A message from Pastor Cherie - following the Special General Conference
By now, if you did not know the United Methodist Church was having a denominational meeting about our policies surrounding human sexuality, you likely saw an announcement in mainstream media attempting to explain what has happened. The Special General Conference was held this past Saturday through Tuesday, and it is not yet clear what the results will be.
The UMC’s Council of Bishops called for this Special General Conference and developed the ‘One Church Plan’ to address our denominational disagreements over whether our churches can host samesex weddings, allow our clergy to officiate at same-sex weddings – or whether we will ordain gay and lesbian people as clergy. At this time, the Book of Discipline says none of those things can happen, as well as making the statement “homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” The proposed plan for change to the Discipline would have allowed conferences, churches and clergy to respond according to their theological discernment of these matters, but also force no one to host weddings, officiate or ordain. This plan represented the bishops’ effort to keep all churches and congregations on both sides of this debate together, and it was defeated.
Next, another plan was proposed by the conservative side of this discussion, called the ‘Traditional Plan.’ This plan would maintain all prohibitions against same-sex weddings and ordaining gay and lesbian clergy – as well as adding punitive measures for any violations. This plan passed on Tuesday afternoon. Before we will know whether any part of it can be implemented, it must be reviewed by the Judicial Council to determine if it is keeping with the constitution of the UMC. We are aware that many parts of this plan are not constitutional, but we must wait for the Judicial Council's decision as to whether some parts of the plan can be implemented. The Judicial Council meets this coming April 23-25.
This has been a stressful time for all people aware of and involved in this discussion, especially for LGBTQ people and their families who are members and friends of our congregation. I want to be clear that all people will continue to be welcome within the ministries of Trinity Church. If you are experiencing anxiety, worry or concern about any of this, please do not hesitate to contact me or stop by church. As we wait to learn more about what will happen, we have time to grow our trust in our God; I am certain that God can and will work through the mistakes we make as human beings. In our prayers, let us invite God’s healing into the divisions between us and the pain we have inflicted on each other through our fears.
I give thanks for the ministry we share on behalf of Christ -
Rev. Cherie Forret, Pastor
The author of United Methodism’s most popular long-term Bible study, the four-part Disciple Bible Study series, has issued a plea to the church “to heal and not divide” over the issue of homosexuality.