When Your Church Makes National News

United Methodist Church is meeting this week in St. Louis. The city with the big arch…Not often do church groups meet and make National News. Every four years the General Conference of the United Methodist Church meets…most years it does not make National news…but this year…it does…and it has…and will continue to make national news. 

This meeting is a special called General Conference of the United Methodist Church to work toward a way forward concerning the UMC and our beliefs concerning LGBTQ persons being ordained and the ability of UMC Ordained pastors to perform wedding ceremonies for LGBTQ persons. 

At the 2016 General Conference the body decided that in order to give our church the time it needed to properly work through what we believe and how we will move forward, we needed a special called conference. They also voted to form a team of people called, “The Commission on a Way Forward” to bring to the General Conference possibilities as to how we will move forward concerning what we believe. 

There are three main proposals from “The Commission on a Way Forward”. 
1. The One Church Plan- This gives local churches the ability to choose if they will accept an LGBTQ pastor and if they will host LGBTQ ceremonies in their church. It also gives Annual Conferences the ability to choose if they will ordain LGBTQ persons. As well it gives clergy the option to perform LGBTQ wedding ceremonies. 

2. The Simple Plan- This plan creates two churches within one denomination. Then churches and pastors will each subscribe to “Church A” or “Church B” depending on what they believe. The church they subscribe to will then be their governing body. 

3. The Traditionalist Plan- This plan keeps the Book of Discipline how it is and encourages greater accountability. Currently, the UMC does not ordain LGBTQ persons and clergy are not allowed to perform LGBTQ wedding ceremonies. 

Although these three plans are being presented there will surely be some amendments to some plans. There really is no telling of what will happen over the next few days. 

The UMC is one of the last denominations to continue to process what we believe and move in a direction that is faithful to the diversity of beliefs. We follow the Presbyterian Church and Episcopal Church….both of whom have split or had splinters due to the conversation and decisions made in their governing bodies. 

As many of you know I am here in St. Louis as a reserve delegate for the Florida Annual Conference of the UMC. I ask for your prayers for each delegate here and the work we will do together. I pray that it is work we can do with one another and with God and that we might all follow the leanings of the Holy Spirit. 

Kipp is also here as an observer and will be assisting in different ministries of the larger church. I ask that you pray for him. 

First United Methodist Church of Miami is a diverse church. We have many different beliefs surrounding the conversation being held this week. Yet, in the midst of our different beliefs, we have continued to love and accept and move towards God’s mission in the world. 

As I drove into St. Louis today and saw the large arch for the first time in my life I thought of an MLK quote….”The arch of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” 

I pray for justice and love and grace for myself and all here in St. Louis and ask all of you to join with me in prayer. If you would like to learn more on General Conference or watch the live stream please find the links below.

Much love to you all, 

Pastor Audrey 

You can also join by viewing the events of General Conference through their live streaming option: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/general-conference-2019-live-video-stream-english

Bishop Carter will also be blogging daily here: 
https://www.flumc.org/blogs?topic=19984

Wall Street Journal Article: 
https://www.wsj.com/articles/methodist-church-faces-possible-schism-over-gay-rights-11550757600

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