in our Church. I also realize that the decision is not up to me or any one person. As the hymn says “Yes, we are the Church Together.” We all have a say in what happens to our Church, but we may have to have a little bit of grace along the journey. A lot of people are very passionate and angry about the situation, and we must acknowledge their fears and pain.
So, for those who are wondering if the Church will split, my answer is that I do not know. For now, we are still a part of the global United Methodist Church. However, I want to assure the people of Trinity, that we are still living by our Church’s vision that all are welcome. Despite what is being said in other parts of the Methodist church, Trinity United Methodist, the Mountain Sky Conference, and the Western Jurisdiction are committed to a fully inclusive Church. How we get there is the question.