Beloved in Christ Jesus,

As I write this, the General Conference is within a half-hour of adjournment. I want to offer a few thoughts as we move forward.

  • Your prayers have sustained the West Ohio delegates, all of the delegates, the bishops, me and Cynthia. Thank you. I encourage you to continue to be earnest in prayer for The United Methodist Church, the mission and your local church.
  • Over the next 48 hours I will be sorting out and analyzing what the General Conference actually adopted along with the decisions of the General Conference and the effect of those actions on our common life. I will not be doing this in isolation, but with other bishops and with our delegates and other leaders in our conference.
  • I hope you will be at one of many locations for the simulcast on Saturday morning March 2. This will give me a chance to share a first summary of where we are and answer a few questions.
  • The cabinet will be meeting with me 3 of the next 7 days to continue the process of analysis and communication.
  • Your District Superintendents will be moving among you in the month of March.
  • I will be determining in the next several weeks the places I need to be and the conversations I need to host with multiple audiences.

This has been a robust General Conference. The attention to prayer and worship has been inspiring and helpful. There have been bright moments and there have been dim moments. There have been words and speeches that have soared with poetic Spirit inspired oratory. There have been words and speeches that have done harm to people, especially our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. I lament this and our lack of capacity to hold the whole together and keep the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace”.

That said I am more sold out to Jesus and the Good News he embodied. I am more committed to the mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” and doing everything in my power in WOC to start new churches to do this work and encouraging all churches that are doing this work now. I am resolute that I/we have been called to be the church together. The Bible, many resources within the Christian tradition, and our book of polity all call us to unity for the sake of mission. You can expect that I will continue to both curate and provoke, to be a pastor, prophet, and priest among you.

I have confidence in our future together because I am sure God is not through with The United Methodist Church. Our greatest influence on the future of the UMC will spring primarily from how we embody the mission and ministry in West Ohio. Because I move forward in hope does not mean that I move into the future unclear that there is a challenging road ahead of us locally and globally. We have work to do, “a charge to keep and a God to glorify”. We have work to do and our work is never uncontested and that is precisely why we place our hope and trust God.

Now may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you may overflow with Hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Your servant for the sake of the Gospel,

†Gregory V. Palmer