Winterville United Methodist Church

Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

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Rev. John Merk - February 2020 News

From the Pastor:

Recently, several folks have asked me what I thought was going to happen at General Conference in May. Would the United Methodist Church split? Or be dissolved? If so, what will happen to our church here in Winterville? In all honesty there isn’t much that is certain, and so misinformation abounds. News outlets in particular have emphasized the sensational rather than the factual. So, in my next few articles I am going to try my best to present what I know to be true and what I think we as a church should do to prepare. In this article, I want to clear away some misinformation.

First, only the General Conference can speak officially for the UMC; not bishops, not committees. General Conference (GC) meets regularly every four years and is made up of elected delegates from each Annual Conference. Winterville is part of the North Georgia Annual Conference, which is sending twenty-two delegates; eleven clergy, and eleven laity. These delegates were elected last June at the Classic Center in Athens and a complete list can be found on the NGAC website at  These folks, along with all the other delegates from around the world, will gather in Minneapolis, MN May 5-15th. They have a lot of work to do and will have many long days ahead of them. Let’s begin now to pray for them, for God’s discernment and the strength to endure a highly demanding week and a half.

Second, let’s all get our information from reliable sources. The best of these is the United Methodist News Service at You can also keep informed by checking our Annual Conference’s website at

Third, the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace through Separation that made headlines at the beginning of the year is only one of five plans that may be considered at GC in May. It does, however, have the broadest support of all the plans. Information on each of the plans can be found online at:

In my next article I will share what I see as possible scenarios for our church. These will be slightly better than guesses since nothing will be certain until May; much can and probably will change before then. Regardless of how things turn out, I am committed to serving this church and guiding it through the days ahead. In the meantime, let’s keep pushing ahead with our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ, keeping our focus on Him.


Pastor John