At the 2022 Dakotas Annual Conference, a resolution passed calling for establishing a new standing committee to navigate inter-Methodist relations.
The resolution established a new Standing Committee on Inter-Methodist Relations per Dakotas Conference Rule 6.1 (see page 181 of the 2021 Journal). The committee's purpose is to engage in negotiations in mutual and cooperative efforts for ministry and mission between The United Methodist Church of the Dakotas and the newly forming Global Methodist Church and other Methodist denominations emerging in the Dakotas.
Areas of cooperation may include but are not limited to, camping, mission activity, disaster response, and administrative services.
Any contracts or formal agreements resulting from the negotiations must be reviewed and properly approved by the Dakotas Conference Board of Trustees, the Common Table, the bishop, a majority of District Superintendents, and the Annual Conference where required.
The Dakotas Conference Committee on Nominations selected members to serve on the Standing Committee on Inter-Methodist Relations. The members affirmed by the Dakotas Conference Common Table include Fern Baily, laity from Evergreen UMC in Wapheton, North Dakota; Rev. Rodney Knock, clergy from Hilltop UMC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; John Lomheim, laity from Sunnycrest UMC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Rev. Lou Whitmer, clergy from North Highland UMC in Aberdeen, South Dakota; Rev. Connie Eichinger, clergy serving the United Methodist Church in Faith and the Presbyterian Church at Marcus in South Dakota; Mary Hayenga, laity from the United Methodist Church in Spearfish, South Dakota; Rev. Paul Lint, clergy serving at Wesley Acres Camp in Dazey, North Dakota; and Rev. Rebecca Trefz. executive director of ministries who serves as an ex officio member and is the convener.
The first meeting was recently held via Zoom. At the meeting, committee members discussed the purpose and desired outcomes; expectations, roles and responsibilities, process, when and how representatives from the Global Methodist Church and other Methodist denominations would be invited; and resources needed to equip the group.
The meeting was framed in prayer and hope. In addition, committee members framed their work in the Vision and Values working document from the Continuing Dakotas Conference Taskforce.
The committee will communicate with the Global United Methodist Church, safeguarding the interest of the Dakotas UMC with bridge building and ecumenical spirit at the table in the best interest of the Dakotas Conference of The United Methodist Church.
The Standing Committee on Inter-Methodist Relations will meet, primarily via Zoom, monthly in the first three months to get to know each other and clearly define the work and goals. It is likely there will then be quarterly meetings. If there is movement toward agreements with the Global Methodist Church or other newly formed Methodist denominations in the Dakotas, there may be a need for more frequent in-person meetings.
The standing committee will be dissolved at the 2028 Dakotas Annual Conference session unless the annual conference takes specific action, or if the committee completes their work prior to that time. Each committee member's terms are set at three and four years.