Let’s Talk

05/04/17

A Message from Pastor John Ross Thompson

When issues are complicated and confusing, there’s nothing like face to face communication.  Let’s talk about the issues in our United Methodist Church denomination regarding LGBTQI persons.

Following worship this Sunday, May 7, I will meet in the sanctuary with any persons who are interested in discussing the recent United Methodist Judicial Council ruling that a married lesbian bishop was contrary to church law, but that she remains in good standing in the church, subject to a review process. The Judicial Council also tightened the requirements for interviews of candidates for ministry, specifying that these candidates should be questioned about their sexual orientation.

Let me say up front the Genesis United Methodist Church is absolutely committed to being an open church for all persons, fully including all persons, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, in its ministry and leadership.  The Genesis Leadership Team has also committed the church to having same gender marriages in its building, even though this is not permitted by the United Methodist Book of Discipline.

As your pastor, I am fully committed to providing pastoral care to all persons. I am one of more than 100 clergy in our conference who have publicly stated that we will perform same gender weddings, even though this, too, is not permitted by the United Methodist Book of Discipline.  There is a growing movement among many United Methodist leaders to act on what we believe Jesus and the scriptures call us to do, not what church law prohibits.

Some of you may be saying, “Why should I continue to be part of a church system that prohibits ministry by and to certain persons?”   Let me give you three reasons why you should continue to be part of this church and this denomination:

  1. Your local church, Genesis, is clearly advocating for change in the denomination. We are part of a growing number of churches that through advocacy and ministry are changing the face of the denomination.
  2. Methodism since its inception in the 1700’s has been a faith movement that proclaims God’s love, grace, and acceptance to all persons, especially those who have been marginalized by others.  The Discipline restrictions that exist today are recent in nature and, I believe, contrary to the Methodist movement that has swept the globe, including approximately 75 million persons today.
  3. The only body that can change church law is the General Conference. A special session of the General Conference has been scheduled for late February 2019 to act on recommendations from the Commission on a Way Forward. This commission has been formed to bring suggestions on how the United Methodist Church can remain unified in the midst of this controversy.  It has indicated that it is working on ways to include all persons in our ministry, perhaps by simplifying our structure and decision making, recognizing the many differences in cultures throughout the world. It is a glimmer of hope we have for significant change in our denomination.

If you would like to ask questions, share your opinion, or just listen to this discussion, please join me for 30 to 45 minutes this Sunday after worship. In the meantime, pray for the worldwide United Methodist Church.  This is a significant time in history that shows hope for the future.  If you prefer to talk individually with me, please let me know.

Please continue to be part of Genesis. We need all of us to be advocates for a church without walls, open to all.

Pastor John Ross

 

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