Intentional Love and Welcome Continue at Grace
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
In this Easter season as we reflect on the community of the early disciples and on our own call to live in community as we seek Christ, I have fallen short on how to best address the current news surrounding our denomination. The reality of our connection is that each member of a United Methodist congregation is also a member of the larger network of United Methodists all over the world. While most of the work we do to make disciples happens within the local congregation, we are not immune to the struggles that impact the church on a larger level. So, in this letter I attempt to do two things:
- give a summary of the latest news surrounding the UMC and inclusion of LGBTQ people, and
- invite loving and honest conversation
To begin, what is this news about the UMC? Well, it is really two items:
- First, we learned early last week that the Council of Bishops will call a special session of General Conference in February 2019. The purpose of this meeting is to receive and act upon the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward. This task force was created at the direction of the 2016 General Conference in the understanding that United Methodists are not of one mind on human sexuality. The question before this group as they review sections of the Book of Discipline is whether our current structures be loosened in ways that allow for divergent understandings to co-exist or will the UMC follow in the path of other Protestant denominations that have divided over the issue of sexuality? The work of the Commission is still ongoing, and we are not certain what shape their recommendation to General Conference in 2019 will take. One things we do anticipate is that the outcome of this meeting stands to dramatically change the United Methodist Church. You can read more here.
- Second, late last week the Judicial Council of the UMC returned a decision regarding the consecration of Bishop Karen Oliveto. In July of 2016, the Western Jurisdiction elected and consecrated Bishop Oliveto who was formerly the pastor of Glide Memorial UMC and who is married to a woman. The current language of the Book of Discipline prohibits "self-avowed, practicing homosexuals" from service as ordained ministers. The Judicial Council ruled that the consecration violates church law. However, the decision does not nullify the act of consecration and Bishop Oliveto remains in good standing until an administrative process is carried out by the Western Jurisdiction. You may read more about the decision here. I also recommend to you a word from our own Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson on this decision.
What does this mean for the community we love and share here at Grace UMC? It means that we are to continue to be a community of intentional welcome. This core value was stated by our leadership in a meeting early in my tenure and I have found
it to undergird all we do. Intentional welcome means that we welcome all people as they are and as they come. This means that we do not turn away from our LGBTQ sisters and brothers who were deeply hurt by this ruling. Instead, we recognize their grief and hold them in prayer. This means that we do not pretend like we are all of one mind. Instead, we respectfully acknowledge places of difference, ask questions that help us grow in understanding of one another
, and seek to find common ground. Intentional welcome means that we put the welcome of God before all of the things that seek to divide us.
If you find yourself wrestling with all of this news, as I do, I want to invite you to come and talk over coffee or lunch. I cannot promise you easy answers or agreement, but I can promise you time and space to explore together. If you are looking for a share in conversation and prayer, St
. Mark UMC has opened an invitation to be a part of a discussion with Bishop Sue this Saturday, May 6th at 2:00 PM in their chapel.
The Vision at Grace
our surrounding community, spiritually and physically, while
outward with God's love and intentionally
all in the name of Christ.
HELP Ministry, CANCELED for May.
THIS Saturday, May 6
A Time of Prayer and Conversation with Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, 2pm, St. Mark UMC
THIS Sunday, May 7
Tuesday, May 9
Needles and Prayers, 7pm
Thursday, May 18
Global Mission Fellows present Millennial in Mission, 2pm
Sunday, May 21
Church Council Meeting, 12:30pm
Tuesday, May 23
Needles and Prayers, 7pm
Saturday, June 3
Pentecost Hymn Festival, 5pm, Grace Sanctuary
MEET AROUND the TABLE with GRACE
Something special happens to us when we share a meal. This spring, Grace is forming small groups centered around table fellowship. Groups will be intergenerational, and designed to help us build strong relationships with members of our church community whom we might not otherwise get to know. We are asking each group to commit to sharing a meal once a month from May to July.
Simply sign up to participate in a small group. We'll assign you to a group, and together you will determine when, where, and how you meet, so it's convenient for all. Fill out and return cards in the offering plate or sign up online at http://bitly/GraceTableGroups
In the hospital: Steve Weldon
(DeKalb Medical - If you'd like to visit, please call Laura Weldon first.)
Please remember in your prayers all who are experiencing health issues/recovering from them:
- Marilyn Altman
- Johnny Chappell
- Alice Maclin
- Betty Nash
- Lydia Sharian
- Shawn Stephens
- Steve Weldon
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Thank you for your faithful support of the work that God is doing through Grace Church!