North Highland United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

 

What to say
 
Sometimes when we wish we had them the most, words fail us. And we either say the “wrong” thing, or too much or too little. And we all know there are times when no words would have been better than the words that come out of our mouths. I have felt a bit this way the past couple of days, yet nonetheless I find myself in need of sharing some words about the happenings in the UMC this past week, all which made nation-wide news. What I can say first is exactly what Bishop Ough said, “my heart is heavy”. Many of us shared his dream that this Special Ses-sion of General Conference would give us the chance to remain a unified church, with the awareness that there are differences. Our Bishop shared that his hope was that the One Church Plan might give us the opportunity to honor contextual differ-ences, and freely provide space for one another’s ministries. “I dream of a church that understands and embraces the power of being united through love and mis-sion, rather than rules and regulations”, he said. But that is not what happened. And for many, it felt like February 27, 2019 is the day the United Methodist Church died, or at least that hope died. Because we know that there are many who will feel pain and exclusion, and many of us have great concern about our future witnesses as faithful, loving, and always-growing followers of Jesus Christ.
 
No one should claim “victory”—because this was not intended to leave winners and losers. And yet, the losses may be great. The plan that passed has many issues still to be sorted out. No one knows for certain what the effect of these actions will be on life together as a denomination. We do know that the church’s current polices on homosexuality were affirmed, (words were added to the Discipline in 1972)—and this plan calls for greater enforcement for clergy who violate these policies. All of the plan has been referred to the Judicial Council, and it is the understanding that none of it takes effect until January 1, 2020. Sadly, in my estimation, was an item that was top priority for many: Passage of a plan that will allow local churches to disaffiliate from the UMC. Many believe that was the goal of a particular group. So it seems we have increased rules and regulations, and many, many people who will experience emotional harm and pain.
 
What I do know is that Jesus welcomed all at the table of grace. Jesus never exclud-ed, and Jesus never spoke at all about same-sex marriage or homosexuality. And I know that as our Bishop reiterated, the actions of the General Conference do not change who we are. We here at NHUMC are a church who welcomes all, a church who works towards faithful interpretation of scripture with context, history, and culture in mind, and faithfully desire join with God to make the kingdom of hope and justice a reality in our world. And so in the certainty that all are created in God’s image and greatly loved, we continue forward in hope.
 
Peace and blessings,
 
Pastor Lou
 

 

March 2019