The Special Session of the UMC is this weekend. Delegates from all across the globe will gather to examine church law concerning human sexuality and explore ways to maintain unity. Whatever the conclusion, many United Methodists will be angry and hurt.
If the UMC removes all language regarding homosexuality, many will feel we have lost something very precious: the Bible. This is God’s Word to us, and to condone homosexuality is to ignore what God is saying to us.
If the language stays the same, the UMC will still consider homosexuality “incompatible with Christian teaching,” and the current restrictions regarding gay persons will stay the same. This will be painful for many in the pews. They will consider themselves members of a denomination that marginalizes a specific group of people.
I expect the Special Session’s decision will affect Huntingtown UMC, but to what extent?
I see HUMC as a theologically diverse congregation. Even though most people here do not wear labels, there are traditionalists, progressives and just about everything in between. HUMC does not live in perfect unity. I’m sure there have been many fist-pounding discussions over various church, theological, political and social issues.
But for the most part, that hasn’t kept us from being together. We serve on committees together. We serve area schools together. We partner with local ministries together. We repair homes in low income areas together. We support a community in Alemania Federal together. We prepare church meals together. We are family. None of this has to change.
Whatever the decision, I want to offer a few thoughts to Huntingtown UMC as we await General Conference’s decision:
- There will be no “winners.” Many people will be hurt, angry and disappointed, regardless of the outcome.
- HUMC can be a safe place for people to express their views: Let’s be quick to listen and slow to pass judgment.
- Someone’s view on homosexuality should not be a litmus test: God has given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to everyone.
- Talk to me. I’m your pastor and I want to listen to everyone.
- The last one is the most important:
It’s okay to express our pain, anger, approval or disapproval at the General Council’s decision. But if that is all we ever do, then we lose focus on our God given mission: making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
I am very confident that whatever our denomination decides, Huntingtown United Methodist Church will still gather for powerful worship, our ministries will continue to transform lives, and we will still be a family that welcomes everyone.