General Conference 2019: A Pastoral Response

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GENERAL CONFERENCE 2019 AND THE WAY FORWARD

A Pastoral Response

It's been a difficult and challenging week for many across our denomination as representatives of our denomination met in St. Louis in a special conference to make decisions about our denomination. As the Senior Pastor of Clemmons United Methodist, I believe in a church for everyone. This means we worship, pray, sing, study, respond to the needs of the community and world as a diverse gathering of God's people with different opinions, political allegiances, Biblical and theological positions. This is especially true when it comes to the debate over the specific issue of homosexuality and the church, the main topic of discussion for the recent General Conference.

As General Conference 2019 loomed on the horizon, I tried to keep the congregation informed by giving a presentation in September 2018 on the Way Forward. I provided links and information about the conference in my weekly email. A video of my September presentation was also made available on our website. My personal hope was that United Methodism would find a way to become a more inclusive church and move to a place of unity around mission and ministry to the world.

The vote of the called General Conference 2019 was essentially to retain the current language in our discipline that prohibits sacred unions and the ordination of homosexual persons for ministry in our denomination. Many other points are yet to be determined and may be deemed unconstitutional by the Judicial Council that meets in April 2019.

Two thirds of the American delegation voted for the One Church Plan which would have opened up Annual Conferences and churches to decide about sacred unions and ordination. This would have allowed a diversity of churches with different opinions to exist under the one umbrella of United Methodist.

I realize that there are those who are deeply wounded by our denomination's decision. While there are some who may leave and some discerning about their place within our church, please know that as your pastor all are welcome and that Clemmons UMC is a place of grace and love. There are also those who feel that the Conference voted correctly. No matter what your opinion might be or where you stand, know that what happens at General Conference does not define who we are as the Body of Christ at Clemmons United Methodist.

The church is who we are as Christ followers and what we do in mission and ministry week in and week out at Clemmons United Methodist. Going forward we will continue to be in ministry with all people. I'll use this week as an example:

  • On Sunday, we worshipped in three different services, 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00 am.

  • Sunday school classes gathered at 9:45 and 11 am and children, along with adult helpers, gathered in the old fellowship hall to celebrate the presence of God among us.

  • Some 60 confirmands and mentors gathered on Sunday afternoon for classes.

  • Clemmons:One High School and Middle School Ministries met on Sunday afternoon.

  • Pal (Parents of Addicted loved ones), the Alzheimer's-Dementia Caregivers Support Group, Stephen Ministry, Small groups, Prayer Blanket Workshop, Divorce Care, Grief Share, The quilters, The Young at Heart, Sisters in Christ, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, The Bible Study on Paul, and C3 Conversation all met during the week.

  • Our music ministry had adult choir, handbells, children's choirs and handbells rehearsals, and the Praise Team rehearsed.

  • 250 children attended our pre-school and kindergarten and 40 children came to our after-school program.

  • Work moved forward on the new Clemmons Food Pantry that will be constructed on property leased from Clemmons UMC.

  • The MOST (Mission Outreach Support Team) met and heard about mission projects in our community and world that we support.

  • A sermon was written for Sunday, people were prayed for during Staff Covenant time and throughout the week by our prayer partners.

  • People were visited in the hospital, at home, and phone calls were made to those facing surgery and other crossroad events.

The above list only scratches the surface when it comes to lives touched by our church. My point is that we are the church and will continue to be the church in this community and the world. The best thing we can all do is believe that God is still at work and that God is still working through the Body of Christ called Clemmons United Methodist. Please think about it.

Grace and Peace,

Matthew