March 7, 2019
Letter from Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky

Friday, March 1, 2019

To the People of God in The United Methodist Church,
"Spare your people, O LORD, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, 'Where is their God?'" - Joel 2:17b
This past week, the special session of the General Conference of our church gathered in search of a way forward out of a decades-old conflict over attitudes toward homosexuals and LGBTQIA people. Rather than finding a way forward, the church chose to turn back the clock and to intensify its exclusion.

The conference did not create space for United Methodists with different perspectives to live together. Rather, the church reaffirmed its assertion that "The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching," (UM Book of Discipline, 2016, ΒΆ 161.G). It intensified standards and punishments for bishops who ordain and appoint gay clergy, and for clergy who perform marriages for same-sex couples.

The outcome was devastating for LGBTQIA people, whose very self-worth was debated, and for all persons in the church who believe Jesus models and invites us to become a radically inclusive community of faith.

To LGBTQIA persons in our churches and other ministry settings, I say,
"I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ" - Philippians 1:3-6
I appeal to every pastor, member, and attendee, to be tender and merciful as you extend care to LGBTQIA persons in your care, and their families, and to continue to create opportunities to promote understanding and justice within the church and society.

I join many of you who feel abandoned by your Church home. I am ashamed that the Church has turned its back on so many people who Jesus has loved and called. I cannot abide by or enforce the new rules in conscience. My soul cries out to God, "do not make your heritage a mockery. Why should it be said among the people, 'Where is their God?'" And I know that many of you also find yourselves adrift. I hear questions like, Is our Church redeemable? Or, is it time to leave the church that has left us and form a new expression of Church that opens doors and affirm people, rather than closing doors and denying or punishing them.

Let me offer you some reassurances. First, none of the actions of the General Conference take effect until January 1, 2020. Practices of candidacy, ordination and weddings will continue unchanged for the time being. Challenges to the constitutionality of some of the new provisions are underway that may overturn them. Regardless of how that turns out, as your bishop, I don't intend to lead us backward. We have come too far together to turn back now.

Pastors and people from large and small churches across the United States are looking for an expression of Church that affirms LGBTQ persons and recognizes them as full members and leaders. Coalitions of individuals and groups who will not submit to the recent actions are forming to develop plans for full inclusion, either inside or outside the existing UMC. We do know that a majority of the North American delegates to the recent General Conference opposed the actions taken. If you are among them, please indicate your interest in being part of this movement at: OneChurch4All.org

At the same time, I strongly believe that the Church should and must be a place where people who love Jesus, but don't see eye to eye, are in fellowship, prayer, study, and conversation with one another. I don't want to be in a church that does not welcome and honor people who hold different opinions from mine. I hope that our love of Jesus, and the people Jesus loves and asks us to love, is stronger than our differences of opinion. I believe we must stay together in charity, if we can. For, as Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus,
"There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of our calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:4-6)
With trust in God, who will lead us even if the Church wanders away and loses itself.

Your bishop and friend in Christ,
Elaine JW Stanovsky
 
In This Issue
Open Door Churches newsletters are sent out every other Thursday.

Open Door Churches Webpage

Our webpage is live!!  Go to  opendoorchurches.org to see information about 
each of the churches and ways you can be involved.
Youth Auction Raised Over $28,000!
 
Thank You to everyone who helped made the auction such a wonderful success. Thanks to the auction committee, parents, and youth for all your help. It was a wonderful evening!    



Discipleship Group Lenten Study
Living the Way of Love: A 40-Day Devotional by Mary B. Sullivan
 
During Lent we're exploring the book  Living the Way of Love: A 40-Day Devotional by Mary B. Sullivan. Reflections follow the practices of The Way of Love: Turn, Learn, Pray, worship, Bless, Go, Rest. Each devotion includes a passage of scripture, a story, and reflection questions. We'll be rotating through each practice so that each is covered once a week, going deeper into the practice throughout the forty days.

The following locations are conducting the same study:

Tuesdays - 1:30 p.m. - beginning March 12
Morningside UMC - 3674 12th St. SE, Salem

Tuesdays - 6:30 p.m. - beginning March 5
First Salem UMC - 600 State Street, Salem

Thursdays - 10:00 a.m. - beginning March 7
First Salem UMC - 600 State Street, Salem

Thursdays - 1:30 p.m.beginning March 7
Trinity UMC - 590 Elma Ave SE, Salem  

Please contact the location's office by mid February to let them know you will be attending so that they may reserve a book for you. (Cost of book is $10). More information and reservation forms are also included in the Sunday worship bulletins.
 



From Lament to Communion

God created us for community.  Across the theological spectrum of our United Methodist connection, we are dismayed by the tension and hurt revealed at the Special General Conference.  Instead of finding a way forward together, we find ourselves even more painfully separated. 

Table Talks provide an opportunity for us to come together around the table of grace to share our feelings with one another, to connect as brothers and sisters in Christ, to hear from General Conference participants, and to imagine fresh contours of our faithfulness
as United Methodists.

Participants will covenant to Stay Curious, Be Kind, and to Listen with the same amount of passion with which they want to be heard.  The gathering will include sharing in holy communion together.

The Cascadia District is hosting five Table Talk gatherings mid-March into April (marked with an asterisk below). District Superintendent Tim Overton Harris will be present at all of these. Table Talks hosted by other districts are also available and may be more convenient for you. 
Following is a list of Table Talks in or near the Cascadia District:
Now is the time for community conversation. We need your voice at the table.

Find more information, see all the offerings across the Greater Northwest, and register at 
greaternw.org/table-talks

Please register at least a week prior to the event of your choice so that we can be prepared for you.  There is no cost. 

Open Door Churches Youth Group March Schedule 
 
Youth Group for the month of March will be at First UMC, 12:30-2. Join us for conversation, delicious lunch, and games!  
Mark your calendars for some great youth group activities!
  • March 10 United Methodist women join us
  • March 17 Costa Rica Mission Team building 12:30-2
  • April 21 Easter Brunch
  • May 19 Confirmation/Youth Sunday
For more details about youth group activities visit their Facebook page here. 
 
Open Door Churches Young Adults
March Schedule
 
The Open Door Churches Young Adult Group is made up of college students and young professionals ranging in age from 18-29 who are exploring questions of faith together. The group meets every Wednesday evening from 7-8:30, usually at IKE Box. Please look at our Facebook page for specific dates, times, and places.

Thank you for your continued support of The Open Door Young Adults. Please contact Pastor Alyssa at   alyssabaker08@gmail.com with any questions.  

Check out our group's Facebook Page: CLICK HERE 

Come Visit!
We, as Open Door Churches, are a wonderful community together. To continue building our relationships, it's good to visit each other. If you would like to visit one of the other Open Door Churches, here are all our Sunday service times:
  • Trinity - 9:30 a.m.
  • Morningside - (Face to Face) 8:30 a.m.,10:30 a.m.
  • Salem 1st - 8:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.
  • Las Naciones - 12:30 p.m.
  • Keizer Clear Lake - 10 a.m.