What’s it all about?
It is clear that continual debate will not win all of us over to the same understanding of human sexuality issues, so rather than continue that unproductive debate, a new question arises: How do we go forward in ministry together with people with whom we disagree?
A special General Conference of the United Methodist Church has been called for February, 2019. United Methodists from all over the world will meet in St. Louis to act on this one issue.
Iowa Conference Bishop Laurie Haller has been here in Cedar Falls twice in the last year to inform us of the proposals and possibilities. Our own pastors, Scott Kober and Matt German will make a similar presentation on Sunday, February 17, from 2:00-4:00. Everyone is welcome to attend - we want every United Methodist to be informed of the situation.
If you are unable to attend the Cedar Falls event, a similar event held in the South Central district (Knoxville, IA) has been recorded and is available at the Iowa Conference Website.
Excerpt from Bishop Laurie’s Conference letter, December 29.
God’s Word for each one of us today is, “Be not afraid!” In the days leading up to February 23, I invite you to continue to fearlessly share the good news of Jesus Christ, which is for all people. I encourage you to worship and serve the God who creates calm in your heart and rejoices over each one of God’s children, created lovingly and uniquely in God’s image. And I encourage you to keep on making a difference in your church, community, and to the far corners of the world.
At the same time, I covenant to walk with you during these challenging days. As the episcopal leader of Iowa, I love, honor, and respect each one of you, no matter where you stand on the issues that threaten to divide us. In the midst of our differences around human sexuality, we must remember that this is not the most important issue of the church. What is most critical for United Methodist Christians is that we continue to share the transforming love of Jesus and be a strong and courageous witness to the world by “doing justice, embracing faithful love, and walking humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8).
On Friday, December 28, the Council of Bishops released a letter to the global LGBTQ community. At the November 2018 meeting of the Council of Bishops at St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, the Council approved a motion to send a pastoral letter to the Global LGBTQ community. The writing team included a bishop from each central conference and jurisdiction. You can read the letter here.
If you have not done so yet, I also encourage you to read the various proposals that will be before the called General Conference in February. You can read the petitions at the Advance Daily Christian Advocate. I also commend to you the newly released 2018 United Methodist State of the Church Report: The Mission is Yet Alive.
A common theme that runs through the scriptures of Advent and Christmas is, “Do not be afraid!” As the new year approaches, then, do not fear. Instead, may you find ways to reach out to and embody the good news of Jesus Christ with others by the calmness of your love. May you welcome new people who are attending your worship services by rejoicing with them in prayer and song. May you continue to gather the outcasts of our world and bring healing to all those who are suffering by the grace of your love and care. And may you be God’s hope for the world made real through faithful leaders, fruitful communities, and fire-filled people.
Other online resources:
United Methodist New Service Conference Coverage
Commision on A Way Forward Final Report
Three Ways Forward Compared
One Church Model video
Bishop Laurie’s news page