February 27, 2019
Today our hearts are heavy in light of what many have seen on the evening news and on social media about the United Methodist Church. Yesterday the General Conference of the UMC concluded its work to determine a way forward in regards to LGBTQ siblings in Christ. The One Church plan failed on the floor of General Conference that pursued the unity of the church. What was left before the body was the Traditional plan. This plan passed by very slim margins, 56.22% in favor, 43.78% against. This plan maintains restrictive language around LGBTQ persons marrying and entering pastoral ministry in the United Methodist Church. It also seeks increased accountability measures for violating church law. This plan is under judicial review to see if it is constitutional and we may not know that ruling until April.
The United Methodist Church is a global church including siblings from Africa where it is not only against the law to engage in homosexual practice, but in some places it is a capital offense. In light of that, 66% of the American delegation wanted to move forward together with an allowance for inclusivity. The vote at General Conference does not reflect the theological position of most of the United States delegates.
We know you all have many questions and your emotions are real and raw. Our congregation is a diverse congregation also filled with varying perspectives. We have members of this congregation that identify as LGBTQ and many of you have family members in this community as well. The Crucial Conversations sermon series held over the last 6 weeks sought to demonstrate how we live into disagreement with empathy and understanding with those whom we disagree.
We do not know entirely what this means for our Church or what this will look like in detail yet.
Your pastors are committed to our Church's vision statement: "Love first...Let's gather, grow, go...together."
We seek to be a place that is in ministry with ALL and for ALL. In fact, we gathered with members of the LGBTQ community and their allies in our chapel last night offering care and support until almost 10:00pm.
To our LGBTQ siblings, we love you and affirm you. We are honored to be entrusted with the sacred call of being called your pastors. Please know that as we sit in grief today alongside you, we are also hopeful for the new thing God will manifest in the church where a people of a Wesleyan faith will be able to practice a ministry of full inclusivity for all. We are available to you and offer you, and the rest of our congregation our love and support.
Let us continue in the work of making new disciples for the transformation of the world.
Pastor Scott Keele Kober
Pastor Matt German