2015 Greater New Jersey Conference
The 2015 Greater New Jersey Conference met May 28-30 in Wildwood, New Jersey, with Bishop John Schol officiating and giving the Episcopal Address. The speakers were Andrew Forrest, Nicole Caldwell-Gross, and Rev. Gina Kim.
Nicole Caldwell-Gross, conference director of Mission and Multi-Cultural Ministries, during opening worship sermon:
“Like John, I will exclaim with hope in a weary throat: It is The Lord! It is The Lord who sends fish to empty nets! It is The Lord who sends faith to empty spirits! It is The Lord who brings abundance to absence, possibility to impossibility and expectation to emptiness!”
Rev. Andrew Forrest, Munger Place, Dallas, Texas, teaching speaker:
“Is the love for your neighborhood public knowledge?”
Bishop John Schol during episcopal address:
“You not only came to FISH with me but you are teaching me new ways to FISH. And you have not only been fishing on the surface, but you have been casting your lines to deeper depths of meaning and purpose.”
“You have set sail into the deep and stormy waters and you are proving that the most dedicated are always fishing for new ways to be faithful and generous.”
Bishop John Schol, after balloting on human sexuality legislation:
“I want other conferences to know us not for what we agree or disagree about, but because we love each other.”
Here is a summary of key resolutions passed at conference.
The conference passed six resolutions concerning human sexuality. The first four will be brought as resolutions to General Conference.
Strike from the Book of Discipline the phrase: We do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider the practice incompatible with Christian teaching.
Strike from the Book of Discipline the phrase: Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.
Strike from the Book of Discipline: Homosexuality and performing homosexual unions or weddings is a chargeable offense.
Strike from the Book of Discipline: United Methodist funds cannot support the acceptance of homosexuality or supporting homosexual ministries.
The Greater New Jersey Conference will work for the full inclusion of all people including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons and that we oppose the continued restrictions of church law that restricts the full inclusion of LGBT people.
The Greater New Jersey Conference will make a public statement supporting and upholding marriage equality in civil law and that we spiritually, emotionally and prayerfully support clergy who are brought up on charges for performing homosexual unions or performing same-sex wedding ceremonies.
GNJ passed a resolution brought forth by the Greater New Jersey Caucus of Black Methodists for Church Renewal requiring the conference to:
•Explore the concepts of equal justice under the law, racial justice, institutional racism and white privilege at both the conference and local church levels.
•Create a task force to identify resources to help congregations engage in initiatives that address the needs of the community, the perpetrators and the victims that bring God's restoration and help congregations promote positive relationships between the community and the police.
•Designate BMCR and the conference's Board of Church and Society and the Commission on Religion and Race to work in consultation with the bishop to set the membership of this task force. This task force will report their findings and recommendations at the next annual conference.
•Have the bishop, extended cabinet and the connectional table read and have a discussion on the book, “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander.
•Promote dialogue between members of the various communities and law enforcement officers and agencies.
•Join with other labor and community groups to call for the creation of a national model for community policing, and an end to institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system.
General Conference delegates
Clergy: The Revs. Tom Lank, Eunice Vega Perez, Jisun Kwak and Varlyna Wright
Laity: Lynn Caterson, Bethany Amey, Judy Colorado and Rosa Williams
Northeastern Jurisdiction delegates
Clergy: The Revs. Drew Dyson, Grace Pak, Tanya Bennett and Gina Hendrickson
Laity: Stephen Quigg, June McCullough, Jee Hei Park and Creed Pogue
Northeastern Jurisdiction alternates
Clergy: Chris Heckert, Steve Bechtold and John DiGiamberardino
Laity: Carolyn Pendleton, Cyndi Kent and Sherrie Shumate
The meeting saw 18 people total, with an average age of 47.61.
Current Membership: 90,718, down from 91,094 last year.
Current Worship Attendance: 45,189, down from 46,129 last year.
Current Church School Attendance: 12,111, down from 12,770 last year.
Professions/reaffirmations of faith for 2013: 2,294
Professions/reaffirmations of faith for 2014: 2,268
Adults in small groups for 2013: 23,768
Adults in small groups for 2014: 24,483
Young adults in small groups for 2013: 3,096
Young adults in small groups for 2014: 2,890
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2013: 23,161
Worshippers engaged in mission for 2014: 26,020
Amount given to mission for 2013: $4,697,803
Amount given to mission for 2014: $4,451,044
— Jeff Wolfe, conference editorial manager