As we get closer to the time when we will begin this journey as one Annual Conference, I thought it might be helpful to outline for you some of the plans as we move into this new reality.
First, by January 1, 2018 (and probably before) we will have the final boundaries of the new 9 Districts in place and that will be shared across the state. As you, hopefully, are aware we are moving from 12 Districts which make up the current West Michigan and Detroit Annual Conferences to 9 Districts that will make up the new Michigan Annual Conference. That means of course that all 9 Districts will be new entities with new names as well as congregational makeup.
But before the Grand Rapids District closes, we are going to have a celebration! On January 27, 2018 from 9:00am – noon we will gather to celebrate the 50 years of ministry we have shared in the United Methodist Grand Rapids District. Our former District Superintendent, now Bishop Laurie Haller, will be preaching as we gather for worship. We’ll hear stories of where we have been and what has been accomplished as we have walked together these five decades. So make sure that this date is on your calendar, you will not want to miss it! Details are coming soon.
Then as we look forward to the beginning of the “new” District we will have some opportunities to get together in regions to talk about hopes and dreams. That process will culminate in an Organizing District Conference on Sunday, April 22, 2018. At that Conference we will elect the needed Disciplinary Committees, District Committee on Ministry, District Committee on Building and Location, and the District Committee on Superintendency. We will also elect a District Visioning Team that will lead us into our first year helping us to discern what leadership structure we will need going forward. It has not been finally decided at this point, but we may also be selecting a name for the District at that organizing conference.
Then on July 1, 2018 we will begin functioning as 9 Districts in one Annual Conference. The caveat to that July 1 beginning is that from a legal and financial perspective we will not be the Michigan Annual Conference officially until January 1, 2019. We are still working on how those details will be worked out in that six month period, but I trust and am sure we will find our way.
These are exciting times and I look forward, as I hope you do, to the ways our new District and our new Annual Conference will help congregations make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!