12 February 2020
An open letter to our fellow Alaskan United Methodists:
Greetings in the name of our risen Savior and Lord Jesus Christ,
In just a few short days, we will be gathering together for a specially called session of the Alaska Conference of the United Methodist Church to consider one item of business, shall we petition the General Conference to change our status from a Missionary Conference to a Mission District?
Our response to that question is YES. Four years ago, Thomas Kemper, the General Secretary for the Board of Global Ministries made it clear that his intent was to cease having missionary annual conferences within the bounds of the United States. The year 2020 will be our final year in receiving funds from that General Board. Moving forward, we are not large enough to become a stand-alone conference. We believe that a Mission District will provide us with a path forward that allows us to continue to organize for ministry in flexible and sustainable ways for years to come.
Some might say we should remain a conference because of our geographic distance from other conferences. Hawaii is a district of the California-Pacific Conference and it has worked well. Some might say we would lose our unique ability to raise funds from outside for our truly missional contexts like Unalaska, or Nome, or Willow, or Ketchikan. We believe this change will better position us to advocate for funding of these truly unique and mission congregations.
While it is difficult to imagine all the ramifications of such a change, we believe that this move is in the best interests of all Alaskan United Methodists for a sustainable way forward in mission and ministry.
We know that this is a time of great uncertainty in the United Methodist Church, but we also know that God has gone before us, and God also hems us in. We are not alone as we bravely make these next steps forward as together we seek to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. May God’s grace be with us always.
Your fellow disciples,
the Rev. Andrew J. Bartel, Lead Pastor St John UMC Anchorage
the Rev. Emily Carroll, Pastor of Discipleship & Justice St John Anchorage
Lonnie Brooks, Lay Member to Annual Conference St John UMC Anchorage
Von Cawvey, Lay Member to Annual Conference St John UMC Anchorage
Tina Racy, Alternate Lay Member to Annual Conference St John UMC Anchorage