by Carl Frazier, Martha McLean, Heather Herrin Wong, Ben Adams
Grace to you and peace from our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
By now, you may have heard that the special session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church has completed its work. The General Conference, by a margin of fifty votes, has adopted the Traditional Plan as the way forward for the church for now. There will be another General Conference in May 2020. It will take time to review all the plan as adopted but we can tell you the following: the Traditional Plan retains existing United Methodist prohibitions of same gender marriage and the ordination of LGBTQ persons to ministry in our communion. Additionally, it adds specific and non-negotiable consequences for clergy who violate those provisions. There exists the possibility that portions of this plan will be ruled unconstitutional by the church’s Judicial Council (our Supreme Court).
As far as we can tell, there are no restrictions on membership or local church involvement by LGBTQ persons. We intend to continue to lead FUMC as we have – into an open and welcoming community that reflects the welcome of God for all people – while not violating any provisions of The Discipline.
We would like to offer a pastoral word to those in our family who are in the LGBTQ family: we your pastors do not believe you to be an issue to be resolved or a problem to be solved. You are children of God, people of sacred worth, who enrich us as the body of Christ. We are deeply troubled by the pain that this has caused you. We will continue to be your pastors and walk with you as long as you will allow us.
We also want to affirm some truths for you that we, your pastors, believe:
- The General Conference is a legislative body that sets policy for the church. As such, it becomes an intersection of different understandings of the Bible and of culture. While the General Conference represents Methodism as a global church, it is not the church. The church is the body of Christ gathered for worship, fellowship, service, and witness. The church is who we are in Christ and what we do in mission and ministry week in and week out at FUMC.
- We know this decision has caused hurt and harm to many, including many in our church family. We are here to listen, to pray, and to weep with you.