A note from the pastor for October, 2018

Meanwhile the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and was built up. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.

Acts 9:31

As many of you know, there is going to be a special session of General Conference in St. Louis on February 23-26, 2019. General Conference is the top legislative body for The United Methodist Church. There are delegates from all over the world who come together to make decisions regarding policy, procedure, ministry, and doctrinal stances on behalf of our beloved denomination. This group is comprised of an equal number of lay and clergy delegates. The Bishops of the UMC preside over these sessions, but are not voting members.

Typically, the General Conference meets once every four years in different locations. The next regular General Conference is scheduled for the spring of 2020. The purpose of the special GC in February is to facilitate discussions around the topic of human sexuality, which has pervaded every major religious body. At the GC in 2016, a Commission on the Way Forward was appointed by The Council of Bishops to come up with a plan to help us navigate this tumultuous time. Many plans and/or proposals will come before this conference as to how we, as United Methodist Christians, will respond to the task before us. The Commission has proposed 3 basic plans, the details of which are available at UMC.org. It is difficult to predict what will transpire in this session, as other groups/individuals may propose additional plans/amendments to the GC.

This is a VERY stressful time for all who have any knowledge of this particular subject. Lines of division have been drawn for almost 40 years, as this topic has dominated the agenda for General Conference every 4 years. Personally, my heart grieves over what might transpire following this GC. My family and I have dedicated ourselves to ministry in The United Methodist Church, and we love this denomination more than anyone can imagine. Our whole life centers on God calling us to be faithful in ministry to this particular community of faith.

Even as I am typing this, I feel the tension and heartbreak within me. I have chosen not to talk about this publicly, because I have been trying to focus on our mission of “Making Disciples of Jesus Christ for the Transformation of the World”. At this juncture, what will happen is purely speculative, and I am attempting to be a “Non-anxious presence” as your pastor. In our own congregation, we have opinions and highly held beliefs on all “sides” of this conversation. No matter what my personal stance might be, I am convicted by my call to love and serve all people, even those with whom I have a difference of opinion.

My purpose in writing this article is to call the people of DFUMC to be in a spirit and posture of fervent prayer. If you have questions, I am happy to answer them to the best of my ability. However, I implore you to be sensitive that this is a delicate conversation for me, and it brings a great amount of stress and heartache to me as a minister of the Gospel. As your pastor, I am asking you to pray for the GC, the delegates, the Commission on the Way Forward, Council of Bishops, the District Superintendents, for the future of our denomination, and for me as I lead. In preparation for GC, I am asking you to pray daily for 4 minutes, preferably from 2:23—2:26 AM or PM (symbolic of the Feb. 23-26 dates for GC), or any 4 minutes of your day. Above all, I commend you to be people of true discipleship—demonstrating the Divine Love of Jesus to all who come across your pathway. I love and appreciate you all! God bless you.

 

- Bro. Steven