Story by Charmaine Robledo
Director of Communications, Mountain Sky Area
On July 15, delegates to the 2016 Western Jurisdictional Conference approved the Mission Shaped Future Petition that sought to create a new annual conference out of the Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone annual conferences. The jurisdiction has the authority on conference boundaries. The Reverends Jeremy Scott, delegate from the Yellowstone Conference, and Bradley Laurvick, delegate from the Rocky Mountain Conference, co-presented the Mission Shaped Future Petition to the delegates.
“Bringing together our two conferences has been discussed off and on,” said Rev. Scott, citing the areas have shared a bishop for decades and more recently, conference staff.
Scott said that Yellowstone Conference’s 34 active elders, 21 license pastors and about 10,000 total members presented challenges.
“The reality is it is a district’s worth of people attempting to do a conference’s amount of work,” said Scott. “Our pain is not financial; it’s about the non-negotiable, institutional burden the Discipline places on all conferences large and small.”
Laurvick admittedly said he questioned whether “the timing and process was correct this time.” However, he added that leaders listened and responded to concerns.
The Mission Shaped Future Petition specifically seeks “approval from the Western Jurisdictional Conference of The United Methodist Church to realign the boundaries of the Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain Annual Conferences to form one, new annual conference, following, and contingent upon, the full discernment and agreement of the two participating conferences.” The petition was approved by both annual conferences in June.
Future Discernment Listening Sessions were held throughout the Mountain Sky Area this past April and May for people to gather and consider the creation of a new annual conference. District Superintendents and members of the Mission Shaped Future Team were present at each event to lead the discussions.
“The conversation about how exactly this new conference will look is ongoing,” said Laurvick. “We’re asking for non-binding permission. … We’re asking for a post-dated check that we can cash in a few years.”
“It’s an engagement instead of a marriage,” he added.
California-Pacific Delegate Ken Ellis asked whether approving this petition would cut the connection to the greater United Methodist Church, particularly the General Conference. He asked delegates to “delay the loss of folks.”
Laurvick assured Ellis that seating for General Conference will not change in 2020 because the numbers are based on statistics from 2017. He said it would change in 2024.
Mountain Sky Area Bishop Elaine Stanovsky will bring together a team to look at the next steps for the Mission Shaped Future process.
Watch the archived video
of the Mission Shaped Future presentation July 15. For more information and background, go to www.rmcumc.org/missionshapedfuture