Grace United Methodist Church
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Reaching people with the love and teachings of Jesus Christ

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Hello Friends, 

 

 

(This is the electronic version of the March edition of Grace Notes Pastor’s letter. If you’ve received a physical copy, then you’ll notice a different letter from me. That’s because when I initially wrote my letter, it was before the vote at General Conference 2019 regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ people in the United Methodist Church. General Conference has since passed and as we were about to send the electronic version of Grace Notes, it seemed fitting that I used this medium to share the most up to date thoughts on the matter.)

 

As many of you know, of the plans presented before General Conference, the Traditional Plan was passed. So what does that mean? For some this may come as a surprise but the United Methodist Church has already been living in a version of the Traditional Plan. Currently there is language that excludes LGBTQ people in the ordained ministry and clergy are prohibited from performing same-sex marriages. What the new plan added was the penalty of a one year suspension without pay for a first offence and defrocking after a second offence of officiating a same sex marriage. There is further language about examination about who can be on the Board of Ordained Ministry and who can be ordained.

 

I understand that at Grace United Methodist Church we represent people across the theological, political, and social spectrum. It’s what I love about our church. It’s what I love about you. 

 

I think there is room for healthy disagreement but to spend the amount of time and money to simply add punitive accountability doesn’t feel like love and grace. We can disagree without punishing each other. Sadly we are human and that’s what we do to our theological, political, and social opponents. We punished Jesus for inviting us into the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom of unconditional love and acceptance, especially for the marginalized. We couldn’t handle that 2000 years ago, the church still isn’t ready in 2019.

 

This is sad time for the United Methodist Church. If you are rejoicing over the vote at General Conference, there is still sadness because your brothers and sisters in Christ as mourning over their exclusion. If you are angry and disheartened at the vote, then you are further feeling the walls that continue to divide the church.

 

Please continue to pray with me for our church and the denomination. We will have further church-wide conversations at a time to be determined.

 

Grace and Peace, Pastor Paul