The 2019 meeting of the United Methodist General Conference concluded Feb. 26 in St. Louis. The purpose of this special called session was to make a choice as to how the United Methodist Church would relate to matters of full inclusion for members of the LGBTQ community in the life and ministry of our fellowship.
Despite the best efforts of well-meaning leaders on several sides of this issue, the discussion, particularly on the final day, was tense, tearful and sometimes acrimonious. To quote the book of Acts regarding a similar church conference early in our history: “there was no small discussion.” The decision to support the Traditional Plan, which maintains prohibitions for marriage and ordination of homosexuals, left some deeply disappointed and others jubilant. There is still much to learn regarding how this decision will effect the life of the church. There will be ongoing discussions as to how the United Methodist denomination will incorporate the spirit of this choice, including a review of some of the aspects of this plan by our church courts.
As pastor of St. Andrew By-The-Sea, I simply want us to be reminded of the opening words of our local church’s mission statement. “We are an open, nurturing body of Christian believers…” There is room in our church for people of every age, color, and orientation. No matter who we are, where we are from, what we’ve done, we all stand in need of the grace and mercy that God alone can supply. I can promise you that it is my intention at every meeting, in every prayer, in every mission effort and every worship service and sermon to make that love as real and available as possible. I would also say that your church needs you now more than ever before as we pursue the calling of Christ throughout the low country and the world.
I do not know where the Spirit might lead in this matter, but I am firmly convinced we will be a church for all people and that within the arms of our fellowship, people will find true acceptance and love.
Your family will be waiting to see you this Sunday.