June 18, 2015
As a pastor, there are times I need to address issues that, quite frankly, I wish I did not have to deal with at all. This is especially true this afternoon because by the time you read this note, it is very likely that the Supreme Court will have made or will be about to make a monumental ruling on same sex marriage. This is an issue dividing our nation, and I can tell you that our denomination mirrors the politics of the day. In fact, the United Methodist Church has been wrestling with this in some shape form or fashion at every General Conference since 1972. Having seen the drama at three of those Conferences, I can assure you that it is heart-wrenching for people on both sides of the aisle.
Now let's be honest and admit both sides of this debate are represented in our church family. This means there will be heartbroken brothers and sisters at LCUMC. So regardless of who wins or loses, this is a time to be sensitive to the brokenness of others who may differ from our own stances, and to reach out in love and compassion.
Beyond that, though, you may be wondering how the ruling of the Supreme Court could potentially impact us at LCUMC. I certainly do not intend to upset anyone, but we need to remember that changes to civil law do not apply to our denomination's religious beliefs or practices. So let me lay out the official stance of the United Methodist Church as written in our Book of Discipline (BOD).
The following is taken from the BOD in the section titled "Social Principles":
"We affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God. All persons need the ministry of the Church in their struggles for human fulfillment, as well as the spiritual and emotional care of a fellowship that enables reconciling relationships with God, with others, and with self. The United Methodist Church does not condone the practice of homosexuality and considers this practice incompatible with Christian teaching. We affirm that God's grace is available to all. We will seek to live together in Christian community, welcoming, forgiving, and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us. We implore families and churches not to reject or condemn lesbian and gay members and friends. We commit ourselves to be in ministry for and with all persons."
Other pertinent paragraphs in the BOD include:
¶4: "The United Methodist Church acknowledges that all persons are of sacred worth. All persons without regard to race, color, national origin, status, or economic condition, shall be eligible to attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments, upon baptism be admitted as baptized members, and upon taking vows declaring the Christian faith, become professing members in any local church in the connection."
¶214: "All people may attend its worship services, participate in its programs, receive the sacraments and become members in any local church in the connection."
¶ 341.6: "Ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches."
There's a lot more that could be said, but I think we need to leave things at this point and close out with one last thing. Regardless of what happens I love you all and stand here as your pastor. Blessings to you all.
Because of Jesus,