Hello Friends, we are coming up on the General Conference of 2020 with several proposals being discussed that will, potentially, impact Coker. While nothing is certain until after the General Conference in May, we want to keep the lines of communication open. Below details some of the happenings, as we know them. We will have an update meeting on March 1st at 5 PM in the Sanctuary. At that meeting we can answer any questions. If you aren’t able to attend the meeting, let e-mail Communications@coker.org and we can send you a re-cap. While we want to keep lines of communications open, we do not want to let the speculations of UMC happenings overshadow our worship, the grace of God, the love of Jesus, and the power of HIS work in our lives and through our church. We will continue to grow in Him. Blessings, Coker UMC
TO BRING YOU UP TO SPEED
Coker was built in the mid-1800s and has been a part of the Methodist tradition for much of that time. The current United Methodist Church formed in 1968. Since its inception, the United Methodist Church has operated under the “Book a Discipline.” The Book of Discipline outlines our denominations law, doctrine, administration, organizational work and procedures. The United Methodist Church encourages collaboration as we all continue to interpret the Bible which is the divinely inspired word of God. Because we are collaborative, the United Methodist Church has also conducted a General Conference, every four years, to vote on proposed changes to the Book of Discipline. For decades, now, several issues have continued to be voted on- and more recently, it seems, that we are not able to come to an agreement on a few of the issues presented. At Coker, we believe it is the desire of all parties to begin to put these issues to rest so that we all can continue in authentic ministry continuing the work of healing, building communities, and leading people to the love of Jesus.
HOW WILL ISSUES BE RESOLVED?
There are several proposals to multiply (or divide) the United Methodist Church and those will be discussed at the 2020 General Conference. At last count there were 5 major types of proposals plus multiple individual proposals, but more may be coming. It is very tough to say, deﬁnitively, how issues will be resolved because each proposal will be presented and discussed. At the end of it all, the General Conference could vote to continue “business as usual,” operating under beliefs outlined in the current Book of Discipline, they could vote to create a new Methodist denomination, or they could separate into sub-denominations within the United Methodist Church. While Human Sexuality continues to be highlighted, it isn’t the only issue. The United Methodist Church is a global organization and decisions are made for the entire global church, not just one part of it.
WHAT’S THE TIMELINE?
If nothing is passed, then issues will be discussed at the next General Conference in four years. If one of the proposals is passed, the denomination will begin to transition into its new reality and the transition itself will likely take several years.
WHAT’S THE TIMELINE FOR COMMUNICATIONS AROUND ALL OF THIS?
Coker held update meetings leading up to the specially called General Conference of 2019 and plans to do the same with 2020. Everyone is invited to a UMC Update Meeting March 1st at 5 PM in our Sanctuary. We will hold another one in April as well. After the General Conference, we will discuss General Conference Happenings in the following order: First as a Pastoral Team and Coker’s Church Council, then with Coker’s Staﬀ and lay leaders, and then with the congregation as a whole. An updated communications plan will be provided after the General Conference. You are always welcome to grab a cup of coﬀee with one of our Pastors to talk through any plans, their beliefs, and biblical interpretations. We ask that in doing so all parties keep an open mind and even if we walk away, not in agreement over speciﬁc issues, know that we can still worship together, we are still in community with one another, we are still brothers and sisters in Christ, we are still deeply loved by God, and we still love one another. Please do not ever feel we are keeping anyone out of the loop of communications. It is our desire to ﬁll the “airways” with praise, prayer, scripture, and ways to connect- therefore you may not see a lot of communications around the institutional happenings (but that doesn’t mean we won’t talk about it- reach out- firstname.lastname@example.org).
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR COKER?
Currently, Coker adheres to stated beliefs and practices outlined in the Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church. Once the General Conference has acted (or not acted) we will be discussing the implications for Coker in the following order: 1. With the Pastoral Team and Coker’s Church Council, 2. With Coker’s Staﬀ and with lay leaders, and 3. With the congregation as a whole. Our prayer is that this will not disrupt the amazingly good work God is doing through Coker now, and has been doing since the mid-1800s.
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR ME?
Coker is a family and we are always looking to increase our family size. With family, there will be areas of disagreement, but we are determined to be a church-family where we can discuss anything. Even if we do not agree we will still be family and we will still worship together. With any church family, we encourage you to look for the following: How long has the church been around? Do they preach & teach scripture? Do they practice what they preach (while leaving room for human errors, forgiveness, and grace)? Do they worship? Do they pray? Is there a community? Is there accountability to one another? Do you feel loved there? Do you feel welcome? Are there spiritual leaders who can help you identify your spiritual gifts? Are there places for you to serve using your gifts? If the answer to those questions are favorable, then that is your church home. If your church home is Coker, then you can expect more of the same. We will still follow God’s direction, we will still worship, pray, be in community with one another, unpack scriptures together, have big discussions, and love one another. Regardless of your identity (cultural-identity, sexual-identity, political views, etc) we welcome you at Coker. Under the Book of Discipline and our current beliefs within the United Methodist Church, we do not conduct same-sex weddings. We will join hands with you, hearts with you, and together we can all grow in the love and understanding of Christ. We pray everyone will know their identity in Christ ﬁrst and foremost, that is how we will continue to see each other regardless of anything else.
DO I HAVE A VOICE IN THIS?
Yes. Reach out to our Pastoral Team of Adam Knight, Damon Relder, and David Blanco (by e-mailing barbara.Keeper@coker.org) and they will listen to all concerns. They can also tell you how Coker is represented within the United Methodist Church, and what voice you have in the United Methodist Church as a whole.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
Again, reach out to us any time! You can e-mail email@example.com and Jenn Clauser, our Communications Director, can send you up to date information or connect you with a Pastor to talk. You can view our staﬀ listing online at coker.org, we are all ready to tell you how God has worked in our lives, how He is at work through Coker, and why we haven’t put a lot of focus on the back and forth of the UMC because we have faith in Him. The intricacies of the United Methodist Church are a little hard to navigate through, therefore, secular and local media station’s reports have not portrayed the details correctly. In our opinion, the best source for up-to-date information is: https://www.umnews.org/ and a spreadsheet with a few of the proposals can be found online HERE
At Coker, we will follow God’s direction, trust in God’s provisions, unite with one another, and continue to grow. We trust in God’s direction, and we believe that when old things come to pass it is because God has something greater on the horizon. Everyone is deeply and unconditionally loved by God through Jesus Christ and we are called to lives that reﬂect a commitment to holiness of heart and life. We open our doors, our hearts, and our arms to all people and invite them to join us on a life transforming journey with Jesus. We believe in loving God and loving our neighbor as demonstrated through our weekly worship services, our support of supplying food to over 1800 people monthly through our food pantry, our commitment to recovery classes, Bible Study classes, prayer and worship, and our global outreach initiatives. We will continue to open our doors to everyone. Please join us in prayer to continue seeking the guidance of God in all that we do now and in the future.