A Message from Bishop Gary E. Mueller

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Thank you for being deeply faithful disciples who are planting the seeds of revival and sharing Jesus’ Gospel in your mission field. I am honored to be in ministry with you. Sadly, however, the United Methodist Church is in a fragile place. There is great disagreement by faithful people over a number of issues, most notably human sexuality.

Many in our church are working to amend our Book of Discipline’s current position on human sexuality utilizing the processes our polity has in place for making such changes. Many others are working to maintain our Book of Discipline’s current position on human sexuality. This, too, is being done within the context of our polity. But there are others, including Boards of Ordained Ministry, Bishops, Annual Conferences and a Jurisdictional Conference that are intentionally rejecting our church’s stance regarding marriage and ordination. This includes the recent consecration of Karen Oliveto, an openly gay woman married to another woman, as a bishop in the Western Jurisdiction.  

Our connection as United Methodists is maintained in several ways: 1) through our membership in the Body of Christ; 2) by The Book of Discipline; and 3) in our vows as deacons, elders and bishops. But, ultimately, the thing that holds us together is our willingness to live together as we have promised. When this begins to disappear, as now appears to be the case because acts of nonconformity, it threatens our church’s unity.

I cherish being bishop of all Arkansas United Methodists. Each one of you matters to me. This means I recognize the pain felt by those of you advocating change. Yet I also have great hope because our state is characterized by deep relationships that bind us together. We are able to talk lovingly about difficult issues and still remain connected. Let us continue to do so.

The Council of Bishops is forming a commission to prepare recommendations for a way forward in these difficult times. Its work is difficult. It becomes even more difficult with each additional violation of The Book of Discipline. Please enable the commission to do its work through your actions and your prayers. While I expect Arkansan United Methodists to continue to do this, I need to be transparent and let you know that I will continue to address any violations of The Book of Discipline.

Let us remember Christ’s call in Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus: “You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 CEB)

Please be in touch if you want to talk, reflect or pray.

Come, Holy Spirit, come!

Gary E. Mueller, Bishop