Dear FirstChurch,

As I mentioned on Sunday, a small group of United Methodist leaders have negotiated a way forward through the United Methodist Church’s impasse on human sexuality, specifically regarding the ordination of persons who are gay and lesbian and the allowance of clergy to officiate weddings for all people. For about six months, mediator Kenneth Feinberg guided the leaders toward an agreement-in-principle that was unanimously endorsed by all participants. The participants, who are representative of both the “right” and “left” sides of the theological spectrum, agreed to a protocol for those on the “right” and those on the “left” to form new denominations affirming different doctrinal standards. The protocol calls for the retention of the United Methodist Church as we know it. As a theologically diverse congregation, this protocol will enable us to deepen our conversation about how we live into our vision of becoming the spiritual center of Dallas - a place for all people - and remain United Methodist.

Very generally, the negotiated agreement is informal and non-binding. It must be passed by General Conference (the UMC’s global meeting) in May 2020. There are no decisions or votes needed at this point; many, if not most, local churches will never need to vote by the way this agreement reads. All of this affords us the time as a church to deepen our conversations as people of the Methodist faith. Here is a short video from the President of the Council of Bishops and Bishop of the Louisiana Conference, Bishop Cynthia Fierro-Harvey:
What I take away from Bishop Fierro-Harvey’s video is that God is still speaking through the Church. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said: "Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” This agreement gives me great hope that the Wesleyan way still thrives in the United Methodist Church.

I would like to invite you to an all-church meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 27 where I will share a bit more information on this protocol. We will also take some time to be in conversation with one another about what this means for FirstChurch and the larger United Methodist Church. Childcare will be provided. Join us in Fiedler Atrium for this time of education and fellowship.

Together, we are held . . .

In God’s Love, 

Dr. Andy Stoker
1928 Ross Ave
Dallas, TX 75201