Open Spirit Task Force announces members, sets first meeting

July 22, 2019

In June, the Annual Conference approved creation of the Open Spirit Task Force, the purpose of which is "to examine whether and how United Methodists of New England might align with, create, or form a new church body in the Methodist tradition (independently or in collaboration with others)."

The first meeting of the 35-member task force is scheduled to take place on Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019, at the Conference offices in Methuen, MA.

The 2019 Annual Conference approved RS-19-210 COMMISSIONING THE OPEN SPIRIT TASK FORCE at the first plenary session on June 13.

The original resolution called for 25 members. During its report to Annual Conference, the Committee on Leadership/Nominations, which was charged with selecting members, indicated that 35 people would be invited to join the task force. 

The Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, lead pastor at Union UMC in Boston, serves as advisor and convener. Dr. Williams also heads the New England Delegation to the 2020 General Conference and Northeastern Jurisdictional Conference.

Dr. Williams said “In order to attend to the broad diversity within our Annual Conference, also as specified in the resolution, we believe that an expanded composition is critical.”

Thirty-three members were selected by Leadership/Nominations and two were designated by Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar. Conference Lay Leader Rene Wilbur and Vermont District Superintendent Jill Colley Robinson, Dean of the Cabinet, will serve advisors along with Dr. Williams.

Find a list of the Open Spirit Task Force members here.

“In the coming weeks, our team will provide significant leadership in discerning and guiding New England’s next steps amidst denominational uncertainty following February’s special General Conference,” Dr. Williams said. “While stakes are high and time is not on our side, Paul’s words to the churches at Philippi offer comfort:

‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).’”