Friends in Christ,
Yesterday’s news from the United Methodist Church has caused pain, confusion, anxiety, and for some rejoicing. Delegates from around the world gathered in St. Louis for the Special Session of General Conference to determine our way forward as United Methodists regarding our stance on human sexuality. They voted to adopt the Traditional Plan by a margin of 54 votes. This means the current stance in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, which prohibits same sex unions and the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals, remains in place.
Bishop Reuben Job wrote a book on Three Simple Rules, summarizing what it means to be both a follower of Christ in the the tradition of John Wesley. They are “Do No Harm, Do Good, and Stay in Love with God.” Sadly, The United Methodist Church has failed. Much harm and pain have resulted to our sisters and brothers across the world.
This congregation was founded with a heart to be a place that welcomes all people in the name of Christ. We remain committed to this because Jesus kept it simple: Love God, Love Neighbor. At this point there are many things to be sorted out. Thousands of congregations across our nation are also seeking how they will respond to the vote in St. Louis, finding a way to continue serving God and community as ambassadors of Christ.
For up-to-date news we recommend the United Methodist News Service. We hope that you will also join us for a soup and salad luncheon on Sunday, March 10, 12:15 in the refectory. We will provide a report with as much up-to-date information as possible to help Hyde Park Community United Methodist Church stay on course as a strong, vibrant community of faith that welcomes all people.
Bishop Palmer, the resident episcopal leader of West Ohio Conference, posted this on Tuesday, February 26, in St. Louis, just one half hour before adjournment:
Beloved in Christ Jesus,
As I write this, the General Conference is within a half-hour of adjournment. I want to offer a few thoughts as we move forward.
• Your prayers have sustained the West Ohio delegates, all of the delegates, the bishops, me and Cynthia. Thank you. I encourage you to continue to be earnest in prayer for The United Methodist Church, the mission and your local church.
• Over the next 48 hours I will be sorting out and analyzing what the General Conference actually adopted along with the decisions of the General Conference and the effect of those actions on our common life. I will not be doing this in isolation, but with other bishops and with our delegates and other leaders in our conference.
• I hope you will be at one of many locations for the simulcast on Saturday morning March 2. This will give me a chance to share a first summary of where we are and answer a few questions.
• The cabinet will be meeting with me 3 of the next 7 days to continue the process of analysis and communication.
• Your District Superintendents will be moving among you in the month of March.
• I will be determining in the next several weeks the places I need to be and the conversations I need to host with multiple audiences.
This has been a robust General Conference. The attention to prayer and worship has been inspiring and helpful. There have been bright moments and there have been dim moments. There have been words and speeches that have soared with poetic Spirit inspired oratory. There have been words and speeches that have done harm to people, especially our LGBTQ sisters and brothers. I lament this and our lack of capacity to hold the whole together and keep the “unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”
Please continue to pray for the United Methodist Church and for Hyde Park Community as we seek to listen to God, to each other, and embrace our mission to open our hearts and doors to welcome all.
Your Servants in Christ,
Pastors Cathy and Doug Johns