I am honored to serve as your next president of the National Fellowship. With so many things undecided about the future of the United Methodist Church some are asking questions about the role of Licensed Local Pastors and Associate Members and the future of our Fellowship in the days ahead. Honestly, I don’t know what will happen to our church. I am told the current language in our discipline about the LGBTQ+ community will probably not change at General Conference 2020. That will please some folks while others may decide it’s time to leave, divide or dissolve. This Fellowship will not take part in those debates, it’s not our place and our members are not of one mind on the best way forward for the church. We will, however, continue to work to strengthen the United Methodist Church by representing the Associate Members and Licensed Local Pastors, who serve our Annual Conferences and local churches.
Our history of evangelism and church growth includes the work of traveling elders and local elders sent by their bishop to bring the message of Jesus to the world and build the church. After the traveling elder had established a local class meeting its growth and community service became stronger through the ministry of the local elder and local church. Large and small United Methodist Churches dot the landscape of America through this pattern of ministry. In my home state of Missouri, at one time there was at least one United Methodist Church in every county. The United Methodist Church today depends upon the work of the clergy: Elder, Deacon, Associate Member and Local Pastor working together and leading the laity in making disciples of Jesus Christ and transforming the world.
We have submitted 5 pieces of legislation to General Conference 2020 intended to increase the role and recognition of the Associate Member and Local Pastor. They address how the Chair of the Annual Conference Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members are chosen, granting input of the local Fellowship. We are asking for a new clergy group; Ordained Pastor. Under our proposal, Local Pastors would be ordained and carry sacramental authority even into retirement. They would be eligible to be elected as delegates to General Conference and have the right to vote on amendments to our Discipline. Our proposed legislation can be found on the website. Please read it, ask questions and if you agree with our focus, send it to the 2020 General Conference Delegates from your Annual Conference.
FTLP – Missouri Annual Conference