Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yesterday, the Commission on General Conference, a diverse group of clergy and laity in the United Methodist Church, announced that General Conference will be postponed until 2024. (Statement) Any significant announcement such as this evokes many emotions. The commission stated that global vaccination issues and visa backlogs for delegates from Africa, Europe, and the Philippines as their primary reasoning for this decision. Other obstacles, such as translation challenges and limited internet capabilities in some areas, make it impossible to hold General Conference virtually. Our world changes so quickly and it causes the church to pivot and adapt, and I know this can be frustrating for everyone.
This past fall I participated in a Council of Bishops meeting where we pledged to help navigate a path forward in the United Methodist Church. Part of that document states, “we must be one people, rooted in scripture, centered in Christ, serving in love and united in the essentials.” Council of Bishops document
Over the past several months, I’ve spent much time visiting with clergy, laity, and congregations in the New Mexico Conference. I’ve appreciated many conversations that have run deep as people shared their hearts about their love of the church and their anxieties about the future. I also have shared my heart on General Conference related issues during in-person visits, Zoom conversations, and through videos. I made a commitment to walk with pastors and congregations with the highest level of integrity and care and mutual respect during these months to come. I expect the same from our own conference leadership, cabinet, and pastors. I acknowledge the disappointment for many with the news of another postponement, but it is my hope that together we might offer our best to one another as we seek to follow Christ.
As we have seen in these past few weeks, people across the globe need the love of Christ. We have great opportunities to show this love around the corner and around the world. Let us remain focused on our primary mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Join me in praying that together, we seek to find ways to move forward with love and grace.
Bishop Robert Schnase
The New Mexico Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church