For decades the people who make up the United Methodist Church have not agreed on how to include people who identify as gay, transgendered, bi-sexual or queer, in the church. (And there are other things we don’t agree on, but the conversation is focused on this.) It is a difference of perspective, especially around scriptural interpretation and theology. Many people want the church discipline to stay as it is. Other would like for us to be open to marrying same-gender loving couples and ordaining LGBTQ people. And still others would like for the consequences of these steps and our language to be more strict and exclusive.
In February of 2019, our denomination will have a called general conference in St. Louis. Here, plans for our future will be decided. Maybe. Some of the plans need a 2/3 vote and the result could be that no plan passes with the needed support. There is a 231 page document online detailing the plans. I’m happy to share the link with you. If you want to read about the different plans, you can go to https://www.ministrymatters.com/circuit_rider/ where there are several articles. I’ll also have a synopsis of the plans available soon. In October, we’ll have an open church conversation about this. Some of the plans require local churches to make decisions about their future.
We are a reconciling Methodist church and we have affirmed full inclusion of all people no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, social-economic status, education background, etc. We believe in a gospel that proclaims that Jesus stood with those in the margins and drew the circle wide to encompass all in his grace and mercy. Having said that, our local church still needs to review these plans and have conversation around what they mean for our future.
Whatever the future of the UMC, there is hope for us, hope for the church and hope for the world. God is bigger than all this and will lead us to a place where we can continue to love and live in an authentic and faithful relationship with God and our neighbor.