District News

Love & Justice Workshop

Dr. Chris Momany will lead a workshop on The Gospel of Love and the Work of Justice based on his book Compelling Lives: Five Methodist Abolitionists and the Ideas That Inspired Them.

Tuesday, March 5
9:30 am – Noon
Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo (2350 Ring Rd N, Kalamazoo)

What motivates Christians to work for justice? How can Wesleyan theology ground our understandings of both love and justice? How might the personal experience of grace move us outside of ourselves in valuing each individual and all people? How may we think, feel, and act for justice?

This free workshop at the Wesley Foundation of Kalamazoo will include worship, presentation, and discussion.

Who should come? Pastors, laity, anyone willing to grow personally and work for justice!

Register now



headshot of Chris Momany

The Rev. Dr. Chris Momany was born in Benton Harbor, Michigan and grew up in the Peace Temple United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of Adrian College, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Drew University. His speaking, teaching, and writing focus on history and human rights. His book on the Wesleyan ethic of love and justice is titled: Doing Good: A Grace-Filled Approach to Holiness (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011). Chris’s book on ethical theory and the abolitionist movement was released in 2018: For Each and All: The Moral Witness of Asa Mahan (Nashville: Foundery Books). Chris has been active in “Historians Against Slavery” – an organization that explores history to fight human trafficking.

From 2004 until 2019 Chris wrote for the Daily Bible Study of The United Methodist Publishing House. He has also served in leadership among the National Council of Churches and between 2012 and 2020 was a member of the “writing team” that crafted an updated version of the United Methodist Social Principles.

Chris’s latest book profiles five Methodist abolitionists and their witness against slavery: Compelling Lives: Five Methodist Abolitionists and the Ideas That Inspired Them (Cascade, 2023). This book is the third release within a highly regarded series on Wesleyan and Methodist Explorations.

In 2015 Chris helped discover a long-lost, handwritten journal. This artifact, penned during the 1830s and 1840s, documents a ship used in the transatlantic slave trade. Chris is helping to lead a multiracial team of scholars who are telling the story of this ship and working for racial justice today. The “Dialogue on Race and Faith” team journeyed to Benin in December of 2022 to explore historical sites and to begin repairing relationships. Chris is an editor of and a contributor to the book about this effort: Awakening to Justice: Faithful Voices from the Abolitionist Past (InterVarsity Press, 2024).

Lay Members to Annual Conference

How can I attend and vote at Annual Conference as Laity? In order to serve this role, you must be a member of The United Methodist Church for two years, and an active participant in The UMC for at least four years prior to your election (this is waived for those under 30). More information about this can be found in The Book of Discipline ¶32.
There are two main ways laity can attend and vote at Annual Conference. The first is by being elected by their church to serve as a Lay Member to Annual Conference. Each church is given a set number of voting spots each year. If this is a role you are interested in serving, please reach out to your pastor to see if this may be a way to serve now or in the future.
The second way laity attend is as equalization members. Per The Book of Discipline and our Conference Rules, some of these spots are automatically given to certain offices within the conference such as certain conference committee chairs, district lay leaders and other conference positions. Our Conference Rules then indicate any remaining spots be given to the Board of Laity to distribute and find eligible members to serve. To do this, you must meet the membership requirements, apply with your District Lay Leader, and all of your church Lay Member spots must be used. Your District Lay Leader will then let you know if you were selected to serve in this role and you will be given information on how then to register for Annual Conference.  

The cost of registration, double-occupancy housing, and most meals is covered by the Conference for Lay Equalization members.

2024 Lay Equalization Application – deadline is extended!

Intentional Discipleship System workshop

The Heritage and Greater Southwest Districts are pleased to welcome Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes and Rev. Bryan Tener from Discipleship Ministries!

Saturday, February 3, 2024
9:30AM – 3:00PM
Marshall United Methodist Church  (721 Old US Highway 27, Marshall, MI 49068)

Growing in Grace: Designing an Intentional Discipleship System and Community Engagement is a transformative workshop for United Methodist Church leaders in Michigan, aimed at cultivating a robust culture of discipleship. Scheduled from 9:30AM to 3:00PM, this event will guide participants through the theology and practicalities of discipleship formation, grounding in baptism, and community engagement, culminating in the crafting of an Intentional Discipleship System (IDS). Attendees will leave equipped with strategies and structures to nurture discipleship within their congregations.

Don’t miss this FREE event!  REGISTER NOW


Lunch will be sandwich platters from Subway. If you have special dietary needs, please bring your own lunch.

In case of inclement weather, you will be notified by email if the event is cancelled.


Meet the Presenters:

Rev. Bryan Tener, a member of the Cheyenne Arapaho nation and a part of the traditional warrior society, the Bowstrings, through which, he helps with the Sundance ceremony and other ceremonies throughout the Cheyenne year. He graduated from OCU, religion, in 2005 and earned his Masters of Divinity in 2009 from Vanderbilt Divinity School. He has served in the Oklahoma Conference, the OIMC, and Since July of 2019 he has served as the director of contextual evangelism and church planting at Path1 and Discipleship Ministries, a general agency of the UMC. He enjoys Crossfit, is a level 1 trainer and coaches at Koda HQ in his free time and enjoys rucking and does GoRuck and HYROX events when opportunities come up and he has completed mental strength coaching through Driven Mind. Bryan has also completed Level 1 and 2 Improv courses through OKC Improv. He appreciates the crossovers and connections between his work in the church, the gym, and with Improv. He seeks to live out his purpose to make space so that others and self have the opportunity to learn and grow, which feeds into almost any place he finds himself. He and his wife Angela have been married since 1999 and have two sons, Barrett, still at home, and Brady who lives with his wife Mackenzie and their first grandchild, Blakely. They also have a sweet chocolate lab pit mix named Baker.

Rev. Dr. Scott Hughes is currently the Associate General Secretary (World Service) for Discipleship Ministries. Scott served as the Director of Adult Discipleship and the Executive Director of Congregational Vitality & Intentional Discipleship. Scott was an Associate Pastor at Douglasville FUMC for nine years and Pastor at Barnesville Circuit for four years. Holding a M.Div. from Asbury Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from Southern Methodist University, Scott is an ordained Elder in the North Georgia Conference since 2007. He’s a key contributor to the “Small Groups in the Wesleyan Way” podcast and creator of online courses like “Basics of Faith Formation” and “Courageous Conversations” series. His expertise extends to training in small groups and Intentional Discipleship Systems. Based in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, Scott enjoys almost 25 years of marriage and is a father to two sons, aged 20 and 18. He’s also a passionate photographer, focusing on landscapes and high school sports.



9:00 AM          Registration and Coffee
9:30 AM          Opening and Invocation
9:45 AM          Discipleship Formation
10:45 AM        Morning Break
11:00 AM        Cultivating a Discipleship Culture
11:30 AM        Crafting an Intentional Discipleship System (IDS)
12:00 PM         Lunch Break
12:30 PM         Crafting an Intentional Discipleship System (IDS)
1:15 PM           Afternoon Break
1:30 PM           Engaging Your Community
2:15 PM           Listening Well
2:45 PM           Workshop Wrap-up
3:00 PM           Conclusion

Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century


Courses are free – order your own book and bring a sack lunch.
You must attend all sessions to earn credit for the course.
Registration deadline is January 8.


Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century

Saturdays, January 13 & 20 (snow date Jan 27)
9am – 3pm
Parchment UMC (225 Glendale Blvd, Parchment, MI 49004)

Led by Carla Gillespie
Required book: Aging and Ministry in the 21st Century by Richard H. Gentzler, Jr.

Are you inspired to learn new ways of helping your congregation develop an intentional and comprehensive ministry that is by, with, and for Boomers, Gen X’ers, and others in their golden years? These are the older adults who often play leading roles in our congregations. This course explores innovative and practical ways of helping congregations develop outstanding ministry with members of our Baby Boomer Generation and beyond. It offers a rich learning experience that includes knowing more about the aging process and the developmental stages of midlife and older adulthood and how we can best shape our ministry.


Church Conferences

All Fall conferences will be convened as in-person Church Conferences, extending the vote to all professing members of the local church present at such meetings. (2016 Book of Discipline ¶248)

At least one week in advance, send your COMPLETED and SIGNED forms as scanned PDFs to Mandana at [email protected].

Forms are found on the Conference website: michiganumc.org/resources/forms

2023 Church Conference Forms Checklist

2023 Good Beginnings-Pastor
2023 Good Beginnings-SPRC

2023 Church Conference Schedule UPDATED 10/16/23

2023 Church Conference Letter

2023 Church Conference Agenda


Native Americans and United Methodism Course

Rev. Karen Wheat will offer a course on Native Americans and United Methodism.

Mondays in October (2, 9, 16, 23, 30)
5:00 – 7:00 pm
Milwood UMC (3919 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001)

A look at Native American spirituality and history, especially as it relates to The United Methodist Church. We’ll explore creation stories, how Native Americans were treated by Methodists, and work to understand the roles of Native Americans in the formation of the country and the church. This course will strive to answer why recognition and land acknowledgment remains important today and what can be done for the future.

The book First White Frost: Native Americans and United Methodism by Homer Noley may be purchased through online used book retailers.

This course is open to anyone interested. It has been approved for advanced Lay Servant course credit. 

Register by Monday, September 25.




Session 1 – Explore the various ideas concerning the origin of Native American Peoples in North and South America

  1. Various theories
  2. Various Indigenous Civilizations
  3. First encounters with European and Christianity

Session 2 – Explore the Position of the Church toward Native Americans

  1. Columbus and 15th Century encounters
  2. French, Spanish, Portuguese, and English encounters in 16th Century
  3. English and French in the 17th Century
  4. John Wesley in the 18th Century

Session 3 – First intentional mission to Native Americans

  1. French/Father Marquette
  2. Methodist/John Wesley and early missions to Native Americans by Methodists
  3. The Trail of Tears and the Trail of Death
  4. Treatment of Native Americans by the Methodist Church
  5. Famous Native American Preachers
  6. Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference beginning and today

Session 4 – Field trip to Bradley/Salem Mission

Session 5 – Things we need to do to support United Methodist and all Native Americans

  1. Why there is still need for support
  2. Why land acknowledgement is so important
  3. What can an individual or a local church do

UMC Night at the Growlers

Join United Methodists from around the District at a Kalamazoo Growlers baseball game July 28.

Gates: 5:35pm | First Pitch: 6:35pm

Fireworks following the game!

Reserved bleacher seat
Growlers hat

All-Inclusive Ballpark Buffet (hot dogs, burgers, chips, potato salad, coleslaw, and more) for 4-innings 
Unlimited soda and water throughout the game

Promo Code: UMC


2023 Growlers game flyer

Southwest Michigan Latinx Community Ministry

Our Sunday worship is an extension of our home, the experience of the warm welcome, along with familiar music and faces we have grown to know over time and faith. But for some, worship does not represent an extension of their home or their lives. “Everyone has an innate need to connect and belong. It’s an idea grounded in theology (think God’s radical connection with humanity in the person of Jesus) and in science (think Brene Brown’s new academic research on how we are wired for – and the importance of cultivating – connection).” -Anne Nelson
The Hispano/Latino community represents 12% of the total population in the Greater Southwest District. And every year more than 200 migrant camps receive temporary Hispanic families for seasonal work. Just within the limits of our district!
That’s why we are creating a new place for new people; reaching more diverse people who become more like Christ in the world: a Hispanic/Latino New Church in Van Buren County. Making New Disciples in New Places is one of the Four Areas of Ministry Focus of The United Methodist Church. We have a vision to create a unique community – a place for engaging, transformative worship, and fellowship to all generations.
We have launched a Tuesday evening worship which is held in two languages, Spanish and English. It starts with bilingual music, scripture, reflection, and prayers. This means that if you don’t speak either of the languages, you can still worship. Join us Tuesdays at 7:00pm livestreaming on Facebook or in person at Lawrence UMC.
We have been working to get to know the Hispano/Latino Community of the area through partnerships and connections with the State Department of Labor, the School District, the Health and Human Services Department, and the Van Buren County fair board.
One of the local schools has asked for the support of 300 reusable water bottles for the children of migrant seasonal workers and its summer program. The cost of 50 plastic water bottles is approximately $100; for that reason, we are looking for sponsorship from the churches of the district on this project. 
If you’d like to support this project, send checks to: 
Greater Southwest District
2350 Ring Rd N, Suite B
Kalamazoo, MI 49006
Memo: Migrant Project

Mission Evening: A Night at the Thrift Shop

Presented by Union City United Women in Faith
Hosted by Greater Southwest District United Women in Faith

Thursday, June 22, 2023
Union City United Methodist Church (200 Ellen St)

6:30 to 7:15 p.m. enjoy refreshments, hear a brief presentation with Q & A time and view an exhibit about our 60th Anniversary celebrated in 2022.
7:15 to 8:00 p.m. tour the Thrift Shop to experience how we receive donations, how they’re sorted and placed on the sales floor.  You may also S-H-O-P-!

It’s a one-block walk from the church.

♥ Registration is $5 and the entire proceeds will go to Community House
♥ Ingathering of non-perishable protein items (peanut butter, canned fish and meats, beans, etc.) for the Union City Food Pantry



Greater Southwest District