PASTOR’S PEN
 

General Conference

I call your attention to the message in these Thursday Thoughts from our Bishop Minerva G. Carcano about the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in St.Louis starting this Saturday, Feb 23 and concluding on the 26th. This General Conference is for the sole purpose of determining the policy of the United Methodist Church on the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. 
 
This has been an area of contention in the life of our denomination since 1972. Societal attitudes have changed.The American Medical Association no longer considers homosexuality to be a deviant lifestyle choice but an orientation that one is born with. Battles have been fought and won against housing and job discrimination and now a same sex couple can legally marry. I have provided pastoral care to many LGBTQ persons and even commitment services for same sex couples before marriage was legal. I have seen people leave the church because they felt unaccepted or because they felt the sting of judgement on a son or daughter or other family member. I have seen others leave because they felt the UMC was too accepting of what they considered to be a sinful lifestyle. 
 
Now we are coming to a crucial decision in the history of our denomination. I don’t know what will happen — a split or a plan that allows us to disagree and still go on being the church together. This I know — the God I meet in Jesus the Christ is bigger than the United Methodist Church and any other denomination or faith understanding. Thanks be to God for that! I also know that I love the United Methodist Church that nurtured and trained me in the faith, and helped me grow as a disciple and a human being. I love the United Methodist Church that I have served as a pastor for about 35 years now. 
 
I am praying tor the leading of the Spirit as we approach this General Conference and the days of February 23 – 26. I invite you to do the same. Blessings, 
 
Steve 


Pray for the United Methodist Church

— from Pastor Steve
I just read a fascinating article by Diana Butler Bass, who specializes in American religion and culture. She reminds us that the Methodist Church split in the years prior to the civil war over slavery, abolition, and biblical interpretation. A national denomination split into regional bodies, north and south.
 
Diana Butler Bass goes on to say that, “As the churches divided over slavery then, so they are dividing over sexuality and gender now.” She says that many of the biblical arguments that were used to support slavery back then are used now to reject the humanity, gifts, and dignity of women and LGBTQ persons.
 
February 23 – 26 will be a special General Conference of the United Methodist Church in St. Louis, MO to decide the way forward for the Church on issues of sexuality. Many of us are hoping that the United Methodist Church will stay together by adopting the One Church Plan. This will avoid a split by removing the anti-homosexual language from our Book of Discipline and allow Annual Conferences and Bishops to decide who they will ordain and not ordain and local clergy to decide who they will marry and not marry. 
 
Another plan is called the Traditionalist Plan. If it were to pass, the current anti-gay language would stay in the Book of Discipline and become more punitive. This would force a split. While trying to avoid this, Butler Bass argues that there could be worse things. She says that if the United Methodist Church splits “for the sake of loving our neighbors and practicing grace, hospitality, and mercy in ways that speak with power to those who have been betrayed, shamed, and marginalized, then they will be on a path into a life-giving future.”
 
In reality not much will change for us as a local church. We will go on doing what we do everyday, accepting all God’s children into the life and ministry of the church. But I would ask you to pray for the United Methodist Church during this time. If you would like to read more about this, go to our conference website at cnumc.org and you will find plenty of information..
 
Blessings,
 
Steve   



 
Pastor Steve Lundin