“And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24
My daily Bible verse yesterday was Hebrews 10:24. It was very timely message since another proposal for the future of The United Methodist Church was released on that same day. A group representing the major constituencies of traditionalists, centrists and progressives worked together to create the Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation. They concluded that there are some people who will not be able to live together in our differences over human sexuality and our continued fighting over the matter damages our church and our mission. The news report, which contains the full letter from the Council of Bishops and some FAQs can be found here. The Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation is one proposal among several that will be considered by the General Conference in May. This one though has been created with representation from most of the constituencies in the long debate over human sexuality and represents the interests of a broad spectrum of United Methodists. What gives me hope is that people from all sides of the issues came together and did the hard work of seeking a way forward for us as a Church. I trust that there will be a place for us all in the church(s) in whatever form(s) it takes where we can live with integrity our faith in Christ and our desire to follow him.
While I find myself grieving the possibility of churches and conferences leaving our United Methodist connection, the Hebrews Scripture comes to mind, “And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds…” I’m not sure what the General Conference will decide whether it will be this plan or another, but I am going to continue seeking to spark love and good deeds among my brothers and sisters in Christ. I commit myself to and I invite you to commit to praying for God to guide the General Conference delegates to the best way forward and to pray for our churches as we watch and wait while continuing to serve Christ and grow disciples. God is faithful through all times and all matters and God is already in the future. Let us navigate through these next few months leaning upon Christ and practicing the fruit of Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22) We are in a new year, in a new decade to be sure; we are also grounded in the old, old story of Jesus and his everlasting love. Holding both together, the new and the old, let us encourage each other as we are called anew to follow in 2020.
You can read the bishop’s response to the Protocol of Reconciliation at https://dscumc.org/blog/2020/01/03/response-to-protocol-of-reconciliation/ and the response of the cabinet at https://dscumc.org/blog/2020/01/06/appointive-cabinet-response-to-council-of-bishops-press-release/.
Grace & peace,