by Randy Reese
I’m sure most of you have heard by now through the media outlets, but just in case you didn’t, the Special Called Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church narrowly approved the Traditional Plan. That plan maintains the UMC’s policies on same-gender weddings and lgbtq clergy ordination. In other word, pastors are not allowed to do same-gender weddings, churches are not allowed to host same-gender weddings in their churches, and lgbtq person are not allowed to be ordained. In addition, it seeks to strengthen the enforcement of those guidelines throughout the denomination.
The measure passed 438-384 or about a 53%-47% margin.
I am, because I knew I would be, searching for the best words to write to all of you about the 2019 General Conference. Most of all, I’ve been listening for the voice of God is speak to me what He would want all of us to hear.
These words came:
Psalm 46 - My suggestion is for all of us to pull out our devices or our books and read - not peruse, but read and let it soak deeply into our souls and beings - especially verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.” Let me say that again, “Be still…and know that I am God. And once more, “Be still…and know that I am God.”
Once the gate opened, more of God’s word came flooding into my mind and heart and soul, like a river of living water. I’ll share those Sunday morning as we gather for worship.
There are other pieces from the General Conference that I’m still trying to understand, pieces like what parts of the Traditional Plan passed will be declared unconstitutional when the Judicial Council reconvenes in April (I will speak to more of that during the General Conference Info Sessions I’ve planned) and what the implications of a substituted exit plan mean.
I’m going Saturday to Bishop Beard’s Post Conference gathering to listen and learn. Following that, I think I will be better able to share more information. Please join me at one of three identical General Conference Information Sessions held at Calvary. The days and times are listed here.
The United Methodist Church has been fulfilling her call from Christ Jesus to “Go and make disciples” since her humble beginnings. In fact, the UMC as we know it here in this country, is a result of the Wesley’s leaving their land to come to a different land with the good news of Jesus Christ. The voices from the global church were certainly reflected and heard this past week. The cultural matters in those countries outside of the United States impacted the decision making as this global church met.
I wrote this at 4:30 in the morning, the sun was not yet up - I didn’t know if I’d see the sun today or whether clouds would cover it. I do know that it’s there. Even at 4:30 in the morning, God was still God, just as He was when I went to bed the night before. He is still the “I AM”, Jesus is still my Lord, and the Holy Spirit is still bringing understanding and connection to Holy God.
We at Calvary reflect the complexity of our global church and our world. Our theological spectrum spans from east to west and from north to south. That’s what makes us Calvary United Methodist Church. The diversity and breadth of Christian faithfulness at Calvary looks as different as each one of us looks. Each of our experiences with the risen Christ and each of our lives lived out in faith are a unique, vital, and necessary contribution to the body of Christ that is Calvary United Methodist Church.
Some of you have experienced relief this past week, some of you have experienced joy, some of you are experiencing deep sadness, grief, anger, and pain. Even so, we are still the church of Jesus Christ that we call Calvary United Methodist Church. Our calling is to love God and love our neighbor - we will always strive to do that as people of God.
Many of the brothers and sisters of United Methodism had planned to leave the church depending on what was decided - and some still are. As I’ve talked to you (you collectively and individually as Calvary), I know some of those same thoughts reside here. I urge you to hold fast while things get sorted out. I would have urged you to hold fast if other decisions had been made. My sentiment is that if you feel you cannot stay, for whatever reason, you will call me and set up a time when we can visit. I may or may not try to talk you out of it depending on your wishes. I just don’t want people to fade away. Believe me, I understand and likely don’t understand the magnitude of what I just said. I will commit my time and energy to care for the whole body of Christ as much as I can.
I could keep going but it’s time to for now to “Be still and know that God is God.”