Dear Grace Community:
You may have seen the news about the results of the United Methodist Church’s General Conference, which concluded yesterday in St. Louis. The Traditional Plan was approved by a slim majority of the delegates from around the world. What this means is that the United Methodist Church’s ban on same sex weddings remains in effect, and the church’s Book of Discipline provisions banning the ordination of practicing gay and lesbian clergy remains in effect as well. The Traditional Plan included some strict enforcement penalties, but these and other parts of the plan will be reviewed by the church’s judicial council because they may violate the church’s constitution.
A majority of the United States delegates supported the One Church Plan, which would have offered annual conferences the option of ordaining pastors from the LGBTQ community and would have allowed local churches the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to allow same sex weddings. A majority of our bishops supported the One Church Plan, but the general conference delegates voted against this plan. Because we are a global church, the perspectives of delegates from around the world, and particularly those from regions with strict laws against homosexuality, carried significant weight.
This was a very divisive and difficult conference. There are many broken-hearted people today trying to process the results.
As for our life here at Grace UMC, we continue to live into our vision of “building Bridges between Christ and our community.” We welcome ALL people here, and we acknowledge the many gifts to God’s kingdom that our LGBTQ sisters and brothers bring to us. Many of you have sons and daughters, grandchildren, or other friends and relatives from the LGBTQ community. The decisions of our global church may leave them, and you, wondering how they fit into the life of our church. Please know they are always welcome at Grace UMC.
While it saddens me that many people are hurt by the outcome of this conference, it is our prayer that we all can stay focused on the mission of the United Methodist Church, “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
I will be sharing more about this in worship on Sunday. In the meanwhile, please let me or Pastor Beth know if we can answer any of your questions, pray with you, or just be present with you to process this news.
God bless you. Pastor Steve Hart & Pastor Beth Burton