This issue supplements the new United Methodist Women geographical study: Missionary Conferences of The United Methodist Church in the United States by J. Ann Craig. The conferences covered in the book and this issue are the Red Bird Missionary Conference, Oklahoma Missionary Conference and the Alaska United Methodist Conference. Discussed as well is the Rio Grande Conference, now Rio Texas, which is not an official missionary conference within the denomination but shares many of the same characteristics.
The Book of Discipline of The United Methodist Church designates a conference as a missionary conference “because of its particular mission opportunities, its limited membership and resources, its unique leadership requirements, its strategic regional or language considerations, and ministerial needs” (¶585). Their histories are the history of United Methodist mission theology as it moves from colonialism to mutuality, repentance and reconciliation.
The work of mutuality and reconciliation is messy and uncomfortable—something we polite church folk aren’t always willing to engage in. But it is exactly the work we are called to do. As my colleague Janis Rosheuvel says, steps 1-10 in building right relationships is Listen. Listen and believe. Then act.
There is almost three feet of snow outside my window as I write this. I am ready for the new life of spring, to step out of winter’s cocoon. I hope as you read this you feel the same and you feel the sun (and Son) call you out to put faith, hope and love into action.