2022 Northwest Texas Annual Conference

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The Northwest Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church gathered in person June 16- 17, 2022, at the Overton Hotel in Lubbock, Texas. First United Methodist Church of Lubbock hosted ordination on June 16 at 7 p.m. Bishop James G. Nunn presided. Our theme this year was titled “Breakthrough” and was based on Exodus 33 with imagery of the cloud by day and fire by night that led the Israelites through their time in the wilderness. Here is our theme narrative that truly guided our time together. 

We often think of the Israelites wandering in the desert without a purpose, left feeling like a forgotten people with the Lord nowhere nearby. They were lost and wondering, left in liminal space, wondering if the promised land would ever be something they would find. They broke free from a life of slavery only to feel lost in the unknown promises of freedom.

However, we know God was with them in the wilderness, even in the times of their rebellion and disbelief. They would get comfortable or impatient and turn from God. When we get comfortable, we lose some of what God has for us.

If we want to get where God is calling us, we must look for God’s provisions along the way. God provided the Israelites with food and water. God led amongst the chosen people through a cloud by day and fire by night. When God moved in the cloud, the Israelites moved. When it stayed still, they waited. Both actions followed where God was leading. There were no initiatives, objectives, or goals, just moving where God led. They found protection in the cloud and the fire. When they stumbled in their unbelief, it shifted their focus from what God was calling them to do. 

When unbelief begins to creep in, we find ourselves slipping into discouragement, fear, or hardships that make us feel separated and isolated from the Lord. Discouragement thrives on self-pity, and we often put a mask on to hide our deep dismay. Discouragement overwhelms you when you forget that you are not alone, and God is with you. Fear causes us to lose sight of God’s promise and provision. We miss seeing that God’s protection is all around us.

We repeatedly see that the Israelites quickly forgot how God provided for them and that God was present with them. Maxie Dunnam stated, “Most people prefer the hell of a predictable situation rather than risk the joy of an unpredictable one.” In your life, what situation are you choosing to stay in? Where do you need to break through and step out towards where God is leading? Where is God calling you to start something new?

But do not fear! All is not lost! In Exodus 33, after time and time again of the Israelites turning from God, Moses still interceded for his people not to be left and forgotten by the Lord. Moses pleaded with the Lord to not abandon them and for God to show favor and remember the covenant with them. Moses said in Exodus 33:15-17, ESV, “If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people? Is it not in your going with us, so that we are distinct, I and your people, from every other people on the face of the earth?’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’” And he didn’t stop there. Moses also pleaded for himself. “Moses said, ‘Please show me your glory.’ And God replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’. And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.’” Moses desired to feel more of the presence of God. He asked for God to reveal to him more of God’s glory.

In this moment, are you yearning for more of God’s glory? Are you interceding for your people in prayer? Are you asking to see more of the glory of God? Maybe that glimpse is all you need to break through into where God is leading you, your church, or your community. Are you asking for it? Don’t miss the ministry happening now, or that can begin while waiting in the wilderness.

During our business sessions, our members worked through a handful of resolutions. We welcomed one church transferring into our Conference from the New Mexico Annual Conference, Hamlin Memorial UMC, due to their physical location now being in Texas rather than New Mexico. We also celebrated the life and ministry of Community of Grace UMC as the body passed its resolution to close this year. Our Hispanic/Latino Movement is thriving throughout our Conference and working with United Seminary to create paths accessible for Spanish-speaking pastors to further their education with a seminary degree at an affordable cost to them. 

Our primary focus during sessions was receiving the Trustee’s Report with the NWTX Transition Process and Disaffiliation agreement under paragraph 2553 for churches who may wish to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. Also, from the Council of Finance & Administration, the Financial Framework for this transition was presented before the body and passed. Since these two actions were not finalized until this session of the Annual Conference, the NWTX Conference has not had any churches disaffiliate or leave the Conference to date. After Conference, we asked every church to participate in a time of prayer and fasting, discerning what path before their local church they should take. A special called session is pending on Dec. 3 to work through churches that have completed the newly instated disaffiliation steps for our Conference. There are also two other Annual Conference Sessions planned for 2023 that churches wanting to disaffiliate can be processed. 

Our Ordination Service this year celebrated two pastors becoming ordained as Elders, Stephania Gilkey and Benjamin Van Fleet. Three were commissioned as Provisional Elders, Shera J Atkinson, Larry Bass, and Blake Durham. We had nine clergy retire this year. 

Ministry is alive and well in the Northwest Texas Annual Conference. Please pray for our church and pastors over the next year as they discern where God is calling them.

—Jaime Montgomery, Chief Communications Officer, Northwest Texas Conference 

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