Some words from our pastor, Rev. Joy Toll-Chandler
What a strange title for the Pastor’s Page! Is it some sort of a secret code? Well, no, not really – it’s the dates of some very important happenings in the life of our church. We have talked for some time about the General Conference meeting that is upcoming – and, friends, it’s time! On Feb 22, United Methodists from around the world – delegates and observers alike – will fly into St Louis for this historic meeting. Fay and I will be among those going to St Louis. It is only the second time that a General Conference has been called outside of the usual 4-year rotation schedule. The ONLY topic will be the one that it was called for – but that in itself is no small venture.
Since the last General Conference in 2016, the Bishops and the Commission on the Way Forward have met and prayed and searched for the best solution to the divide that has been occurring in the United Methodist Church. I am sure you remember that this theological division is over the issues surrounding homosexuality, and particularly the wording that is in our Book of Discipline. For even longer than I have been a pastor (over 30 years!), our UMC has struggled in how to discuss and resolve the varying theological stances -from conservative to liberal and those in the middle. For a long time, we’ve sort of “agreed to disagree,” but not really… as a huge segment of the population has felt neglected, put down, and made to feel unworthy of even the grace of God. At last, a call went up (in 2016) to ask our Bishops to lead the way to a resolution.
For the next three Sundays, we will be praying and studying together, both so that we can attempt to understand what will be happening in St Louis, and so that we can be supporting with our prayers those who gather to discern God’s will. Our scriptures will continue to be the Lectionary readings for the day: Matthew 6:7-34; Matthew 7:1-14, 24-29; and Matthew 13:24-43. Our topics will be: Praying (especially about the future), A house built on a rock – what are WE based on?; and the Wheat and the Weeds – how to figure out which is which! On the third Sunday (Feb 17), there will be a potluck brunch following worship, along with a continued time for discussion and further prayer. I hope that a lot of you will plan to stay as we share together. The Church Council will certainly be present, and they have worked hard to understand our polity and the issues at stake. There will be a number of handouts available – I can make them available at any time this month if you wish to see them sooner – but they will be there for your perusal that morning.
Joining me in trying to explain and bring the various options to you will also be Fay Flanary who is attending General Conference as a monitor. George Button and Alice Collins- who are lay representatives to our own Annual Conference, and are strong and long-time United Methodists, have been studying the many plans and debates and dialogues that have been going on, as has Rick Rabe. We will all be present on Feb 17 and will attempt to answer questions as best as we can.
While Fay and I are gone and the Conference is going on, I ask you to be in prayer for that entire weekend. Whichever plan (of the 3 proposed by the commission, or one of the other 2 that have strong support, or one of the many others suggested), whichever plan is voted on – there WILL be change, there WILL be some who disagree, there WILL be effects on individual lives, local churches, and on the worldwide United Methodist Church. May God grant us wisdom, may God grant us love, may God grant us peace.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or concerns as we work our way through this month together. I am sure Alice will also continue to post information both on our Facebook page and on our website.
Let us be in prayer together –
ADVANCE information for your own personal studies:
Information “class” on being United Methodist!
THE report of the Commission on a way Forward (it’s long – but has LOTS of information in it)
Seeing a Way Forward video series (short video clips about the process and the plans)