We have been hearing in church that our district superintendent, Emily Hotho, will be here June 4 at 11:15 (one service this day) to share with us from the pulpit and afterward have a dialogue concerning the state of the United Methodist Church and the process for a church to disaffiliate should it desire to do so. I thought I would give a brief explanation of what is happening. In 2019 the General Conference of the United Methodist Church met and there was a motion passed that allowed churches to leave the denomination. The issue that pushed this to happen was the decades long debate about human sexuality and in particular whether homosexual weddings should be allowed to take place in the church and whether or not homosexuals should be ordained as pastors. There was a great divide. Some churches have already left the denomination, some 2,000 of the 32,000 United Methodist Churches in America. The paragraph that allows for disaffiliation has a sunset clause that expires December 31 of this year. Leadership has been looking at whether or not Wesley wants to disaffiliate. Emily is coming to help us all understand why we should stay with the United Methodist Church and will field questions we may have.
The following Wednesday, June 7, I will be available for further Q and A. We can meet at 7 pm in the fellowship hall. There will be a second Q and A on July 9 after church, again in the fellowship hall. I will also be available to groups already meeting to come and help us navigate this journey. Should leadership discern that it is best to have the church vote on this, we will have the DS set a date for the vote and there would need to be a majority of two thirds (66.67%) to leave the denomination. If this comes to a vote, only members will be allowed to vote. It is important we help folks by giving them every opportunity to join so we will have two new member classes in June after church, June 11 and June 25. There will be a number of ways to check on your membership. Someone will be in the back of the church with a list after church services and we will make the list available digitally so you can check.
BE in prayer for the church,
Directly after second service we will go to the FLC Fellowship Hall. The church will provide chicken and is asking members to bring a side dish. If your last name is A-F, please bring a Salad/Pasta Dish, G-N Vegetable/Bread/Cheese Dish, O-V Desert/Fruit Dish….. Or as an alternative, bring what you wish!
Emily will start her presentation at 12:45pm as we are having lunch. A Question and Answer time will immediately follow. It is expected the meeting will conclude between 1:30 -2:00pm, depending on the quantity of questions. All questions will be answered. Please note this is a time for questions only, asked respectfully, with no speeches. Childcare will be available. Please let the office know if you are coming and would like childcare so we are adequately prepared for their lunch in a seperate room.
There will be a zoom link for those who are unable to attend in person. The link will be sent via email and text the day before as well as posted on the website. The recording will be available on the website shortly after.
Dear Wesley Family,
Many have asked what I think of the current UMC dissifiliation issue. Below are my thoughts I would like to share with you.
First, I never have thought the issue was homosexuality but an ever-widening gap we see in our culture that has infiltrated the church. I do not think God cares about this. I do not believe He cares about the institutional church or what church bumper sticker is on our car. God’s institutional covenant with Israel ended at the cross and the new covenant is personal. Now I am responsible for my own soul and not for yours. You should go with your soul on this and not the party line. If your soul is being fed here at Wesley as we study the word and work together in service to the community, then stay. If it is not, then
leave. If that changes with a leadership change in the future, deal with it personally then. I do not believe Jesus asked Brenda why she became a United Methodist. Do not think He cares.
Second, I believe we are teaching our children how God’s people deal with real conflict. We are being a witness and they are watching. Many of us have deep divides with our parents or children but we would never want them to leave.
Third, the institutional church is flawed and led by flawed people. No institution is exempt from this. No matter where we land there will be issues. Institutional leaders make mistakes and so do I. Whenever I use their mistakes to take the moral or spiritual high ground, I fail my own soul. God has a way of turning things loose to see what remnant remains. I think the task for us is to seek soul renewal and unity, to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice and I think we need to do this regardless of how this plays out.
Fourth, for some this is the line in the sand. If that is what your soul is telling you, then find a body that agrees with your soul but know this, the new hermeneutic is not new. We have been interpreting what God intends through His word since Paul wrote the letters. Some believed Paul from the beginning, many did not. This is not the last time our soul will be challenged to respond to a culture that defies the Scripture. Our culture has set its course. If we choose to vote on this, it is very possible we will be voting on something else in four years. If you try to find a body that matches everything in your soul you may end up all alone. I know I would have been OK with that but determined that was not what God
wanted me to do. Know that you have been heard. If you choose to leave, leave in peace. I will always love you and my heart is always open. I completely understand and was tempted to do the same. I have chosen to fight for unity and renewal here at Wesley and invite you to do the same.
To this end I asked the leadership to meet last night and carry the burden for us. Leadership has determined that we will not bring this to a vote here at Wesley. I understand some are very disappointed with this, I truly do. I do not think anyone should really applaud this decision. I do though believe we need to walk into tomorrow in unity. When there is a great passion around something, it can cause a divide, hurt feeling, winners and losers. I believe we are called to fulfill what Jesus prays in John 17:20-21 “ I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me”
Our future as a church is as ONE and we begin the path to renewal by offering ourselves as a living sacrifice, setting ourselves aside and humbly saying, “Lord, use me as You desire.”
I love being your Pastor,