Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Third 2020 General Conference Postponement
Many of you have heard about the 2020 General Conference, which will now occur in 2024. This decision was made by the Commission on General Conference after much prayer and conversation. Public health concerns and difficulty in obtaining visas in some countries were major factors in the decision. The Commission developed criteria and values that have guided their work — www.umnews.org/en/news/setting-criteria-for-a-2022-general-conference — and were true to those guidelines in their decision. The two bishops on the Commission serve with voice, but no vote.
The postponement has been met across the denomination with varying reactions including relief, disappointment, frustration and the decision by some in the United Methodist Church to withdraw from the denomination. It is my hope that all the churches in the North Alabama Conference will continue together on the journey into the future to General Conference 2024 when our denomination considers various pieces of legislation about next steps that will potentially allow us to move forward together. I believe with every fiber of my being that we are more together.
However, I know that some churches will discern that they no longer wish to be connected to the United Methodist Church. Though this grieves me deeply and I hope and pray that these churches will reconsider, Conference leadership will utilize applicable processes found in our Book of Discipline to honor their discernment.
Amid the uncertainty of the pandemic, war in Ukraine and the third 2020 General Conference postponement, I am reminded of the Good News of the Gospel. “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means, “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23 (NRSV)
God is with us when we are grieving, frustrated and disappointed. God is with us in times of peace and war . . . sickness and health . . . disappointment and relief. God is with us when our hearts are hurting as well as during times of rejoicing. God is with those defending their country in war and many across the world grieving the deaths of loved ones due to COVID-19. God is with you, me and the clergy and churches of the North Alabama Conference. What a difference God’s presence makes in our lives, bringing comfort in our grief, peace in our frustration and patience in our decision-making.
I am honored to be the United Methodist bishop in North Alabama during this time. Because even with uncertainty on many fronts, North Alabama United Methodists are in this moment worshipping the Triune God, making disciples, feeding the hungry, welcoming the stranger and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. Our congregations in North Alabama join others around the world in our commitment to ministry and service.
My prayer is that we will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God is with us as we serve and lead together as United Methodists in the North Alabama Conference. As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
Holston and North Alabama Conferences