The annual conference of the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is meeting this week in the OneCenter located in Syracuse. Separate Clergy and Lay sessions took place yesterday (Wednesday) and the full Conference Membership, which includes both clergy and laity, will begin the full sessions later this morning (Thursday).
The issue for which the local congregation of United Methodists in Perry are watching is that of dealing with recommendations of the Conference Trustees. The Trustees and Finance Office are expected to determine the amount of money that congregations will owe the Conference should they choose to leave the denomination. A second vote of concern is whether or not the Annual Conference will give its blessing to allowing the local congregations to leave with their real property in hand.
These local realities are now in the forefront because of the General (Worldwide) Conference which met this past February and voted to (1) maintain the negative language toward the LGBTQ persons who are either members of church members' families and/or members of the parish area of the church; (2) to increase restrictions and discriminations against those same persons. This has angered and upset members who have family members living good lives and wanting to attend a warm and welcoming church. The goal of the local congregation is to be that warm and welcoming church whether or not as part of the United Methodist Church.
The congregation will meet informally a week from today at 6:30 pm in the Sanctuary for an update from the Annual Conference given by their pastor, the Rev. Tony Hipes. There is another General Conference next year but this quadrennial vote has been going negative since 1972, so hope is not high for a welcoming ministry. The congregation hopes to get more information about the Reconciling Congregation program which a congregation may adopt to show they are welcoming, but remain United Methodist and therefore would continue to work within the denomination for change. The local folks are not enthusiastic about having to put up with less than a "whole loaf of welcome."
The Silver Lake Institute became an independent non-profit, 501c3, on February 2, 2016, and has no further connections with the church. The SLI cooperates with our good friends at Asbury Retreat Center for the biennial Silver Lake Experience which is coming again this August 8-11. Over 100 workshops from which to choose and super entertainment, food, and accommodations. The four-day event is family friendly. See www.silverlakeexperience.org.