by Rev. Carol Cavin-Dillon
Dearest Members of the West End UMC Family,
The General Conference in St. Louis has come to an end. I know that many of you were watching over livestream or keeping up on Twitter and Facebook, but I want to summarize for all of us what was decided—and not decided.
Yesterday afternoon the delegates voted to approve the Traditional Plan, which maintains the denomination’s current ban on same-sex marriage and on the ordination of people who identify as LGBTQ. The Plan was made up of 17 petitions, many of which could be deemed unconstitutional by the Judicial Council. (The Judicial Council basically serves as our Supreme Court.) At the end of the session, delegates voted to refer the entire plan to the Judicial Council for a full review. So, in short, we really don’t know what this will mean for the church yet.
The One Church Plan, which many of you in this congregation worked so hard to support, failed to pass on the first day of legislative work. Delegates brought it forward as a “minority report” on Tuesday, but it also failed.
There is so much that I would like to say in these hours after General Conference. As a supporter of the One Church Plan, I am deeply grieved. As I shared in a recent sermon, I had hoped that a door would open for gay couples to be married and for LGBTQ friends to be ordained. My heart is heavy that that door remains closed.
But so much more painful than my own disappointment is the pain experienced by our LGBTQ church members and friends, who have been told once again that they are less than full members of the church. Some of the debate on the floor of General Conference was deeply hurtful, and I want to say on behalf of the denomination, I am sorry….
Our Welcome Statement at West End is clear: we welcome and embrace ALL. Now, more than ever, we are called to live into that statement. Our congregation is uniquely equipped to love and advocate for those who have been marginalized by this decision. All of the pastoral staff here wanted me to say that our doors are open for any who need to grieve, to lament or simply to talk about what you are feeling and thinking. Please call on us.
On March 10 our Bishop Bill McAlilly, along with members of the Tennessee Conference delegation, will broadcast a livestream from the 4th Story Theater. They will unpack for us what has happened and what the future might hold. We can submit questions for them to consider to I also invite you to watch the bishop’s statement from the close of General Conference.
On Sunday, March 24, during the Sunday School hour and on Wednesday, March 27, at 6:00 p.m., we will have open gatherings to talk together about all that has happened and to begin the conversation about what God is calling us to do. Your leaders are ready to guide us in a season of prayer and discernment.
In the days ahead, let us remember most of all that God is faithful, that God is with us, and that God is Love.
And in that Love, we move ahead.
Grace and Peace.