May 04, 2022
|Ken Carter - Resident Bishop, Florida Conference|
To the people of The United Methodist Church in Florida – and especially the clergy members and lay leaders of our annual conference,
Grace and peace to you in the name of our risen Savior and Lord. I write to encourage you in these days following Easter, and in anticipation of Aldersgate and Pentecost. I give thanks for the reports of confirmation classes joining local churches, persons being baptized, offerings being received for Ukraine, our continued mission work in connection with Angola, and fresh expressions of church. This month I will share in a retreat with this year’s class of ordinands. And we are preparing for annual conference, where our focus is on “re-membering the body and creating a spiritual home for all.” After two years of online annual conference, it will be wonderful to be together!
I also write in the context of the anticipated formation of another expression of Methodism. I have consistently stated that it is not my purpose to pass judgment on that work, which is not ours. Our calling is to be The United Methodist Church in Florida. This is what we were called to be and do, in the vows of our baptisms and in the promises we have made in commissioning and ordination.
I write simply to remind us of a few essentials in our life together.
+ To be a leader in The United Methodist Church is to be in healthy, accountable relationships, and this includes shared leadership with laity and supervisory relationships with district superintendents (BOD, 401, 403).
+To make important decisions on behalf of a local United Methodist Church is to do so in an open, transparent and public way, and this includes the announcement and holding of charge conferences (BOD, 246, 247).
+The departure of a United Methodist Church from our denomination, or the withdrawal of United Methodist clergy from the ministerial office are connectional acts that take place through accountability to the annual conference with the actions of the board of trustees, the cabinet and the board of ordained ministry, each carefully honoring the rights and responsibilities of the gifts of God that we steward (BOD, 360, 2553). No significant changes occur in our relationship apart from the actions of these authorized bodies.
Each of these essentials is for the purpose of building trust. The overwhelming majority of our pastors, lay leaders and local churches do this work with integrity and from a deep and mature faith. Thank you.
The United Methodist Church is founded on a Wesleyan theology of grace, anchored in Scripture, and based in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the continuing movement of the Holy Spirit. I see this reality in your lives and ministries, even in a complex time where we are coming through a pandemic, living in a time of deep polarization, reckoning with the sins of racism and exclusion, and seeking at the same time to renew the church and be sustained in our own lives and leadership.
The presence of the living Jesus is with us. All that is taking place is not an interruption to our becoming more faithful disciples and invited new persons into discipleship. This season is the soil (Mark 4) in which God has planted us, to be mature, generous and warm-hearted followers of Jesus, in the United Methodist connection. Our calling is to #BeUMC.
This is also our path to holiness. We are on the way (Philippians 3:12). Thank you for reading, receiving, and sharing these words.
Your partner in the Gospel (Philippians 1:5),
The Peace of the Lord,
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church