Voices and views of our representatives to General Conference
REV. JOE STOBAUGH, Grace Avenue UMC Frisco and jurisdictional clergy delegate:
As General Conference rapidly approaches, I have found myself reckoning with what it means to be a faithful, hope-filled, and committed person in a contentious season. Even as the predictions for the outcomes of General Conference grow dire, I find myself more and more committed to the fact that the Spirit remains at work among the people called Methodists.
While our future as a church must look different than our current reality, I believe that our future is within the mind of God. And while we have missed the mark on a great many matters as a church, I believe that we have a powerful and necessary theology to offer the world and a strong calling to tell God’s story of love and reconciliation.
My hopes and dreams for General Conference is that the church will choose to lift up the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus as its primary story and to act out of that. I pray that, even in fits and starts, the Spirit will empower this time of holy conferencing to move us toward the church God dreams for us to be, a church where all are welcome and a church that proclaims the great love of God for all creation and the essential ministry of reconciliation that has been entrusted to us.
I believe, with all my heart, that the church is of God (otherwise how could it have been in existence all these years with so many missteps in its history!) and that, even in our deep brokenness, God will birth something new in us. I have faith this is so and, like my sisters and brothers on the delegation, I choose to act on this faith.
In the words of U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, “Faith, to me, is knowing in the solid core of your soul that the work is already done, even as an idea is being conceived in your mind. It is being as sure as you are about your dreams as you are about anything you know as hard fact.”
I eagerly await to see what new thing Jesus will do in this coming season.
KELLY CARPENTER, NTC Center for Leadership Development and lay delegate to General Conference:
Since becoming a part of the North Texas Conference in 2008 on the staff at Spring Valley UMC, joining the conference staff in 2011, Lovers Lane UMC in 2012, and now as a member of Union Coffee, I have experienced the great disciples of our conference in many ways.
I’m passionate about the need for intentional ministry with children, youth and young adults that includes quality worship and inter-generational experiences. I’ve also been exposed to people from across the country, mostly through my work with the young, during which I’ve realized that North Texas is an influencer at the national level. I am very aware that many people look to us for innovation and leadership.
Being a delegate from North Texas carries the responsibility to represent the local churches well and to be a representative to the larger church of the great ministry being done in our area. As a delegate, I shall strive to use my voice and vote to enable each conference and local church to be able to minister as God is calling them, honoring both the diversity and connection of The United Methodist Church.
I’m deeply humbled and challenged by the magnitude to fulfill this role.
REV. DR. OUIDA LEE, United Methodist Church of the Disciple in DeSoto and jurisdictional clergy delegate:
I am excited about General Conference 2016 because our world is in transition, and it is a time to see the worldwide church speak on issues of importance. And while I am excited, I am concerned about the impact some of those changes will have on the church overall. Particularly, it concerns me that two advocacy agencies, the General Commission on Race and Religion and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women, could be combined under the auspices of the Connectional Table and would have to request funds to advocate for issues that will affect the lives of people of color and of women. With the pushback in our country, those are important issues.
Being a delegate from North Texas means that I am representing some of the silenced voices of the church. And I am thankful that the North Texas delegation invites all delegates to focus on all of the issues and share our insight.
My hopes and dreams for the General Conference are that we will make real changes in the ministry of ordination as proposed in the Advance that will encourage more young people to pursue and be ordained in the church. Further, it is my prayer that we will emerge from Portland as a unified body of the church, making it possible for persons who have felt excluded in the past to be included. And finally, for the church to consider restructure without the elimination or reduction in power of GCORR and COSROW.
DR. OWEN ROSS, pastor/missionary, Christ's Foundry United Methodist Mission and jurisdictional clergy delegate:
I am excited and optimistic about General Conference 2016 because the pains of division and the decline in members and worship attendance in the United States is driving the church to find a way to stay united in our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. The North Texas Conference models unity in mission amid diversity in opinions and perspectives. General Conference has a great opportunity to make bold steps to put divisions aside for the purpose of the divine mission of the church.
My hopes and dreams for General Conference are that the Holy Spirit will do a new thing among delegations and our denomination will experience a global revival.
DR. ANDY STOKER, senior minister, First UMC Dallas and reserve clergy delegate:
Serving for the second time as a Jurisdictional Conference reserve delegate, I have had the opportunity to serve with lay members and clergy colleagues through some of the hardest decisions facing the church. I am honored to sit at the table and privileged to serve as part of our conference delegation. I am excited about General Conference 2016 because we are at a turning point in our cultural and ecclesial history. Being a delegate from North Texas means listening, learning and leading with every United Methodist in this part of God’s kin-dom.
My hopes and dreams for General Conference are to imagine together God’s vision for the present and future Church.