As we approach the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in May 2020, we can expect the dull roar of anxiety in the UMC to grow louder and louder. To help us prepare for these developments, I held a briefing on Sunday, February 23 in the Sanctuary. You can watch the video of that briefing below.
Even since last Sunday, things have continued to develop; I expect that the situation will be fluid all the way until General Conference. Right now, my understanding is that there is broad support for the Protocol for Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation (“the Protocol”); while there are some voices attempting to amend it, I believe it currently has enough momentum and support to make it through General Conference. If it passes, the protocol would allow an orderly and amicable pathway for the most traditionalist and the most progressive Methodists to create new expressions of Methodism.
There will be plenty of news in the media, especially if you follow Methodist media sources like UM News or UM Insight. My strong encouragement to you regarding news sites and newsletters from various groups is the same as I would offer regarding U.S. politics: make sure you are listening to more than one voice, including opposing viewpoints. Some newsletters and caucus groups are more reactionary than others; if you feel yourself getting caught up in the swirl, look for another viewpoint to counterbalance that. Feel free to email me along the way, and I will do the best I can to respond in a timely and attentive fashion. We anticipate our Bishop will be communicating as well through video and written media; we will share those as they are available.
Above all else, keep the faith. At a time like this, we at FUMC are extraordinarily blessed to have a sense of our identity, mission, and clear commitment to inclusion. Our leaders are committed to attend to all that is happening in the UMC and respond as we feel led to do so, but you won’t see a reactionary mentality here. We trust too much in the good God who has seen this congregation through 180 years of ups and downs, and we recognize that as so many other churches face tough conversations about sexuality and inclusion for the first time, we have an opportunity to be Christ’s light and a positive sign of what God can do when we draw the circle wider. Even as we continue to grow in practicing inclusive ministry, this is a time for FUMC to lead, and I couldn’t be prouder to be your pastor.
We’ll keep you posted on any major developments as we near General Conference. I invite your prayers for myself and the other 7 delegates (plus reserves) who are deep in preparation (so much reading!) for those days in May. I continue in prayer for you as we journey deeper into Lent and the Spiritual Work of Resisting Racism.
“I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:16-19
With great love,