A few weeks ago, Pastor John made a statement about the continued implications of decisions made at General Conference in February. In his statement he indicated a Lay person would also be addressing the congregation. As the HUMC Lay Leader for 2019, I am here today to speak to you from the perspective of HUMC lay leadership with regard to the decisions made at General Conference in February. If you were not able to attend on the Sunday Pastor John made his statement, his statement is available for review on the HUMC website.
In January, informational meetings were held to help inform our congregation as to the purpose of the Special General Conference which was held in February of this year. Voting attendees of General Conference adopted what is called the “Traditional Plan” by a slim majority. The Traditional plan has been explained as making the denomination’s position on homosexuality clearer. Specifically, the Traditional Plan prohibits homosexuals from being ordained as clergy in the UMC and it also lists specific mandatory disciplinary action for clergy who perform a same sex wedding. These changes take effect beginning January 1, 2020.
In April, after General Conference, our church held open forums to discuss the decisions made by the Global United Methodist Church. The HUMC church leadership and I as the Lay Leader for the congregation, believe diversity and inclusion align with the call of Christ to love one another. This means creating a welcoming church environment that embraces and celebrates the unique spiritual gifts, qualities and differences of every person who walks through our doors to worship or serve in any capacity. In doing so, we can embrace and celebrate diversity which gives credence to our demonstrations of love to all. As individuals and as a church we long to SHARE the message of Christ with all. In order to do this, we must first receive, accept then SHOW His love to all.
As a result of those open forum discussions and discussions at Administrative Council meetings, HUMC is working to take our culture of diversity and inclusion to a higher standard in the following ways:
- forming a HUMC Next team (more on that in a moment),
- continuing open conversations with the congregation (large forums and small groups, Bible studies, etc.) and
- beginning to educate the congregation about the structure, innerworkings and Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church.
The HUMC Administrative Council requested that a “job description” and “application” for being a part of the HUMC Next team be made. The “job description” and “application” were requested in order to provide an equal opportunity for as diverse group of people from our church to form the HUMC Next team. This team will come together to pray, converse, study, and discern and guide the congregation in conversations about the important next steps of remaining or disaffiliating with the denomination and expressing what it means to be truly welcoming church to all people. This includes exploring what it means for HUMC to be a part of what is called a “reconciling ministries” and having open statements to the community.
The job description and application for the HUMC Next team are now complete and available on the church website. I encourage anyone who would like to be a part of the HUMC Next team, to fill out the application, available at this link. The application is just a couple of questions and focuses on personal motivation and gifts that you can bring to the team. Individuals do not have to know exactly where they stand about a new Methodist denomination or approval of the Traditional Plan to be part of the HUMC Next team. Our church leadership seeks to provide an equal opportunity for anyone with the desire to participate in the future direction of HUMC and help provide full transparency to the congregation. We want people to be informed and aware.
These specific actions demonstrate the value of all who walk through the red doors of HUMC and will strengthen our culture of diversity and inclusion. Our Pastors, Staff and Lay Leadership will provide thoughtful and caring direction through this journey. HUMC desires to support and promote an inclusive culture that encourages full engagement of all in living the message of Christ.
Pastor John, the church staff, and I are available for 1-to-1 private conversations if needed.