Messages from Our Bishop - August 2, 2023
Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ.
I am praying for our churches and our conference.
As I pray, I am comforted, and I am confident. We have a strong connection and a bright future.
I have been mentioned in the news more than I would prefer in recent weeks. I was named in two lawsuits – one by First United Methodist Church and another by Church of the Servant, both of Oklahoma City.
I am sure you are as weary of the negative news about our conference as I am. And I long for the day when my messages to you are shining a light on our bright future and great momentum. As I’ve said before, there is so much growth and opportunity happening at our churches and church starts. It is an exciting time of growth, unity and connection.
I can’t wait to spend my energy sharing those stories in the future messages.
However, my news today is related to the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision today to offer an emergency stay to the lower court’s order for me and the Board of Trustees to call an annual conference and invite delegates who are no longer part of the United Methodist Church.
That means we will NOT be having the annual conference that had been called for Saturday.
I had called that meeting under court order after an Oklahoma County District Court ruling against the Oklahoma Annual Conference. The court instructed the conference to vote on the disaffiliation of First UMC of OKC.
I believe strongly that the judge’s original ruling against the Oklahoma Annual Conference overrides our holy covenant and our Book of Discipline. And I know that it is my responsibility to represent the best interest of the entire Oklahoma Annual Conference in following the procedures and processes for disaffiliation. I know we have followed the process for 84 churches that have disaffiliated. And we have followed it with First United Methodist Church of Oklahoma City.
We have and we will adhere to church law. That’s our discipline. That is our covenant.
That is why we appealed the ruling and asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to reconsider.
I want to make clear that the emergency stay does not mean that the lower court’s ruling against the conference has been reversed. Not yet. That decision will come later this month, when the Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the case. If Oklahoma’s highest court does not overturn the lower court’s ruling, there will likely be another date scheduled for this annual conference.
We will comply with the court order, even though we believe this is not in the secular court’s jurisdiction.
In the end, I know this summer’s court cases are just a small bump in the momentum we have in the Oklahoma Annual Conference.
My attention and time may be divided in the court system, but I see what is happening in our conference, and I applaud the life-changing success stories. We are indeed transforming the world and making disciples!
May God bless and keep you,
Bishop James “Jimmy” Nunn