Rider August 2019


General Conference Pastoral Letter

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

Results of General Conference:
You may or may not have heard about the results of this week's worldwide United Methodist Church General Conference.  The meeting of delegates from United Methodist Churches around the world was held in order to wrestle with whether the Church felt it could faithfully celebrate Christian marriages and ordinations of LGBTQ persons.  Given the global and multi-cultural nature of the United Methodist Church, it is not surprising that there are many various opinions on the faithfulness of celebrating marriages and ordinations of LGBTQ persons.  People differ in their cultural perspective on LGBTQ relationships, and people interpret Scripture differently regarding LGBTQ relationships. 

Three different plans were considered at the General Conference.  The One Church Plan sought to allow each local church and annual conference to decide the best way to proceed given the context and people in the area they served.  The Simple Plan sought to remove references in our church law book, the United Methodist Book of Discipline, to homosexuality being incompatible with Christian teaching and to the banning of homosexual weddings and ordinations.  The Traditional Plan sought to maintain the current stance on the incompatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching and the bans on homosexual weddings and ordinations and sought to strengthen consequences to any clergy and bishops who behaved contrary to these positions. 

As of Tuesday, 2/26/19, the Traditional Plan passed, leaving some relieved and satisfied and others deeply distressed.

What does this mean?
At the moment, this simply means that the language inTthe United Methodist Book of Discipline,will stay the same, noting the incompatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching and the bans on homosexual weddings and ordinations.
There are constitutional problems with some provisions of the Traditional plan, particularly around issues of the consequences and accountability to those clergy and leaders who choose to act contrary to the United Methodist Book of Discipline.The Judicial Council will address these issues and rule on them as of their next meeting April 23-25.
So, other than retaining the current language in The United Methodist Book of Discipline, no other immediate consequences to this decision are impending from the standpoint of church law and operations.

The Heartbreak
The largest consequences to these debates and decisions are losses of relationships and trust among people who disagree on the faithfulness of celebrating LGBTQ marriages and ordinations.Sometimes more conservative members of our churches are labeled as "narrow minded," "mean," "unloving," and "unjust."These words are fitting for some people, yet others are some of the most compassionate, loving people you will meet.Sometimes more progressive members of our churches are labeled as "unbiblical," "immoral," or "liberal."Some of our LGBTQ members are particularly pained by having their most intimate expressions of love and fidelity labeled "incompatible with Christian teaching."Then there are large numbers of people in the middle who also receive labels from all sides.
Unfortunately, the character of our conversations and debates in the United Methodist Church have, not always but at times, descended into vitriolic rhetoric that, contrary to expressing love and care for one another, has served to further alienate and divide us from the many things we still hold in common.This is regrettable and should call us to repentance and forgiveness.

Will the United Methodist Church Split Apart?
That depends on you and me.Will we continue to honor our covenant with God and each other to "confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races (United Methodist Baptismal Covenant 1)?"And will we honor our covenant by "according to the grace given us, remain faithful members of Christ's Holy Church and the United Methodist Church by the offering of our prayers, presence, gifts, and service?"If we do, then no one can tell us that we must split apart.
The world is changing.The United Methodist Church is changing.Change is hard.It will be up to us whether these pains of change are birth pains or the pains of separation.

Where do we go from here?
We need to acknowledge the pain and grief of people on all sides of this issue; the pain and grief of all who have been  hurt by unhealthy conversations and of all who fear and feel the loss of the United Methodist Church that used to be; the pain and grief of our LGBTQ church members and participants who feel that their church does not fully honor who they are and the work God is doing in their lives.  We must remind our LGBTQ brothers and sisters that our church still desires to grow with them in experiencing the love of Christ and ever expanding service to God's Kingdom in the world.  And in all of our emotions and thoughts, we must ask God for the grace to refocus on our mission to love God and our neighbor with all that we are and thus fulfill the Scriptures. 

For our part, we will continue to focus on our mission at Asbury to "know the love of Jesus Christ and pass it on" to as many people as possible, and I hope all people will join us on this mission.  We are here to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world, and that is one thing that will never change!

Coffee w/ the Pastors

We invite you to an informal gathering called "Coffee with the Pastors" on  Sunday, September 1st @ 10:40 a.m. or 12:10 p.m. in room #13. 

During our time together, we will enjoy coffee & pastries, meet other Asbury folks new & seasoned alike, & discuss how Asbury can help you deepen the love of Christ in the Christian Methodist way.


"To know the love of Jesus Christ and Pass it on”


220 W. Horatio Avenue Maitland, FL
 407 644 5222