Many of you are aware that I am serving part-time as the Pastor of Welcome Ministries at Epworth United Methodist Church across town. I asked Pastor Kevin permission to share a word on what just happened in St Louis. This is NOT an official Epworth communique. It's a word from one Methodist sister in Christ to my ELCA friends.
Friends, by now you've seen the United Methodist Church in the national news. The General Conference passed legislation that seeks to prevent same-gender weddings in our churches and the ordination of LGBTQ clergy. The legislation passed narrowly (53% to 47%). Much of the legislation will have to be reviewed for constitutionality by the Judicial Council before we know what will be binding.
So...I'm asking for your prayers and support. Lutherans faced this issue of how to be in ministry with LGBTQ persons in 2009. You've been there. Here's how you can help:
1) Understand that the UMC is deeply divided on this matter. One source estimated that 2/3 of United Methodists in the United States disagree with the decision of the General Conference (which was a global delegation). Some local UMCs
are welcoming and even affirming of LGBTQ persons and their families. Try not to paint the UMC with a broad stroke.
2) Pray. Pray for the members of the LGBTQ community and their families. We have members who are LGBTQ; we have members who are allies, activists, family, and friends. They are hurting. We are hurting. Many tears have been shed because we don't want anyone to come into a place of worship and feel like a second-class citizen.
3) Pray for pastors leading through this season of anxiety and division. They are trying to lead worship, teach Bible studies, care for the ill, and plan programs in the face of all this. Pray for members of the UMC. Pray for our local churches. Pray for our community.
4) Welcome people graciously. You will likely see wandering Methodists show up at Hope. Love them. Welcome them. Reaffirm the wide love of Jesus. Declare that the ELCA is a welcoming family of God, but try not to vilify the United Methodist Church. We are sisters and brothers in Christ still trying to make our way.
5) Know that many Methodists are dreaming of a "new Methodism" that is more inclusive. It's way too early to speculate what that will look like or how that will come about or even when that may or may not happen. What we do know is that there is something precious about our local church. We've seen lives changed here; we've grown in faith here; we were married in the UMC, and our children were baptized in the UMC. So we remain committed to the local church. And of course, there's the rich Methodist theology and tradition which I love. There's the beautiful juxtaposition of social holiness and personal holiness; the deep understanding of grace in its forms of prevenient grace, justifying grace, and sanctifying grace; the unique reverence of the Holy Spirit. There is much to preserve. There is much to reform. This may look and feel like a death, but we are resurrection people.
Last week, my daughter, Teresa, said she was looking forward to her Confirmation in May, but wondered aloud if that was still okay because she did not agree with General Conference. After some discussion, she decided she would take her Confirmation vows and then use her vote to help change the church. I'm so proud of her.
I am grateful for Hope Lutheran, now more than ever. Bless you my friends, and thank you for your prayers,