By Shannon W. Martin
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey offered a stirring prayer before the vote last week as 502 lay and clergy delegates gathered on Zoom for the May 11 2023, Special Session.
Bishop Harvey began her prayer, “Gracious God, we come again with heavy hearts, but we know that you hold us in the palm of your hand. We pray for the churches that have chosen to sever their relationship with the United Methodist Church and with the Texas Annual Conference and ask you to continue to bless them their ministry, discipleship and evangelism… We just want to send these your servants forth with our blessing.”
Bishop Harvey also emphasized in her prayer that the vote represents more than just buildings, the vote represents people.
During the May 11th Special Session, the delegates voted 462 to 26 to approve the departure of 20 Texas Conference congregations from the United Methodist Church. This brings the total number of disaffiliations for the Texas Conference to 320 congregations.
Rev. Kip Gilts, Assistant to the Bishop agreed. “This is hard for churches leaving, and it’s hard for those of us staying. But it is not the end. There is a bright hope for tomorrow and for that we give thanks,” Gilts said.
When asked if she would consider additional disaffiliations at the upcoming regular Annual Conference session later this month, Bishop Harvey said “if there are additional churches requesting to disaffiliate, I may consider calling an additional Special Session.”
However, she emphasized that another Special Session has not been called.
Bishop Harvey ended her prayer; “Be with us who remain in the UMC, continue to give us courage and wisdom for the facing of this hour. Stir in this midst, make yourself known to all of us. For all of this we pray in your name. Amen.”