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.
For a number of years, St. Andrew By-The-Sea has had the dream of bringing retired UMC Bishop Ernest S. Lyght to Hilton Head. It is an honor to announce he will be joining Rev. Neil Yongue at the Hilton Head Campus on March 24, and preaching at both the 9:00 & 11:15 services.
Bishop Lyght has been an outspoken advocate for cross-racial experiences and has had a unifying presence in all settings. He is co-author of Many Faces, One Church; Our Father; and Confessions of Three Ebony Bishops, all published by Abingdon Press.
He is well-known for his tireless efforts on behalf of Africa University in Zimbabwe, and is the former Chair of the Africa University Board and Advisory Development Committees and has provided leadership to the university’s friend and fundraising efforts.
In addition to pastoral appointments in local churches and as a district superintendent in New Jersey, he was elected as bishop in 1996 and assigned first to the New York Area and then to the West Virginia Area until his retirement in 2011.He has served on a variety of boards and agencies including the General Board of Church and Society (1984-1992) and the General Board of Global Ministries as well as being elected as a delegate to Jurisdictional and General Conferences and president of the United Methodist Men’s Commission.
Ernest and his wife, Eleanor, live in Delanco, New Jersey.
The congregation of St. Andrew provides cash grants and donations to global, national, regional, and local non-profit organizations. Over a period of several years, St. Andrew provided $35,000 to Habitat to Humanity toward the construction of a home at the development called The Glen off Marshland Road. It was dedicated in 2017.