Monday Musings for 1.13.2020

 

Dear Friends,

Last week I told you I would share a few thoughts on the latest news in our United Methodist Church.  I usually try to keep this Monday e-mail devotional in nature, and I apologize that this will be a departure from this.

It is now a virtual certainty that there will an “amicable separation” within our denomination.  We simply do not agree on human sexuality, and the divide has widened, not narrowed, the more we try to convince each other to see it our way.

In February of 2019, there was a General Conference called for the specific purpose of finding some kind of a “way forward” for our denomination, given this impasse.  The result, everyone agrees now, was an unmitigated disaster.  Those in favor of retaining our prohibitions on gay clergy and same sex weddings “won” and were also able to pass legislation with new, stricter penalties to enforce compliance.  The reaction was open rebellion.  Publicity about all this has placed The United Methodist Church in the worst possible light.  Not good.  Something had to change.

I have been one of those holding out hope that we could find a way to remain one church.  It is now clear to me that this cannot be.  Therefore, I was encouraged by the “Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation” that was released to the press on January 3.  This was an agreement reached by 16 highly respected United Methodist leaders representing every faction in our controversy.

Once it was clear there would be some kind of separation, the impasse was over who would leave.  Out here in the West, where prevailing views are quite progressive, steps were already underway to start a new denomination.  A possibility was that the United Methodist Church would simply vote to dissolve itself and any number of new Wesleyan expressions would be free to emerge.  What the “protocol” states is that the United Methodist Church, cross and flame symbol and all, will continue.  Traditionalist United Methodists will be the ones who will be leaving.  A local church vote will be required to leave.  No vote will be required to remain United Methodist.

This is far from a “done deal.”  Our General Conference will be meeting May 5-15 in Minneapolis.  It is impossible to predict how the vote will go there, though I think it is likely that this “protocol” or something similar to it will reach the floor and will be difficult to defeat.  And whatever is decided will take years to fully implement.

So does this mean a split in Nampa First United Methodist Church?  Not at all. There may be some members who will choose to leave, depending on how this plays out.  We’ve already had a few who have made this difficult decision.

But here is the great thing about our church!  We already have people with diverse views on human sexuality and virtually every other topic one could imagine.  This has not kept us from staying together, loving and respecting each other, and joining in our common purpose — to build Christian disciples who know Christlove God, and serve others.  All God’s beloved children, LGBTQ included, are fully welcome here.  This will not change.

There is lots of good information about this with far more detail than I have been able to provide here.  I recommend United Methodist News Service https://www.umnews.org/en.  I will do my best to keep you informed and after the May General Conference I am sure we will have another face-to-face gathering where you can share your views and ask your questions.

And please know you can call, text (208 409 3822), e-mail (watts22909@gmail.com), or drop by my office any time.  It’s really healthy for us to talk.  Thank you reading all this and for the opportunity to share my thoughts.

 

In Christ,

John