by Pastor Justin Coleman, University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
On Sunday, February 17, we shared information in worship and held a Town Hall meeting so that you could learn about a United Methodist Church’s denomination-wide Special Session of the General Conference that was held on February 23-26 in St. Louis. Delegates from around the world gathered to consider changing policies for the entire denomination. At the core of our considerations were ordination and marriage of LGBTQ+ persons. On the 17th, I shared with you information about the proposals from the Commission on the Way Forward that were to be considered at the Conference. We spent most of our time at the Conference discussing the Traditional and the One Church Plans.
I write to tell you that the General Conference of the UMC voted to approve the Traditional Plan. The Traditional Plan was affirmed by 53% of General Conference delegates. This plan enhances accountability procedures and penalties for clergy who extend marriage and ordination rites to LGBTQ+ persons. At this moment, we are still waiting to learn which parts, if any, of this approved plan will pass a UM Judicial Council review that we expect to be held in late April. Our bishop will be holding information sessions at districts across the conference this Sunday, March 3rd. Our district will be gathering at Duke Memorial UMC at 6pm this Sunday and all are invited to attend. It is important to note that 60% of US delegates did vote for the One Church Plan when it was considered.
To all LGBTQIA members of our University UMC family: I am sorry for all of the ways that the church of Jesus Christ has failed you and has hurt you. I am sorry that the delegates, myself included, to the United Methodist Church’s General Conference did not successfully work to pass new church legislation that gives you access to the rites of marriage and ordination like I hoped they would. My commitment has not changed. I am fully committed to leading our church to be a community that extends our circle of kinship and the Church’s rites to include all people. I will also be actively working with leaders from across our United Methodist connection to chart a new way forward.
CALL TO ACTION
Let’s show up this Sunday at 9 & 11 a.m. to worship the Living God.
I would love to see everyone there. Rain or shine (and hopefully no snow.)
This is the time for us to show up. This is the time that we worship the Living God.
This is the time that we embrace one another in a spirit of kinship as we say, “You are not alone.”
This is the time that we look at the beauty of our local community of faith and recommit ourselves to growing this community so we can be a church for people without a church.
We will commit to being in conversation and discernment with other churches from across the United Methodist Connection. I don’t know where these conversations will take us, but, I do know that we will stay true to our commitment to being an inclusive community of faith that increases its circle of kinship until no one is left out.
I know you believe in a living and loving God. I know you believe in this kindred community of faith. Let’s come together now to live out a real way forward for each other.
I’ll see you Sunday.
It’s my joy to be your pastor.