Message from NAC3 Team: Values that Guide our Work
Grace and peace from the NAC3 Team!
Our small diverse team, assembled by Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett in the spring of 2022, continues our work to prayerfully envision a pathway that will allow traditionalists, centrists and progressives in the North Alabama Conference to continue on the journey as United Methodists together. Our team’s name reflects our commitment to Christ, community and clarity. Our team’s mission is finding a way for our diverse population to create space for grace-filled ministry to happen without compromising values and become generative in the work of making disciples.
Each month when we gather face-to-face, our team is guided by a set of values we have identified and continue to clarify. We would like to begin sharing these values with you and invite you to join us in intentionally living them out as North Alabama United Methodists.
- The first value we hold is a Wesleyan Emphasis on sanctification. The Book of Discipline ¶102 says “Sanctifying grace draws us toward the gift of Christian perfection, which Wesley described as a heart ‘habitually filled with the love of God and neighbor’ and as ‘having the mind of Christ and walking as he walked.’”
We invite you to join us in focusing on holy habits such as prayer, Bible study, worship, fasting and service, so that we all, both individually and as a church, continue growing in our love for God and our neighbors.
- We believe in whole-hearted discipleship. We are compelled to create transformative environments for disciple-making in the many cultures of North Alabama. This will reach new people with the gospel and offer them places to get started in their faith and to grow in Christ.
We invite you to reach your community for Christ. This is a pivotal moment of renewal for the church and an opportunity for all of us to recommit to evangelism, reaching new people for Christ and meeting the needs of the people in your community.
- We commit ourselves to honesty, transparency and integrity. We know this is an anxious time. We don’t all agree and many of us have questions. Our team knows that having accurate, up-to-date information is important and helps alleviate confusion.
Our team, along with the Cabinet and Conference Leadership Team, have gathered the most frequently asked questions from North Alabama United Methodists. The questions and responses are organized on our Conference website to help you more easily find the information you and your congregation are seeking. As additional questions emerge, they will be added to ensure this will be an ongoing resource of up-to-date and accurate information for North Alabama United Methodists. We invite you to read the FAQs at www.umcna.org/discerning-our-future.
- We believe we are better together. We know we come from different perspectives and none of us wish to push our perspective on others. In our team’s work, our differences have been a strength rather than a flaw, enhancing our discussions and adding richness to our vision going forward. We recognize some North Alabama clergy and churches are withdrawing from The United Methodist Church to join other Methodist expressions or to become independent. As we have said in previous communications, we wish those congregations well and want them to succeed. The mission of God’s Church is greater than any one denomination, and an important part of our witness for Christ is how we treat one another in this season.
The purpose of the called Special Session of Annual Conference on Dec. 10, 2022, is to ratify church disaffiliations. We will do this business in a spirit of worship to bless those who are departing as well as those who are continuing as United Methodists. The second part of the morning will include a time of vision casting for the future ministry of the North Alabama Conference. We invite you to participate in this Annual Conference session. Annual Conference members will gather in person in Birmingham at the BJCC from 10 a.m. until noon. The session will be live-streamed on the Conference’s YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/umcna.
- We value Christ’s call to unity and believe it increases our ability to reach the world for the gospel. Jesus’ longest prayer is recorded in John 17. He prayed not only for his disciples but for all future believers saying, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” (John 17:20).
This unity does not mean sameness. Instead, we believe Jesus calls us in our differences to harmoniously work together in our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Our vision for the future of the North Alabama Conference is one where our differences allow us to reach more persons for Christ and our harmony enhances our witness to our neighbors. As we have said previously, we know this will require work from all of us. We must tend to relationships that we have neglected. We will be gracious with one another, attend to one another in prayer and seek the mind of Christ. We invite you to join us and other Conference leaders as we seek ways to intentionally build, or rebuild, relationships among North Alabama United Methodists.
- Above all, we trust that God is making all things new. We are committed to the transformation of North Alabama through God’s renewing work. We know the future of this work will involve hard choices, adaptive thinking, risk-taking and experimentation, while tapping into the Holy Spirit’s creativity through repentance, contemplation and prayer.
Let us join together in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
Rev. Brian Erickson, co-chair
Gail Hiett, co-chair
Rev. Sherill Clontz
Rev. Rick Owen
Rev. Tom Parrish
Rev. Donald Smith
Rev. Keith Thompson