We are Still Grace and We are Still Inclusive for ALL
Tomorrow begins the official enforcement of the Modified Traditional Plan that was passed by the special General Conference of The United Methodist Church in February. This plan places unjust mandatory penalties on pastors that officiate weddings for loving, same-gender, couples, and continues a shameful history of discrimination against LGBTQIA persons. In the United Methodist Church, our Book of Discipline has shamed and cast aside our LGBTQIA kin since 1972 and this lack of grace, compassion, and love is incompatible with Christian teaching.
On the eve of 2020, I reaffirm our commitment at Grace to be a church for all of God’s children. As a reconciling congregation, we are committed to treating all people with equal love and respect. While we are a part of The United Methodist Church and are thankful for our denominational history and traditions, especially our understanding of grace and commitment to personal piety and social holiness, Grace will not be defined by discrimination.
At Grace, our commitment to marriage equality and our welcoming statement will be just as true in 2020 as it is today:
God’s love is for all and God’s grace is present in all creation. God’s spirit draws us into community. We are filled with genuine care and love for one another.
Honoring the diversity of our faith journeys, our welcome is extended to all – people of all races, sexes, ethnic backgrounds, generations, physical and mental abilities, economic conditions, sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions. No matter who you are, no matter where you are in your life, you are welcome here.
We are all invited to bless this church with our love, our presence, and our participation.
Grace United Methodist Church Board of Church & Society Response to 2019 Special General Conference
In February, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church voted to support the “Traditional Plan”, which bans ordination of openly gay clergy and performance of same-sex wedding ceremonies. It also institutes penalties for those in violation of the plan. This decision is not only hurtful to many individuals and families; it is also incompatible with Christian teachings of love and inclusion. Grace has rejected this harmful message as a reconciling congregation, and is committed to treating all people with equal love and respect.
In response to the vote, Jessica Maffitt, a member of the Church and Society committee, felt the need to publicly show Grace’s support for the LGBTQ community. Through the encouragement of the Church and Society Committee and approval by the Administrative Board, the signs were placed in front of Grace this Spring. Displaying the signs is a visible reaction to acknowledge that Grace does not align with the General Conference’s decision.
The signs have elicited a positive response from members of Grace and the community. The Church and Society committee continues to identify opportunities to show support for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
God Loves us All
Pastor Dave’s Response to 2019 Special General Conference
Earlier this week, the special General Conference for the United Methodist Church adopted “The Traditional Plan” that adds significant enforcement and penalties for clergy who officiate same gender weddings or who affirm they are in a gay or lesbian relationship.
None of this will change Grace UMC’s commitment to inclusive ministry and prophetic witness! I am so sorry for the pain this has caused LGBTQ colleagues and friends. You are beloved. You are people of sacred worth who have ministered to so many and to me personally. You are called and blessed and yet have had needless suffering imposed on you by people who call themselves righteous.
Here is a summary of the General Conference actions written by New Jersey Bishop John Schol, who was my senior pastor in Philadelphia 30 years ago.
The General Conference:
- Passed the Traditional Plan. If 28 people of the more than 800 voting delegates had voted differently, the Traditional Plan would have been defeated.
- Defeated the One Church Plan. If 26 people had voted differently, it would have passed.
- Supported the Traditional Plan even though the Judicial Council ruled on two different occasions that core aspects of the plan, about 60% of it, was unconstitutional.
- Called for an investigation into an accusation that some delegates were being given money and other goods to influence their vote.
- Was divided culturally with an estimated 65% of US delegates approving the One Church Plan and 85% of the delegates outside the US approving the Traditional Plan.
- The legislation that was passed, was again sent to the Judicial Council, the “supreme court” of The United Methodist Church where it is anticipated that much of the Traditional Plan will be ruled unconstitutional for a third time. We most likely will not receive final rulings from the Judicial Council for several months. United Methodists will continue under our present policies concerning homosexuality.
We will have forums at Grace UMC about the General Conference:
- At “The Open Table” on Thursday night at 6 p.m. at Grace.
- At 9:00 a.m. on Sunday in the Fellowship Hall. We will have some information to present and some options for going forward, but mainly, this will be a time for you to share your thoughts and feelings.
- Our worship services this weekend will celebrate God’s Spirit and God’s beautiful diverse people
- Bishop Laurie Haller will be present to debrief and answer questions about the 2019 General Conference on Saturday, March 16 from 1:30-3 pm at New Hope United Methodist Church (4525 Beaver Avenue, Des Moines). All are welcome. The event will be livestreamed.
Pastor Dave Swinton