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Unity Covenant - ...

Unity Covenant - Mississippi

That They May Be One: A Covenant for Unity in the Mississippi Conference of the United Methodist Church

(We thank our friends in the North Georgia Conference for inviting us to adapt their original document.  You are invited to endorse this covenant by sharing your name at this link.)

As members of the Mississippi Annual Conference, we acknowledge the difficult issues facing the denomination we love and serve. We affirm that there appear to be no simple solutions to the issues of polity and theology that face the United Methodist Church. The presenting conflict may be our different understandings of human sexuality, but the challenge is deeper than this one concern. While our disagreements are significant, we confess our faith in a God who creates out of nothing, makes a way out of no way, and holds the power to bring the dead to life.

Though there are some matters about which we profoundly disagree, we are united in our opposition to schism in the United Methodist Church. We do not believe, as some have argued, that splitting the church into separate, theologically like-minded denominations will solve the issues surrounding the modern United Methodist Church. We reject the notion that this sort of denominational split is the answer to the many difficult disagreements we have seen played out at the local church, annual conference, jurisdictional, and general church level.

We do not believe that the status quo is sufficient; we simply believe that without diverse voices at the table—including those traditionally considered conservative and those traditionally considered liberal—we will lose much of what makes the United Methodist Church an authentic expression of the Body of Christ. In short, in the interest of aligning ourselves around specific ideological viewpoints, we stand to lose John Wesley's grand catholic spirit and fall short of Jesus’ own prayer “that they may be one.”

We confess to God and each other that we have sometimes failed to watch over one another in love. We have, at times, failed to keep true to our covenant as United Methodists, preferring the work of disruption and covenant-breaking to the work of discipline and relationship-building.  Likewise, we have, at times, failed to recognize the sacred worth of each of God’s children. We ask forgiveness when we have sought to pursue our own understandings of God’s will without considering the perspectives of those with whom we disagree.

We commit to intentionally find times to gather during the coming year so that United Methodists of all persuasions--conservative and liberal, clergy and lay--may engage in holy conferencing and wise decision-making about the important witness of church unity in a fragmented world. We commit to renewing focus upon reaching a generation skeptical of the church, creating new places of worship, transforming our communities, increasing morale across the denomination, adjusting church structures to ensure a sustainable future, and recruiting young people for a lifetime of vital ministry in the United Methodist Church. We refuse to be bound by the fear that often stifles these conversations and stands in the way of the Great Commission.

We further commit to respect one another in the midst of differences in belief and opinion, including those persons in our denomination whose conscience leads them to call for separation.  We believe that unity does not require complete uniformity. Our diversity gives us strength and resiliency; we are convinced that the things that unite us--particularly our call to discipleship and mission --are stronger than the divisions among us.

Claiming one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism, we pray that the Spirit will renew our longing for common life in the church, heal our fragmentation, and strengthen our witness to the world so that we might better tend to our fundamental, common mission: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

(You are invited to endorse this covenant by sharing your name at this link. Your name will be added to this list within 24 hours.)

Signatures:

Chris Cumbest, Clergyperson

Chris Young, Clergyperson

Ricky James, Clergyperson

Gavin Lance Presley, Clergyperson

Paige Swaim-Presley, Clergyperson

Davis Carothers, Clergyperson

Austin Hoyle, Clergyperson

Kenny McGill, Clergyperson

Joseph Ranager, Clergyperson

Keith Keeton, Clergyperson

Jonathan Tullos, Clergyperson

Allen McGraw, Clergyperson

Pamela Cameron, Clergyperson

John Branning, Clergyperson

Joseph Reiff, Clergyperson

Mike Sahler, Clergyperson

Richard Robbins, Clergyperson

Megan Becnel, Clergyperson

Reed McCaleb, Clergyperson

Phillip Dearman, Clergyperson

Keith Gaughf, Clergyperson

Rick Brooks, Clergyperson

Larry Hilliard, Clergyperson

James LaRue, Layperson

Anna Fleming-Jones, Clergyperson

Jon Altman, Clergyperson

Emily Sanford, Clergyperson

Amy Roller, Clergyperson

Ann Bravender Kaufman, Clergyperson

Bruce Case, Clergyperson

Eric Pridmore, Clergyperson

John Moore, Clergyperson

Jon Kaufman, Clergyperson

Victor Ronald Chatham, Clergyperson

LaRue Owen, Clergyperson

David Fuquay, Clergyperson

Bess Perrier, Layperson

Dorothy Dickson Rishel, Clergyperson

David G. Schultz, Clergyperson

Justin White, Clergyperson

Tom Rishel, Layperson

Sinclair Rishel, Layperson

Karie Sue McCaleb, Clergyperson

Loye Ashton, Clergyperson

Lynn B. Mote, Clergyperson

Elizabeth (Lisa) Garvin, Clergyperson

Oscar McGough, Clergyperson

Frank Newell, Clergyperson

Jeffrey Bryant, Layperson

Bill Dye, Clergyperson

Eric Sanford, Clergyperson

Ashley Peterson, Layperson

Rebecca Youngblood, Clergyperson

Teresa Burton, Layperson

Terry Fordemwalt, Layperson

Joey Shelton, Clergyperson

Michelle Bailey, Clergyperson

Elaine Davis, Layperson

Steve McAlilly, Layperson

Bob Peden, Clergyperson

Eddie Rester, Clergyperson

Connie Campbell, Layperson

Sheila Cumbest, Clergyperson

Frank Smith Lilly, Clergyperson

Lisa Besancon, Layperson

Mitchell Cochran, Clergyperson

Michael Evans, Clergyperson

MarthaJune Kirby, Clergyperson

Roger Puhr, Clergyperson

Sandra Lott, Layperson

Fawn Hyland Keen, Layperson

Linda Irby, Layperson

CJ Caufield, Clergyperson

Eugene Stockstill, Clergyperson

Linda Raines, Layperson

Diane Groat, Layperson

Rusty Keen, Clergyperson

David Sellers, Clergyperson

Mary Wiginton, Clergyperson

Jim Glass, Clergyperson

Terry Lynn Hilliard, Clergyperson

Brad Corban, Clergyperson

James F. Shows, Layperson

Samantha Breland Lang, Layperson

Beverly McAlilly, Layperson

Kay Lynn Beemon, Layperson

Susannah Carr, Clergyperson

Beth Dean, Layperson

Tony Proctor, Clergyperson

Marti Sorey, Layperson

Chris McAlilly, Clergyperson

Lisa Pridmore, Clergyperson

Allison Dickerson, Clergyperson

Theresa Jones, Layperson

Callie Rush, Layperson

Carla Long, Layperson

Soni Buckalew, Layperson

Cary Stockett, Clergyperson

Hal Smith, Layperson

Larry Davis, Layperson

Bruce Taylor, Clergyperson

Susan Spiers, Layperson

Michelle Shrader, Clergyperson

Todd Carr, Layperson

Mark Leiker, Layperson

Peter Bernheim, Layperson

Charles McGill, Clergyperson

Megan Snider, Layperson

Jamie Bailey, Clergyperson