God is moving in significant ways among our denomination and local congregation. After a long process of negotiations, we received word today that the terms of our contract at Winchester Plaza have been agreed upon and the second campus will be retained for at least another two years. Though we are losing a bit of current space to accommodate a new commercial occupant, we have been given our new contract at a very significant decrease in rent and utilities. It works in our favor in so many areas. God is good! I must thank David Hocker, who owns The Plaza, as he has been an instrument of the Holy Spirit in this vision that began (can you believe it?) almost 5 years ago. The Lord is allowing us to reach so many for Christ in Clark County. We baptized 5 at First Fire yesterday. It would be remiss of me not to specifically thank Bob Jackson, our Chair of Trustees. He has worked well overtime in representing our congregation in this matter and has done it well. His love for our church is evident. Please thank him when you get a chance. In another matter, I would encourage you to take any media reporting you hear on our General Conference proceedings in Tampa with a grain of salt. Remember they are dependent upon ratings and sensation. My voice and email box fills to capacity every four years with questions from church and community members around our general meeting. Our denomination, though kindly open to listening to different points of view, diligently holds scripture at it's heart. Our Delegates are striving to merge love with lifting high the cross. Pray for them. Following is the latest update in their proceedings:
This entire first week has been marked by colorful plenary worship services, a well-funded and extravagant lobbying effort to change United Methodism's view on marriage and sexuality, and stacks and stacks of petitions being worked through in 13 legislative groups.
The entire General Conference will be dealing with these individual petitions when they gather as a plenary group on Monday, April 30.
Petition 21050 espousing the right to civil marriage and civil unions for homosexual persons was defeated.
Subcommittee took our statement on abortion in a more pro-life direction, adding that we oppose abortion except in cases of "conflicts of physical life with physical life" and added unconditional rejection of abortion for "eugenics"
Petition 20624 was adopted to end any funding for pro-choice political lobbies
Subcommittee did not approve attempts to end the prohibition on funding to promote the acceptance of homosexuality
Attempts to fund central conference theological education through the Ministerial Education Fund were defeated by a subcommittee in favor of another petition that would take $5 million from World Service apportionments and designate it for that purpose
Petitions to delete the prohibition of the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals were not approved, however, a subcommittee approved petition 20994, which replaces that prohibition with the following language: "sexual conduct that occurs outside the context of a marriage between one man and one woman is incompatible with holy living. Therefore, those who engage in such practices, or who participate or represent themselves to others as participating in a relationship in which such practices are a part, including same-sex unions, may not be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The UMC."
An approach to restructuring that would keep several church agencies with separate boards and one coordinating committee was favored over the proposal that would unify all agencies into a single board by a vote of 56-27, with a subcommittee now working on the details of implementation
Proposals to eliminate the practice of homosexuality as a chargeable offense failed
Petition 20802 allowing supplemental women's ministries in local churches in addition to United Methodist Women was adopted
Numerous proposals to require prospective church members to be received regardless of qualification were not approved. Instead, petition 20618 that protects pastoral discretion in determining a person's readiness to assume the vows of membership and providing an appeal process to the local church PPR Committee was approved
Petition 20460 that permits an annual conference to use an apportionment formula whereby a church contributes a specified percentage of its current income or expenses was adopted
Petition 20875 to retain the current prohibition on homosexual unions was approved
Proposal to establish a set-aside bishop to serve as president of the Council of Bishops was approved Please continue to pray for the delegates, observers, and all who are working for a faithful future for The United Methodist Church.
We invite you to join with other Christians around the globe who are praying that the 2012 General Conference proceedings will be led by the Holy Spirit.
As United Methodists, we are in desperate need of a season of revival, reform, and renewal. Nothing is more vital to the future of our denomination than a fresh touch from God and a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon our congregations, seminaries, boards, and agencies.
Lord, we ask that a season of renewal and revival would begin at the 2012 General Conference.