2021 Greater New Jersey Annual Conference

Did the coronavirus affect how the conference met?

Yes, only essential staff and clergy (ordained and commissioned) were present in person. Other presentations were included via Zoom or prerecorded videos.

Officiating bishop: John Schol

Guest speakers and memorable points or quotes by speakers: 

Powerful testimonies from Laura Steele and James Lee, who were commissioned and ordained as an Elder, respectively. 

• Quote from Laura: “To that voice today that says imposter, I say impossible.” 

• James: “After three jobs and three kids, I heard the small voice again.” “I was told, ‘James, I love you for who you are, not what you do.’” — it was then that he pursued a life of ministry and learned to “live a life of no walls.”

• Bishop Schol: "We are a holy communion of different races, ethnicities, cultures and perspectives united by the Holy Spirit, driven by the mission of Christ, and bearing the good news of an unmerited grace that changes lives and transforms communities."

Main actions enacted by the conference: 

A Journey of Hope, our five-year plan to work toward ending the sin of racism, moved forward with the selection of the consultant, Fearless Dialogues, who will equip 150 leaders to lead the project into the next phase of providing training support to our churches as we grow our vitality and engage in the community, we will work together to end the sin of racism.

The conference passed legislation to strengthen A Journey of Hope — ensuring equity, ensuring congregations in low-income communities are apportioned shared ministry at a reduced amount and ensuring that all congregations are treated the same regardless of their shared ministry.

Read A Journey of Hope and legislation here, where you will find more details about ACT, which calls us to act by creating compelling Aspirations to end the sin of racism, deepening Comprehension and understanding of racism and how to end racism, and Transform the church into a vital and dynamic witness of God’s grace through Jesus Christ and live out our baptismal vows.

Number of churches that closed because no longer sustainable: 5 churches are set to close in 2021, 3 are in legislation

Any special annual conference set:
Set had to be changed according to event, i.e. ordination. 

Other resolutions adopted by the conference:

• We passed legislation related to the Trustee Enabling Resolutions, which gives the Board of Trustees the authority to carry out its work, set minimum salaries for clergy and approved 11 advance specials for mission and ministry in the community.

• The GNJ Designated Fund Policies was postponed to the adjourned session, Oct. 14, 2021, when the financial and property sales reports will be provided.

• We added new legislation in response to the sexist clause found in the United Methodist Men report in the Preconference Journal. Following testimonies from some of our clergywomen and a vote of 498-23, that language has been removed from the report. To view the presentation of the new legislation presented by Rev. Iraida Ruiz De Porras, Commission on Status and Role of Women chairperson and senior pastor, Christ UMC in Lakewood, click here.
• We passed GNJ United Methodist Women’s Intersectional Peace with Justice legislation as presented by GNJ UMW president Sue Zahorbenski to “work for justice through compassionate service and advocacy to change unfair policies and systems” and “provide educational experiences that lead to personal change in order to transform the world.”

• We passed the legislation, making the Educational Society of the GNJAC a subcommittee of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The Educational Society has provided financial help through scholarships and loans to students pursuing ministry in the former Southern New Jersey Annual Conference and the GNJAC since at least 1863.  

Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership: 13 

Number of clergy retired: 22

More info in a narrative form can be found here: Recap: 2021 Annual Conference – Forward | United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey (gnjumc.org)

— Submitted by Heather Mistretta, editorial manager, Greater New Jersey Conference

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2021 Michigan Annual Conference

June 3-6, Lansing Public Media Center and online.