February 27, 2021
February 26, 2021

To the People Called United Methodist of the Mountain Sky Conference,

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

As you may have read yesterday, the postponed General Conference 2020, which was rescheduled to 2021, has been postponed yet again due to the worldwide COVID pandemic. General Conference will now be held August 29 to September 6, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A special called session of General Conference will be held virtually on May 8, 2021.

The Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation will NOT be taken up at the special called session in May. Items to be voted on—through paper ballot to allow full participation of delegates—are only those essential for the administration of the denomination until the regular General Conference can be held.

I have heard from many frustrated laity and clergy across our conference since the announcement was made: “Who are we supposed to be in this limbo time?”

Here are my thoughts: you, me, all of us are to be the disciples of Jesus, beloved of God, called to share God’s healing, saving grace with a broken world.

We are all a part of the Mountain Sky family. We are called to be the place where Love lives. With love as our guide, there is a place for you in this conference, whether you live in Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, or Salmon, Idaho. There is a place for you in this conference whether you understand yourself to be a Traditionalist, Conservative, Liberal, Progressive, or a little bit of all four. There is a place for you in this conference if you call yourself Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or politically apathetic. There is a place for you if you are Black, Asian, Hispanic, Native, White, or some other beautiful hue of God’s magnificent rainbow. There is a place for you if you are straight, queer, nonbinary, or self-identify in some other way. It doesn’t mean that we are always comfortable with our differences or get this right all the time, but we have been given a call from Jesus to love one another and we will seek to love one another in all things.

There are so many across our region who have had their faith shaken to the core in the midst of the COVID pandemic. There are those whose hearts have been broken by grief and loss. There are those who lost income and jobs and are now barely hanging on. There are those who have felt the brutality of racism and discrimination. Your ministry is needed in even more critical ways. And as a connectional people, each local church ministry is done on behalf of all of us. That is why we need each other: each of us—each person and each church-- has a role to play that complements the rest. We each reach out to share God’s love in ways that are unique but when held in the bonds of our shared commitments as United Methodists reveal the power and presence of God across all our divisions and diversities.

It will still be nearly a year and a half until the Protocol is voted on. But God needs us TODAY to be the Body of Christ in the world. I give thanks to God for the many ways you are providing a tangible, life-transforming witness to a world in need.

Your sister in Christ,
Bishop Karen P. Oliveto