As a United Methodist pastor, I find myself deeply wounded and uncertain about the future of our regional and global church. Many of my close friends and colleagues are shattered. Harsh words have been said by and at people that I love, people who God loves so profoundly and completely.
It feels to me like we are in the midst of a messy, “irreconcilable differences” divorce that will leave all its children weeping, broken and distant from one another. And that leaves me deeply saddened.
At the heart of this pain is our Global by-laws, our UMC Book of Discipline (2016) that proclaims that “The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth”(¶ 4. Article IV)and so all are welcome in every congregation, every worship and every activity. It also states that “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” (¶ 304.3)
This week a special UMC “General Conference 2019” was convened to reconcile these and other statements, and after three days of prayer, worship, discussion and debate, the statements currently in place were reaffirmed and strengthened. Many of the participants (my friends) departed the gathering speaking of leaving the church.
What does this mean for us at Lancaster United Methodist Church?
Of that I am more certain and also hopeful. I know that we will continue to gather on Sundays to worship a loving God, and that we will still be the welcoming place seeking to practice “radical hospitality” to all who are in our congregation, to all who worship with us and to all who surround us.
No one will be left out of our efforts to share the unconditional love of God in Jesus Christ in as many ways as we can.
We all stand as those who have fallen short of God’s hope for us, yet we all are loved beyond measure through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It means our Soup Kitchen will continue to serve 200-400 meals per day on Mondays and Thursdays without asking questions about who arrives at our doors.
It means our classes, groups and student activities will continue to be led by loving and welcoming people seeking to affirm the sacred worth of everyone.
It means that we will continue to live the invitation of Christ for all to come, receive the gift of Holy Communion with God and be transformed in the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we engage and open up our hearts to the pain and struggle this issue has brought to all sides, I invite you to take advantage of some opportunities this weekend to come together and share what’s on your heart, in your thoughts, your reactions, your questions.
Please gather with me…
- Saturday, Mar. 2@ 3 pm
In the Grand Foyer @ Lancaster United Methodist Church
- Sunday, Mar. 3@ 2 pm
- In the Grand Foyer @ Lancaster United Methodist Church
And you may also wish to attend an area wide worship gathering led by Bishop Grant Hagiya at Pasadena First UMC
Special Post-General Conf. Worship Service
– to worship and celebrate our unity under the Lord, Jesus Christ,
and the power of the Holy Spirit
Sunday, March 3, 2019, at 6:00 PM [PST],
at Pasadena First UMC
500 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena
(Also available livestream www.calpacumc.org)
If you wish more information about the UMC and its positions, goto:www.bit.ly/UMC-Homosexuality
Bishop Hagiya’s reflections are found at: www.bit.ly/UMC-BishopHagiya-GC2019
For a report on the Special General Conference goto: