A weekly message from Reverend Linda Farmer-Lewis.
We are approaching an Annual Conference of our United Methodist Church that may be the most decisive in my 40 years of pastoral ministry. We will be forecasting the future of our denomination as we grapple with the implications of the 2019 Special General Conference that dealt with issues of full inclusion of LGBTQ persons in the life of the church. When the Traditionalist plan was narrowly adopted it drew a line in the sand for those who can no longer abide with the discriminatory practice of refusing to do weddings for same sex couples or bar openly gay people from being clergy and bishops. The doubling down of the punitive reprisals that would be leveled against those who refuse to follow these rulings is seen by many to be even more outrageous and totally out of keeping for the character of a Methodist. Many churches have voiced that they no longer recognize the Methodism they were raised in.
As we gather there are some who are relieved that the Traditionalist plan was adopted and feel that their faith was at risk because of their interpretation of scripture. But a scripturally literal viewpoint has never been a Methodist way of being Christian. Opinions about Scripture have never taken precedent over the living and breathing child of God before us. The threat of facture in our church is not about two worthy opposing points of view. It is about rejecting a child of God because of who they are. This is unacceptable. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about grace and freedom and justice. Jesus himself testifies against the abuse of Scripture against the Spirit of life.
The Spirit of God will show up at this Annual Conference, of that I am sure. I would love to see that Spirit move us to a new place that would mean this church I love and have given my life to might survive to continue to spectacular ministry it does all over the world. But I am equally convinced the Spirit will show up to create something new, and it will certainly be that those who have been at the margins of our church and society will know there are those who will never go back to a church that does not fully include all persons in the fullness of its ministry.
Pray for the United Methodist Church. Pray for all the congregations who long to share the love of God in fullness with all people. Pray that the Spirit may move among our people and give us hope that the new day of God’s creation is coming and we may dwell together in justice and joy.
Rev. Linda Farmer-Lewis,
May 28, 2019