Be Strong and Courageous
"Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9
On Feb 23-26, United Methodist delegates from around the world gathered in St. Louis for the Special Session of General Conference. (General Conference is the top decision making body for our denomination.)
After impassioned speeches and intense debates, the delegates passed (by 53%) the "Traditional Plan," which maintains and enforces the current statements about marriage and homosexual clergy. (Note: two-thirds of the U.S. delegation voted against this plan and for the "One Church Plan," which would have given space for annual conferences, local churches, and clergy to disagree on these issues.)
Regardless of where you stand on the issues of homosexuality,
let's pray for one another and our larger body.
Let me ask three requests: First, please do not pack up your bags and leave our denomination and church. We are a church family and we've always maintained space for disagreements.
Give time for our denominational leaders
(in The United States and the Northern Illinois Conference)
to communicate the implications of this vote for us.
In addition to the scheduled conversations with denominational leaders (see below,)
we'll have opportunities to gather for conversations among ourselves.
One of these opportunities will be this Sunday, March 3,
following both the 9 AM and 11 AM services.
Saturday, March 30 @ 9:30 AM - our church will host a 90 min. debriefing session for the Northern Illinois Conference. Bishop Sally Dyck will lead our time of conversation together.
Sunday, May 5 @ 9 & 11 AM - Rev. Jeffry Bross (Aurora District Superintendent) will be our guest preacher at Faith. He'll help us understanding the implications of this vote for our local church.
Second - as we approach the season of Lent, join a Lenten small group. The theme for this 5-week study is "Anxious for Nothing." It'll give an opportunity for us to engage in conversation, share concerns, and pray for one another. We have 10 groups that are meeting at various days/times/locations throughout the week.
Even if you're never joined a group, I hope you'll join us this spring.
Third - pray for one another and continue to engage in the ministries of the Church. Continue to pursue the calling that Christ has placed on your heart - to love God with all your heart/soul/mind/strength and love your neighbor as yourself.
As the Church, we have disagreed over social/theological issues in the past. Whether we like it or not, we will disagree over social/theological issues in the future. So, don't be deterred by this vote. What binds us together is our love and faith in Jesus Christ. As human beings, we are fickle and are always learning how to work together in spite of our differences. Yet, it's in this struggle that we learn how to love. It's also in the midst of these struggles that we see hope and new life.
I am praying for each of you. Please feel free to reach out to myself or Pastor Caitlyn for conversations, and - as I shared with my family this morning - be strong and courageous.