Q&A Get to Know Your Delegates as They Prepare for General Conference

Date Posted: 2/13/2020


 
By Lindsay Peyton
 
The 18 delegates elected for the Texas Annual Conference continue to plan, study, and pray daily for the General Conference, which will be held in Minneapolis May 5-15, 2020. They gather monthly for a meeting to prepare for the big event.  Let’s meet a couple of the delegates.
 
Stacie Hawkins grew up in LaMarque, where her family remains members of McKinney Memorial UMC. She is a member of Windsor Village UMC-Houston, which she joined shortly after graduating from the University of Houston. Hawkins says she has served at every level of leadership in United Methodist Women for the past two decades. This will be her last year after eight on the national board of directors for the organization. She is currently serving on the Board of Wespath Benefits and Investments, formerly General Board of Pensions. In the Texas Annual Conference, Hawkins served on the Council on Finance and Campus Ministries. At Windsor Village, she is an active member of the communion stewardess, new membership and finance teams.
 
Q. Why did you want to throw your hat in to be elected as delegate for general conference? What inspired you?
A. I felt it was important that the delegation included representation from my community, and if not me, then who? If not now, then when? Additionally, I feel my involvement with conference boards and several general agencies has prepared me for such a time as this.
 
Q. How do you describe your job preparing for General Conference?
A. Now that committee assignments have been made, I plan to use this time making myself familiar with the petitions that are closely related to the committees I’ve been assigned. In addition to the resources supplied by the delegation leaders during our time together, being a part of general agencies provides another layer of preparation for me.
 
Q. What is your reaction to the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation?
A. I think it’s great that the different sides were able to finally come to the table and discuss, but the details are yet to be analyzed. It’s key that we take the time to see what is and isn’t included in the plan, before deciding whether this is the answer, we think it is. My prayer is that delegates will take a step back and allow room for the Holy Ghost to reveal the true way forward the Lord has for the church.
 
Q. What do you think will be the future of the Church?
A. While I feel the church we see today will differ greatly from the church of tomorrow, we must be steadfast in our commitment to making disciples of Jesus Christ. We have so much work to do. The key to the success of any submitted plan will be the associated financial implications.
 
Q. What gives you hope or makes you feel excited during this time?
A. When I see young adults wanting to be a part of the life of our Church, whether in laity leadership or in answering their call to ministry, I’m hopeful. When I see young people on the university campus where I work not ashamed to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with those around them, I’m hopeful. My prayer is that the church remains a place where the next generation can accept and live out their salvation.
 
Rev. Romonica Malone-Wardley serves as Senior Pastor of Blueridge UMC in Houston. She grew up in San Augustine in East Texas, received a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Texas State University and a Master of Divinity from Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta. In 2010, she was ordained an Elder in the Texas Annual Conference and has since served in varying settings, from new to established churches. Prior to being appointed to Blueridge in 2014, she spent seven years as Associate Pastor of Westbury UMC, a multicultural church in Houston. She is also on the Board of Ordained Ministry, the Council on Miniseries of the Central District, and has been part of Advanced Pastoral Leadership and helped with the Texas Youth Academy. Malone-Wardley enjoys encouraging and helping others realize they are beloved children of God. Her husband Julius Wardley is also an Elder in the Texas Annual Conference and is currently serving in campus ministry at Texas Southern University. 
 
Q. Why did you want to throw your hat in to be elected as delegate for general conference?
A. In the conference, I have had the privilege of being mentored and supported by great pastors and leaders who have made a difference in my life and ministry. That has inspired me to not only want to offer that same support to others but also to give back to the church -- understanding that any organization’s future is dependent upon leaders willing to offer time and talent to strengthen and further its mission. We have had great leaders go before us, and it’s an honor to follow in their footsteps.  We also have experienced leaders, I’m honored to serve alongside. Because of these relationships I had a desire to be a part of the conversation as the church began to discern its future. I felt a strong sense of responsibility to serve the church in a way that helps shape the direction and future of the church. I am inspired and hopeful to see groups, representing differing thoughts, come to the table to work together toward figuring out how to stop causing pain, continue to be strong witnesses for Christ and move toward an amicable way forward. I realize that there are still significant details that need to be worked out, but I found hope in the willingness of God’s people to come together to find a less painful way forward.
 
Q. How would you describe your job preparing for General Conference?
A. Lots of prayer and research. Prior to receiving the Advanced Daily Christian Advocate in the mail, I was looking up last year’s information to become familiar with the work of the various groups. I’ve had conversations with delegates and groups from other conferences to learn of their work, expectations and experiences. I’ve been reading the plans and proposals that have come out along with all of the information that’s being sent to us and attending delegation meetings. I’ve had meetings with previous delegates, both from our conference and others to learn from their experiences and help prepare myself for what to expect -- how not to get overwhelmed but how to be faithful to my role. This is not a role I take lightly.  
 
Q. What is your reaction to the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation?
A. This is all challenging and complex. I love the strength and witness that can come from diversity of thought and opinion -- so my prayer had been for the United Methodist Church to remain United. I hoped separation could be avoided, however, if separation is inevitable (and with the amount and level of harm, inevitable it is), I’m hopeful to see groups, representing differing thoughts come to the table to work together toward figuring out how to stop causing pain and come to an amicable way forward. I realize that there are still significant details that need to be worked out, but I found hope in their willingness to come together to try to find a less painful way forward.
 
Q. What do you think will be the future of the Church?
A. I’m not sure what will happen with plans and legislation, but I believe in “the power of God at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” I envision being part of a church that believes Jesus cares about the plight of its people and the community surrounding our churches,  a church that believes they are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus, who we’re told in scripture looked out with compassion upon the crowds that followed him and attended to their needs. A church devoted to making faithful disciples who change and transform the world through our love, grace and “justice that rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
 
Q. What gives you hope or makes you feel excited during this time?
A. What gives me hope is when I have the opportunity to sit down with colleagues of differing opinions and convictions to pray and seek God’s guidance and direction.