January 2023 Update
End of January 2023 Update
How did we get here?
Pastor John shares the history of how the United Methodist Church got to the place where dissension is causing churches to leave the denomination. He also explains the procedure the Deer Park United Methodist Church is using to discern God's call for our church to move forward.
Discernment Plan for Deer Park UMC
Who is God calling us to be as a church?
Can we live out the Church’s Call in the United Methodist Church?
If not, which Wesleyan denomination will allow us to live out our Church’s Call?
Use Consensus Model rather than voting model.
Small groups meet to discuss various aspects of the call we each hear for the church to follow Jesus’ commands.
Groups should be less than 12 people to allow for discussion for everyone.
The groups can be held at the church, people’s houses, or other places.
The pastor and Lay Leader attend all small groups.
At the conclusion of the meetings, church council will look over the reports of the groups and find the common threads. These threads of agreement will be woven into our church’s call.
The proposed Church’s Call will be published in the newsletter, the website, and made available in print form.
Townhall meetings will be held to discuss the proposed Church’s Call.
After the townhall meetings, the Church Council will adopt the Church’s Call, including any amendments that were agreed on at the Townhall meetings.
Church Council will ask the question and if they agree we can live out the Church’s Call in the United Methodist Church, this ends the discernment process.
The Church Council will explore the different options with regards to their beliefs, their structure, and our possible fit within their structure.
The Church Council will make a recommendation to the church with Townhall meetings for discussion.
A Church Conference will be called for the church to seek disaffiliation with the United Methodist Church and to join with the new denomination. This ends the discernment process.
Wesley lists Christian Conference as one of only five instituted means of
Searching the Scriptures
Instituted means of grace are the special category for the outward signs, words, or actions ordained of God for all times and places by which God conveys grace to people created in the image of God. They are grounded in commandments from Jesus in Scripture. In other words, these are practices that are not limited by the particularities of cultural context, historical era, etc. We believe Christ has instructed us in Scripture to seek him in this way.
Christian Conferencing follows these guidelines in an attempt for each person to learn from others, not to convince others.
Respect others as Jesus would have done when he was here on earth.
Pray for others as well as yourself, especially those with whom you disagree.
Listen to others before thinking about what you want to say in response.
Understand what others are saying so clearly that you could accurately state their view.
Share your own point of view with grace and humility, as well as honesty and candor.
Focus your comments on issues being discussed not on persons expressing them.
Commit yourself to the unity of the Spirit seeking consensus whenever possible.
Give the time needed to work through the process in which you are engaged.
Acknowledge that you may be wrong, even when you think you are tight.
Allow the Fruit of the Spirit to permeate your way of interacting with others.
Love – Joy – Peace – Patience – Kindness
Generosity – Faithfulness – Gentleness – Self-Control
Guidelines for Effective Dialogue
The act of dialogue is intentionally seeking to understand by listening deeply, inquiring, and advocating in order to uncover meanings, revealing assumptions and walking in another person’s shoes. It is a process of seeking new ways to understand each other and create a shared sense of meaning through conversation. It is not debate, which is the process of arguing opposite sides of a question and usually assumes a right or wrong answer. The objective and result of dialogue is shared meaning, not influence on a certain outcome.
Listen intently to what is said and to the feelings being expressed beneath the words. Listen to the stories behind the views. Listen to yourself and others. Affirm the rights of others to hold their perspectives by listening intently and avoid preparing your rebuke when listening to another. Be aware of and set aside your judgments.
Speak your truth authentically, expressing your thoughts, feelings, and experiences by making “I” statements rather than “you,” “we” or “one” statements. As you pay attention you will see how much more powerful using “I” statements will be. Speak only for yourself, not for a community as a whole, not for the person sitting next to you.
Be certain each person has the opportunity to speak and be heard. Be encouraging of others who do not readily participate in the conversation. Honor both the desire to speak and to not speak.
Disagree with each other; it is absolutely OK to do so. Let go of the need for people to be, think or act the same. Dialogue is undermined by invoking shame for what one believes to be true, blaming someone for experiences or for thinking or feeling a particular way, attacking another because of anger, or feeling offended due to another person’s perspective. Be open and respectful of disagreements. Hold each other accountable for behaving as Christians should.
Be messy. Complex issues will not be resolved in one dialogue. You don’t have to have your statements worked out before you start talking or have any answers – your perspectives and thoughts are enough. A common fear is that you will offend someone – but we are here to learn from one another and offer as much as we can to the dialogue. Please accept that both your thoughts and the thoughts of others will be disorganized and share as openly as possible.
Intend to learn from others, to expand your view and understanding, not to evaluate others or determine who has the “best” view. Verbalize your thoughts, feelings, opinions and ideas openly and listen actively to others so you may learn. Ask questions for clarification; be curious. Avoid giving advice and attempting to change anyone else’s beliefs or behavior.
We must agree that what is shared will not be used against anyone in any way. It will be important when you see each other beyond this context to respect that people may or may not want to discuss these issues after they leave.
Be aware that neither one person’s nor our collective understanding of God’s vision can ever come close to the fullness of God’s vision. No human being “owns” God’s final word on any particular issue. Participate in the dialogue with both a sense of humility and an openness to the presence and work of the Holy Spirit among us.
A Future with Hope
Rev. Adam Hamilton
Bishop Scott Jones