What exactly is going on in The United Methodist Church?

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By Patrick Scriven

“My pastor hasn’t mentioned General Conference once from the pulpit. He’s afraid of the conflict.”

“It’s all so confusing. And exhausting. Help!”

I’ve been surprised on a number of occasions to encounter fellow United Methodists who are blissfully unaware of the current state of The United Methodist Church. I suspect that they often exist because of one of the two quotes I opened with.

I’ve had several conversations with laypersons who are very aware of what happened at General Conference 2019, who also happento be in churches that aren’t talking about it at all. For various reasons, they have taken it upon themselves to stay informed. One expressed their worry that their church won’t be ready if they are forced to make a decision due to some split. I suspect that is a wise worry.

I’ve also spoken with several pastors who are simply overwhelmed by the onslaught of developments. The work of trying to stay on top of it all, coupled as it often is with the typical (and very real) challenges of the local church, is exhausting. It isn’t always as simple as a desire to avoid conflict.

It’s a difficult time to be a leader, lay or clergy, in The United Methodist Church. I get that, I really do.

It is also a really important time for our leaders, clergy and lay, to keep themselves well-informed so they can be having essential conversations with the communities under their care.

In collaboration with other communications colleagues, I’ve recently published a new page on the Greater Northwest Area website to make this work a little easier. It attempts to capture some of the key things that have happened since General Conference 2019 while providing a look ahead at some potential inflection points ahead.

Like The United Methodist Church, this page is an imperfect work in progress. Let me know what is helpful to you (and what isn’t), and what is missing that maybe should be there.

The way ahead for us may be difficult and uncertain, but with preparation and God’s help, I have no doubt that we’ll make this road by walking together.

View GC2020 News & Resources Page


Patrick Scriven is a husband who married well, a father of three amazing girls, and a seminary educated layperson working professionally in the church. Scriven serves the Pacific Northwest Conference as Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries.

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