To All General Conference Delegates,
At the 1940 General Conference of the Methodist Church, a group of rural leaders, concerned that the issues and voices of smaller membership Town & Country churches and people were not being heard by the Conference, formed the Methodist Rural Fellowship. For the past 78 years, MRF and its successors United Methodist Rural Fellowship and now, United Methodist Rural Advocates, has existed to advocate for the needs of the two thirds of the United Methodist Congregations which are in Rural, Town and Country settings. In the United Methodist Church the median attendance is less than 100, and so while these churches are small in number, collectively they are making an outsized impact for Christ on their communities.
UMRA does not write to endorse any of the three plans submitted by the Commission on A Way Forward. We do ask that all those involved in the Special Session of General Conference remember John Wesley’s admonition to “Do No Harm” as they determine what will be the best way for our church to move into the future.
For example, we see the following potential harms in the proposed plans:
- Outcomes in which rural congregations have to vote to leave or stay within the denomination may significantly diminish average attendance in those churches.
- Results which diminishes the connectional support of rural congregations will threaten the health of rural churches.
- Significant disruption in the life of the local church distracts from our mission of Making Disciples of Jesus Christ, for the Transformation of the World.
And as always, you can contact United Methodist Rural Advocates, as we will continue to speak for the needs of the rural church.
You can learn more about us on our website at http://www.umruraladvocates.org/ or on our Facebook page at http:www.facebook.com/UMRuralAdvocates/
We will see you in St Louis.
Laura Byrch, Elder, Western NC email@example.com
Alan Bolte, Elder, Minnesota- serving in West Ohio
Jodi Cataldo, Laity, Dakotas Jodicataldo@yahoo.com
Andrew Coon, Elder, Missouri firstname.lastname@example.org
Carl Ellis, Elder, Great Plains email@example.com
John Gilmore, Elder, Louisiana firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Grace, Elder, West Ohio email@example.com
Sue Grace, Laity, West Ohio firstname.lastname@example.org
Judy Hill, Laity, Mountain Sky email@example.com
Michele Holloway, FTLP, OR-IA firstname.lastname@example.org
Peggy Jeffries, Elder, Missouri email@example.com
Deb Ketcham, Elder, West Ohio firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Rice, Elder, Western NC ARice@wnccumc.net
David Ruesink, Laity, Presbyterian email@example.com
Mollie Stewart, Laity, N. AL firstname.lastname@example.org
Orrinda Stockton, Laity, CA-NV email@example.com
Erie Stuckett, Laity, MS firstname.lastname@example.org
Randy Wall, Elder, Western NC RandyLWall@aol.com
Sara Wrona, FTLP, Western PA email@example.com