The Judicial Council is the highest court within The United Methodist Church. It ruled last week on the legislation passed at the specially called General Conference of 2019 that took place in February. The large question was whether the legislation would be thrown out as a whole (there was precedence for such a decision in 2012) since pieces of it had previously been declared unconstitutional or whether the pieces that were legal would be allowed individually.
The Judicial Council ruled that the latter would be the case.
Pieces of the Traditional Plan which sought to more strongly enforce the ban surrounding the marriage and ordination of gay and lesbian church members were ruled to be allowable and will go into effect in our polity on January 1, 2020. The General Conference will meet again in May of 2020 and will revisit the issues.
A piece of the “gracious exit” allowing congregations to leave the denomination was approved by the Judicial Council but in conjunction with the current understanding that the Annual Conference would get to vote on whether or not to allow the church to leave with its property.
Within our own church, we have a variety of views on this issue which also reflects the wider culture at large. This is to be expected as churches are made up of a variety of people. We know that those hoping for a more inclusive stance are deeply disappointed while those hoping for the Traditional Plan may feel relieved. As a congregation seeking to hold one another in love, how we move forward together will define our future. We are a congregation that values discipleship in Jesus for a wide variety of people. We seek to grow in our love of neighbor. To do so for those who disagree allows us to grow deeper spiritually and is challenging. Fortunately, Jesus helps us in this important work. I continue to pray for our wider church and our local church. I find hope in the strong work of our local church as we strive to share God’s grace to the people we encounter.
One way that we will continue to share this grace will be discussed at an Administrative Council meeting this Thursday, May 2nd at 7:00 pm in the sanctuary. We will be discussing how we might be in a new partnership in ministry with First United Methodist Church of Guthrie. While only the Ad Council will be voting, we are also opening the sanctuary to all those who are interested in this work. This opportunity comes to us as a congregation that has shown tremendous growth within our conference. One individual in our conference recently declared that our church has shown the highest growth rate over the past few years of any church in our conference with worship over 100. If we can share this strength with another church, we feel that this is in accordance with who God is calling us to be.
This Sunday, we will continue to explore the book of Acts (9:1-20) as we look at our Easter Vision. This particular text reminds us to trust the vision as Saul (Paul) had to trust Ananias and Ananias had to trust Saul and both had to trust God. This isn’t easy to do but the results can be very rewarding!