started this petition to
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson
Dear Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson:
We, the laity of the North Georgia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, respectfully call on you to refrain from making disruptive clergy reappointments that neither local churches nor clergy are seeking in this critical time for our congregations and our denomination.
As you know, many local churches have only recently returned to in person worship after a year of Covid-19 pandemic induced restrictions. Congregations are just beginning to rebuild the sense of community and shared mission so important to the health and vitality of a local church.
Furthermore, it is widely known that these are very fragile times for the UM Church. United Methodists around the world are awaiting a vote on the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation, a proposal negotiated by leading UM Church bishops, and leaders of advocacy groups representing United Methodists with diverse theological opinions. As you know, the adoption of the Protocol would provide for an amicable and orderly division of the UM Church, allowing congregations to decide for themselves whether or not to join new Methodist churches. In the spirit of that Protocol, people of theologically diverse opinions and good will are striving hard not to disrupt the mission and ministries of those with whom they disagree. We appreciate your support for the Protocol, and we call upon you to model its spirit for all the people of the North Georgia Annual Conference.
You have made your opinions clear as to where you stand on the theological and ethical issues that have generated the long and bitter dispute among United Methodists. While some of us may disagree with you, we respect your right to hold them. By the same token, we trust you will not use your authority to disrupt or undermine clergy and congregations with theological and ethical views in line with present teachings of the UM Church. We note with thanks that many bishops have honored the spirit of the Protocol during this season of watching and waiting, and we trust you will do so as well.
With our brothers and sisters at Mt. Bethel UM Church, we call on you to reverse your decision to move their senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jody Ray, to a new position. It is our understanding that neither the Rev. Dr. Ray nor the church’s staff parish relations committee sought such a dramatic change at this time, and that thousands of Mt. Bethel UM Church members and friends have signed a petition stating their opposition to it. We do not believe this proposed change honors the spirit of the Protocol.
Therefore, in light of the challenges of the pandemic, and in anticipation of an orderly and amicable separation of the UM Church, we feel strongly that this is not the time for disruptive changes in the senior leadership of any our churches unless a pastor or a congregation is requesting such a change.
Concerned North Georgia United Methodist Laity