Greetings Mississippi Conference,
Bellwether United Methodist Church in Jackson recently held a called church conference to express a desire to leave The United Methodist Church.
I was present to answer questions and respond to concerns. To be clear, Bellwether is still continued as a United Methodist Church of the Mississippi Annual Conference with Rev. John Hugh Tate as the appointed pastor. The church has not been officially closed as a United Methodist Church. The results of this called church conference only begins the process of discerning the viability of this church and its future with The United Methodist Church. We are committed to keeping you informed as forthcoming details are finalized.
During the conference, the congregation was asked to participate in a Membership Affirmation where they individually declared their desires to remain a member of The United Methodist Church or to withdraw their membership. Of the members present, 64 persons decided to withdraw their membership in The United Methodist Church and one decided to remain a member in The United Methodist Church. Forty-two persons who were not present submitted written declarations and of those, 41 decided to withdraw their membership and one person decided to remain a member in The United Methodist Church.
We are committed to maintaining the unity of the church and regret when members choose to leave. Our hope is that we can navigate our differences to a place where we can love and serve with one another to be the church that Christ intends as we work together for the Kingdom of God.
I solicit your prayers for Bellwether United Methodist Church, their servant leaders and all involved in this matter as we seek to hear God’s voice and be led by the Holy Spirit.
Also, I would like to direct you to a resource—Navigating Tension—a video series sharing what wisdom Scripture provides about dealing with times of uncertainty and conflict and how we—the church—can live faithfully together and be fruitful disciples of Jesus Christ in times of tension.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr.
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