New Methodist Conference

On Being Church

Church is the gathered community, not a building. NMC communities and ministries meet around kitchen tables and in living rooms, coffee shops and pizza parlors, rented halls, and sometimes even in borrowed sanctuaries: wherever two or more are gathered together in Jesus’ name. Our focus is on serving God and God’s people, not financing real estate.

What unites us in Conference as ministries and communities is our voluntary covenant to be together in this experiment in faithful living. It all comes down to trust in ourselves, in each other, and in Jesus the Christ.

We live our faith: working always for openness to other viewpoints, to the possibility of changing one's own understanding based on the testimony and insight of others, in dialog. We work intentionally to recapture that openness to new insight, and act on the belief that God's Holy Spirit is truly among us, leading us forward.

Small is Beautiful

A gift of our small size is that we do not need any layers of bureaucracy or mazes of agencies. We are committed to a fully participatory community so that all truly have a voice in the growth and life of our Conference. We never confuse 'head count' with the quality of our witness and ministries.

Local ministers and communities come together to renew our covenant, and strengthen our friendships at our Annual Conference. Decision-making is by consensus. The Conference's business is managed by a small Ministry Team elected by the whole of the membership. Our two bishops act as our "cat herders", keeping us connected and tending to the few administrative duties among us.

Baptized into Ministry

Through our baptism, we are all made ministers of the Gospel, and followers of the Christ. Yet we recognize that as gathered communities and ministries, we sometimes need "specialists", who are trained to preside at the Sacraments, and lead and teach and counsel.

We stand with John Wesley and ask only two questions for each person who seeks membership in our Conference, and for our lives together as Conference: 1. Has Jesus the Nazarene become the Christ for you? and 2. Does your daily life reflect that the Christ is at work in you? It is the Living Christ who calls us to ministry, leads us to the wilderness, and challenges us to find new ways to be faithful servants of the Good News.

Old School, Fresh Expression

Taking our cue from Wesley, we reach back to the oldest models of ministry, and embrace three kinds of minister: the Deacon, the Priest, and the Bishop. These three kinds of ministers are not a hierarchy of privilege or power, as has happened in the Roman and Anglican churches. Each ministry is a unique expression of servanthood, and has its own calling and duties.

Deacons are ordained to supervise the right use of the worldly goods of the local community, and actively work in ministries of service and presence between the local communities and those who are in need in the world at large. Deacons give voice to the voiceless, and make visible the real needs of those whom our society makes invisible. By extension, Deacons are called on to speak for the earth, as stewards of the resources of our planet, and as kin of all our non-human sisters and brothers. Deacons at worship proclaim the Gospel and serve at the Communion Table.

Priests are ordained to celebrate the Sacraments (Baptism, Eucharist, etc.), provide pastoral care and oversight for the local communities (or ministries or chaplaincies), to teach the Gospel and lead by example. Elders are called on to reveal the whole earth as Sacred, and all of life as Holy.

Bishops are ordained as the pastoral leaders of our Conference. Bishops fulfill their ancient role as initiators of the faithful: baptizing, confirming, commissioning and ordaining. As such, Bishops ensure that those who are initiated are ready and worthy.

Our Bishops stand in the apostolic succession of bishops with humility and dedication. In this we bring to Methodism what Wesley was never able to secure for his ministers: valid sacramental ordination.

Bishops ensure that the Gospel is revealed, that ministers and communities and ministries are spiritually nurtured. For the Bishop, as for Wesley: the world is our parish.