Rev. Dr. Lanette Plambeck
Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Clergy & Leadership Excellence
While majoring in Religious Studies and Political Science at Morningside, I was given the opportunity to intern at churches, nonprofits and public agencies connected in some way to The United Methodist Church. Unexpectedly, this former Presbyterian found my sense of Spiritual Home as a Wesleyan as I was discipled into a faith of personal piety and social holiness. Three decades later I remain because of our theology shaped by Scripture, experience, tradition and reason; our understanding of Grace (prevenient, justifying, sanctifying); and, the beauty of Connectionalism.
I have never mastered the ability to be in more than one place at a time. One of the gifts of the Connectional relationship of the United Methodist Church (which is a hallmark of our denomination) is that it helps me and you to actively support world-wide ministries in other ways. It’s so easy to live into a practice of ministry that is driven by my personal location or personal preferences. But the Connectional church means we join with United Methodists around the world in ministries of mercy, justice, advocacy, compassion, education, disaster response, global health, care of the environment, evangelism, and discipleship. The list is long; the ministry is transformative. There is not a part of me that wants to lose this.
As I reflect on my guiding principles as a disciple and leader in the Iowa Conference, I am unapologetically Wesleyan and so in love with Jesus and his ministry that is marked by compassion, grace and justice. I want to inspire others to live lives of significance as we work for "kingdom on earth as it is in heaven" through active discipleship as we respond to the suffering in the world. I am committed to developing leaders (clergy and laity) here in Iowa to grow into the very best versions of themselves so that they can be at their very best for God. I am what I call a Gethsemane Christian (John 17): I hear Jesus’ prayer in the garden as a rallying cry for each of us that our strongest desire would be that of connection - connection to God and to each other - and our common identifier would be that of love.
Whatever unfolds at our upcoming General Conference, I am hopeful the post-separation United Methodist Church will be restructured, the restrictive language in the Book of Discipline will be dropped, and the local result in Iowa and our region would be that of self-determination. I believe Iowa is a place where clergy can self-determine who they will marry and where all people who are gifted and called to be pastors would be able to enter into our licensing and ordination process. I also believe churches can self-determine what happens within their walls. I further believe that part of the character of United Methodists in Iowa is we are already a church of individuals who think differently than each other and that we can continue to stay in the same denomination even if the practices, policies and theological interpretations may look different church to church and leader to leader. Our church going forward will be home for people who self-identify as traditionalists, centrists and progressives; ours will be a church where all are welcome.
In both my Conference role and as a General Conference delegate, I will help hold space for conversation, information-sharing and prayer for those discerning their own future. I think it is important to hear directly from the voices of ongoing (UMC) or new iterations of Methodism (GMC or LMX) as the only story each can tell without partiality is their own. Even as we approach separation, I do not fear for our future. My personal plan is to press on in the good work of the Great Commission (Matthew 28), guided by the Great Commandment (Matthew 22), challenged by the Great Requirement (Micah 6) to live into the Great Invitation (Acts 1 & 2) and by God’s grace will do so in the now and future United Methodist Church.
Read the previous Leading Now personal reflections here.