Pastors of United Methodist churches are seeing a wide range of reactions to General Conference within their congregations. Some church members may need time to heal from emotional wounds while others may be concerned about the potential effects on their congregation.
United Methodist Communications provides this sample letter to help pastors address these concerns. You are welcome to share this letter with your congregation or use it as a guide for formulating your own letter.
This Sunday and in weeks to come United Methodist pastors everywhere will be addressing their congregations about the decisions of General Conference 2019. Church members will have different reactions to the decisions and may have questions about how this will affect them or their congregation.
Here are some talking points pastors may find helpful as they prepare to preach and lead discussions.
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Bishop calls for healing after GC2019
In the aftermath of the Special Session of General Conference, Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, President of the Council of Bishops has issued a pastoral letter based on James 5:13-16. Congregations are asked to read the letter to during Sunday morning worship.
The Arch of Justice
In her new column, Bishop Peggy Johnson sees an affinity between the Gateway Arch of St. Louis, site of the recent, momentous General Conference Special Session, and the long “arc of the universe” that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. claimed ultimately bends toward justice. While much legislation still has yet to be decided by our Judicial Council, she writes “Here and now, during our winter of discontent, something important and lasting happened in The United Methodist Church. We will never be the same.”
The four-day conference’s still-dubious outcomes may have heartened traditionalists and disheartened progressives. But, Bishop Johnson says, “I believe with all my heart that eventually The United Methodist Church will become a welcoming and affirming denomination in ministry with the LGBTQIA+ community. Like the arc of justice, the wait is long, and the struggle can last a long, long time.”
A Prayer of Confession
Bishop Peggy Johnson’s Prayer of Confession, written by the Rev. Michael Johnson and prayed before the General Conference on its first day, Feb. 23, is a compelling admission of our profound shortcomings, especially when it comes to truly loving others as Christ teaches us. “Give us the grace to pursue Your perfect love,” she pleads, “to be zealous for Your Spirit, and open to Your leading.” This prayer can be an inspiring, convicting call to conscience for any individual, group or congregation.