Thoughts on the UMC General Conference from Pastor Mike
Dear Members and Friends of First UMC Colleyville:
As many of you are aware, the 2019 Called General Conference ended with the Traditional Plan receiving a majority of votes from the delegates. Unfortunately, the Conference also ended with a divided church. While the Traditional Plan won the majority of votes from a global perspective, two-thirds of U. S. delegation opposed the plan … including some of the largest churches in our denomination. Several parts of the Traditional Plan face challenges based on their constitutionality (i.e., some parts of the plan may run afoul of the Book of Discipline). At the end of the last session, delegates referred the Traditional Plan to the Judicial Council who will decide its fate when it meets in Evanston, Illinois April 23-25. At this point, things are still up in the air and we won’t know what we’re facing until then.
So where are we and what do we do?
I understand that some in our congregation are deeply disappointed that the One Church Plan failed. Some may even feel compelled to leave. Sadly, I’ve already received two requests since the General Conference ended from members who asked to be removed from our membership. What I said to them, I say to the rest of you: “Before you do this, wait until the Judicial Council votes on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan….Hold on, if your conscience will allow you. Otherwise, I understand and will honor your request.”
As a supporter of the One Church Plan, I was pretty upset on Monday. But then I started thinking about all the people who depend on us as a church. I thought about Mercy House and how they rely on us to provide them with diapers, wipes and formula as well as volunteers who go over there and teach life-skills classes to the moms and love on those precious babies. I thought of GRACE and how they depend on our donations and volunteers to help people in need in our community. I thought of the Feed Our Kids program and how our youth and adults serve meals to hungry families in the summer. I thought about our mission to the children and youth at Glen Hope Elementary, Bransford Elementary, and Colleyville Heritage High School where we provide kids with food to take home for the weekend. I also thought about the children at Glen Hope who benefit from our volunteers who participate each week in the reading program. I thought about our Police and Fire Department who get snacks from our kids and needed items that allow them to better serve the community. (Today, for example, Pastor Katie, John Pace and I proudly presented a bicycle to the Chief for the Colleyville PD Bike Patrol). There’s the Tarrant County College Music Department and the students who benefit from the scholarships we provided at the Neighborhood Table. I thought about our Helping Hands Fund and the people who count on us for help with rent, utility bills, gas, medicine and food. I remembered the many people who received coats thanks to our 1000 Coats Against the Cold drive. Of course, my mind also went across the ocean to the Child Rescue Center and Mercy Hospital and the children we support and the great work that’s done in Sierra Leone. There are so many in our community who need us and rely on us for support. Their needs don’t go away because of the General Conference vote.
I thought about our children and youth ministries – how both are growing under the leadership of Miss Addie and Dusty. I think about our adult small groups and Sunday school classes where real community has been created and people are growing in their faith.
I thought about those who are members and friends of our church who either are part of the LGBTQ community or have loved one who are, and I realized we have a lot of work to do to assure them that our love for them is real and that they are fully accepted. To them, I want to make this clear: “You and your families are dearly loved children of God, fearfully and wonderfully made, and beautiful to behold. You are loved and welcome here.”
For those who supported the Traditional Plan, I hope you will be patient, too, as we await the ruling of the Judicial Council. There is talk that Traditionalists may leave the church regardless of what the Judicial Council does. My hope is that we can remain together because whether we read Scripture from a Traditionalist or a Progressive perspective, none of that matters when we’re feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. None of the recipients of a coat this winter asked if it had been given by a Traditionalist or a Progressive. The same was true when people got help from the Helping Hands Fund or received food through our weekend food ministry to local schools. The only time that will matter is if one side or the other leaves and there are no coats, no funds, or food to give.
So, to everyone, I repeat what I said Sunday, “Regardless of what the General Conference does, we’re still having church on March 3 and Jesus’ command to ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world’ is still in force.”