My prayer for you in December has been that you have found greater meaning and joy during Advent and Christmas. For those of you who have dealt with grief and pain over the past month, my prayer has been that you have felt the love of Christ surround, uplift and enable you to move forward in the living of your life.
As the New Year is almost upon us, I want to share with you two issues that will be discussed often in our United Methodist churches and may affect our own local church in this coming year. The first issue is a major one that will come up in our General Conference in May of 2016: will the wording of the Book of Discipline be changed to allow clergy to perform marriages of the same sex community? The decisions made may have an effect that will flow down to the local churches. The second issue is one here in our conference. There are discussions, research and committees that are involved in looking at the joining of our conference with the Yellowstone Conference to make a new conference made up of Montana, part of Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Both conferences are under the oversight of our Bishop Elaine Stanovsky. While Yellowstone is on a path of inability to sustain itself due to decreasing membership, we also as Rocky Mountain are dealing with the same problem. The hope is to strengthen local churches with a focus on improving vitality and to provide a simpler conference structure. Listening teams to local churches will be going out into both conference areas in the beginning of the year to share and hear responses from congregations. They will be interested in hearing from you.
My request for each of you is to begin to pray and keep praying for wisdom and understanding for our UMC and for those seeking the best way forward for the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain Conferences.
Grace and Peace be yours today and every day!