Hopeful Signs Among Disaffiliations

From Forrest Buhler, CAUMC Lay Representative to the Great Plains Annual Conference:

I thought you might be interested in an article entitled “Taking stock after a season of disaffiliations” published December 15, 2022, by the United Methodist News (UM News), the official source of information and news about The United Methodist Church. The link to the article is below. The article puts together in one place information and links on the results of disaffiliations so far from across the
United States. You will also see a link in the article to stories showing how this is impacting the budget process for the UMC General Council on Finance and Administration.

Overall Numbers in the US. The article includes the numbers so far for Jurisdictions and Conferences in the US. All disaffiliations from the UMC must be completed by the end of 2023, so there is still more to come (see link below), but the article helps to give a picture of what the numbers are at this point. For example, the UM News says that 2,003 churches in the U.S. have disaffiliated so far. That translates to about 6.6% of U.S. congregations withdrawing since 2019 when the church’s disaffiliation provision took effect. The Southeastern Jurisdiction has the highest number of withdrawals.

South Central Jurisdiction Numbers that Include the Great Plains Conference. The article includes a chart with the total number of disaffiliations in each of the five Jurisdictions in the UMC. Our Great Plains Conference, made up of Kansas and Nebraska churches, is in the South Central Jurisdiction, which includes the states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. According to the article: “The Texas Conference, stretching from the Houston area to the eastern part of the state, on Dec. 4 approved the highest number of disaffiliations — 294, or nearly half of its 598 churches. The Northwest Texas Conference, voting on the same day, ratified the highest percentage of disaffiliations — 74%, or 145 of its 196 churches.” Similarly high numbers were recorded for churches in the Southeastern Jurisdiction. There is a link in the article to the numbers for each of the Conferences in the United States.

Great Plains Conference Numbers Relatively Small. So comparatively speaking, the 77 disaffiliations we have experienced so far in the Great Plains Conference out of about 960 local congregations, is much lower than the conferences elsewhere. In addition, the income on which the Great Plains Conference based its budget for 2023 increased over previous years.

Hopeful signs. There are hopeful signs as well. The article says even with the disaffiliation, there are still more than 28,500 United Methodist congregations in the U.S. The article also reports new congregations forming made up of members who did not agree with the disaffiliating church’s decision.

The link to the article is as follows: http://bit.ly/40ezLtc

Link to Special Sessions for disaffiliations in 2023: http://bit.ly/3kRUwut

Switching from a Livestream to a Recording

What: we’re switching from livestreaming Sunday morning worship to posting a recording of the service Sunday afternoon.

Why: it’s happening: the experts have been brought in, and our network connection is currently intermittent. This difficulty is probably because of a problem with the main router, a switch, or an ethernet cable.

When: This change will not be permanent. We fully intend to return to livestreaming later next month. The problem is fixable and temporary. But it won’t be until sometime in February that it can be addressed. 

Church T-Shirts This Weekend

I’ll plan to preach on Micah 6:1-8 this Sunday (January 29, 2023). In verse 8, Micah tells us that God desires that we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God. On our church t-shirts, this is phrased as “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly,” but the meaning is the same.

Youth Grants

The College Avenue UMC Youth Group has over $17,000 in grant money from football parking to share with other non-profit organizations. If you are associated with an organization that would benefit from a monetary grant, please download the application form from the website, or contact the church office at 785-539-4191. Grant applications are now being accepted through February 20, 2023.

Worship — Sunday, January 22, 2023

Here’s the YouTube link: youtu.be/JKGqNwwmoCY

IWe again had problems with the livestream again today. We’ll make some more adjustments and try again next Sunday. One of the problems with figuring out what’s wrong is that everything works just fine in the middle of the week and then goes south on Sunday morning.

Looking for a previous service? Here’s the College Avenue United Methodist Church YouTube page: www.youtube.com/c/caumcMHK

Livestream Fixes In Place

The tech crew has made several changes to our livestreaming system. These include increasing our internet transfer speed and throttling the wi-fi (to leave more data available for the livestream). Hopefully these will work. If you’re watching from home, please let us know whether it works or not. If we have problems, you can catch the recorded service later at https://bit.ly/3vcil1Y.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ve titled this post “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” because I want to emphasize something that is often overlooked or obscured in our celebration of today’s national holiday. What is commonly overlooked or obscured is the religious nature of the civil rights movement; the way that faith in general, and Christian faith in particular, undergirded and provided the foundation for what was accomplished. Before he was a civil rights leader, before he rose to national prominence, before he had a federal holiday named after him, Martin Luther King was a pastor. For that reason it seems appropriate to share this quote from one of his many sermons:

“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”

— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Loving Your Enemies,”
delivered at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Montgomery Alabama, November 17, 1957.