First United Methodist Church - Wausau Wisconsin
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Live and Share God's Love

Conference & Connections

 Wisconsin Annual Conference

Three people from First United Methodist Church of Wausau went to Green Bay June 14-16 for our annual United Methodist gathering.

Wes Ebert and Sara Roquemore went as lay members, Pastor Jayneann McIntosh as clergy member.

The theme of this year’s Wisconsin Annual Conference was Thriving in the Wilderness - a wilderness of challenges, change, disagreement and concern for the future of The Methodist Church. As Bishop Hee-Soo Jung stated, “Everything may not be clear, but we see God in our midst.”

As a lay delegate, I was unsure of what to expect at the conference, in light of the many challenges facing our denomination. The issue of inclusion of LGBTQ+ clergy and possible division of our church was a key topic. Even though the decision had been made at the General Conference earlier this year to accept the Traditional Plan, the Wisconsin Annual Conference passed a resolution to reject this decision. There were other items on the agenda, including election of clergy and lay delegates to the General and Jurisdictional Conference and the Ordination Service.

It was encouraging to see the participation of young leaders. Thirteen members of the Youth Delegation led a panel discussion of Gen Z and The Church which was well received. New church starts were celebrated as well as the graduates from both the Institute of Congregational Development and the Spanish counterpart, el Instituto de Desarollo Congregacional.

Differences of opinions and having strong convictions will continue to exist, but I left Annual Conference with a feeling of hope -hope for respectful and honest dialogue in the midst of conflict and hope for the future of the United Methodist Church.
~ Sara Roquemore,
Lay Member to Annual Conference

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I have been a lay member of Annual Conference for a number of years now. It’s a time dedicated to doing the church’s business while worshipping, singing, and studying the Bible together. For me it is also a chance to see other United Methodists from throughout the state that I only see once a year. In general, it’s a time of renewal and revitalization as the church looks toward the upcoming year.

It was all of those this year, but it was different. There was a tension in the air in light of the General Conference vote last February to exclude LGBTQ+ people from full inclusion in the church. As the father of a transgender daughter, this is an especially important topic for me. I truly believe that God’s love for all of God’s children should not be withheld from some people just because they don’t match some of our current societal norms. Christ reached out to all people, especially those whom society rejected, and I don’t believe that we should do any differently.

It was clear that most of the members of the Wisconsin Annual Conference agreed with me. Almost all of the delegates we elected to the upcoming 2020 General Conference have a similar perspective and we took several votes rejecting the decision of last February and in support of reversing the church’s stance next year. All of them passed overwhelmingly.

But the tension was palpable. Those in the minority felt left out and there was talk of the church splitting along these lines, mostly coming from those of the minority perspective. The global United Methodist Church is much more conservative, though, than the American Methodists, so it is likely that the decision of last winter will stand. Where that will lead the church is not yet known.

In the meantime, though, we are one church, all worshipping the same God, even if we differ on some of our perspectives. As a congregation we still have our calling to reach out to God’s people here in Wausau, so that is what we must continue doing.
~ Wes Ebert,
Lay Member to Annual Conference