Mediation, Protocol, Grace, and Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church

So, it’s not often that the United Methodist Church makes national and local news. However, you or your friends may have read or seen something over the weekend that raised some questions for you. I want to make sure that you are informed and can respond well to people who bring up the topic.

On Friday, the Council of Bishops shared a press release – United Methodist Traditionalists, Centrists, Progressives & Bishops sign agreement aimed at separation – which included a document that sought to resolve some of our denomination’s differences and would result in a split of the global United Methodist Church

I encourage you to take a look at the original document – Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation (PDF) as well as the Frequently Asked Questions. I find this document noteworthy because it was unanimously agreed upon by persons from across the theological spectrum. While some news reports may lead you to believe that this is already approved, it is not. The United Methodist Church makes decisions as a global denomination every four years at a meeting called General Conference. This document will lead to one of many proposals that will come before the General Conference, which meets this May in Minnesota.

For me, it is clear to me that we must welcome all people into the entire life of the church. I want to serve in a church that does not have any restrictions or limitations for LGBTQ persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. I also want to live in a church in which there is space for people who disagree. While I am not excited about an amicable separation, I believe that what is proposed by the protocol may be the best option for our denomination at this time. I trust that God’s Holy Spirit continues to help individuals and organizations make progress toward the perfect love of God and neighbor.

I have had conversations with people connected with Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church, who are both more progressive and more traditional regarding these questions. There are people with theological differences present each Sunday in worship. Being able to worship and seek God together is part of what I love about this church. We are trying to be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who are committed to the scriptures and devoted to our tradition as Methodists. We desire to be a diverse community of faith, where God’s love is in action.

One of our all-church goals this year is to implement a series of educational and engagement activities to inform the congregation regarding LGBTQ issues and proposals coming before the UMC at the 2020 General Conference so that we can clarify the congregation’s position and values regarding inclusion. With that in mind, I want to make three invitations to you.

First, starting Sunday morning, February 16, we are offering a study called Faithful and Inclusive – the Bible, Sexuality, and The United Methodist Church. This course provides a perspective on understanding how United Methodists can be both obedient to God’s Word and fully welcoming to LGBTQ persons in the church. This six-session resource has been designed for participants to develop their perspectives on the Bible’s passages related to homosexuality. We will be going through this study as a large group with small group discussions. If your Sunday School class would like to pause during these weeks to be part of the study, I invite you to do so. If you are not part of a Sunday school class and would like to be part of the study, I invite you to do so.

Second, I encourage you to read the mediation protocol [link]. This document is the actual product of the mediation process. You can download a copy here or pick up a printed copy at the church.

Finally, I encourage you to be generous and kind with each other – both those with whom you agree and those with whom you disagree.

Would you like to be part of the conversation at Susanna Wesley United Methodist Church to clarify our congregation’s position and values regarding inclusion? Do you have more questions or concerns? I would be glad to share a conversation with you. You can call the church or email me directly at andrew@swumc.org to share your interest in helping our congregation make progress.

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Challenges and Opportunities

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

What do you believe are the challenges and opportunities facing the United Methodist Church today?

We face the challenge of demonstrating love for our neighbors in the Great Plains and around the globe in the way that we talk to one another. We have the opportunity to act toward others in ways that we would like others to behave toward us. We face the challenge of a deeply divided global denomination. We have the chance to name our differences, mourn our losses, and meet the future unafraid.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Considering 2019 Special Session

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

In light of the 2019 special session of the General Conference, how do you believe the Church is called to move forward in fulfilling its mission?

We must welcome all people into the entire life of the church. It is time to find calm amid our differences. This could happen in many ways, including:

  • Connectional Conferences – The UMC continues with two or more Central Conferences in the US.
  • Separation – The UMC continues, and either more traditional or more progressive congregations and clergy launch a new connection.
  • Death and Resurrection – The UMC chooses to end its chapter in church history. We celebrate and remember its long and faithful history. We launch two or more new connections to continue to our Wesleyan approach to Christian life.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Unique Skills, Knowledge, and Gifts

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

What unique skills, knowledge, and/or gifts would you bring to the delegation?

I have served in a variety of local church settings, including rural, county seat, and suburban. I am comfortable with uncertainty and conflict. I am willing and able to act experimentally to help our church(es) continue to share God’s love with all our neighbors. As part of a group, I am able to name with clarity where the body is trying to go. I have a passion for our way of practicing the Christian faith. I possess precise knowledge of our polity and parliamentary procedure. You can count on me for dry humor and a good laugh.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Consideration as a Delegate

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

Why would you like to be considered for election as a delegate?

I am a third generation United Methodist preacher. I respect and honor those who have shaped our connection to be what it is today. I want my children to grow up as part of a community of faith that will offer grace, hope, and love to all. I will continue to work toward these aspirations in the local church. I also want to humbly offer my efforts to be about this work as a delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!

#gc2020 Clergy Delegate Profile – Involvement in the UMC

I have submitted a profile to be considered for election as a clergy delegate from the Great Plains Annual Conference to the 2020 General Conference, South Central Jurisdictional Conference, or as an alternate. You can find a list of all clergy and laity who have submitted profiles from the Great Plains Conference here. Here is one of my responses to a question from the delegate profile:

What has been your involvement in the United Methodist Church (include district, conference, and general agency/board involvement)?

  • Kansas Area United Methodist Foundation Trustee – 2019 to Present
  • Shawnee / Douglas Network Clergy Leader – 2018 to Present
  • Topeka District Strategy Team Leader – 2018 to Present
  • Advancing Pastoral Leadership – Cohort 6 – 2015 to Present
  • Launch 1.0 – Courageous Leadership Initiative – 2018
  • Great Plains Board of Ordained Ministry – 2014 to Present
  • Lewis Center for Church Leadership – Lewis Fellows 7 – 2012 to 2013
  • United Methodist Reporter, Board of Directors – 2010 to 2012

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment or send me an email.

You can find more of my writing about General Conference here.

Remember, vote clergy delegate #2009!

Tears Came Today

I had not cried this week…

Until this morning.

As I was dropping our children off at school, One Day by Matisyahu came up on shuffle on the playlist to which we were listening. They headed off for their school day and I drove home with tears rolling down my cheeks. Here is the music video:

Memories of Family Time

I first heard the song several years ago when our family was visiting the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. and we watched Dream Big: Engineering our World. Here’s the trailer for that film:

Reflections

The song evoked for me memories of time with our children, wanting the best for them in the future, echoes of grief from my Dad’s death, and a deep desire for peace – especially in light of the ferocious conflict at General Conference.

When the tears came I was first surprised, then grateful. They were cleansing, almost refreshing, and helped restore some places of my soul that I had not been aware were stuck.

One day this all will change
Treat people the same
Stop with the violence
Down with the hate
One day we’ll all be free
And proud to be
Under the same sun
Singing songs of freedom like

Gotta hold on
Livin life day by day
Gotta hold on
Put your focus on that one day

All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for
For the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)
One day (one day), One day (one day)

From One Day by Matisyahu