Grand Traverse District

West Michigan Conference

United Methodist Church


Rev. Anita Hahn, District Superintendent


Listening Sessions: MARK DOYAL
Communication Director, Michigan Area

LANSING MI -- Last month, following more than two years of listening, Bishop Deborah Lieder Kiesey invited United Methodists in Michigan to join her on a journey. She asked members of the Detroit and West Michigan conferences to discern a new path for ministry in the state posing the question, "What new thing is God calling us to do in Michigan?"

Last week, a diverse mix of clergy and laity came together from across the Michigan Area to discern this question and others. They met in the newly constructed Assembly Room of the Area Center, an aptly appropriate space as they discussed what new visions and ministry might be created in Michigan. The outcome of the two-day conversation was an overwhelming agreement the time has come to discuss the possibility of creating a new conference in Michigan, building on the strongest elements of each ministry rather than attempting to merge the conferences.

Those gathered encouraged Bishop Deb to hold five listening events. The group also suggested a series of guiding questions to be asked during the listening sessions related to the discussion of forming a totally new conference in Michigan. Among the questions were:

What are the compelling reasons for creating a totally new conference in Michigan?
What are the compelling opportunities?
What may be gained?
What concerns need to be considered?
What are some anticipated outcomes?
How will we listen for the anticipated losses?
How will we use the years ahead to dream and vision?
The group affirmed Bishop Deb's commitment to a broad, open and transparent conversation about the creation of a new conference.

"These five events are open to any and all United Methodists who would like to enter into this dialogue about the creation of a new conference for the Michigan Area," commented Clergy Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Dr. Bill Dobbs. "Bishop Deb will come prepared to share her thinking around this possibility, but wants those attending to know that she really wants to hear from you; your concerns, your hopes, your dreams,"he concluded.

The five events are free and open to all United Methodists. To accommodate broader participation in the conversation, the January 12 event at Cornerstone Church in Grand Rapids will be webcast live.

January 12, Monday at Grand Rapids, Cornerstone UMC, 6:30 until 8:00 pm.
February 3, Tuesday at Northville UMC, 6:30 until 8:00 pm.

Area leaders are hoping members will participate in the listening sessions across the state. "This is your chance to speak with and hear from our Episcopal leader," said Dobbs, "Your voice is important in this conversation."
NO MORE MALARIA UPDATE: The Michigan Episcopal Area has committed to raising $1.5 million for Imagine No Malaria by December 2014. Thank you all for the work that each church is doing as we join in the common effort to eradicate this killer disease. Our Bishop Deb Kiesey has a special message on Save lives, give to Advance #3021190. We realize that a few churches have made pledges to be completed by Easter of 2015, however, please send all 2014 Imagine No Malaria Funds collected by the end of 2014 to your West Michigan Conference Treasurer Pros Tumonong by the year end final deadline submission date of January 19, 2015. Thank you.

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